Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Massive Logs and the Maasai Mara, Part II

My blog is one day late!  I’m sorry Mom and Dad.  I think a couple mechanics in Nairobi are taking some lovely pictures with our camera right now.  Luckily, Alyce saved the day with Maasai Mara pictures for part II!  But first…

So I was diving down the road yesterday after picking up Eric and his nanny, Elizabeth, from preschool.  A couple of Kenyan hitchhikers were in the car as well.  Quick side note!

  • I think I have given half of Naivasha a ride.  There are always people on the side of road asking for rides.  When we first arrived I was hesitant, but then I realized how far Kenyans walk to go to work.  Miles and miles and miles.  We often see women carrying massive loads of goods on their backs.   Around us, most of the people are just walking to work at the flower farms.  I have started giving people rides every time I drive, and they are most appreciative.  Eric enjoys the company.     

We were pleasantly driving along on an arid, sunny day, laaaadeeeedaaadeeeeedaaa…HOOD.  The hood of my car flew up in front of the windshield.  Elizabeth shrieked.  I yelled. Eric and the two men didn’t make a sound (tough guys in the back). I pulled right over, and all was ok…. EXCEPT MY HOOD JUST FLEW UP WHILE DRIVING.  

I stepped out of the car to assess the damage.  The hood was a mess—it wouldn’t close.  At least the windshield was fine.  I stood for around 30 seconds pretending to come up with a plan, when a Matatu taxi van whirled over to the side of the road.   Three men jumped out and came running at us, holding a rope.  The two hitchhiking men got out of my car as well.  Without saying anything, the five of them yanked down the hood and tied it to my bumper in less than a minute.  One of them said, “Now you’re good.  No problem.  You can drive to Nairobi.”  I thanked them, tipped them, and off they went.  I figured the hitchhikers would no longer want a ride, but they jumped right back in the car.  I don’t think this was the first time a hood flew up in Kenya.

After dropping off the hitchhikers, we drove to my go-to petrol (gas) station.  These guys are great, one reason being they don’t believe a mzungu could turn on a car radio without help.  They always direct me to the pump, tell me when to stop, pump my gas, clean the windshield, check my oil, rub my shoulders, and add air to my tires.  I showed my main man, Paul, the hood, and he told me to park next to one of his mechanics.  The mechanic came over, untied the hood, observed the situation for around 30 seconds while rubbing his chin, walked away, and came back with a gigantic log.  We still hadn’t said a word.  He called his buddy over.  They placed the log under the hood near the top and started smashing the hood down on top of it.  Eric watched from the car.  I just figured this was the classic smash-the-hood-with-a-log scenario. 

When the smashing was finished, they discarded the log, and the first mechanic walked away again.  He returned with two long, thin steel pipes.  Eric continued watching.  They wedged the pipes in each corner of the hood, and proceeded with more smashing.  When finished, the hood closed.  Oh. My. God.  But it wouldn’t lock, so they used pliers to bend the locking pieces in each corner and in the front back into place.  It now both locks and still opens with the release, and the hood doesn’t look all that bad!  Just a little weathered.  Total cost $12.00.  Although, I might get it looked at again…
Camille and Eric fell asleep at a fancy hotel in Nairobi, which means...
It's bro time with Dan!  Yeaaaaahhhh.  Let's order some, um, fruity fluorescent orange drinks 
Other notes from the week:
  • I’m starting to get to know the young boys at my shelter a tad better.  They speak very little English, but they shout out words in English, I shout out words in Kiswahili, and we laugh.  Shouting is fun.  We gardened all morning.  I helped the boys lift their heavy watering cans.  They asked me how I could lift so many, and I told them that I am much stronger than most mzungus. They said, “Really?”  I said, “Oh yes.  Much stronger.”  When they walked by me, they began flexing and shouting, “Muscles!”  I am very, very strong.     

  • Kids now randomly walk into our house.  I don’t know if it’s customary, but all the neighborhood kids just open the door without knocking and wander in.  The door opened yesterday when I was eating lunch, and all I saw was these tiny hands, followed by a little face peaking around the door.  She was only six.  Eric is surrounded by kids now that school is out for summer.  The kids return to school in early January.  Well, if they ever leave our house.
Eric drawing with Jennifer and Keith

Don't mess up my bus!
  • I saw my first tarantula today!  I would have taken a picture, but I was too busy screaming and running away. 

Mara pictures!  Simbas!  Roar.

We just arrived (I think).
At the Maasai Mara gate.  From left to right, me, Abby, Camille, Dan and Alyce. Eric took this picture. 
I see lions.
These lions are used to cars.

Awesome.  Look closely at the female, and you can she is covered with hundreds of flies.
A mom with her cubs.  Eric loved looking at and petting them.

We saw lions.

Write me a comment or feel this lion's wrath!  Thank you for reading.  I'll see some of you in two weeks.  


  1. I just caught up with your blog entries. I was a little late on guessing the time it took to get your resident status. I was also a little off. Eric takes lovely pictures. And you're right, that was a classic smash the hood with a log situation. Good to know somethings are the same no matter where you are.

    1. They really don't. I'm guessing you ran into a few smash the hood with a log situations while in Kazakhstan? Actually, probably in El Paso as well.

  2. Love your blog! I actually think about it on Mondays and get excited.

  3. Dan--tell me the type of camera you want--X-Mas is right around the bend!!
    It would solve the what to get Dan and Cam question. I love your writing! I want a signed copy of your first book. SEE YOU SOON YEAH!!!!!!

  4. Thought that my computer was down on Monday when I couldn't find your new blog ... glad that I listened to Rachel, "Patience, mom! Mr. Gu might be busy!" Nice pic, Eric! Good job!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    1. Ha, Rachel always gives great advice! Best wishes to you and your family as well! Thanks for reading.

  5. Roarrrr! Love the lion pics. I know you were worried that your Mom would freak out a bit when reading this week's blog entry - but did not happen! I must be getting used to wild animals close to my family, vehicles breaking down, hoods flying up with unique vehicular repairs, hitchhikers, people wandering into the house..............I'll be sure to have a nice fruity fluorescent drink ready for you upon your arrival in the Berkshires - can't wait. Love you, Mom

    1. Wait, is this really my mother? Not worried? Are you feeling Ok? Stay away from that medicine that made Dad see purple elephants.

      Thanks for the great post!

  6. I love reading your posts Dan!! The pictures are fantastic though I'm sorry your camera was stolen. Hopefully it will find it's way back to you. I hope you have a wonderful month at home and a very Merry Christmas!! Stay safe. Love you all!