Business is family, family is business. I was brought up acutely aware of Dad, and Safaris Unlimited – I knew about the seasons that were busy, and the seasons that were quiet. Sometimes the results manifested in how many holidays we could go on, but more often than not, I knew because of how many truck rides I took out into the bush to the start of another safari.
From an early age – around nine – I was part of the crew. Travelling with the band of men that made our safaris what they were, we would leave Nairobi with a truck full of horses and camp equipment, and make our way down the escarpment into the Great Rift Valley, across the floor of this yawning natural marvel, and up the Mau Escarpment on the other side, before dropping down into the endless yellowed plains of the spotted land (‘mara’ in Maa – the language of the Masai – means spotted land).
Today, although Tyga and Thego remain too young to travel with the crew, they do come with us on safaris. They come with their own vehicle, Felicia at the wheel, and a tent that is pitched a fair distance from the main camp to give them a little space of their own. They wake up to the sounds of nature, and shards of sunlight piercing the canvas windows. It’s never too early and we find the little people in our life bounce around with copious energy when we are on safari. Tyga and Thego will spend the majority of the day with the safari camp crew – of which there are 18 odd – being passed between loving and laughing father-like figures. They will sit on the tin trunks of equipment and watch as Kikole kneads dough for fresh bread, or climb onto the lap of our truck driver Karanja as he tells another of his soft rambling stories around the camp fire. When the tall, slim figures of the Masai arrive in camp, Tyga and Thego will reach for their beads and earrings, pulling on them for a closer look, whilst the Masai tell them about the wildlife they’ve seen during the day – and the calls they will hear in the night.
It’s life in a village; we like to think it’s how our ancestors existed when dwellings were caves and families were the entire extended community.
When we return home, Tyga and Thego have their own rooms in our house, but there is always something to go and watch – horses being groomed and schooled; cars being maintained, hay being stacked, camp equipment being mended and washed, dogs to walk and parents to distract. What would like be without the little people in our lives?