November 6th, 2017
I absolutely love this time of year in Kenya. The rains clear all the dust out of the air, and the sunsets are incredibly beautiful, crystal clear and often in a cloudless sky. Frequently there are rainbows which shine amazingly bright against a golden light and the vibrant green background.
With the beauty of the landscape comes the inevitable hazard of treacherous roads, often affecting vehicles in the same way ice affects tarmac. By the time the long-awaited rain comes I have completely forgotten these unpleasant drawbacks and find myself sliding off roads into ditches and wash-aways either going or returning from the school run. My children find this hugely entertaining; I find it less so, as the view through the windscreen changes from road to bush as we slide sideways across the road and into a ditch. Last week was no exception and within seconds I found myself not stuck in deep mud but also wedged against the high side of the road with both doors and windows pressed into a wall of thick mud and bush.
Naturally I was dressed perfectly for the occasion in a short dress (khaki green of course) and white Converse (yes indeed – who wears white trainers when National Park mud is a rich red color). My son William, aged 9, is highly trained in what to do on this type of occasion and leaped from the car, only to land on a very slippery convex-shaped road, from which he promptly slid into the same muddy ditch where the car was buried. This meant that his efforts actually made things worse as I now had a child covered in thick red mud who would have to get back into the car once we had extricated ourselves.
As an intrepid Kenya-born woman I am usually very reluctant to ask for help, particularly from my husband, or any other man for that matter, so for the next 20 minutes I managed to stay on my feet and fought to get the car back on the road, sadly in vain. Realizing that I would need a tow rope I called Anthony for help, and half an hour later he arrived. His comments were unflattering and extremely insulting, but with 5 meters of slippery mud between our vehicles he knew he would be safe from retaliation, at least for the time being!
At this point I was beside myself with rage and frustration, and he decided that rather than approach us and hook the tow rope to my car, he would keep a safe distance and throw it to me. My attempt to catch it was successful, but unfortunately I lost my balance and fell into the mud with the car which contributed even more to the complete failure of my sense of humor. My children knew this was not the moment to laugh, and once he had pulled us out of the mud, Anthony remembered urgent business at the Lodge and departed at speed. We then proceeded with caution, and mostly sideways, back to the Emakoko, watched with lazy interest by Zebra and Impala staying safely out of the way and munching contentedly on the lovely lush green grass. We got back just before sunset, muddy car, muddy child and very muddy driver!
Despite the issues of being temporarily stuck in the mud, we all LOVE driving around in these conditions. Not only do the roads have the ‘black ice effect’ but also the rivers come up, and crossing them can be quite a challenge and it certainly makes our school runs a lot more interesting. Being stuck in the mud next to a pride of lions on a kill is also not too bad a thing. These wonderful big cats, however, do appear to hate the rains. With more grass available over a wider area the plains game spreads out and the lions have to move around more. Like all cats they dislike getting wet and when moving through the park tend to use the roads more than usual. It makes it an excellent time to visit - filled with adventure and getting "up close and personal" with the park feline residents.
Whilst our life here in Kenya continues in a peaceful and interesting way I am reminded what a huge debt of gratitude we owe to the many men and women who fought and died so that we may live our lives as we choose. For most of the year we take our freedom for granted, but at this special time we think of them, and are grateful for the sacrifices that were made and are continued to be made on our behalf.
“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them” “To the Fallen” by Lawrence Binyon