5/31/2011

Comings and goings.

Also, this weekend, sadly, we lost two of our dear friends who are moving to the West Coast. Lilah and Carey, who are about the nicest darned folks from Louisiana I've ever met, are taking off for the riches of Portland and the Pacific Northwest. We will miss them. And we are plum sick of good people leaving. So, um, if you read this and live here, quit thinking of moving. At least until we do.

And we spent Memorial Day at the ballpark, watching our Sox, who are red, lose to the Sox, who are white.

Alas.



5/30/2011

Foiled.

































It's Monday, Memorial Day, and we've already had great intentions twice and they both were somewhat thwarted. So, before I say more, I'm going to knock on wood, because we are going to the Sox this evening with the best intentions of them winning. And, yeah, three strikes...

We wake up Saturday morning and Marianna whips up some amazing peanut butter and chocolate French toast with a jelly reduction. This came after not being able to find anyplace in town to have breakfast. And while she nails the recipe, the recipe nails her back by jumping on her shirt.

Sunday, after church, we drive out to Cormier Woods, an old 17th century farm about an hour form Boston. It's now all overgrown and there is very little pasture land, but there is a preserved farmhouse and barn, etc, that you can hike three miles through the woods to see.

Well, 150 steps into our hike, we get absolutely killed by mosquitoes. And I mean, eaten alive. Within 7 minutes Marianna has 5 bites and I have a couple. And that's after swatting like mad.

So we bail from the woods, walk around the field for a minute, and then make the drive back. That was strike two.

The good thing, I reckon, is that we drove the Boston Marathon route back. It's funny. Nobody ever says "Man, Framingham is nice!" after they've run. For good reason. I can see why Wellesley gets all the praise. And while it is gorgeous, it doesn't take much after passing through the 'Ham.

And thanks to all the troops.
















5/28/2011

Giving it the Old Try.
























Hi friends.

Sorry it has been three weeks since we've last posted. We're in the process of doing something.

And that thing is started a company, that as of yesterday afternoon, is a legit thing.

Old Try.

Or, legally, Old Try, Inc.

We're going to make prints and sell them and then you can buy them and be excited that you know the folks who brought it to you.

Look us up on another part of the internet:

http://oldtry.blogspot.com/

We'll keep posting, here, of course, but if you are missing us and the frequency isn't what you like, swing by the Old Try. We'll let you know what's happening there.

Exohs-
Team Whitson

5/08/2011

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig: Day 7

Day seven bled into day eight and into day nine as we were perpetually in motion for a day and a half.

We left Maasai Mara headed to Nairobi, which was purported to be a four hours drive, but as you know already the roads are not to be counted on and that four ended up doubled. But that wasn't just because of the roads.
see you later giraffes

Wildebeest

Trip for the day Maasai Mara (A) to Nairobi (B)

At some point, Lidia decided she wanted to crack open a hard-boiled egg to snack on. Which Muli said he'd to crack for her. Unfortunately, she'd accidentally grabbed a raw egg from the omelet station at breakfast, and Muli smashed it, THE EGG, on his forehead, and he had, then, egg on his face, shirt and entire steering column and apparatus. It was pretty hysterical and he was a good sport.
Roylee, Marianna, Micah, Lidia, Muli, Julianne, Ruth

As we entered Narok, on the main highway, a flurry of activity exploded and, within seconds, the highway was overflowing with 40,000 people who were helping snarl traffic, express outrage, and scare four vans full of white people.
Protest onlookers

You see, the rains that came through a couple of nights before had come from Maasai Mara into the creek and then picked up steam, and more rain, and then flowed the 40km into Narok and flooded the town. Which moved cars, ruined houses, and left the main area covered in 4 inches of mud. Well, the government had been sending money to town officials for years, to improve the banks of the creek and prepare for flash floods, but the city council had instead decided to pocket the money and leave their folks, quite literally, up the creek.

So, the student-lead was a protest to get attention, and if nobody elses' attention was captured, our surely was.

We had to drive along town side roads, which were being shoveled, to remove mud, while Muli was yelling at people in Swahili and a delivery truck in front of us was getting stuck. I had an uneasy feeling and was not sure our 2WD van was going to be able to pull off the biggest upset ever, Van vs. Mud/Protest, but after 45 tense minutes where I was really just waiting for some firearms to be brandished, we made it to the other side of town and I wanted a cigarette and the next day we heard that traffic was backed up for 20km.

Then we drove, and drove.

A mountain pass was blocked off because a truck carrying re-bar had blown a tire and was getting towed off a perch on the side of a steep cliff that would have meant sure death had it fallen. We made it past the truck, but that was another 45 minute delay. Others I'm sure were in traffic for several hours.

The traffic in Nairobi was packed. The airport was packed. Our bags were packed. And the only thing to do was give Muli a hug, wait in line for broken computers, then board our plane.

So, to give a summary of our trip home:

Mara to Nairobi, car / 8 hours
Nairobi airport / 3 hours
Nairobi to Addis, plane / 2 hours
Layover / 3 hours
Addis to DC, via stopover in Rome for refuel, plane / 15.5 hours
Airport / 2 Hours
DC to Boston, plane / 1.5 hours
Logan to home, cab / .5 hours

And just like that 36 hours passed as quickly as, well, a day and a half would when you are forced to sit still.

