Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Paris- sobbing about leaving and onto Nairobi and the Safari

There has been so much activity since the first entry and there hasn’t been a chance to connect to the internet. We have already left Paris and spent one night in Nairobi. We then went on the safari and have landed back in Nairobi. We left Paris on Sunday morning- around 5:30am and landed Nairobi at 7:30pm.

One neat experience we had was to visit the France Bethel of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They produce for many lands and part of those lands include Africa. They were really kind to us and served us drinks and snacks before separating us into two groups to tour the facilities. One thing that was different that I saw was the fact that we walked down several streets to get to the different parts of the branch. It was really nice to see the friends try to communicate with us as much as they could, even though they didn’t speak any English and still give hugs and kisses. It was a really nice time.

The night before leaving Paris was also full of different adventures. We went on a bus tour of Paris until lunch and then we walked /cruised all around the city. We went to Monmarte, which is a huge hill at the very top of Paris. We made friends with Steve, from New Hampshire, Chanelle from New Orleans, Patti from Oregon, and the Buck family from Mississippi. We all trekked more than two hours up the hill to the top of Monmarte and once we got to the top of the hill, we laid eyes on a tram that can take you to the top for only 1 Euro, which is equivalent to a little over a buck-U.S and you could be at the top in less than five minutes. Well, we were then squabbling over whose idea it was to walk and not find out if there was a tram to take. It was pretty funny because what made it worse was the fact that ½ way up the hill, it started to rain while we were walking. All in all, it was at least very nice to look at some of the shops that we were able to look into, on the way up the hill. Well, after the trekk up/down the Monmarte hill, we decided to go back to our hotel, change out of our rainy clothes and head to the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful, all lit up at night and we were able to go up to the second level (the top level was closed due to excessive winds). We then went for a snack and decided to go on a guided boat tour on the Seine River. That was beautiful and it highlighted some of the other areas of Paris we had not yet visited. Then, we decided to go on a Ferris Wheel ride in front of the Champs de’elysse (they closed at 1am). Well, since we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and it was getting close to midnight, we tried to find an area that was still serving food in an area called St. Michelle. We found a man from Boston who lived in France and owned a Greek restaurant. It was really good and hit the spot. Unfortunately, we didn’t finish dinner in time to go to the Ferris Wheel and we went instead to our hotel room and chatted and laughed with our new friends until 4am (I laughed so hard that night that I completely lost my voice). An hour and a half later we were on the way to Nairobi.

Once we landed in Nairobi, it took awhile to get to our hotel, but we finally arrived and checked in around 10pm. The weather was warm and was in total contrast to the cold and rainy weather of Paris. I, of course, have a bad cold and am hoping that this will do me some good. We had dinner at the hotel and repacked for our next day’s flight to the Serena Mara. We had three flights to get to the Serena Mara. It was quite an experience in this small plane and I have to admit, medication does do the body good, because I had to triple dose myself to make it through all three flights. But it was WELL worth it!!!!!!!!!!!! There are not words to express the experience that we have had on the safari. We have seen four of “the big five”- leopard, elephant, lion, and buffalo. We are heading to another game drive to find the rhino- the last one. They treat you like a princess here, and the accommodations are fantastic. You have your own little “hut” that is really cute and interesting. There are little creatures everywhere, and for the non-animal lover that I am, it is really pretty neat. I’m having the time of my life and actually getting to relax at the same time. I have spent this safari with Ryan, Larry and Lena from California, and guess who else? Another sister from Philly named SHARLA!!!! She is pretty cool and we have all had a wonderful time together! We have met a family that is from Manchester, England and the parents are originally from Kenya- from the Kikuyu and Liharu tribes. They are really nice and have twins and a son with them that are 18 and 20 yrs old. We are all meeting for dinner and at the pool, etc.

The coolest things that have happened today was a surprise champagne brunch in the middle of the reserve by the river, with about 10 hippos swimming around and the baboons observing us on the other side. (Erin- baboons- close, but yet still far enough away???) It was so special and afterwards, we talked for a long time with a young Masai warrior whose English name is Daniel but his Masai name is Ole…(cannot remember or pronounce). Anyways, his story was quite interesting. He is 22 years old and he explained that at 24, he will become a “Junior Elder” and he will be allowed to marry the girl of his parent’s choice. He also explained that the bride price has to do with his cows- how many he has, etc. He talked about the jewelry that he wore. He said that his mom gave him the jewelry at different stages in his life, whenever something “big” happened. One story he told us about was when he had to spend five months in the bush and he brought back a dead lion and the lion tail of a live lion. QUITE INTERESTING!!

Another really neat thing we saw today was a family of four cheetah feeding on what they had just caught- and we also saw over 100 elephant today. We saw two male lions drinking and playing together and saw over 10 giraffe, one of them had two baby giraffe with her. We saw three female lionesses (sp?) with three lion cubs also. We still have one last game drive in the morning.

I hope the very few pictures that I add will show some of our good times. I have already met so many new friends from all over the world. They immediately are like family and that bond is a mutual one. Only something that exists in Jehovah’s organization! How wonderful to have that true quality of love exhibited to us!

There just aren’t words to express how wonderful this experience is. Mom and dad are heading to Trinidad next week and it will surely be just as satisfying as ours is. I cannot wait to have another chance like this one for the next international convention! My only regret is never having an experience like this before, when I had the chance! This is the first of many trips to Africa!!

I'll add pictures later on today along with video from Africa and Paris.


Erin B. :-) said...

Sharla, I love love love the pictures!! But I want more... I need one of those up close and personal ones of the baboons' teeth. And of course, the snapshot of the rhino, just before tossing your camera!! :) I love the stories so far!! Keep them coming and be careful!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds fabulosis!! Remind me to plan my next big trip with you.

Mellie K.

Thelma said...

I knew I had a talented daughter, but I did not realize that she has the ability to write in such a way that keeps the reader enthralled.
I feel your excitement and am delighted that this is all and more than you expected.
Looking forward to receiving more of your experiences.
Love you,

Sapphire said...

I love the pictures, you pretty girls!!!!

shaymus77 said...

I'm so jealous!!! I want to safari so bad. I'm glad you stayed away from the baboons. Aren't they scary? I think Jehovah created them using the "Mr. Potato Head" method. They look like spare parts put together from other animals. The fact that you are enjoying yourself so much thus far makes me excited because you haven't even gotten to the best part (the convention. When you get back, I'm going to photoshop myself into that Eiffel tower picture :-)

kzylulu said...

whoo hoo you sound you are having a great time!!! This blog thing is such a good idea. we can truly enjoy the trip with you.
keep enjoying the trip and please MORE PHOTOS!!!

Vania said...

I'm so glad that you're having a wonderful time, and that you're enduring the trials of international travel. I love the pictures! Looking forward to seeing the rest when you get back!Sharla, you're looking good in your hats! Love you girls, be safe.