Upon leaving the safari, we continued our journey back to Nairobi. The Great Rift slowly crept up on us and all of a sudden we were at the top looking out over miles and miles of valley.
You could see this distance better in real life!
There were some tourist shops at the top where I got a few funky animal print necklaces!
From this nice man (who just happened to blink at the wrong time!)
We’ve seen quite a few Obama signs, including a huge mural that looked nothing like him and this funny sign Michiel snapped of “Obama’s Joint Bar and Lodging.” We think the real message is that you can drink and lodge in the same location – not anything to do with smoking!
We were covered in dust and sweat upon returning to the hotel and I was so thankful for a shower. I went down for a goodbye dinner to the crew and had one last Tusker.
We got the buffet for dinner and the following bites, including a papadum (tortilla-corn chip hybrid), avocado, rolls, smoked salmon, cheeses, grilled veggies.
I had more Indian inspired food from the buffet. I am loving the curried veggies (at the 2:00) and want to try to replicate them at home. The turkey (7:00) was also really good with a raisin chutney.
A few desserts: Pecan Tart and a chocolately mousse thing with a white chocolate rose (that’s a salad plate – not the huge dinner plate above).
I was finally able to successfully chat with my family back home!!! We had lots of fun playing with the video – bears too. I was able to show Matt all of the souvenirs I bought as well, including a little rhino that liked popping up in front of the camera.
I slept like a rock last night thanks to Advil PM, which I haven’t taken before this trip, but it really helped me sleep the two times I took it this trip. I was so groggy this morning though – maybe because I haven’t gotten 8 hours all week?!
I met Kelly for breakfast. We’re the only ones left!
This was a delicious bowl of plain yogurt, dried fruit, a few nuts and seeds, some pears + mango and granola + All Bran.
Plus papaya, pineapple and a small piece of dark bread with PB+J.
And of course mango juice. I’ve got to live it up while I’m here! It’s really more like a mango smoothie it’s so thick. I am definitely going to try to make one at home, although I am sure it won’t be nearly as divine.
After breakfast I went to a 90 minute hatha yoga class that was free for hotel guests. The spa here is also used by members of the community, and I think most of the attendees were local. There were about 10 women and we were led by a male instructor. I could barely understand his English, his accent was so thick, but the class was very interesting and fun!
First we started with 20 minutes of breathing exercises, including:
- Lamaz style puffing (for about 5 whole minutes without stopping; hand on stomach, suck in abs on each breath)
- Nostril breathing (Close one nostril with finger, breathe in one, hold breath, out other = weird)
- Some breath-heavy chanting (20 minutes was a little too long for me, but most of the women were deep in concentration!)
Then we started a flow:
- Tadasana, forward bend, low lunge, plank, chataranga, updog, downdog, low lunge, forward bend, hands to heart center
We must have done that same flow over and over for about 20 more minutes. And every time we inhaled or exhaled he would say “exhhalllllllllle” in this strong voice. It helped me breathe more though.
Then we moved on to some other poses:
- Shoulder stand
- Plow (I think it’s called?)
- Sit ups with straight legs
- Legs at 90* and move them up and down
- A funny spinal twist with legs straight but to the side
- Savasana (I almost fell asleep!)
It was very cool to be doing yoga in such a different style and environment.
After yoga I had some complimentary carrot + mango juice
And then went for a swim before lunch! Just about 20 minutes because of the mean sun.
For lunch I decided to order off the menu so I could have authentic Kenyan food one last time.
I ordered the Mukimo, a dish made from maize, beans, corn, spinach and potato, served with a chicken stir-fry in cilantro, tomatoes, and onions (!!) and a side of sukamo wiki – that ubiquitous green! This was the best meal I had all week!! I ate it all (sans the onions!) and it was all really delicious. I definitely want to try to make the Mukimo too. It’s got a lot more flavor than ugali
Kelly let me try her mutton stir-fry and naan. It had hints of tamarind (which I thought tasted like clove) and was excellent.
[Add 2 small rolls to this meal]
We’ve got just a little bit before we have to head to the airport, and tonight I”m off to Amsterdam!
Thank you for the insightful and intelligent thoughts in the comments yesterday! This trip has been eye-opening, informative and meaningful.
Lipton could just write press releases and advertise in magazines about their efforts towards responsible operations, but instead, the company put itself out for examination by inviting 18 outsiders to come see the estate, its workers and its operations and report back to the world what they see with their own eyes. If Lipton’s leaders weren’t proud of their actions toward corporate social responsibility, I don’t think they would encourage critical journalists to tour their schools and hospitals, to walk through their factories and most importantly, to engage in one-on-one conversations with their workers. To me, talking to the people was the most significant part of the trip. Keeping in mind cultural relativity, the (priceless?) free housing, health and educational benefits, and the contrast of the areas outside of the plantation, I truly feel that Lipton is ambitiously attempting to treat its 20,000 workers, their 80,000 dependents and Mother Earth with the utmost respect. Does that mean they are doing everything right? No. But it’s a giant leap in the direction that more companies should be headed. I don’t think the purpose of my trip was to come home and say Lipton is either “good” or “bad” but to see, experience and participate in some of the actions they are taking to improve the future of their company, the earth and the future of tea. Aren’t we all always striving for improvement?
You’ll be happy to know that some of the more experienced environmental journalists did ask some critical questions throughout the week, and I hope to be able to share their work with you when it is published.
It is true that you can’t see everything in just a few days. That’s why the Rainforest Alliance is important. The certification is objective and thorough and examines all parts of operations through a third party evaluation (see their page on Sustainable Agriculture for more of the criteria). And the work doesn’t stop there: part of the certification includes a plan for continued improvement.
My biggest takeaway from the trip is this: sustainability is not a one way path. Lipton cannot grow tea in a sustainable fashion without the rains from the Mau Forest. And if the company were to use up the earth’s limited resources to operate, in time, there would be no Mau Forest, no company, no tea, and no jobs. The rain makes the tea grow, the eucalyptus shoot up, and the hydroelectric power flow. Seeing this part of the earth has made me even more interested in environmentalism and more aware of our place in the ecosystem as one of many different species. Fortunately, we humans have evolved to have the ability to think critically and figure out ways to protect our planet.
My favorite quote from the week:
We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children. – Antoine de Saint-Exupert
Thank you all for reading!