What I learned in Kenya
If there was ever a place that, when I visited it, felt like I was “coming home”, it was Kenya. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, having loved the movie, Out of Africa: the beautiful landscape, the wild animals in their natural habitat, the stars shining so clearly in the night sky.
One of my favorite quotes about Africa is from Brian Jackman, who said, “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it?”
My first trip to Kenya was 25 years ago(Note the "old school" video camera and wonderfully high waisted shorts in the attached photo). It seems to me that the beginning of time surely happened in Kenya, and the term “God’s Land” came to my mind frequently during my time there.
We started off a bit iffy, when our hotel in Nairobi went into lockdown because of a shooting right outside its doors. Clearly this was something the hotel was used to considering the speed with which the doorman went into action and closed us all in.
Nairobi was a bit worn at its edges and worse for the wear at the time. So, it was with great pleasure that we left and headed to the country. We flew into Maasai Mara on a small dodgy aircraft that bounced when it hit dusty runway. We were tempted to kiss the ground in gratitude for a safe landing.
The Maasai tribe was a beautiful group of humans who welcomed our small group, which included me and my parents, into their fold. They embraced us, showing us how they worked, ate and lived, offering us cow's blood (which we respectfully declined) to mark the special occasion of our visit, and demonstrating how they beaded their magnificent, bright-colored bracelets and necklaces. I knew when I started Sidney Byron I would want these wonderful bracelets in our store.
My love for elephants took root with my visit to Kenya. Flying high above the vista in a hot air balloon, we watched them roam the earth. Powerful, confident and majestic, they moved with slow methodical grace. They were ancient and awe inspiring. It dawned on me what an honor it was to be in the midst of these creatures, just as it had been an honor to be so welcomed by the Maasai.
Floating in the clouds, I looked down again and again at them. The elephants, those endless wanderers. Deeply connected to the natural world. Holding in their memory all they have ever seen and known and felt and been.
As travelers in Africa, this first place, the place where all life began, I felt steeped in some knowledge I hadn’t known I’d yearned for.