Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 11: The long road home

Day 11: Last giraffe siting
On our last 6am safari

Day 11: Last 6am safari
Acacia trees dot the the landscape

Kristi & Ben on Safari
Ben & Kristi pose with elephants in the background. I think this was from an earlier day but I don't have many good photos of them. This is from Robyn's camera.

Day 11: At the landing strip waiting for our fragging plane
Back at the landing strip, waiting for our plane

Day 11: On our way back to Nairobi
Sitting at the propeller of a Twin Otter

Flying back to Nairobi on a Twin Otter
A group photo from Bryan's camera

Day 11: One last photo of Team Tusker back at Karen Blixen
Team Tusker together for the last time back at Karen Blixen

Day 11: Bloodhound Gang at the driving range
Robyn sweet talked our way in to the country club that Bryan and I were denied entry to  on our first day

Dinner at the Carnivore our last night
Farewell dinner minus Paul & Rudi at Carnivore

I've put off this last entry for a long time. It's been four months since the trip, but I can still find ways to go back there, through pictures, video and conversation.

Our last day, Car 1 (or 2, never determined) dragged our butts out of bed at 5am to take one last 6am safari. We never did get to see a cheetah. After having breakfast we brought our bags out front to catch a ride back to the airstrip, where a plane would take us back to Nairobi. I say "plane" loosely because it was really a twin propeller plane that acted like a safari bus - it stopped a couple of times at different airstrips to let passengers on and off, just like a bus. "More chances to crash," said Jim. THANKS.

We were met back in civilization by Finn's smiling face and he Max drove us back to the Karen Blixen Cottages where we all first met. We arrived late and were rushing to make lunch so that we could have time to go into town to do some last minute souvenir shopping. The KBC cab was too expensive so we decided to walk on the main road to catch a cab. We made it to the country club where we asked the guards for help. A car arrived 10 minutes later driven by a nice man named Alex who had noooo idea where we wanted to go, even after getting Finn on the phone to try to explain it to him. No worries - cute, blonde Robyn sweet talked the guards into letting us into the club for a few hours to hit some balls down the driving range. Golfing in Kenya! Who would've thought. It felt so wrong but it was just too fun. We had some cocktails by the driving range amongst some British expats, bad teeth and all. And then we made it back to the cottages just in time to leave for dinner.

We drove into Nairobi to have dinner at The Carnivore, which is a well-known (albeit touristy) restaurant. In the past, more exotic meats like zebra and hartbeest were served, but this time we got ostrich meatballs and roasted alligator along with the pork, lamb, beef and chicken. The meat is roasted in a big pit and served on long, sword-like skewers. The server sets the tip of the skewer (it's about 3 feet long, mind you) on your plate and cuts the meat off with a knife. I'm not shy, I ate everything. 

Then we split into two groups to ride to the airport. Team Tusker rode together and on the way, we got into a fender bender when Max turned too fast into a stopped car. BLAM! I wasn't looking and all of a sudden my face was smashed up against the chair in front of me. No one was hurt, but we were all a bit shaken, especially Max, who felt terrible that we would be late for our flights. Plus, we were in a foreign country and thoughts of all the horror stories we'd heard about foreign police were freaking us out. The other van turned around to pick us up and we left Max to fend for himself. 

We got to the airport and had to say our hasty goodbyes, not having time to really absorb or discuss anything. Jim and I were on the same flights back and we were the first to get dropped off. It was a bit like leaving home - almost tearful and a little scary. I didn't realize I'd miss everyone so much after spending pretty much 24-hours a day with everyone!

I was stressed getting in to the airport as there was a long line due to a security check at the door. Then checking in took forever, and I was too freaked out and flustered from all the events that day to want to do any last minute gift shopping. 

The ride home was long but Emirates Air has really awesome inflight entertainment, even for coach. Jim and I picked The Informant to watch, pressing "Play" at the same time. But we both fell asleep about halfway through and dozed pretty much the whole way home. Dubai Int'l Airport is gigantic and modern with all the shopping you could ever want. Landing back in New York at JFK was a little unreal. I felt like I was just tossed back into the fray, stepping onto the A train with loud obnoxious teenagers and someone's too-loud headphones blaring hiphop. I could barely explain myself to Alex when I got home.

It definitely took me a while to get back into "normal" life. I didn't know how to answer anyone's questions about the trip. "How was your trip?" How to answer that in enough time, before their eyes started to glaze over? After a while I just stopped trying. 

I don't think I've had a major life change, per se. But there is definitely a mental shift. I still love food and shopping and Brooklyn. But I feel like, and hope, that I am less self-centered and a little more thoughtful. Being there with a big group, you really learn to function as a whole rather than as an individual. We really grew close to one another like a big, semi-dysfunctional extended family.

At least once a day I flip back through our photos just to see all the smiling faces of the kids in the community where we built the school. I can still feel their small hands in mine and hear their voices yelling and laughing. It's definitely an experience I'd recommend to anyone and everyone. After we pooled all of our photos there was even more media to round out the experience. I watched Ben's videos in 42 inches on our flatscreen, which consisted of about 2 hours of bumpy roads (he is a car enthusiast) and Wilson doing the "Cutta" song our last night in Oloosiyoi. Instant pick-me-up.

In three weeks we reunite in Toronto for We Day. We have been talking about it for two months. I CANNOT WAIT. 

Here is a trailer of the documentary Paul is making about our trip. He's been showing me bits and pieces of it as he finishes them, so I'm pretty lucky to be in same office as he is. Never fails to bring a tear to my eye:

The Story of Oloosiyoi Trailer from UM Worldwide on Vimeo.

1 comment:

Community + Culture: said...

great pics Alexis, what a wonderful experience!