TORI'S KENYA: Only in Africa

Victoria Terry
Elephants could be seen from the campsite.

The six hour car ride in an ancient Land Cruiser and frightening terrain would have been enough to make anyone exhausted. Then, with two more hours of the worst leg of the journey at day break made the whole trip questionable.

We followed our friend’s new Prado through the unfamiliar back roads of Africa. The thought of air conditioning that our friends ahead of us most likely had on high would make anyone sweat more. I thought to myself with amusement “Only in Africa.” This is a saying that helps me through frustration, as it is lunchtime and we’re running late.

We stopped and picked up wood for fires and watched as our friends spoke fluent Swahili to a shop owner. “Are we there yet?” my sister Sophia groans from the back with her headphones in, obviously knowing the answer. She only wanted to indirectly voice how much she hates the car for the 20th time.

We made it to the park and right away I see elephants in the far distance and more flat land than I have ever seen. “We are finally here,” my mom voiced with sarcasm.

It took only one glance of the mountainous hills on my left to forget the terrifying car ride. In the remoteness of the Masi Mara, clusters of black clouds rumble all around me. We set up tents and our friends’ group from the states pulled up in three roomy traveling vans. They stumbled out with stiff legs and after a minute of talking I jumped into a travel van to join an afternoon safari. We drove for a long time seeing the usual for me — zebras, Impala, and hippos. But after a while the driver, Karanja, comes to an abrupt stop and pointed, “Look into the bushes!”

I stood up and looked through my zoom lens and spotted a lioness and her cubs in the overgrown rainy season grass. We waited for the other vans to come to us. After everyone saw them, we moved ahead. Soon after, I took multiple pictures of elephants in a herd crossing the road in no hurry. Their massive swaying bodies were peaceful to watch and take everlasting photos of their majesty. After the last baby crossed in his quick small steps to keep up with the others, we moved on. We made our way past the river filled with 20-foot long crocodiles on the banks, trying to savor the last hour of sunlight. We made our way back to the camp and after dinner we sat around the fire and sang songs.

A surprise followed. “Come get dessert,” our friend and host called as he walked around the group distributing sticks and huge bags of marshmallows. We started digging into the bags and pulled them out in fours. Our friend also brought chocolate-covered crackers, but it wasn’t pleasing to me. I waited for my marshmallows to become golden and swollen with creamy gooey filling that had my mouth watering. I pulled off the top first, slightly burning my fingers, but it was worth it as it dissolved in my mouth and stuck everywhere else. I’m not quite sure how many I ate but I started getting heavy-eyed, and the hot fire that I sat very near didn’t help.

I woke up the next morning and everyone was up eating breakfast and talking of what we had, and had not, seen. We decided on a morning drive before we headed home. We went in the opposite direction hoping to find new animals. A black animal was on the right and the driver sped up to see what it was. When we halted, we were only a hundred feet from the huge black rhino that was eating his breakfast. He was stunning.

In the background I could hear our driver speaking rapidly in Swahili. Not a minute later, I could see dust coming from the road and the other vehicles in a mad dash to where we were parked. Everyone sat in awe of the massive beast.

 We drove around for pleasure for maybe an hour longer. At the end, when I was thinking of all that I had seen, my motto changed and I thought, “Only in Africa!”

Victoria Terry, her parents and sister are missionaries in Kenya, Africa. Destiny Kenya is under the pastoral leadership of Destiny Worship Center. Victoria and her sister now attend a school for African missionaries.