Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pink Lard

One of the most entertaining things about visiting Kenya is listening to the American tourists speaking Swahili.
The Kenyans tried their best to teach them to say Jambo (Hello), but it never sounded quite right with an American accent, especially those from the "Deeyup sayuth". It always came out as "Jayumboh."
 "Almost." The patient Kenyan would say. "But it's supposed to rhyme with Rambo."
 "Thayats what ahh sayud - Jayumboh."
 "Mmmm. Try to rhyme it with mambo then."
 "Okay." Says the slightly less patient Kenyan. "Let's try something else. Habari za asabuhi. (Good morning.)
 "Habairy zah ayasabbooeye."
 Impatient Kenyan. "Whatever!"

Still, at least they tried the local language bless 'em. And at least they are quiet when on safari so as not to scare the animals. It was easy to tell when a group of Spanish tourists were approaching the lodge in which we were staying. Their arrival was preceded by a stampede of all types of animals running to get away from their constant yabbering. I thought my staff could talk, but they are rank amateurs compared to our Spanish friends. It would be an absolute miracle if they ever saw an animal at all - apart from Badger and I. They yakked non-stop from morning till night. Obviously they thought it more important to discuss the price of paella, who the latest matador to get a horn up his bottom passage was, why anybody ever thought Picasso could paint, why Kenyans can't make a decent cafe con leche, how on earth "Barthelona" manged to lose to Real Madrid - at home. In short anything except why it is a good idea just to shut up for five minutes so that you can see the animals that you've just paid thousands of euros and travelled thousands of miles for.

Anyway, my staff didn't really care because they had their own safari vehicle. This meant that we could ride along with them as long as we promised not to tease the elephants. Frankly I was surprised that we were allowed out of our room following the debacle in Prague. See http://pemery.blogspot.com/2011/10/cavy-up-my-cassock.html We were in a part of Kenya called Samburu, which is Swahili for "Second home of the talkative Spaniards." It was very hot and dry, which meant that lettuce was in short supply. There were plenty of thorn trees though, and I'm taking serious thorns here. Elephants use them as toothpicks. There were dik diks everywhere you looked. The dik dik is a tiny antelope, not much bigger than a guinea pig. They live in pairs and mate for life. If one dies the other simply pines to death. It's horrible. My female staff wanted to pick them all up and squeeze them - as if they haven't got enough to worry about with leopards, cheetahs, lions and eagles the size of small commercial aircraft. My male staff told us that if you see one dik dik on it's own it's just a dik, but I think the only dik in Samburu was him.

So we spent a bizarre few days in Kenya. My staff went out in their safari vehicle twice a day to look at animals when they could have stayed in our room and looked at Badger and I for nothing. At mealtimes we listened to the Kenyans' despairing attempts to teach the Americans Swahili and the Spaniards drone on about whatever Spaniards drone on about. Never mind. We're home now thank heavens. At last Badger and I can sleep in our own beds and don't have to share one with my staff. As the trip went on my staff's girths expanded expanentially' leaving us with less and less room and more and more chance of being squished when one or the other rolled over in their sleep. Let me tell you, the ever present danger of being crushed under mountains of pink lard does not make for a peaceful night's slumber. In fact I think I overheard our Kenyan guide saying that Samburu had no hippos until my staff showed up.

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