Posted by: Suzan | February 11, 2011

Kenya, Africa – Stretching Perspectives to New Levels of Pliability




Kenya Part 3: Lake Bogoria – the home of the Pink Flamingos

 The police standing on the side of the road waved us over. Since the Land Cruiser was registered in Tanzania, it provoked suspicion. He asked Salim, our driver/guide to hand over the registration and insurance which he promptly provided 

Then he walked around our vehicle and leaned into where I sat writing in my journal. “What are you writing?” he asked with a firm grip on his baton. He started reading it out loud. “What are you saying about our country?” he asked in a loud voice.

 He’d read an excerpt about our visit to the orphanage in the middle of the world’s largest slum, Kibera. “Sir, I am writing about our experiences bringing many gifts to the Siloam orphanage in Kibera. This is my journal. No one will read this.” He nodded and motioned us on. I began to breathe again.

 We drove by endless shanty towns like facades of movie sets, one stand after another with vegetables, honey, and fruit. People held up their wares at the road side, large watermelons nearly touched our windows, and wherever we stopped the locals would swarm around us with their items pleading, “Have a free look. It is free.”

 People cover the sides of roads, there are few vehicles. Not many can afford to buy cars or even bicycles, meager existence is common place. Some women have wood, charcoal or buckets of water on their backs or heads. Yet again, we pass large families holding hands; everywhere people are talking, laughing, engaged with one another; children are surrounded by care providers; there is no poverty here, no lack for love or connection. 

Suddenly Salim swerved sharply to the left off the road and parked in a grassy area. Christopher, our cook, said, “It is time for lunch.” 

They placed a Maasai blanket on the ground along with a pot of avocados, potatoes, tomatoes, and a dressing, a delicious African salad. We’d pulled up next to a run down building which turned out to be someone’s home. The owner came out to greet us in a tattered t-shirt, shook all of our hands and welcomed us to his homestead. Salim gave him a loaf of bread and some cheese which he accepted with a big smile revealing stained, chipped teeth, jutting in various directions. I’d become accustomed to these smiles by this time, and imagined most people spent money on sheer survival. I’d never thought dentistry to be an excess yet in this land it is. Africa continued to shift my perspective and lend me new appreciation for my every day life.

 We soon arrived at Lake Bogoria, a 600 mile section of the Rift Valley, created by seismic activity. The lake in front of us appeared pink. Flamingos covered it entirely, some on stilts cruising around, and others upside down paddling for plankton, their food of choice. Salim, our guide, told us they stay here until all the food sources are depleted, and then they fly to Lake Natron to have their babies. 

Pink flamingos have an internal compass and can find their way at night via the stars and during the daytime via the moon. I admired their ability to always stay on course – to know where they are going at all times.

 We drove approximately 15 miles on rocky steep climbs along mountain hillsides as baboons, dic dics, gazelles, and wart hog families crossed in front of our Land Cruiser. Again, the potholes abounded, and Salim skillfully weaved our vehicle in and out of them.

 At dusk we set up camp as small flies buzzed around us. During dinner we talked mostly about corrupt politicians. Our conversation led to the travesties which occurred in Rwanda and Salim recommended the movie, Some Time in April where they highlight how much the radio announcements egging people on played in the tragedy.

Right after bed we retired to our tents. I soon heard the sound of a wild animal squealing. It was Jim’s snores so I placed the ear plugs in and a pillow over my head. I later woke up to dead pan silence. Ah, Jim can be quiet, I thought. Then I looked over and saw an empty cot and a missing camera.

Soon Jim returned and we shared our outdoor breakfast as Winston, our tour guide arrived. He walked briskly toward us to shake our hands in clothes which seemed to swim around him. He later led us on a hike through the bush where I continually watched out for thorns as they seemed to grow on every tree and bit of vegetation in Kenya. He carried his botany and wildlife books with him though often we remain confused, e.g. he said those black bats yet meant black birds, so he continually looked for the photos to show us so we could better understand.

 He told us that the pythons and cobras rest on the rocks so my eyes were wide open. When we ran across a huge family of mongoose, I felt even more alert, as they are snake eaters and looked healthy.

 Again, we saw pink flamingos in abundance. Hundreds of them at a time taking flight is one memorable sight. We walked past geysers and hot springs, one of only a handful of places in the world. Then two ostriches, a black male and a grey female, ran by as if they were competing in a marathon and it was their final stretch. I tried to stalk them yet they were too fast for me. 

We noticed several islands along the lake and were told a man with 5 wives and 29 children lives on one of them. I stretched my perspective around this and found more pliability. “When can I meet them?” I ask




  1. Wonderful story! Can’t wait to hear more.


  2. Thanks Gina. Glad you enjoyed the story. Make sure to scroll down as I have two earlier entries if you have a chance!



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