I feel like a need a big ending, now. A summation. Maybe a short film. Or, just picture this: the sun setting on the plains of Africa, the Lion King soundtrack playing, and Marianna and I doing an interpretive bush dance as a hot air balloon takes off behind us. All that would be shot directly into the sun, with an annoying yet artful lens flare present for the entirety of the tracked shot.
Overall trip locations in Kenya

Spotted! Day 6

That gray line is the Tanzania border

Our second day in Maasai Mara began on a sleepy note for me. During the night, I was rudely awakened by some seriously loud noises. Wild animal noises. Coming from real wild animals. Like lions. Not like lions, definitely lions. Loud crazy roars that sounded like someone was watching Discovery Channel over the loud speakers. But they didn't have loud speakers and it wasn't a TV show, it was real. Real loud and real close, oustside the electric fence surrounding the resort. It was pretty crazy. There was also a totally weird noise that I can't even begin to describe coming from, what Muli told us the next morning, was another kind of hyrax (like what we saw at Naburu) - probably a tree hyrax. Let me tell you, that sound was weird and crazy loud. I was awake for what felt like hours trying to block out the noise. Micah seemed to only wake up every now and then. Lucky.

We went out early that morning, just grabbing a granola bar before loading up into the vans. We found a pride of lions, possibly the ones from the day before, hanging out fairly close to the hotel. They were right next to the road, and the cubs were so cute.
good morning lions

We spent the morning driving around, really planning to see a ton of animals since early morning was (supposedly) when they were all out and about. Not so. Really not so. We didn't see much at all. We drove around, eyes peeled for cheetah in the grass or leopards in the trees or giant pachyderm roaming the land. We even spotted paw prints in the dirt of the road and followed them to no avail.
Searchin'

no cheetahs or leopards

Lookin'

only Warthogs

drivin'

We went up to a lookout which was really neat. There, you could see hot air balloons from the trips you can charter (which cost a fortune) to take you over the park. We also found a group of park rangers who, incidentally, knew Muli by name. That man knows everyone! It was neat to see such a large expanse as the sun was rising higher into mid-morning the sky.
Stork

crazy tree

overlook with hot air balloon

Julianne with the rangers

We did see some crazy-looking trees called kigelia - aka Sausage Trees. They had these huge potato-like (or sausage-like, if you will) fruit on them. So interesting. We also found some funny-looking antelope. One kind was called hartebeest - fairly large and have really skinny faces and crazy horns. The other was called topi - they look kind of like hartebeest, but are darker and have straighter horns.
Sausage Tree

Topi

Coke's Hartebeest mixed with some Thomson's Gazelle

Back to the resort we went. We ate breakfast and then made a decision. The rest of the group was scheduled to visit a Maasai village that afternoon after lunch. While it did sound pretty interesting, we had read in the guide book that it was really a tourist thing and that, it was actually kind of depressing. The people would beg, and you would have to pay money to take their photos and they would try to sell you things. I really struggled with the decision, but in the end, we decided not to go. We opted instead to catch a nap and relax by the pool. Which was an excellent choice. The whole trip was go-go-go-go, so it was really nice to have a break. Our friends who went did enjoy it - the village did a dance and the Maasai interacted with everyone (and sold them things and sat for photos).
After lunch and an afternoon of relaxing, we headed out on our final game drive of the trip. We saw a bunch more of the amazing animals we'd seen before. We also found some ostrich - so giant and awkward up close. We tracked down a male lion resting in the shade. He was pretty cool.
Female Ostrich

Male Ostrich

Male lion, complete with mane, back under the tree

It was starting to get really cloudy. It's so neat to see the rains roll in on the savanna. You could see it coming from miles away. Well, we skirted the storm long enough to get back on one of the main pathways in the park, but it eventually was coming down in buckets. Sheets. Cats and dogs. We stopped for a while; Muli was trying to reach someone on the radio (apparently, some of the other Liberty vans had gone out of range, and we were trying to locate them). There was, it turns out, one van that got stuck "off road" somewhere on the way back from seeing the male lion. They were stuck for a while it seems, and I'm just glad we weren't there to have to help push the van out that time.
Lilac-breasted Roller bird

Spotted Hyena (during the rain storm)

The rain eventually stopped, and then we got word. A leopard had been spotted (hahaha)! It was over where we had trolled for it earlier in the game drive, but hadn't found it. Muli put the car in gear and we high-tailed it over to the siting area. Sure enough, there it was. Just strolling around. Not even in the trees. Just walking through the grass nearby. So cool to see. Soon enough there were tons of vans - I think the park rules limit officially limit it to 5 vans per animal area, but all bets were off at this point). We stayed a while and got our fill of him.
Leopard!

We started to get going. And then, for a second, couldn't get going. Our super-awesome 2-wheel-drive van was slipping on the newly-rained-on grass. Not that wild, carnivorous animals are everywhere in the park, but being, right next to the leopard, not the best place to be stuck. It only took a few tries and we were free - whew!

Another pretty sunset as we headed back to the lodge for the night. We had dinner with friends and then grabbed a quick drink in the bar before turning in for the night.
In the bar area having drinks with pals