April 1985, I was getting ready to graduate from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with my B.A. in International Relations and planning a major adventure. I was representing an organization called Women for International Peace and Arbitration (sadly my search shows the organization may no longer exist) at the United Nations non-governmental organization forum at the International Women’s Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
I had wanted to go to Africa since reading “Born Free” by Joy Adamson when I was 12 years old! I had been working hard both to graduate and make this trip happen. And before my time in Nairobi I would be having a small safari in the Masai Mara…including floating over the Mara in a hot air balloon. The following pictures were taken with a tiny 35 mm point and shoot camera, printed from slides and many years later scanned into my computer (dust and all). It was winter in Kenya in July.
A much younger me in front of my tent at Keekorok Game Lodge in the Masai Mara.
All the comforts of home…almost. The phone was for room service but didn’t actually work. Step out the back flap into a private bathroom with flush toilet, hot and cold running water (that did work) and big fluffy towels. One of my favorite memories was the sound of the waiter at the front flap/door for my wake up call of hot coffee with steaming milk saying “Jambo, mama”….and averting his eyes until he realized I was wearing sweats.
Note sign on tree….no problem…you don’t have to feed them.
They help themselves.
A genet cat joined us one evening on the veranda for dinner. You can get a better idea of what it looks like if you Google Genet Cat.
Preparing one of the two balloons for flight.
Lucky for me there were two of them so I could get these shots. Little did I know that in days to come the pilot would invite me to ride along with the guys in the follow truck.
Yes, that is the moon above.
If you are just floating along there is no noise so the animals are not frightened.
Giraffe(s) from the air.
We got a little too close to this tree…
But we landed safely and enjoyed a lovely brunch in the bush while the crew packed up the balloon for the ride back to the lodge.
Me and balloon pilot Tim….British …we had fun talking about the differences between American English and English English. I informed him that in the States we put braces on our teeth and use suspenders to hold up our pants. (okay find an English friend if you need it explained).
Yes, my friends, that is a lion and we are standing in the balloon basket in the back of an open truck. I did not have a telephoto or you would have seen the color of his eyes. And he was not happy with us and roared his disapproval.
I was also out on a couple of early morning game drives….at the time they cost $35 everytime I went out so the two mornings I went in the truck to follow the balloons I got my game drive for free.
I really did eventually get down to business in Nairobi!