Camping. I am not a camper, many of you might have realized this by now. I sort of wish I was, you know, the sort of person to embrace the whole sleeping in a tent, cooking over an open fire, brushing my teeth in the dark and spitting onto the ground. I wish I was that sort of girl, in some ways. Maybe if I had been raised a camper and pitched tents as a child, as my children now do I would not only love it but know what to do. As it is I am not in my element. But I am proud to say that I did it and survived it and threw myself whole heartedly into the experience. I know many people who would never leave the comfort of their 5 star lodges to camp within earshot of munching elephants and roaring lions and bouncing, barking baboons. But I did and while I would have preferred one rather than two nights, the whole camping thing was okay. It was part of the journey and made me feel rather hard core, really. I had a metaphorical hand patting my back most of the time and if I come across as a someone with more princess tendencies than I should have, well welcome to my world. This is who I am. The noises at night were freaky and the cooking and cleaning and finding supplies from the many bags and boxes was a trifle tiresome but when, sitting on my camping chair and reading my book under a tree, I looked up and saw an elephant walking through the camp site I felt the magic. These are not things that happen from the comfort of a lodge swimming pool.
Handsome Husband is convinced that he felt a trunk pressing through the thin walls of our tent and considering that in total we saw 6 elephants in our camp it is entirely possible. Or perhaps it was that last whisky by the camp fire?
On our first morning we crawled out of our tent at 6 am just as dawn was cracking through the clouds and went out on a pyjama safari. Since it was so early we were treated to a splendid animal showing. A tiny baby elephant still uncertain on his legs and cowering in the comfort of his mother’s trunk could be seen close to the path we drove on. Minutes later two cheeters, slinked past, the sun bouncing off their spots. We saw lions resting after a busy night hunting and a proud male lying beneath a tree surveying the view and his female pride walking below his lofty perch. We were the outsiders driving through their kingdom and I could have watched for hours.
When we got back to the camp for coffee and eggs cooked over an open fire we felt the thrill of being so close to wildness. And then we stopped to read, draw, chat and listen to the hot silence.
The drive to Watamu was long and hot and made slightly more painful by the hour we spent attending to the flat tire. But 6 hours later when we finally saw the sea we all whopped for joy and felt like mini heroes who had conquered the road.
The drive from start to finish took us through an extraordinary variety of landscapes, some lush and green, some hilly, some rocky and some dry and dusty. The coast was blisteringly hot, the palms were dusted with red dirt in places and only when we actually approached the beach did we feel the cool respite of a sea breeze.
At the end of this long road, non paved and thick with dust we had no idea what was in store. We expected a luxurious villa, complete with canapes by the pool for our New Year’s Eve dinner. We had high hopes of soft billowing mosquito nets in rooms over looking the sea, open showers and soft sand dipping into a turquoise sea. We were led to believe both by the gorgeous web site and the encouraging emails from the owner that we would be treated to a true 5 star experience. This would be the prize at the end of two days camping. This would be worth the many dollars we were spending on our three nights at the beach. This would literally be the golden pot at the end of the dusty road.
How wrong we were.