Coming up: my online travel writing class for Catapult in mid-April.

How Kenya stirred my soul

I returned from a trip to Kenya early Monday morning. Since the moment the plane touched down at JFK, I’ve been struggling to find the appropriate words to describe the whirlwind journey.

Friends and family have been asking me about the trip and the most I can muster is: extraordinary, amazing, unforgettable… A friend asked me yesterday: “How so?” No words came out.

Perhaps this should come easier to a writer. After all, isn’t my job all about describing places, capturing the spirit of destinations that I visit? Yet with Kenya, I am, quite simply, short of words.

Perhaps I’m still processing, trying to pinpoint what it was that moved me so.

During the ten-day sojourn, I visited three national reserves and an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, got charged by a bull elephant, witnessed a fresh cow blood drinking ceremony with Maasai warriors, flew on seven bush planes and co-piloted one, saw 23 lions in one day, watched the sun rise over Maasai Mara from a hot-air balloon, visited a pre-school at a dusty Samburu village, swam in the Indian Ocean, received an honorary Maasai name by the women’s council of a village – Naramat, the one who protects – and on the morning of my departure got incessantly hugged and kissed by smiling children at an orphanage.

And that’s just a few of many experiences and encounters that stirred my soul.

I’ve got a lot to get through with this trip. Kenya has managed to cook up quite a medley of emotions inside of me.

The landscapes, wildlife and people of this East African country all left an indelible mark.

Perhaps the most vivid memory is of a little boy who shadowed our walk around Lamu Town. I had snapped a photo of him (below) at the start of our guided stroll and – the next thing you know – he followed us through the alleyways of the town until we returned to port, where it all started in the first place.

As we were approaching the boat, I rummaged through my bag trying to find a gift for the boy. All I could find was a pack of chewing gum. I gave it to him with a smile and he smiled back, looking intermittently at the pack of gum and our boat as it glided off.

Later on, the Kenya Tourist Board rep who traveled with us said my little friend was likely a street child, with no home or parents. This idea haunted me for the rest of the day, and since I left Kenya.

Like the little boy who became our shadow in Lamu, Kenya tugged at the strings of my heart. And it’s still pulling…

Disclaimer: My trip to Kenya was sponsored by Kenya Tourist Board but the emotions and observations are all my own.

Blog Comments

Beautiful snapshots of an amazing country. I’m woefully undertraveled when it comes to Africa–I’ve only ever been to Rwanda and South Africa (and Morocco if you count that, which I don’t)–but I’m excited to see Ghana this fall and what I think/hope will be another true slice of African culture.

Thank you, Kristin! I haven’t traveled much around Africa either – only been to South Africa, Angola (where my husband is from) and now Kenya. I also don’t count Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. Is it wrong to say that only sub-Saharan Africa is the “real” Africa?

Anyhow, I urge you to visit Kenya at some point, Kristin. You’ll love it, no doubt.

Beautiful words about your last trip, Anja. I’ve been feeling something similar towards India, so much that after the first time I went in February, I couldn’t resist and instead of booking to Thailand or Vietnam (as was my original plan), I went to India again in May.
I wrote so much about India, my trips and the people I met, and I’m still writing new posts and articles. Nevertheless, I feel all my words are somehow inappropriate, I feel I’m not really find the right words to describe what India has left me, and what will probably still do to me since I’ll be very likely going back soon.
It’s amazing what different countries can do to us, it’s what can be defined a never-ending discovery.

I think some places have the power to leave us speechless, Angela. And that power can be stronger than words. Thanks for reading!

This post is amazing and so accurate. Kenya caught my heart that way too. Thank you for being a part of this beautiful journey!

I know the feeling to well, not being able to describe travels and experiences to people who were not there. This is specially true for experiences in places like Africa.

Thanks for a great post & nice pictures!

I was last in Kenya 8 years ago and think about it often for the reasons you mention above and dream of going back all the time.

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