Dare to Dream
In April 2019 I was invited to do staff development work for WE in Nairobi. An invitation to Kenya is an immediate “YES!” response in my world. While in Kenya I hoped I could also connect with Joseph Mutemi, the Maasai student we sponsored at guide school. Ryan Snider, at Socially Responsible Safaris, set up a three-night stay over the weekend at Sentinel Camp in the Maasi Mara including Joseph as an apprentice guide and guest. Joseph got permission from his principal for the weekend off and said he would meet Dominic, the head guide and driver from Sentinel, at the Musiara landing strip.
There are 8 airstrips on the 1,510 square kilometers of the Maasai Mara. Safarilink flies regularly from Nairobi to these airstrips, however, there have to be a least two passengers for the plane to make a landing. I was the only person scheduled for Musiara airstrip, so the night before I was set to arrive the airstrip was changed, and then in the morning it changed again to Mara North! Flexibility is an essential quality when travelling, even more so when travelling to wild places. Would Joseph make this moving target? He had to travel to Narok, a town on the edge of the Mara the day before and then pick up a local Matatu (mini bus) to a village nearest the right airstrip where Dominic would pick him up. I had to trust it would all work out. As the landing strip came into view, I could see three trucks lined up along the edge of the runway. Two bright red Maasai tunics stood beside one of the vehicles. Was that Joseph and Dominic?.
Yes! They were both there to greet me. Our adventure began with an hour’s drive to the camp. I had the whole weekend ahead with two Maasai guides and my own private vehicle—really, does it get any better than that? Talking with Dominic I learned he began work as a guide for Me to WE’s volunteer Kenya trips. We discovered we had many mutual friends, both Maasai and Canadian. I’d come halfway around the world to discover my guide and I had common Facebook friends!
April is low season in Kenya’s tourism business and the spring rains had just begun. The Mara was turning green; the animals were looking sleek and healthy. As we drove to camp the drama of a Mara storm darkened the distant sky a deep indigo. Any residual tension I’d brought from home dissipated; the Maasai Mara calls you to be completely “in the present”. Kenyan wilderness with two expert Maasai Warriors as guides—yup, pretty happy.
Over the weekend we covered a lot of territory. We saw many of the animals the Mara is famous for, but this trip most of all we saw LIONS! Old lions, young lions, hungry lions, fat lions, mating lions! I took 1,000s (yes that’s right) of photos. Sign up for my newsletter to get my next blog about the Maasai Mara lions.
Joseph, Dominic and I had such fun together. I’m grateful for the knowledge and guiding expertise of both men. Joseph and I had hours to talk about school, life and our diverse cultural traditions over dinner after game drives. It was a magical and unanticipated sojourn that deepened my connection to Kenya, its people, and Joseph, my guide.