I visited the Masai Mara National Reserve earlier this week with my family. I was reminded of this same period last year when my pals and I took our sons camping to the Mara. Our motivation was twofold. Witness the annual wildebeest migration and at a cheap price tag thanks to corona. I thank covid (please don’t stone me) for the opportunity because I’d not have considered visiting the mara during the migration. The steep price I’d have to pay would require that I fuliza. Luckily the animals had no lockdown imposed on them last year (and even this year) so they came and found a captive audience literally. Corona has boosted domestic tourism substantially.
This week felt like an anniversary of sorts. Going back to experience the magic of the mara again under covid circumstances. Domestic tourism has also grown substantially over this period. So thank you covid. But still, please go away, together with all your relatives (variants) that are hatching up along the way.
Visiting the Mara last year with my son caused huge FOMO (fear of missing out) in my household, so we all went together this year. We had a blast. Being with people you love and who love you right back against a backdrop like the mara wilderness comes close to experiencing heaven in my view. Plus thanks to GoK (Government of Kenya) the road was smooth all the way.
It was encouraging to see a line of vehicles full of tourists lined up to enter the park at the Sekenani gate. That can only mean good tidings for the tourism industry. The sun was out too and that warmed our holiday. Any opportunity to escape the Nairobi winter is not to be wasted. We got to our lodge in the Mara triangle without incident.
Healthy eating is suspended while on holiday. We were feasting like a pride of lions that has just killed a buffalo. I recall with amusement my son at some point saying he has a headache because he had eaten too much. That’s the effect of full board packages. You eat all the time. It’s time for lunch before breakfast is processed in the system. Then dinner is a few hours later. It almost felt like an eating competition. Then add the fact that food is my family’s love language. Let us just say we maximized on every coin paid for that holiday.
The game drives were a key highlight for us. We were eager to capture some good animal action. I silently prayed the animals would cooperate and allow us to photograph them. They did not disappoint. Vivian was our guide and driver throughout our stay. She was a pleasant lady and struck a chord with my baby sharks. She was experienced in her job going by the way she took us off-road where animal sightings had been found, especially of lions. She was also quite knowledgeable about the ecosystem in the Mara.
Spending time in a tour van with my family was comedy in the wild. From requests for loo breaks to questions on why the daddy lion is on top of mummy lion. Their curiosity was on overdrive and odd questions kept coming fast and furious. When mummy shark and I felt shy to respond to some of their queries, Vivian jumped in answered them in such a simple manner that made sense to their young minds.
Other times I’d kneel in readiness to photograph, my youngest baby shark would suddenly jump on my back for a ride. And just like that, I’d miss my shot. At animal sightings where tour vans would gather, my kids would chat up folks in the vehicles nearby. Sometimes they would react to the animal sighting so excitedly that I’m sure even the animals would notice. I believe we acted our own version of Madagascar the movie on that safari.
It was mating season for the lions. We came across a few couples having their harusi ( mating as described in this context). Having watched a lot of Nat geo wild on TV, I noticed how the males would mark territory by urinating on trees and bushes. Elephants too would follow a certain path repeatedly to a watering point. Hippos would spray their faeces on shrubs along the river bank to mark their routes to and from the water.
In the animal kingdom, they must leave scents to enhance their survival. The smells create a certain order and balance in their lives. That got me wondering what scents we leave behind as humans. We may not think much about it but our actions leave either a stench or sweet aroma to those we interact with. People relate or think about us based on the impressions we made on them. When loosely translated, there’s a quote in my mother tongue that communicates that when we do good to others, we are doing good to ourselves. Another view I like is, the best way to lift ourselves is to lift someone else.
Vivian left us with a good scent and I hope we did the same with her. She went out of her way to accommodate our random excitement and even extended the game drives for me to photograph the sunsets. My kids loved her. She brought them Masai shukas to keep them warm and even taught my daughter how to drive a manual car (by observation of course). The day before we left she came looking for my son to inform him that a lion had made a kill just outside the lodge. She offered to take us to see it and we were excited at seeing a lion with ketchup (blood) on its mouth. My last born’s response hehe.
On our check out the next morning, my kids demanded to see Vivian to say kwaheri. She came over and they promised they’d look for her next time we visit the Mara triangle. Mummy shark and I blessed her with some mpesa and wished her well.
Folks, what scent do we leave behind or carry with us as we do life? Would those behind us be fortunate to pass where we marked? Or would their lives be worse off because they followed our scent and caught the stench? Let us strive to leave a good smell everywhere we go.
PS: Our July halftime roundtable is almost full. Sign up if you desire to leave behind a great scent for others to enjoy long after you are gone. See poster here on this site.