Posted on August 4, 2009
My husband, children, and I just returned from a sojourn in Africa, enjoying the diverse landscapes and cultures of Kenya. Africa is a dream come true for most veterinarians- my husband and I are no exceptions! Observing the magnificence of the animals and their behaviors was every bit as amazing as we thought it would be. Some of it was challenging for me to watch- cheetah cubs “playing” several minutes with a gazelle fawn before mama cheetah closed in for the kill; a young wildebeest with a newly broken leg sustained during the chaos of the Great Migration river crossing. I saw enough mating lions to last me a lifetime and could have spent days rather than hours watching baboon and Vervet monkey antics.
I expected the animals to be captivating. What I did not expect was that the cultural aspects of the trip would “wow” me so profoundly. We had the privilege of living within a Masai community, meeting the families, learning their customs, and exchanging ideas. We thoroughly enjoyed the small island of Lamu, a Muslim community that has maintained traditional Swahili customs and lifestyle. Lamu is devoid of cars- one travels on foot or via boat or donkey, and the mosque provides a 5:30 wake-up call to prayer every morning. We survived the hustle and bustle, insane traffic, and congestion of Nairobi. The peaceful tranquility of Mt. Kenya was captivating. We visited four primary schools during our travels. At each one the children were exceptionally well behaved and were learning sophisticated concepts in extremely primitive classrooms- often three to four children sharing one textbook, in a structure that people in my part of the world would not consider using as a barn. They were enthralled with visitors from the “land of Barack Obama,” and many asked that we tell him, “hello” when we returned to our country. By the way, the children were learning English in all of the schools we visited in Kenya. We visited a school for children with disabilities- a rare find in Africa where people with disabilities are often hidden from view. Everywhere we traveled in Kenya, we were met with genuine hospitality, openness, and curiosity.
I hope you enjoy the attached photos taken by my daughter, Susannah (www.skphotography.micksluck.com).
Have you ever been to Kenya? If so, I hope you will share some of your own stories!
Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend a most enjoyable and safe summer!
Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.
Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot
Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –