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Some personal notes from day 1 in Amboseli - 22 January 2009
Thursday started with the BIG shopping - going off to the bush for weeks one has to stock up quite a bit. There are no shopping malls anywhere near Amboseli; a weekly supply of vegetables from Loitokitok (one rough hour drive away) and goods brought down with others coming to Amboseli is what we have to rely on. The drive from Nairobi to the border town of Namanga takes a couple of hours.
Some amazing road construction going on over quite a long stretch from Kajiado indicates that the main road to Tanzania will soon again see better days. Having been built properly in the first place this particular stretch of the road has been good for a long, long time, but it is finally falling apart. The ongoing re-construction done by Chinese road builder is, therefore, urgently needed. I had heard that the road from Namanga to Amboseli National Park's Meshanani Gate was terrible, but since it had obviously been graded quite recently Blake (Murray) and I experienced an unusually smooth ride. Having just done (more) major repairs on our field vehicle I was relieved to find the road in such good shape. We brought fresh newspapers (with Obama all over, of course) to Soila and the gang in ATE's field office, and continued on to the camp. A hot shower rinsed off sweat and dust from a hot journey. It was great to be back again, even though it is very sad to see how extremely dry Amboseli is.
The photo to the left is from our stay in January 2008, but we're going to see even more dust, dust devils and dusting elephants in the coming few months before we (hopefully) get rain.(©ElephantVoices)
Through a "dongle" connected to the computer I can, for the first time, be online from our (Joyce's and my) tent - but the question remains if this is really what I want considering the huge number of incoming mails...which reached close to 60 yesterday. Anyway - it gives me the option of staying in touch with my family and ElephantVoices contacts - which is good.
It was blowing hard Thursday night, and it was cold sitting by my desk. To stay warm I tried getting into bed with the laptop ... 2,5 meters away ....but that was enough for it to switch to a Tanzanian cellphone-provider. I was forced back to my desk, to avoid roaming. After I dealt with some urgent emails I went back to my current book, "The Crunch" (guess what it is about), fell asleep, and woke up in the middle of the night with a couple of grumpy old buffaloes in the swamp just in front of the tent and several elephants noisily feeding on the palms surrounding the tent. A little bit further away lions were roaring - a couple of days ago they chased a baby warthog through the camp and into the bushes. It has not been seen since.