Kenya reminiscing

This blog post has been sitting half finished for a while. I have been doing a lot of thinking back lately, so it fits the theme. Do you have a special childhood memory of a place you once lived? Tell me about it:


I grew up in Kenya and my parents and brother and his family still live there.  I left Kenya in 1992 after finishing school and I have only been back a few times.  I am not usually someone who dwells in the past, but sometimes enjoy thinking back to those days. This post was inspired by a few lines in a friends recent blog post:
When and where were you happiest?
Consciously: Kenya, 1991-1992.
Subconsciously: In any airport or airplane going anywhere.
[Reference: Living a Quotable Life ~ Feeling Vainly Proustful]

When I read Kenya 1991-1992 was her happiest time I thought it was rather sad...it's a long time ago. But it got me thinking, what was it like. Was I also happiest then? I don't think so, but it was a special time in my life and certainly laid the groundwork for who I am now. Most of all, my Kenya childhood boosted my interest in Nature.

So I thought I would share with you areas in Kenya that have a special meaning to me in terms of my appreciation for nature:

1.  Korr.  Don't look on a map, you probably will not find it.  It is in the heart of northern Kenya, deep in the Kaisut desert.  This was (and is) where my parents lived and worked with the Rendille people.  When I was at home it was total freedom.  Hiking and riding motorbikes around this area gave me such a deep appreciation for nature.  I know motorbikes don't sound like they are to environmentally friendly (although, emission wise, they are better than cars). But it was the freedom to get out in the wild, all over the place, that made it so special to me. Thanks to Somali bandits, the area remained really remote. The bandits had no interest in the poor nomads in the desert, they were after political interests. But it meant very few tourists, very little development, not much of the modern world. We only got out first TV (in my parents apartment in Nairobi) when I was 17. TV had little to do with my childhood. We had solar lights (ah, you see, now I made up for the motorbike riding, right). So, our power would run out early most days, and we would go to bed and wake up early. It is a hot place. Really hot. So for kids who wanted to do stuff, it was important to get out and about early. We got on a mission with climbing mountains. It was amazing. I still hold on to a dream of one day taking tours through the area if the bandits left. But for now the situation remains a little poor.

2. Mombasa and the coast. We would stay in cottages as a family and spend hours in the ocean snorkling. I don't know much about what I saw. We never had field guides or anything. We just snorkeled and swam and had a good time. I love the warm Indian Ocean. It is really a thing I miss a lot on the western side of Africa. Sometime we were their on conferences, and that was fantastic...just a bunch of kids having fun. Mostly it involved late nights playing risk and Dutch blitz.

3. The Rift Valley escarpment. I did my high school at Rift Valley Academy, which was such a great location. We spent a lot of our free time in the forest. I had a really special bunch of friends, all with an interest in the outdoors. It laid a strong groundwork for my future.

4. The lakes (especially Baringo and Naivasha.) It has to be one of the most fantastic things about Kenya, these lakes. Good times were had there. Baringo is such a special place. It is considered among the best birding spots on the continent.

5. Nairobi National Park. Perhaps an odd one, but my parents spent time in conferences and workshops on a regular basis. We spent times in Nairobi National Park. Once I had my driver's license, I spent a great deal of time there on my own too.

6. Tsavo National Park. It is just such a fantastic park. I don't know what it is like now, but there was a time when the lodges were all in one small region. If you drove, you could get far away from tourists. There was less wildlife, but it was wild. I had one special trip with a friend towards the end of school. We drove out there and spent time just exploring. I really thought at the time...I need to become a conservationist. I never really did, but I did study Nature Conservation Management for four year and have become a more insightful nature guide as a result.

7. Samburu National Park (and Buffalo Springs)...special place. Grevy Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe. Stuff like that. Wonderful. It was our half way stop on the way home

and many more.

There was (is) a wildness in East Africa that isn't here in Namibia. It was a great, great country to grow up in.
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2 comments:

beth♥ said...

Ah, homesick. Is it sad that those were the happiest years? Perhaps a little. I made a lot of poor decisions in adulthood and I live with the consequences. Childhood was idyllic. I have never been to the far north of Kenya. It is foreign to me. The rest of your list, however...

Namib Naturalist said...

Ah Beth,

I am honored by your visit, master blogger.

Of course, for me it was the other way around. At school I had too little confidence. Each decade for me has been better and better. But childhood does have special memories.