February 19th, 1992
Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya
My first instinct this morning, when the alarm shrilled, was to roll over and go back to sleep, but I knew Mum would be disappointed if we missed the tour I booked through the hotel late last night.
Waiting bleary eyed in the lobby for the guide/driver to arrive, Mum struck up a conversation with a young Dutch guy who gave her a run for her money in the talking department. With the beginning stages of a caffeine deficient headache and no sign of the driver, I went in search of tea, which thankfully I managed to find, along with a generous bag of pastries, for what I expected might be a long, bumpy ride to Lake Nakuru.
I stepped outside to find Mum and the Dutch guy sitting in a van that looked like it had seen better days. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as I stepped into the heap of metal, where it soon became apparent we were the only tour goers.
The driver, whose name was Ansel, slid the door shut and when he did, the handle came away in his hand! For some reason, Mum and the Dutch guy found this hysterically funny and even more so when Ansel held the handle to his ear like a phone and pretended to look perplexed when there was, “no answer.” With the handle sitting on the dashboard, we set off and next thing I knew, Mum was shaking me awake.
“Look,” she beamed, pointing outside, to where a sea of pink populated the lake.
I was first out of the van, followed by Mum and we strode (after checking with Ansel it was safe) arm in arm, to the water’s edge, where thousands of flamingos moved effortlessly, their extra-long legs managing to find space in the shallow water.
“There’s sooo many of them,” I sighed in wonderment.
“I’ve never seen anything so beautiful,” Mum sniffed, a few stray tears rolling down her cheeks.
Once we’d had our fill of the flamingos we headed back to the van, where the Dutch guy remained in the back seat. Catching his eye, I watched his mouth move into what appeared to be a sincere smile.
“Aren’t you interested in seeing the flamingos?”
His smile grew wider. “Something special for you and your Mother to experience together.”
“Oh,” I uttered, with a nod of thanks.
“I’m Thor,” he said, extending his hand.
“Karen,” I said, reaching over the top of the seat to shake his hand. “Would you like a pastry?”