Lake Naivasha National Park
Departing the shortest deployment ever in the Sahel, I left for Nairobi on May 16, 2012. This would be a good trip for a dual SRMT and HEAT course. The best part of this trip would be the finale after the training. Most of the trainers would take a day to adventure in Lake Naivasha National Park. But the training would be first on the docket.
First I had to get from Niamey, Niger to Nairobi, no easy task. The travel time to cross continental Africa would take almost as long as flying back to Costa Rica. One does not realize how wide Africa is until travel is required. I departed Niamey at 0845 on May 16 for Nairobi via Ouagadougou, Lome, and Addis Ababa. Landing in Nairobi at 0200 on May 17.
After the 4,200km flight, I was picked up at the airport by the Kenyan military and taken to my quarters at the HPSS training center. When I arrived, I was quite happy to find a hot shower and warm bed to sleep.
The Training – SRMT & HEAT
When I woke up after some much needed sleep, I dressed and headed for some breakfast. On the way to the mess hall, I ran into Andries. I do believe that this was the first and only time he was excited to see me. Apparently his team was short staffed and having me there was a big help. It felt nice to feel needed.
At the mess hall, I ran into the other trainers, Scott, Jim and Bill. This was my first contact with new trainer Mike E. and we had a few guest trainers. One being Julius, aka “Ducky”, who was a part of my Haiti team and also during the HARD response.
As the SRMT had already kicked off, my main task was to begin setting up the HEAT course. During the HEAT, I was not given any class assignments. As this was Mike. first delivery with World Vision, Andries had me helping him out with the various scenarios. Although I did not have any presentations, it was good to work with Mike.
GRRT Security Advisor Recruitment
During the training, the recruitment had also been in progress for Zaza’s replacement. The competition had closed when I arrived in Senegal. Now it was screening time. Killen had put me on the panel to help Doug with screening resumes. There was some good interest in the position with eight resumes received on the first short list. Unfortunately, this process would take longer than anticipated, but that is another story!
Field Trip to Naivasha
On May 23, the HEAT course was done and everyone went home. Some of the trainers, including Andries and Mike also departed. Still could not figure out why the rush, departing before the closing ceremonies and dinner.
Those of us that stayed had planned a day trip to the Lake Naivasha National Park. And why not, when one can get the organization to pay for field trips, take advantage of it! So seven of us that were left took off for the day!
Some of the major wildlife attractions here include buffaloes, elands, lion, leopard, bushbucks, common zebra, giraffe and Grant’s gazelles. Kenyans believe that this is the highest lake in the world at 1,885 meters above sea level.
When we arrived at the Lake Naivasha Country Club, we patiently waited to board a boat that would take us to Crescent Island. Some of were still tired from the training, such as Jim.
As we walked to the dock, the view across the lake was spectacular. There were even some sailboats on the lake. We had a pretty good day with the weather, considering the altitude.
The boat ride was a little more than 15 minutes across, and one of great adventure. Crossing to the island, one could see the rounded eyes of large hippo’s submerged in the water.
Landing on the island was like being on Jurassic park. Imagine a place where you can walk freely and have wildlife all around you. The experience here was completely surreal and calming. As we started to walk around the island, the animals became abundant.
Standing next to a grove, there were giraffes and gazelles together. Further along we could see hyena burros in the ground. Everything from the big five water buffalos to snake burrows, this island had it all. It was almost like my safari adventure, minus the lions!
At times we would come across the carcass of some poor animal that fell victim to a hyena.
Other times, we would be as close as 25 feet from some wild animal, such as the giraffes in the image below.
Naturally, just before we departed the island, we had to get a group photo. This was such a great day and team building event. Anytime one can spend out of work with a team is a good time.
Return to Nairobi
As some of us had flights that evening, we started back across the lake to our waiting van. There seemed to be more hippos on the return crossing for some reason, perhaps waiting for a meal!
The drive back to Nairobi saw us pass through the Mukuru kwa Njenga slum. This is one of the largest slums in Nairobi, but nothing like the Kibera slum, which is the largest in Africa and also in Nairobi.
Driving directly to the airport, we arrived sometime around 2000, plenty of time ahead of our flights. My flight departed at 2315 starting the long 9,800km journey back to Costa Rica via London and Miami. I was looking forward to getting home and having a bit of a break from it all. Plus, we had the recruitment process to continue.