On Saturday we experienced another beautiful, crisp morning here at the River Camp in Laikipia. It had rained during the night, which added to the freshness of the morning. Dawn always brings a stillness and peace here, but with it a lively energy as countless birds chirp and the river gurgles close by. We enjoyed a slow breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30. Since it was Saturday, we got to sleep in an hour later, and took our time getting to breakfast. We enjoyed coffee, tea, and eggs and toast, chatting as the day got brighter and brighter.
We had a brief meeting mid-morning, discussing possibilities for our research projects we will work on this coming week. The rest of the morning we spent catching up on our Research Journals and finishing other homework. It is just so wonderful to study outside in the cool of the air, in the environment of the very place we are learning about.
By 1:00 it was lunchtime, and we gathered together to eat a wonderful meal of ugali, lamb, avocado and tomatoes. I was lucky enough to have a birthday while being here in Kenya, and after lunch the group surprised me with a birthday cake! It was wonderful to celebrate with such an incredible group of people in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
In the afternoon we went on a game drive and got to see all kinds of wildlife. The sky was stunning. It was storming in different places across the savanna, but the light was shining through in various places in the sky. The air was cool and fresh from the rains of the early morning. We saw zebra, elephants, impala, grants gazelle and more, and at one point we came upon a group of more than 15 giraffes scattered at different distances, browsing peacefully.
In the evening we ate supper together, and then sat around the fire. We talked, laughed and enjoyed the warmth of the flames and the refreshing night air. The night sky here never fails to take my breath away. On Sunday some of us woke to the pattering of the rain on our tents. By 8:30, breakfast time, the rain had died down and the sun was poking through the clouds. After breakfast, the group split, some staying at the River Camp for the morning, others going up to the Research Center.
We gathered again for lunch at the River Camp at 1:00 to share a meal of beans with sweet coleslaw salad, and passion fruit for dessert. Delicious. The rest of the afternoon some of us spent time reading and talking, and others took naps or spent time just relaxing. Mid-afternoon we all walked down the path that lead to tents 1 and 2 where we could see four hippos wallowing in the water of the river. It was neat to see them appear out of the water, poking their heads just far enough out of the water for us to see their eyes, nostrils, and funny ears. After that, a soccer game was started, while others returned to reading under the shade of the outdoor tent.
The relaxed pace of the weekend was wonderful, giving us energy to begin a new week here in Kenya. Each day is a gift, spending time in such beauty, getting to know amazing people in a place that pulses with life. We continue to be grateful for the chance to be here and study the incredible, intricate ecosystems that surround us. - Mandy Schlabach, Senior Art Major, Goshen College