Posted by: seafarmer | January 11, 2011

My stone story for the McKenzie Cairn

Everybody is invited to contribute a stone for a family cairn, and to write
up a story around what the stone means to them.

Here is mine:

This small piece of quartz is from the gravel road leading out of Samburu
National Park towards the community of Archer’s Post, in the northern part
of Kenya. I picked it up on November 25, 2010.

It is special to me because it commemorates a holiday which was magical in
so many ways. First, I was with our daughter Carolyn, who was the best companion one could
wish for. She was fun, lively, always charming to – and interested in –
everyone around her; she was enthusiastic about her first time in Africa and
all the animals – and like me, very taken with the people we met.

Second, I was returning to a place where I had been extremely happy in my
younger days, from 1973-5. So for those three weeks I did my best to be a
25-year-old again. Even on the plane from Dubai, I suddenly gave in to the
need to dance down the aisle ‘I’m going to Kenya’. I sang aloud (ouch), I danced to the music in my head, I laughed a lot and
asked a lot of questions of people, oh and I told Carolyn some stories.

My former housemate from the early days, Margaret Butt, and her husband
Manny were our hosts in Nairobi. Manny was the city mortician when I first
knew him. He embalmed Jomo Kenyatta. He started an exhaust-manufacturing
business ‘Silentflow’, and is now slowing down towards retirement, but still
exactly the same Manny. They live in a palatial home on a lake to the north
side of Nairobi, with very noisy peacocks, dogs and geese.

Margaret and I had shared an adventure overland through Sudan, Egypt,
Greece, Lebanon, Turkey and Europe, in 1975. Our four Sundays in Nairobi
gave us much enjoyment as we reminisced about the trip.

Our safaris included Samburu – still my favourite – partly because of the
views as one drives north round the shoulder of Mt Kenya.. green stretches
of wheatlands towards the mountain, as vast desert starts to unfold ahead.
Then Samburu has the gerenuk, the Grevys zebra, reticulated giraffe, and
other special animals. The gerenuk is an antelope with a very long neck that
can stand vertically on its hind legs to browse. We stayed also at Ol Pejeta Conservancy which has a policy to integrate
wildlife with cattle production.. it has sanctuary places for white rhinos
and chimpanzees, neither indigenous. Sweetwaters Camp was an absolute
delight. Then back over the Timau road to Meru National Park and a camp in
the shade by a river. Black cotton soil after rain has to be seen to be
believed. We slithered for two days.

Four days at a large coastal resort south of Mombasa was followed by another
six days on safari, to Maasai Mara and Nakuru, and finally to a farm near
Njoro to see the Nightingales who have farmed there for 100+ years. Geoff
and Cathie have a keen interest in sustainability and ecology, Geoff having
built wildlife corridors across the farm and used no-till methods for his
rotation of about six crops. An elderly employee came up and shook me by the hand, asking in Swahili
‘Where is your husband?’ I could kid myself that he remembered Colin and me
visiting there on honeymoon in 1977, but more likely he was put up to it. I
had to tell him that Colin was at home working so that we could enjoy our
holiday in Kenya. Thank you Colin! Christine Jane Mckenzie 1 Jan 2011

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