18 January 2010

Those Camels Must Be a Myth

For about two years now, before we even moved here, we'd been hearing stories about the president's camels. Apparently the president of another African country gave the president of Burundi the gift of two camels. He keeps them in his yard (which is quite large; a presidential compound if you will). But every so often they wander out onto the grass on the street side of the wall or even into the gully across the street, which is an offshoot of the gully behind our house. I've run, walked, and driven by the president's residence dozens of times and I've never seen any camels.

Yesterday morning we received some good intel that the camels were out on the street. We put on our shoes and sunscreen and headed out the door. But by the time we hiked up the hill, the camels were gone. I didn't even want to go but I felt obligated because I've been looking for these damn camels for so long. I can't leave here until I see the camels!

In other news, there's apparently a great debate online between cat owners and vets about whether skinks, a small common lizard, are poisonous or not. Ellie killed one yesterday, but didn't eat it. However, she was unusually quiet and antisocial last night. Since Grendel, I get very concerned in any change in behavior. I woke up in the middle of the night wondering if just licking a skink could poison her. My research was inconclusive except for the fact that Ellie is perfectly fine this morning. And if she had been poisoned, it seems that she would have wandered around crying, based on other people's stories, rather than curled up and fallen asleep. I guess chasing a skink around was just so exciting that it tuckered her out.

Speaking of being tuckered out, I have a really good reason for being too exhausted to blog lately. Really.

11 January 2010

Camp Carnelleys, Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Back in December, we took a mini-vacation to Kenya. Before meeting up with Mike's family in Nairobi we decided to spend a few days on our own in the Lake Naivasha area. We stayed at Camp Carnelleys, about five kilometers from Hell's Gate National Park.

Camp Carnelleys offers campsites and bandas. We decided to splurge for a banda rather than drag our camping stuff with us. For about $30 a night (midweek rate) we had a little stand-alone room with attached bathroom and patio with outdoor cooking area. We were hoping for cute little circular huts with thatched roofs, but the bandas were actually modified shipping containers with bus windows welded into the sides. It was cozy enough though. There was a wood-burning hot water heater for the shower and someone came by a couple times a day to make sure it was still going.

Camp Carnelleys is situated right on the lake, which was unfortunately low. In better conditions, boat trips can be taken from the camp's dock. There are dozens of bird species and we spent a good portion of our time watching birds from the restaurant and from our own patio. The restaurant, by the way, was great. We were pleasantly surprised. After a day of riding bicycles around Hell's Gate, it was nice to come back and relax with a drink and a delicious hot meal. The camp arranged for bicycle rentals for us. There are several camps along the road that share boat and bicycle rentals.

Lake Naivasha is a little more than an hour's drive from Nairobi. We hired a car but there are also busses you can take. We happen to be the only guests at the camp and while we felt bad that the owner didn't have more business, it was nice to have the grounds all to ourselves for wandering around and watching monkeys and birds. There are also several camp dogs, one of which was a little Jack Russell terrier who attached himself to me at meal times. (If you don't like animals, then Africa might not be for you.)

I wish I had photos to share, but I'm having camera-computer issues right now. I've been frustrated by this for weeks. I don't want to do my Hell's Gate post until I get this camera thing figured out, because we have some spectacular photos from the park.

All in all, we were happy with the casual, low-key atmosphere at Camp Carnelleys. There was plenty of wildlife fun and it was both off the beaten track yet easy to get to. 

*We were satisfied customers; I was not compensated in any way for this post.

02 January 2010

The Year Ahead

No year-end recaps for me. This was one of the most stable years we've had in a long time in that we lived at one address for the entire thing. When we leave Bujumbura this summer, almost 2 years to the day we arrived, I think it will be the record for the longest amount of time we've spent in one abode. (I hesitate to say "house" because we've had so many apartments and hotel rooms along the way.)

Forget about a decade recap. My head hurts trying to list all the places I've lived in the last ten years, let alone jobs I've had and other stuff that's happened.

We are ringing in the new year by resting. As usual for us after a busy period (trip to Kenya, family visiting, and then Christmas) we are feeling flu-ish. We have a busy year ahead of us, what with moving from Africa to India and planning to spend some time in the States. Also, I'll be losing my job when we leave here and will have to find another one when we get to India. Plus I registered for an online master's program starting in March. So I think we deserve a low-key, do-nothing new year's long weekend to build up our strength for the rest of the year. 

Regular blogging will resume soon, both here and at What I Eat. I have lots to say. I just need the energy to type it all out.