They say birds of a feather flock together. That’s why penguins live together in colonies. Yes, I just had to mention penguins. I still feel sad for that penguin that came home to find his wife with another penguin and lost a fight with the home-wrecker. It is impossible to find an eagle chilling with the chicken in your backyard or to see a vulture swimming in the company of ducks but you will always be chased by a gang of geese or turkeys. Same feather.
As we boarded the tour van in Nairobi for a 3 day safari at the world famous Maasai Mara that Thursday morning, we met birds of our feather. A lovely, young Spanish couple. They were as much excited as we were, to be in the vehicle that would ferry them to their first tour of Maasai Mara.
Sarah, 26, had a big smile plastered on her face as she settled in her seat just in front of us. “Yippeeee!! Safariii! Finally Safariii!!,” she said gleefully, doing a dance with her hands in the air. She was seemingly super-excited and more animated than Reuben, 27, who was sitting next to her, smiling to himself. We immediately started talking with them as we started the 5 hour journey. We knew we had good company.
They had been doing voluntary charity work at Kabarnet and Thika for several days and were very happy to be in that trip to the Mara. They are from Barcelona, Spain and have taken a break from work to go on a world tour. They had a 3 day stopover in Morocco before flying to Kenya, from where they travelled by bus to Tanzania and intend to go on to South Africa, before jetting down under to Australia and possibly to Asia later. By the time they return home to Spain, if everything goes according to their script, it will be near summer next year.
They were very sociable and friendly although their English was far from good. We chatted all the way to Narok, where we arrived around 11 and had to stop for lunch before embarking on the final stretch. A few kilometres from Narok, the smooth tarmac turns into a dusty and bumpy track that leads to the Mara Triangle. The Catalan couple slept for most of this stretch, something typical Spaniards would do in the afternoon – a siesta.
On arrival at Lenchada Camp, where we would spend 2 nights, the four of us were allocated 2 tents next to each other. Their tent was just 5 metres from ours and we could hear them blubbering in Spanish and water running in their bathroom. After the late afternoon game drive, they taught us a Spanish cards game, culo, which we enjoyed playing together as we waited for dinner and many times later.
We developed a strong bond as we were always together in the van during game drives and during meal times. We saw a lot of wildlife, including four of the Big Five and the so called Ugly Five. However, there was one animal that interested us very much; the dik-dik. Our guide-cum-driver told us that dik-diks live in pairs (couples) for life. They mate for life, until death does them part. They stick to one partner. We loved that narrative and immediately branded ourselves ”the dik-diks”.
On the way back to Nairobi, Tabasamu convinced them to join us for a stay at the coast. We met them a few times in Nairobi as we planned finer details of the coast getaway. We went to see orphaned elephants at David Sheldrick’s in Nairobi, walked to Ngara market to buy curio and all the way back to Uhuru Park to play culo.Several days later, we we’re playing culo at Diani beach in Ukunda. Yours truly ‘Dikdik 1’, and Dikdiks 2, 3 and 4. We stayed together in a 3 bed-roomed fully furnished cottage just a stone’s throw away from the beach, which we rented for 1 week.
We had a lot of fun cooking, eating, swimming, walking and just relaxing on the beach. We had European breakfasts, Kenyan lunches and mixed dinners. Sarah was very good at bargaining with tuktuk operators and anything we bought on the streets. Reuben was a funny man, he cracked jokes and made fun always. I cooked ugali for them and had to explain all the peculiar things in Kenya. Questions like why the President’s portrait is hung is every shop.
We were like a family that had always been together. We played football with Reuben on the beach as the girls played with a beach boy’s puppies. We went to Wasini Island and Kisite/Mpunguti Marine Park in the Indian Ocean, from where we could see Tanzania in the horizon, the Spaniards’ next stop.
It was sad seeing them take that bus to Dar es Salaam from Ukunda. We almost went with them to Dar. We had become like brothers and sisters. Amigos. We miss them. We waved them goodbye on that day but for as we remain birds of a feather, and just like dik-diks, we shall certainly flock together again. Maybe in Barcelona?