Kenya Day 1 - J M Neely Photography

KENYA: The Journey Of A Lifetime


Day 1 (Setting foot in Africa)

After a five hour flight from Arizona to New York, we had a six-hour layover.  We explored New York city a bit, then it was a fourteen-hour direct flight from New York to Nairobi, Kenya.  We arrived in Kenya after about 25 hours of travel.  As I set foot on the ground I felt that I had finally achieved my number one bucket list item, Africa.  I looked over at my friend and she was tearing.  Good, she feels it too.  Somehow, the thought comforted me.  

I was greeted at the airport by my host family, Benedict and Peninah Watitwa.  They welcomed me with smiles and hugs like they already knew me or like I was a friend who had come home.  As we drove out of the airport, I saw some really pretty birds with blues and yellows, but my camera equipment was still packed.  Benedict pointed at the airport watchtower and said that is his office.  He explained that he is an air traffic controller and he had watched me come in for a landing.  How cool is that!  Our first stop was their home to drop off my luggage.  

We ate some lunch, I took a quick nap, and then we were off to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  Of all the places I wanted to see in Kenya, this was near the top of the list.  They are well known for taking care of orphaned elephants who lose their parents in the wild.  Nowadays, they also take giraffe as well as rhinos who need help too.  They rehabilitate and eventually release them into the wild.  I was there specifically to meet a baby elephant named Larro.  She is a very young elephant and looked very cute with her little blanket.  I put my hand on her head and she scooted closer.  She touched my arm with her trunk which was precious and then went back to eating. But she stayed close enough so that I could give her ears a good scratching.  She flapped those "Dumbo" ears a few times and it was absolutely adorable.  I then met a beautiful rhino named Maxwell who was completely blind, but he could hear me well enough and came straight to me.  I really wanted to pet him but I had to back away as he put his horn through the openings in the gate.  Ever since I learned of this facility I had envisioned being out in the forest with the animals but that was not the case.  So while I didn’t get the photos I had hoped for, the experience was nothing short of magical and I highly recommend it to any visitors. 

The sunlight was fading fast and the guards told us we had to leave so we headed back to the house.  This is where I got to experience Nairobi’s infamously bad traffic.  It took about an hour to go 10 miles.  After we arrived at the house, I ate dinner and went to lay down.  I was overcome with fatigue from the long trip here and all the excitement so I crashed hard and slept for 10 hours straight.

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