A Kenyan Morning

by Mariah Proctor

A leap into the unknown Kenya


Most beaches just look like beaches, same goes for hotels. At least that's how I felt in my jet-lagged delirium as I arrived at the Nyali Beach Hotel, having spent the night on the dusty, red tile floor of the Nairobi airport. This is Africa? This is the place I dreamed of going? It's just a-suddenly, a monkey bounded out of the hotel restaurant in front of me at full speed, clutching a fist full of sugar packets, his long tail curling behind him. Following closely after, a man in a white chef's hat was shaking a slingshot at the thief and shouting in Swahili. Don't be fooled by your sleepy eyes, a Kenyan morning is like nothing you've ever seen. A few days later, we climbed out of our safari vans at a new hotel. A Masaai warrior in bright garb, carrying a fierce and enormous spear grinned as he took hold of our suitcases; adding local flavor, I guessed. We were to sleep in individual bungalows scattered across the hillside in the middle of a game preserve. The electricity would be off after 6pm. This tall Masaai with his bright smile, we learned, was our electric fence. Only he would stand between us and the animals. Suddenly his spear seemed too small. I thought bungalows had four walls; ours had three walls and a section of flimsy mosquito net. It was covered with a canvas sheet and as we sat playing cards into the night, I realized how easily just about anything could tear through that fourth "wall". We told stories while we played and at one point, as the room filled with laughter, it also filled with another sound. A low rumble stopped everyone mid-giggle and we went silent just as the rumble exploded into a roar so loud, I finally understood what `blood-curdling' means. My entire body shook. We were all too afraid to scream. The roar was quickly followed by the frantic trumpeting of an elephant. Was that a crocodile, do they roar? An angry hippo? Please let it just be a hippo. It was a lion and it sounded like it was on our front porch. I was so tense that when I saw that the pillow I was clutching had a bug on it I flung it across the entire length of the room. The night returned to relative silence. I lay in my bed, trying to plan where I could hide should that lion come tearing through the canvas. I could run into the bathroom, but the door is just animal skin. I could dive under the bed, but there isn't room. I could use that lamp as a club. No escape. A Kenyan morning is like nothing you've ever seen. It means you braved the night.