Meeting at the Masai Mara – Further African Adventures of Liesl ‘Hot Foot’ Harewood

Whether it is an adventurous hike across Barbados, sand-boarding in Abu Dhabi or stalking giraffes across the African continent, “fledgling travel writer” Liesl Harewood has earned her nickname "Hot Foot Harewood”. She sometimes manages to stay still long enough to breathe, read, do yoga and hit the beach.

Elephants, lions, hyenas, giraffes, hippos, cheetahs … I feel like I am in The Lion King! Today I started on another independent travel journey – now the second in one month; I’m getting better at this! I left my friends in Nairobi after a week of bonding and sight-seeing to spread my wings as a “single” traveler in the Masai Mara.

I love traveling independently, this is when I meet the most interesting characters because I am just spreading my wings and doing my thing, not accountable to a travel partner or anyone else. I have also resigned myself to the fact that my career as an “International Spy / Secret Agent” may not be on the cards. First of all, in Zambia, I bumped into another Bajan girl that I went to school with in Barbados. We hadn’t seen each other in over a decade – yet here we were in the same business centre in Lusaka – what are the odds?

But it gets more interesting – two weeks later I am in Kenya and stopping to take in the view at the Great Rift Valley – where all civilization apparently began. A friendly Kenyan asked the “Where are you from?” question. Now my answer changes with my mood – I usually choose a random Caribbean country depending on my mood and accent imitation inclination – so for some reason I said Barbados, and an Italian in my safari tour overheard and approached me.

The following conversation ensued:
Italian: “Do you know Mama Mia’s (Italian restaurant in Barbados)?”
Me: (Laughing) “Yes I do…” (I hesitate because I don’t think it is possible but I still try). “Do you know Alfr…?” (I trail off)
Italian: “Alfredo!?!?! That’s my good friend! We went to university together. I was supposed to come to Barbados for the wedding but I didn’t make it.”
Me: “Well he got married to my good friend! I was at the wedding!” (Laughter ensues)

"Wanted: Dead or Not Alive"

Now, how is it that in the depths of Kenya, I can bump into an Italian who knows my Italian and Bajan friends who live in Barbados? It really is all about timing and being in the right place at the right time! It also made me wonder – has the world’s population decreased significantly that I can keep bumping into people that I know in every country I go to?

"Breakfast is served"

A week ago when I was at Victoria Falls, I met the most intriguing guy from England called Andrew Norris (I don’t think any relation to Chuck, although there is an uncanny resemblance!). Andrew was cycling across the African continent to raise funds for a charity back in England that focuses on persons who have been injured while serving their country in war.

Andrew and I had the most amazing conversation, in between hiking down to the depths of the Boiling Pot, as well as across the top of the Falls. I recall Andrew saying that people have asked him “Why don’t you just give the money to charity rather than imposing the expense of traveling across the continent?” But that takes away from the point of the entire exercise – sheer will, determination and having a cause that you believe so passionately in that you will do everything it takes to accomplish it.

Neck to Neck? "Giraffe loving in the morning"

I see that passion in the eyes of my fellow travellers – we have all assembled with a common goal; we want to explore the Masai Mara. Our adventurous group includes a couple from Germany, a couple from Sudan, an Italian (who of course clearly I know!), two French siblings, an American couple and a guy from Egypt. Over the next few days we will share an experience that I will never be able to recreate again. I feel like I can never go to a zoo again though – it would be an anti-climax after this experience.

Hot Foot Harewood is on the move and watching a pride of lions engage in a hunt. I am also wondering if I should feel guilty because as soon as I return to Nairobi I will be heading to “Carnivore”, where you have a “Beast of a Feast” of all you can eat meat of many of the animals seen in the Mara!

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