[and we're back to Kenya, last stop, promise]

After our thrilling safari adventure, we hopped the short flight back to Nairobi, where we hardly spent any time at all. About all we did was relax for half a day in Philip and Emily's apartment, and then went out to a big Ethiopian dinner with several of their friends (and Philip's brother, Andrew, who was in town for a couple of days).  Thankfully, Andrew brought his camera to dinner, as my iphone shot is all darkness.  Snagged from his facebook:

It was a first for Alli and myself.  Basically it's lots of meat (though some veggie dishes) richly flavored, sitting on a big piece of injera, with rolls of injera for tearing off and hand scooping meat.  Injera is just a kind of bread, but it has a spongy texture and very interesting soured flavor.  I really had no idea what I was eating, but it was all good (and at least as far as I'm aware, the ordered items were all recognizable meats. As long as you consider goat a recognizable meat).

Philip and Emily enjoyed our company so much that they took Friday off from work so that they could drive the 4 of us up to Lake Baringo.  We stocked up on some food items and headed up around noon (deftly avoiding the majority of Nairobi traffic).  It's a 3-4 hour 2-lane drive to the north, through and alongside the great rift valley and across the equator (rift valley picture here).  We drove right across the equator without even realizing it--but luckily for us, there was an exhibit set up to mark the place and attract tourists.  We decided that we don't cross the equator in a car every day, so we made a stop.  Two guides walked us through a small building with pro-Kenya tourism photos, describing each in detail.  Next, Philip pulled his car up on the stage for a great photo opportunity:

(Those two flags are France on the Northern Hemisphere side and Israel on the Southern Hemisphere side. There were lots of flags and we have no idea what order they were supposedly in.)

We were informed by the guides of the interesting phenomena related to which side of the equator one is located on... such as the direction of whorl your hair may take depending on where you were conceived, and the famous toilet swirling (counter-clockwise drainage in the North, clockwise in the South).  We nodded along.  Once back in Singapore and unable to sleep from jetlag, I took the time to do some more research on the Coriolis effect, as this is called (the toilet bowl part.. can't say there's a name for the supposed hair whorling).  The consensus seems to be this is a true effect, but could only be seen in very large volumes of water.  Regular toilet flushing is apparently exempt, but the myth is perpetuated anyway.

Ahem.  We got into our cabin on Lake Baringo in the late afternoon.  We men got to work fixing dinner while the ladies relaxed.  Our house was just about 1 full stride away from the water--where we knew there were definitely some crocodiles, and probably hippos nearby.  There were no plans for swimming in this lake.  viewing only.  Unlike our protected spot on the Mara, we were definitely in the wild here, and the signage advised we just sit tight after dark.  A strong cool breeze blew constantly off of the water and into our cabin. Once it did get good and dark, Alli and I were amazed by the number and intensity of the stars.  I'm not sure how much of it was a perfectly clear night or how much further we were from light sources on Earth than other times, but I am pretty sure it was the most stars I've ever seen.  You'd think in the woods of Maine, or in the hills of Laos, you might get just as good of a view, but this was better.  The down side is that to really see the stars you had to step just out from under our cabin.  I'd have loved to just lay down and stare for a while, but I did not want to be a hippo statistic.

The next day we took a boat ride on the lake--over to an island with natural sulfur springs (bubbling hot water, neat), and then just around to see the wildlife.  Our guide pointed out no less than 40 different kinds of birds.  We spotted a few crocodiles, and then boated in to a known hippo area (remember this is prior to reading the part about unprovoked attacks).

As we neared the herd, our guide informed us there were about 20 of them.  As we could count only 6 or so, we were all very inquisitive about where the others were.   When our boat ran across a submerged log, there was a brief fright.  Similar to our experience with the rustling bushes by the river of 40 hippos, Alli and I asked our guide to just go ahead and take us back to the less hippo-populated areas.

We spent the rest of our time at the lake just relaxing and catching up with Philip and Emily, playing some card games, doing lots of reading:

bird watching and photographing:

eating well, and having a good time.

We closed our time in Kenya by cooking Southeast Asian for P+E, visiting them at work, a kickboxing class for Alli and Emily with one of the Kenyan national team coaches, and going to a real (only delayed to Kenyan prime time) Super Bowl party.
Oh, and juggling. There was quite a bit of juggling.

P+E: We had a fantastic time. THANK YOU! K+A