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My Kenya Diary Part Six: Communing With Nature and Eating in the Dark

by Jane McLellan

Thursday 14th July 2011

My journey from Pauline’s empowering project and onward to the Masai Mara is well worth a mention, as it was one of the most memorable journeys I’ve ever made! First of all, we were sat among a load of plants which were about a metre long, which one of the other passengers had squeezed in with us. Every bend we turned I could feel the swish of the leaves; it was like taking your own personal jungle along with you and was a fairly surreal experience!

The first half hour of the drive was smooth, despite the driver driving very fast, and we spotted some cool creatures, such as camels and baboons along the way. Then all of a sudden the road changed to bumpy tarmac, and the next minute we were on a road made of stone, then it changed again to a dirt track and then finally there was no road! We appeared to be driving on grass, between trees, up and down hills and the driver was doing his best to avoid the holes: It was an extremely bumpy ride!

Luckily there were some nice things to look at to take my mind away from the crazy ride, and I spotted lots of zebras and wildebeest out of the window, as well as catching a glimpse of some Masai tribes-people. Luckily the volunteers who come out here approach the projects in a much more sensible mode of transport, but I chose to go the hair-raising route and it was certainly an unforgettable experience!

After 3 hours we arrived at a Masai town called Aitong, which is in the middle of nowhere. This was quite an experience; I thought my accommodation was basic when I stayed in a cow poo hut in India but this was even more rustic. The first thing we did in Aitong was look around a hospital, where the doctor informed me how our volunteers can assist them in the day-to-day business of running the hospital.

It is a great project, and would especially suit medical students, or anyone thinking of training in the healthcare profession. The hospital would love to welcome some medical interns and it would be incredible hands-on experience for any budding medic. Another volunteer project which is available in the area offers the chance to teach in local schools, so the Masai region has a lot to offer all round for volunteering opportunities.

It was time to grab a quick bite to eat, so we headed to a restaurant which was really little more than a shack. There was no electricity, so we ate dinner in the dark which was a bit of a weird experience! I had to make sure I didn’t miss my mouth! We then walked to the volunteer house, which although basic, is absolutely fine. This project would be ideally suited to people who want to do hardcore volunteering and for those that want a true cultural experience and a real adventure!

The volunteers cook their own food and eat around a campfire, and I got chatting to them and found out that they are having a great time helping at the projects and living the outdoor lifestyle. It is common for elephants to eat from trees that surround the camp and when I was there I could hear a hyena in the mountains, so you’re really communing with nature and getting to know the real Africa on a Masai project.

It was an amazing experience and as I knew I was nearing the end of my trip to Kenya, I was happy to have discovered so many worthwhile volunteering opportunities. I thought my adventures in this part of Africa were well and truly over, but little did I know that there were one or two last surprises waiting round the corner…

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