Yes, that is me with a Cheetah.
Yes, I pet it (it felt like a short-haired pig aka rough).
Yes, it was both the scariest and best thing I have ever done.
Yes, they simply walked us into the area where it lives so that we could pet it.
No, someone else does not have Photoshop.
No, it is not sedated.
No, there was nothing that prevented it from snapping back and biting off my hand.
How did this happen?
Today was a day of relaxation and the chance to no longer watch Animal Planet, but live it. The Nairobi National Park is located on the outer part of the town and for $20 USD you can go on what is called the "Safari Walk." Basically, you get to go to a bad ass zoo. In the walk we happened upon a White Rhino, an ostrich, a leopard, lions, Albino Zebras, numerous birds, and other animals that I do not even know what to call. It is important to note that the distance between myself and the animals was often a few feet or mere inches in the case of the ostrich and of course the Cheetah.
**We all took a lot of great pictures that I am dying to share with you all. However, being that it costs money for every MB that I use on the internet, I am not sure if and how I will be able to upload all of the pictures for you to see. I will find a solution, but it may take a few weeks.**
As I was thinking to myself, "Kenya is the greatest place ever!" One of the men who works in the park came over and said, "If you want, you can come and pet her. She is very nice." Of course we all thought that he was just kidding or at the very least trying to be nice to the American tourists. As we rounded the corner to proceed, he hurried ahead and opened the door that led to the exhibit. I think we all hesitated for a moment at the initial shock that this was actually real. Once we came to, we walked into the exhibit to meet the resting lady. "Pet her," they said, as I was unsure whether I should be standing as far away as possible or rushing to pet the beautiful cat. Everyone had the chance to go over and check her out, give a pet and pose for some pictures. I was not the first to go over. Rather, I stayed to click off a few pictures (and find a little courage). When Sue and I went over for our turn the park employee decided that it was a good idea to push up the Cheetah's head, just as we were crouching around her, so that we would get a better picture. Fortunately, it worked out, but I was ready to run.
We then set off Bomas (which means homestead), where we saw the different Kenyan tribal dances and music. It was nice to sit and relax to some very different music and dance. I particularly enjoyed the singing. It seems that for many, the voice is a true instrument. It was used not necessarily for melody, but as another layer in the beat of the percussion. There is far more inflection in the tones and sounds that give a greater feeling of life.
We went home, relaxed, had dinner, watched the news together, and now are preparing for the big journey "up country" to Malava. Departure is set for 8am and we hope to arrive in Malava at some time around 6 or 7pm. I have been told that this is quite the trip, for many reasons, and I hope to take even more pictures.
Lastly, since my new fascination seems to be Nairobi's modes of transportation, I must now share my experience in a taxi cab. The cabs (and basically everyone with a small car) are like a slew of ants trying to return food to the colony as rain begins to fall. They merge, turn, dart and speed along however they wish. Main roads are divided by dashed yellow lines. I said DASHED. The roads are extremely busy, but that is no problem for there is the "middle lane." On the road there are three lanes, one for each of the cars going in opposite directions and an unofficial middle lane that is agreed to be left for passing cars IN EITHER DIRECTION. This makes for a lot of fun when that lane is occupied by the dreaded matatu's.
I choose this particular one for a very special reason. First of all, he has Lil' Wayne painted on the back. Second, he is in the "middle lane" to pass the large truck. Finally, the driver spotted us in the car and exclaimed, "Mzungu!" We inched ahead of him, but he would have none of it and caught us immediately. When saw I was looking he yelled to me, "Tell Obama I say hello!"
First regret: Not buying myself a really good camera. I did alright today, but Michael has a great camera and came back with some fantastic shots. Fortunately, we can and did share, but I am kicking myself.
I thought of something else! Michael and I have been getting a kick out of the fact that each night we have to spray our windows and curtains with a super strong insect killer/repellant appropriately called "DOOM." Naturally, phrases such as "our room is doomed" and "can you smell the doom?" have become favorite bedtime banter. It may be only funny to us, but could there really be a better name for the spray than Doom? Honestly? Just look at the following sentence: "I wish that I could bring Doom back to the United States."
More! On the news tonight, there was a story about a robbery in Nairobi today where there was a shootout. One cop was hit, but not killed. The newscaster said, "He was later quickly rushed to the hospital."
Goodnight all (or good day?), I am off to hit the sack and prepare for the big day.
Thanks for reading.