Greg Schundler's Semester in Kenya
February 4, 2006

My first morning in Kenya. I woke up at 7 am and the sounds of new birds signaled me to get up and play with some of my new toys. Before we hit the road to Mpala, supposedly a nightmarishly bumpy ride, I’d pull out the laptop and get writing while everyone else still sleeps. The sun is shining and the air is crisp and dry, birds are already chirping away, and the manager of the hotel is asking me where Nathan is. The Kenyan people have already been so warm; you get the feeling that the pace of life is slower around here

My first Giraffe
The flight. The view up the Hudson and Canadian coastline was crystal clear heading out of Newark and thousands of tiny lights filled the entire window. My next sight after a movie and quick nap, was what I thought were snow-covered Irish highlands. The thickness of the clouds marked with distinct ripples and contours looked like we were flying clear over Antarctica. Once we got to the ground and looked from the ground up I realized it was nothing more than English weather: overcast and dreary. After the much unneeded hubbub of changing planes we were off again and in anticipation of a completely new view I was able to keep my bloodshot eyes open for the next 7 hour flight. Seeing the Alps in all their glory had me even more excited for what was to come: a completely new continent in my eyes. Unlike the transatlantic flight we were all seated in 2 rows and it seemed appropriate that we were to share the moment together. I sat next to Mongoose and enjoyed good conversation about Lox, Canada, and the like. We are an ecletic bunch, but I have the feeling we will work things out fine. The swarm of photographers by the aisle windows was my signal that something worthwhile awaited my view. The intensity of these people to catch every moment was overwhelming as they boxed each other out to get a view of their first African sunset on the horizon. The sun must have been rising over New York. Later the Sahara mimicked the” clouds of Ireland in a light brown. You could see the Nile winding its way through the desolate landscape patiently meandering its way to better things. Once night passed over Africa there was nothing but blackness out the window with occasional clusters of mysterious lights, not cities.

Kenyatta International Aiport. My first taste of being a minority, looking around with suspicion, not helping but to wonder which of these self-proclaimed porters grabbing at your luggage had AIDS. Holding on to my last moments as the white majority around the baggage claim. Driving to Nairobi we saw a group of Zebras grazing on the roadside between complexes of Subaru Kenya and ritzy Western hotels behind large fences. The Kenyan crescent moon was rotated to a smile as I stuck my head out the window and took it all in. Nairobi looked pretty put together and I could recognize some of the buildings from my Insight guide. We arrived at the ICIPE for one night’s stay at around midnight and after a quick van pat down were allowed to pass through the thick fence. Pretty ridiculous accommodations for a research center—we all got our own room and after throwing stuff down squeezed the last out of the day over a great buffet meal prepared by the staff. I retired early, unfurled my first mosquito net, and didn’t have much trouble falling asleep.

Go to the next page..... Greg's Semester in Kenya--February 5, 2006

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