2020 was an all round adventurous year for me. It was probably the most adventurous year I’ve had since I could remember. I ended up only living at our Nairobi home for a mere 4 months. The rest of the time, I was living an adventure somewhere around the world while working on the move. At the start of the year, I didn’t know what a wild ride it was all going to be or how I would have to deal and cope. Looking back, I am very thankful that I started with my travels earlier on in the year and maintained an an open mind, ready to adjust to the changes.
It was the first year of my life, celebrating a new year outside my country – Kenya. Spent the New Year in Czech Republic with my husband and our friends in Czech in a cozy cottage, located in the snow-filled mountainous Velke Hamry, a town in Jablonec nad Nisou District in the Liberec Region. It was so beautiful and of course very cold when outside but it was just a wonderful way of starting 2020 – in different style. The man running the cottage was the short and stout full-of-life Roman, a Slovak man of origin settled in Czech Republic. He was running the cottage in a homely manner, alongside his wife. They were both so wonderful. Roman couldn’t stop himself from serving us all sorts of delicacies throughout the day; he particularly had a thing for grilled meat and roasted potatoes – it was so bad to hog on this 24 hours a day but I really loved it!
When leaving, he came up to me and Tomas and said out loud his prophecy on us; so not only the people around us would hear, but the whole universe would too, that we would be back to the same cottage in two years, pregnant. That should be around 2021/ 2022.
After Czech, I was back in Kenya briefly to see my family for a few days, got called over to Citizen TV for a major industry panel discussion on industry insights and our projections for the industry in 2020 – little did we know what was coming our way.
By mid January, I was off to Kigali, Rwanda to attend the launch of Bruce Melodie’s new station, my local media tour run and meetings with artists, visit friends and just live the good life in one of my favourite cities in the world – if not the most.
From there on, I was off to Lagos, Nigeria for more business and cultural affairs. I did a VIP Access video review of my visit to the legendary Nike Art Gallery. Love Mama Nike!
Check out also my interviews with Yemi Alade and Okiemute from the same trip and more, from my VIP ACCESS YouTube show.
On returning to Kenya in February, we were off for a holiday at Msambweni Beach House to celebrate our friends (Ami and Mik’s) anniversary. Msambweni Beach House is such a beautiful place and the owner was so charming. It’s a perfect place for couples trip or a couple of friends, like 10 and less so you can take over the whole house. I think that’s the point.
At the start of March, Tomas and I were off to Maasai Mara to visit the Beckwiths – the coolest hot-air balloon pilot couple and our best friends. We ended up spending four months living in the wilderness of Maasai Mara Game Reserve, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though Tomas had foreseen an upcoming lockdown, we never in our wildest dreams could think that a trip that was supposed to last 2 weeks would end up lasting 4 months! When Covid-19 broke loose, a 7 PM curfew was enacted and travel across the country and particularly in and out of Nairobi was banned, we just found the four of us comfortably locked down together in the Beckwith’s beautiful and perfect home, smack in the middle of the national park and wildlife.
While it was so surreal to live in that setting, it came naturally for us. Tomas has always loved adventure, nature and wildlife. On the other hand, I am homebody (contrary to how I may seem because of the nature of my work) and village girl at heart and upbringing, so any day I could do without the big city and lights. It was something special to stay at such a historical set up at Keekorok Lodge, Kenya’s oldest and first property to set up in the Maasai Mara. Keekorok is also the only lodge inside the park that still remains unfenced, which means animals roam allover the lodge any time they wish. Our Mara house however is located just outside the lodge but is in the same style – not fenced. Every moment of the day we were surrounded by elephants, giraffes, baboons, hyraxes, antelopes, buffalos, hyenas, snakes, zebras, lions, hippos, wildebeest, bats and so much wildlife. I have a different post about each animal I have mentioned here 🙂
Our Mara house is strategically located just by the main path and road to Kenya – Tanzania boarder that goes up to Sand River, where if you cross then you’re inside Serengeti. Every single morning we would wake up to a different group of animals passing outside our house on their normal grazing or hunting route. Sometimes it was a tower of Giraffes; other times it was a government of elephants or even a pride of lions. Everyday was totally different and a beautiful surprise that words can’t really describe.
I can best describe living in Maasai Mara as a perfect amalgamation of peace, nature, wildlife and silence. No noise, nobody hooting or shouting. There is no pollution. We could only hear the sounds of the wind whispering, fires cracking across the bush, or the wildlife communicating in their own distinct ways – many times, calling out their fellow groups or species, or declaring their territories. I will never forget how magnificent and grand a lion’s roar is. It’s the loudest roar in the wilderness and believe it or not, it can be heard up to 8 kms away. Now imagine when a lion is roaring a few metres from your bedroom window—the sound is deafening and it’s frightening but at the same time, it gave me such excitement! We came to realize that mostly a lion roaring at night would be calling out to another or others as a way of formulating their hunting strategy or marking hunting territories. They would actually be heard around the same area for a couple of days, which means they would camp around each at the territory for a few days. Sometimes we dared to come out of the patio late at night in pitch darkness with our spotlight touch to look around and try locate the lions but we never saw them in the night – only during the day.
A night in the Mara is always intriguing because this is the time when most wild animals come alive to hunt. Daytime is usually too hot for this, so those who don’t catch their prey early morning must wait till dawn. On other nights, you could hear the massive footsteps and breathe of a humongous lone elephant, coming over to the tree by our house (next to our bedroom) to chew up on its branches and leaves. I would immediately wake up from my sleep, hearing its loud munch. I could hear the sound of its jaws moving as its big mouth cut off the branches, chewing them passionately. Interestingly, elephants have a very strong sensory. They remember paths taken by their ancestors through different generations, and follow them to the letter. This is why there is eternal conflict between man and elephants particularly because parks or areas within their habitat continue to be fenced, thus blocking or interfering with their paths and the way their ancestors left them to follow to find food and water. Till date, they will take down a blockage or fencing if it’s in their way. Elephants can also smell and sniff water up to 12 miles away. And when they come across land that has water beneath them, they will stump on it and dig it out until their trunks reach the water. One day we witnessed a mother in action. In that same sense, every single night I tiptoed, silently, out of bed, to look at the elephant, through our bedroom window – it would immediately sense that I was there, turn to look around and quickly run off.
Many nights we saw huge families of up to 20 elephants, complete with the matriarchs leading their journey majestically, with their little calves cozily protected in between their entourage. We had Danny’s infrared binoculars that could see night vision. This was so sick! Some nights, we saw a big hippo mama and its baby bathing and drinking water just a few metres from our patio, at our water hole, that we used to fill frequently to quench the animals thirst when they were passing by, well … or to lure then close to us …
PS: Always be respectful of wildlife and their space by always keeping your distance and maintaining peace and silence. Do not run towards or walk towards wild animals. Do not scream or shout when you see them. Always have a ranger at bay or the bush people (those who live in the Mara). Never walk alone in the park and especially past darkness.
Look out for part 2 of the continuation of – my 2020 was a WILD ride, series!