- Broken axles: 1
Intact axles: 1
Spotted cats: 2
We leave in a flurry of photography and nostalgia. There are many photos of the group, sitting in jeeps or posing in front of the camp. On the way to the airstrip, we see two more cheetahs, hanging out by the road. This is a particular treat for the half of the group that missed the first two, and enables them to say that they saw all of the "Big 5" on their trip. These cheetahs were even more quiet than the earlier couple. It was clearly too early to see the public, and they were still sleeping off a pretty good party the night before. They keep rolling over, turning their backs to us. Fortunately, we are happy to take photos of them from any angle.
Steve's (hopefully) final instance of poor transportation luck asserts itself on the way to the airstrip. The other jeep goes ahead, and as soon as they are out of sight our rear axle comes apart. We glide to a halt. James and Mike pull out the axle, a long, black, oily pole, and we continue. Meanwhile Mike holds the axle upright in the car (we had nowhere else to put it), and tries not to be covered in oil as we bounce along. We continue on in front-wheel drive, and fortunately make our flight. I resolve not to let Steve touch our car for a while, until he's proven that three is the limit for this particular curse. If the red line mysteriously goes down next week, at least I'll know where to find him.
Our flight from the Mara to Nairobi is very reminiscent of early air travel. We throw our duffels in the hold, then climb aboard. Lovely views from the windows. We make two stops at small airstrips, making low passes before landing to clear off the goats and wildebeasts. I'm not sure, but I think one of the herds tried to hitch a ride. (It's the stylish way to migrate this year.)
We have a few hours in Nairobi, not enough to look around, but enough to clean up and rest a bit, and to catch up with CNN. TV and electricity are a bit startling, as is the newsstand in the lobby. We put away even more now-unnecessary goods, but determine to consign the extremely greasy sunscreen to the trash. It's much easier to take the whole ziplocked mess and ditch it than risk having clothes both dusty and greasy to deal with at home. Dinner, a ride to the airport, a quick stop through duty-free, and we are off. A final look back as we take off -- the lights of the city are surrounded by mysterious and fascinating patches of darkness.