August the 17th
A slightly strange start to the day, having laid awake and listened to the English people singing along to the band last night belting out the 80s classics and finishing with the proclaimers 500 miles, it all felt a bit incongruous. There are some that come here and never venture beyond the walls of the hotel complex, with it's amazing staff, all you can eat buffets, 3 pools and ample activities, why would you? But we have gone beyond and seen what people are doing and living on. Pompous and evangelical as it may sound, it changes you , it may change the way I look at the world forever, there is now a very real and large part of me that just wants to stay here and help. Yesterday we went by a bush hospital and people were clearly walking miles to get whatever rudimentary care they could provide, we also passed an articulated truck that had recently fallen over and there was a chap sat by the side of the vehicle with a bloody bandage clutched to one eye. I am painfully aware I have skills that could be of a real benefit to some here and this weighs heavily on me as we join the hung over and sunburned for breakfast.
Lisa, as usual, offers the perspective I need. The hotel brings money to the area that wouldn't be here otherwise, and employment and in the greater scheme of things a lot of happy people who will go home with happy memories of a country and hopefully encourage others to come. Of those who come many will have the same epiphany we have had, and that can only be good.
The people we have met, both in the hotel and outside, to a man, have been happy friendly and warm in a completely natural and relaxed way, far more than if you were visiting London for example. They are not constantly trying to get money from you, quite the opposite in fact, so maybe it's my problem and I'm making too much of it.
The lovely lady we met on the safari said as we parted company , 'this place changes you you know', she was right.
Well the equatorial sun is speeding high and we have nothing at all to do today so we decide to head to the pool after breakfast , I am reading Dara O'Brians book about his English tour that we saw and his take on English culture and identity, it is brilliant and I recommend it to anyone, a very bright and witty book. It also stops me wringing my hands and being morose for a bit. We stay here for much of the day until it's time for afternoon cakes and biccies.
These are served in the animation deck, where the lovely people who make up the team do everything to make you happy. They have already learned the boys names and welcome them warmly. We sit at a table for drinks and it has on the table a long wooden slab on it with 16 bowls carved in it each containing 3 smooth pebbles, at either end there is a longer depression. Lisa and I saw 8 Masai gathered around one on the road trip, but it's Matthew who is most intrigued so he goes to find someone to teach us how to play.
It is brilliantly simple, very addictive and clearly has a lot of scope to be a very skilled game akin to chess, but that can be played by a 7 year old after 2 minutes instruction. It's called Ajua or Adua , and I will google it when I get home and see if I can find a board for sale, because we played it as a family for 4 solid hours this afternoon, the boys forgot the ds's completely and were entranced. A marketing opportunity for the west I suspect.
Even though it was now gone 8 the boys insisted we checked the gift shop for a board before we went to dinner but they didn't have any, so we bought a soap stone zebra instead.
After dinner was the usual entertainment, as we were 'docked' in the lovely city of Beirut in the Lebanon tonight the entertainment was obviously...... People miming to show tunes, well the boys wanted to watch as there was a couple of songs from Joseph so we stayed to watch these.
I have to confess my mind wandered during this and I considered what a fantastic opportunity Angry Birds the musical would be.
'kill the piggy , kill the piggy'
'Tick tick boom, goes the fat black bird'
'i'm the rubbish little blue one (splits into harmony of three) , we are the rubbish little blue ones, who are only good against thin bits of glass, if you have 5 pigs in helmets to kill, then we are a pain..... Well you get the idea.
Yellow ones speeding down the aisles , red ones bouncing around and constipated white ones straining not to drop their eggs on the stage. It would be awesome, it really would.
After the Joseph tunes the boys wanted to go to bed so we go back to the room and snuggle up listening to Harry potter being read by Stephen fry
Strange old day
After breakfast the boys are both desperate to start playing that game again so we wander over to the games area to see if its free. As we play Daisy , a lovely member of the team, comes over to say hi to the boys. She sits and watches us play and asks if we saw the show last night, and runs through the entertainment for the week. Seeing my expression she asks what's wrong.
'Well', I said. 'We took a safari 2 days ago and I was rather moved by the people we saw along the road'. 'I find it hard to get excited about karaoke , knowing what lies beyond the doors'
She smiles and nods, ' a lot if English here never leave the hotel the whole time ', she says, 'they think this is Kenya'. In Mombasa town I live in a room with my family. There are 8 similar rooms all filled with families and people I don't know and we share one toilet and one bath, and we are lucky.
Not much happened today really, we sat about , played the game and Matthew made a friend who he played table football with for hours. The boys played in the pool on the slide. And we sat about and talked. The boys were in stitches as we told them about our childhood tv programmes. Especially trying to explain Bod and finger bobs. Mr Benn sounded weird when you described it, this weird bloke who got up every morning , put on full suit including a bowler hat and went immediately to a fancy dress shop where he tried on lots of outfits but never spent any money. Strange man.
Found an Ajua board for sale by the beach boys, will investigate that later and hone my bartering skills.
Learned that safari is a Swahili word that means 'journey'
Learning a bit of Swahili now, it's cool using 'hakuna matata' for real along with asante sana, jambo, karibu, polle polle
Drift off again listening to Harry potter on the iPod through a speaker.
Well it's better than the disco.