Annelies Kuiper lives in our little community and is a professional writer: "Kenya Cowgirl" Uhuru International 1990. Also she is a board member of the Copper Mountain Mesa Association. Annelies has decided to return to her place of birth "Kenya" and wants to share her adventure with us. Kenya has been going through a period of unrest lately and we all hope for the safety and well being of our neighbor Annelies.
Subject: Hello from Annelies
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007
I think I remember telling you that I am leaving for Kenya on January 1st. I was born there and lived there, attended school etc., until March 1974 when I was 18. This will be my first visit back since 1979, when I stopped over for a brief vacation on my way to Amsterdam, from South Africa where I lived for almost 3 years. Anyway, I will be sending out group update e-mails periodically and thought I might include CMM on that list. I will spend 7 weeks travelling around – camping in various game parks (I’m taking my camping gear with me), taking pictures, writing journals and visiting old friends I’ve managed to find. I have hotel reservations for the first 2 nights and the last 2 nights of my trip; other than that I’m going to let my journey unfold itself to me! I am very excited and enthusiastic, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Happy Holidays and Merry New Year!
FW: Enquiry from Annelies
From: Annelies Kuiper Thacker
Sent: Mon 12/24/07 8:52 AM
My name is Annelies Kuiper and I am returning to Kenya –where I was born and lived for 18 years –for the first time since the seventies. In 2000, I asked a client of mine, who was going to Kenya on an EarthWatch vacation, to place a rock I gave her, under a Baobab tree in Kenya for me. She did as I asked and sent me photos of my rock under the tree, as well as the view of Mt. Kasagau from the tree. I need to find that Baobab tree and hopefully, my rock. Via the internet, I discovered your establishment, which appears to be a perfect spot from which to begin my search. I am bringing my own camping gear and have rented a small 4WD vehicle for the duration of my stay. Do you allow camping? Otherwise, would you have a banda available – I arrive in Kenya on January 5th, 2008 and fly out again on February 21st. If you have something available from the 7th of January, that would be perfect, as I can begin my trip in search of the Baobab tree. As I am on a budget, I would prefer to camp out.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Sent: Mon 12/31/07 8:21 AM
Hello from Annelies:
Just wanted to let you all know where to e-mail me while I'm on my Travels...: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be travelling from January 1st (tomorrow!!!) until February 26th '08. I hope to check my e-mails from time-to-time and will respond when I can.
Lots of Love,
I have postponed my Kenya trip...?
From: Annelies Kuiper
Sent: Thu 1/03/08 6:52 AM
After following the situation in Kenya closely on the news, as well as speaking to friends over there, I have decided to postpone my trip by a week. Hopefully, by next Thursday, January 10th, my new flight date to Nairobi, things will have become more peaceful. I would be most grateful to receive updates and advice from my Kenyan friends; please stay in touch with me and let me know how you are and what you think.
I hope and pray you are all OK. From over here in Amsterdam, things look very worrisome and I am scared and worried for all of you. Please take special good care of yourselves.
Lots of Love,
I´m on my Way...?
From: Annelies Kuiper
Sent: Tue 1/08/08 7:58 AM
Hello to you all:
Just wanted to let you know, that I am flying out of Amsterdam tonight and into Nairobi tomorrow morning. I am being met at the airport and will pick up my rental car. Not sure what I´m doing right away, so I´ll be in touch to let you know what´s happening. I am extremely excited and can´t wait to get over there. Know that all is well..
Lots and Lots of Love,
Safe and sound in Kenya?
From: Annelies Kuiper
Sent: Thu 1/31/08 2:20 AM
Greetings from Kenya! (well, we been wondering out here if she was ok. //bob)
While the violence and tribal misunderstandings have been thundering all around me, my trip has meandered its way safely, navigating into havens all around. I have been welcomed with kindness and open arms wherever I go. Most tourists have cancelled their trips, which has allowed me the freedom to stay wherever I want, as hotels, lodges, park roads and campsites are deserted. I arrived on January 9th and spent 2 nights with dear friends in Nairobi. Then I set off down the Mombasa road and spent some time in Tsavo East National Park along the way. Saw lots of game: elephants, giraffe, zebras, lions and not a single car along the way.
My biggest fear was getting a flat tire and having to change the tire with the help of lions or ellies! Then I set off for Diani Beach, south of Mombasa, where I stayed in a delightful, peaceful little cottage near the beautiful, white sandy beaches of Diani.
