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The Kenya Diaries - Karen

Tuesday 17 January 2012
A baby elephant at the orphanage. Also, what I would have looked like if I had spent any longer in the midday sun.

I awoke nervous. Being the slightly needy wimp that I am, I assumed that the Yanks were regretting inviting me along to their day of fun, and that they'd try and sneak off without me. At the same time, I had to try and look cool. Lauren (Ringleader Yank) said that she'd have breakfast around 9am, so I headed out at ten past, cool as a cucumber. Turns out, I made everyone late. Not cool.

We headed out onto Ngong Road to catch a matatu up to Karen (a district, not a person - well, a district named after a person, if you want to be precise). It's a bit of a faff to get there without a car - you need to get a matatu out of the city and a taxi to one of the locations, as well as a taxi between the two and another to catch the matatu home. If you're not in a group, try and do it as part of an arranged tour (most hostels organise this kind of activity).

In my attempt to come across as cool and carefree, I fear that I ended up more like Hugh Grant. Bumbling. With these three girls, studying public health and experts in all things African (Megan speaks fluent Swahili) I felt like a stuttering mouse, scared of every squeak.

We jumped on a matatu and I tried to act noncholant, while utterly convinced that everyone on board was mugging me. Nairobbery, as it's lovingly called, has a rather worrying reputation, as Lauren soon discovered when her cell phone was taken.

In the meantime, I was trying not to get thrown around too much, while holding on hell for leather to my bag. This balancing act meant that I spent quite a lot of the journey banging my head on the roof.

We reached the Karen roundabout, and I let the girls figure out a taxi to Sheldricke. Much better done in Swahili. Their haggling skills are far superior to mine - it may be an English thing but I'm always extremely resistant to the haggle. Originally they offered 1000ks (£10) which seemed reasonable to me, but Megan got them down to 6000ks with an excellent mardy haggling face.

We headed first to the Elephant Orphanage, after a lovely long walk down the path to the center, where we saw some very cute but apparently dangerous monkeys. Psh.

Seriously, who would call that monkey dangerous? So cute.
 The elephants were terribly cute, but the novelty wore off after an hour or so. As did the first layer of skin in the midday heat. I headed to the shade and got chatting to a Lamu man, which pleased me to no end as that's where I was soon heading.

One of these things is not like the other. Because it's a warthog, not an elephan, see?

After the elephants, we got another taxi to the Giraffe Center, which thrilled me to no end. I also got the fabled picture of me snogging a giraffe, though when I saw an American kid getting full on into the concept, tenderly caressing the animal's face as it licked his, I regretted not getting a funnier picture.

What's weird is all I can see here is how pale I am. Not that there's a giraffe tongue on me.

I should point out that all visitors to the giraffe center are pretty much forced into doing this. They shove a pellet into your mouth, and before you know it, you're tonsil deep in giraffe. It's only when you leave, or when you write about it on a blog, that you realise it's a pretty damn weird thing to happen.

There was a great looking walking trail at the center, but Lauren was decidedly peaky, so we headed home. I ate a late lunch with Megan and Kay, the Peruvian princess. It quickly became clear that she was not my greatest fan. Megan kept inviting me along to different things (lunch, Carnivore in the evening) which visibly annoyed Kay, who would instantly list reasons why I couldn't go. I decided to say no to Carnivore, even though I'd wanted to say yes to every offer I had.

In the evening, I saw Lauren and co, who were surprisingly snubby, as were the American duo from the day before. I was plagued with self doubt.

'Am I too keen? Or is this how it works... a bit of dinner chat, a day out, but then nothing more?'

I ate a silent dinner with some Germans, and headed to my awesome new Safari tent, Charlie Brown style.

Next time on the Kenya Diaries - An Irish invasion (thank God) and an escape from the heat of the city. Things are looking up!

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