Sunday, June 26, 2016


Imagine, if you will, a place where you can shower indoors.  A place where you can buy chocolate and juice, go out to eat, and explore shopping malls, all without having to worry about elephants in camp or siafu (safari ants) in your bed or having to get up at 4:30 in the morning.

Escape to civilization.  Escape to Nairobi.

Robyn is excited about our new cottage in Nairobi!
About every six weeks or so, a few members of the Mara Hyena Project have to make the harrowing journey (anywhere between 6 and 12 hours long) from the Mara to Nairobi.  There we stay in a small cottage rented by the project for a few days while running various errands for camp that can only be done in the city.  We get one of the cars serviced and repaired, shop for food and supplies for Talek and Serena camps, submit research paperwork to various government branches, drop off departing research assistants or graduate students at the airport and pick up new ones.  Sometimes it seems that the to-do list is never-ending; we try to do Nairobi trips as infrequently as possible, to minimize the amount of time researchers have to spend away from camp, and as such when we do come here we try to get as much done as we possibly can in the limited time frame that we have.  Whether it's refilling tanks with liquid nitrogen for our biological samples, bringing hyena skulls to the Nairobi National Museum, or wandering around the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries trying to figure out who can write us a Letter of No Objection, there is always another task to be accomplished, another chore to be completed, another important item to buy for camp.  Sometimes the tedium of sitting in offices or making endless trips to Nakumatt (basically the Walmart of Kenya) gets to people, and they come to dread Nairobi trips, desperately yearning to see a Mara sunset again almost as soon as they leave for the city.

I am in Nairobi with Robyn right now on my first Nairobi trip, and while I certainly miss camp and the Mara, there are many perks to being in Nairobi that people don't always talk about.

Being in Nairobi gives us a break from camp, a reminder that Kenya (and the world!) is so much bigger than our beloved Mara.  We get to meet new people, explore the city, and see glimpses of what life is like for urban Kenyans.  We also get to return to civilization's amenities for a little while and enjoy treats like buying chocolate...

These objects on the table are called chocolates.  You have no idea how exciting this is.
going out to eat...

Breakfast at Java House.
and just seeing new things that we haven't before.

Above: four pictures from The Hub, a new mall in Nairobi, the biggest mall we have ever seen!
While nothing compares in our hearts to the beauty and majesty of the Mara and its wildife, it is an exciting change of pace to experience Nairobi and see how people live here.  I look forward to seeing our favorite hyenas again soon, but in the meantime I will settle for kisses from some other mammals we met here in Nairobi.

Making friends at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi.
See you soon, Fisi Camp!

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