I met up with the sister of an old friend and was invited to spend 4 nights with her at her family's gorgeous beach house: Colobus monkeys swinging through the trees, overlooking the gorgeous beach, with the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean. I went swimming with dolphins in Shimoni, enjoyed a Swahili luncheon on Wasini Island and visited the Shimba Hills National Park, famous for its Sable Antelope. After 10 days of sheer paradise, I left the coast and headed up to Tsavo West National Park, where I stayed 2 nights at Kilaguni Lodge, where I used to stay with my parents. It had rained just before I got there, so the animals were hard to spot in the lush, green vegetation. My rental Suzuki performed well and no road was unpassable for me; I did not once have to put it in 4-wheel drive, just chugged through anything! Next, I drove to Amboseli National Park and was required to take an armed escort with me, for my safety, but did not run into any troubles; however the roads were unbelievably bad. My teeth almost rattled out of my head and I bumped my head on the ceiling numerous times as I hit yet another ghastly stretch of corrugated potholes! I saw more animals at Amboseli than I had anywhere. Huge herds of elephants, buffalo, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle and I was fortunate enough to come upon a pride of lions on a buffalo kill, being hounded by a huge pack of hyenas who were trying to drive the lions off, while the mournful buffalo buddies of the unfortunate kill stood around helplessly. Mt. Kilimanjaro towered over the dry plains in all her splendor.
From there I drove on to Namanga and back to Nairobi, where I stayed the night with an old friend and his wife. The next day, Sunday 27th January, I drove up to just north of Nanyuki, where I spent 3 nights in the delightful cottage of dear friends of mine, close to a huge cattle ranch. I was alone, in the middle of the bush and was given the opportunity to catch up on my thoughts and feelings, while enjoying breathtaking views of snow-capped Mt. Kenya.
Yesterday, I arrived at the Lewa Conservancy, south of Isiolo, where I am staying with another old, dear friend. Here I see a symbiosis between the animals and people, I have not come across yet. These animals have not been traumatised by the poaching that took place in other parks during the eighties and early nineties. We have been on long walks, seeing elephants, rhinos, Grevy's zebras, reticulated giraffe and herds of antelopes. Obviously, we kept a safe distance from the animals, but I have never experienced such a feeling of calm and peace, as we trudged through the Kenyan bush at sunset. Last night, we could hear ellies and rhinos arguing at the water hole, buffalos grunting in the stream just below my cottage and a leopard who spooked the bushbabies into loud alarm calls in the middle of the night. This morning I enjoyed my breakfast on the verandah, while three reticulated giraffes enjoyed theirs 100 feet away. I hope to stay here another night and will head back to my friends' cottage at Nanyuki for the weekend.
I had planned to drive over the Aberdares, a beautiful, forested mountain range, over to Naivasha in the Rift Valley, to visit other old family friends, but in light of the ongoing violence there, I may drive back to the Coast and visit Lamu. Lamu is a beautiful, peaceful coastal town north of Malindi, where cars are prohibited. Other dear friends run a camp up there and idyllic beach walks and dolphin swims are the order of the day. I will decide what to do in a few days, when it will become clear if the struggles have subsided.
I am well and healthy, tanning nicely and have been having fascinating discussions with many people in Kenya about the current situations in Kenya. I do miss home and my loved ones, but the joy in my heart at visiting my Homeland of Kenya, surpasses any sadness I may feel. I feel myself healing and I am so touched by how well people remember me from the old days.
I don't know when I will have access to another computer, so you may not hear from me again until I fly into Amsterdam on February 21st. Please know that I am safe and very happy.
Lots of Love and Kindness to all of you,
Quick note from Kenya...?
From: Annelies Kuiper
Sent: Sat 2/09/08 6:59 AM
Hello, it's me again.
Thank you for all the e-mails; I love hearing from you and your care and concern for my well-being touches me deeply. I'm still safe and sound and doing well. I've connected with old family friends, the Zwagers and I am staying with them at their home, the Djinn Palace on Lake Naivasha. My parents were friends of theirs and I grew up with their three children. They have a huge flower farm on the shores of the Lake and also run a game sanctuary, Lodge and Guesthouse. I've been here almost a week and have been spoiled rotten! A beautiful, tranquil place, with fabulous food, daily massages, game drives, swimming, good conversation and lots of rest and relaxation.It's been most interesting, catching up on old times and sharing new experiences. They have their own plane and I'm to be flown to Manda Island, opposite Lamu, to stay in their private resort next week. I am so grateful to be allowed to see this side of Kenya as well and the luxury and comfort I'm wallowing in daily, certainly contrasts sharply with the previous four weeks of my trip.
The situation in Kenya seems to have stabilised and while the Naivasha area was one of the most turbulent during the recent troubles, all is now quiet and people are trying to get on with their lives.
Now, I must go: sundowners being served on the verandah, can't miss that!
Lots of Love, Stay Well!