- Coughing fits: less than a dozen
Flat tires: 0!
Hot showers: 1
We leave Amboseli early in the morning for an eight-hour drive to central Kenya, by way of Nairobi. We start in barren drylands, slowly climb to wetter and more populous areas, and by lunchtime are in a major city. Highrise buildings, traffic lights and casinos are a bit startling. We stop at a very elegant hotel for lunch, which to my delight features an Indian buffet. Aloo mutter and biryani make the world a happy place to be. Elegantly dressed locals view us with amused condescension in our dusty bandannas and battered hats.
The afternoon finds us driving through the coffee-growing and populous region of Kenya to the Sweetwaters Tented Camp. While we have no game drives on the agenda this day, this is mitigated by the artificial floodlit watering hole next to the dining room and bar. Lodges in the game parks tend to be arranged in a fan-shape, with porches looking out over the park. Each room therefore has the illusion of privacy, with only a fence a few feet away separating you from the park grounds. Tented lodges are an interesting hybrid of tent and Motel 6, no doubt designed to avoid some local zoning law. Each unit has a concrete slab, on which a tent has been semi-permanently mounted. Over the tent is a sort of roof, which keeps the rain and wind off but does little else. The walls, however, are most definitely those of a tent -- the windows are mesh, and must be zipped closed. The "door" is a zippered flap. Inside this odd chimera you find what looks like a hotel room. A real bed, a chest of drawers, a desk and chair with an electric lamp (!) and so on. In the rear of the tent, behind a sketchy partial divider, is the bathroom. Behind each tent is a charcoal-fired boiler connected to a central water tank by way of a rickety system of pipes. The water system seems at high risk of failure, but upon testing does in fact provide both hot and cold water. Is it a tent? Is it a hotel room? It's not clear, and the cognitive dissonence is a bit distracting. On the other hand, did I mention that there is running water? Running HOT water?
Steve wanders off to the lodge to inspect the local watering hole, but I find the prospect of a shower far too tempting to pass up. When I emerge and search for a towel, I discover that I am not alone. Steve neglected to zip the door closed, and a curious giraffe has wandered by to watch this strange behavior. It stands just the other side of the fence, not 30 feet away, leaning down to see through the tent flap. I have my very own peeping twiga! He stays with me while I change clothes, and follows me to the bar. Several people comment that while most of the herd went straight for the watering hole, this one seemed to be distracted by something. That's me -- giraffe temptress.