Arrghhh! Wouldn't it figure that my "road to immortality" would have to go straight through baggage-delay hell on day one? Well, that would be right! Delays out of Detroit to Paris closed the 3-hour Nairobi connection window I'd planned to use to explore Paris from Charles de Gaulle International Airport to around 30 minutes.

After dealing with that, I arrived safely and on time around 8:30 p.m. in Nairobi and met up with the rest of our Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW)--U.S. Denver team, who arrived 30 minutes after me. We were all then met by a large ANAW Kenya contingent, who took us on a "short cut," next to Nairobi National Park (the lions were sleeping that night...a-whim-a-way...), to the Elshama Greens Conference and Retreat Centre, where the second van had arrived about 30 minutes earlier, no having taken the "short cut," my new friend and Swahili instructor, Samson Anabwani, advised.

Following a dinner meeting with the team, I was off to bed for a much-unwanted sleepless night, as vivid images of the Kenya I've so long thought about swirled about in my head. The next morning, the team met with several members of ANAW, including former United Nations Environment Programmes Ambassador, Nehemiah Rotich, a wildlife/biodiversity expert who painted an eloquent verbal picture of the environmental and wildlife challenges facing the richly diverse Kenya and other African countries.

Then off for a day that would dazzle even the most vivid imagination. First, a trip to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Center, where we would be awed by 22 orphaned elephants, ranging in age from 5 months to about 6 years. Most had been orphaned by the loss of their mothers due to poaching for their ivory tusks. For $50 per year, I adopted 8-month-old Kauro, a shy but friendly little guy who allowed me to scratch his head. Kauro's adoption is a gift to my 5-year-old granddaughter, Laila, whose father (my son) replied when I told him about my gift, "That's great! We'll house Kauro in the basement!"

Next stop was a visit to the Kenya Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which compassionately houses a mixed bag of assorted dogs, donkeys, pigs, goats, and a few cats (the smallish kind, of course). Head (and only) veterinarian, Ismail Thoya, and the director of animal welfare for the KSPCA explained the extreme issues of population control among dogs in Kenya. Their quiet calm belies their firm commitment to making a difference for the animals in their care, no matter their inadequately funded conditions.

The final stop of the day was the Giraffe Center, where most of the team engaged with giraffes Jasper and Lena and a couple of others close up and personal from a tall porch. Jasper and Lena can be persuaded to take "cookies" from your lips, but not everyone on the team took part in the kiss-in. I told them that Jasper's tongue was pretty scratchy.

Then, back to Elishama Greens. Dinner--by the way, all the meals here are excellent--was followed quickly by bedtime before tomorrow morning's 6 a.m. departure for Naivasha, where we will begin the first of 3 rabies vaccine clinics in 4 days, in which we expect to vaccinate nearly 1,800 community dogs and cats.

Until next time, as the cyber gods allow...

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