By Marisa Notier
The Notier Notes
Our Sunday Scoop
A lot of people wonder what our typical day looks like here in Kenya. In some ways, it's probably not so different from yours in that due to the pandemic, we're unable to travel much. So we mostly just stay at home watching Netflix. But even though we're not on the road, it's always an exotic adventure to be in Africa, and some of the stranger things of living in Kenya include a nightly barrage of nightmarish screecher-creatures, and the occasional UFO sighting.
Don't worry, I'll explain.
We live in a town called Nanyuki which is right next to Kenya's largest mountain, and the place for which the entire country of Kenya is named - Mount Kenya. Similar to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Kenya is an old volcano. But unlike "Kili" which looks like a rounded loaf of bread, Mount Kenya is stunningly jagged on top. It has glaciers year round, and all the water in Nanyuki comes from this glacial runoff.
In normal times, Mount Kenya is a huge draw for tourists who want to hike up it (it's 17,000 feet high, over 5,000 meters). So the town of Nanyuki is (was) a tourist hot-spot. There are still a lot of foreigners who live here, and you can tell the town caters to foreigners just by walking down the street and seeing the amount of cafes, bakeries, huge Western-style super markets, safari agencies, and little stores selling hand-made crafts.
Our typical day in Nanyuki starts out just after dawn, which is always at the same time here on the equator. The equator line actually runs through Nanyuki, and it's so close to our house, for a while I wondered if it was possible to change hemispheres when walking from our kitchen to our living room.
In the mornings it's cold enough to wear jackets, sometimes we can even see our breath. This coldness is due to the high altitude of nearby Mount Kenya (we're at an elevation of 6,700 feet here / 2,000 meters).
Every morning, we like to take our camping chairs and sit outside to have tea and coffee, and feed our cats - a mama cat and her two kittens. They're strays who live outside, but have befriended us. Since we're huge fans of cats, our new feline-buddies really solidified this place for us as a perfect home-away-from-home. And I believe there's no better way to start off the day than playing with cuddly kittens.
But one morning, things took a very strange turn. We were sitting outside having our tea and coffee when Tim saw something in the sky, like a bright, silvery disc-like saucer just hovering way way up there, higher than an airplane. Actually, there were two of them, and they were moving very slowly across the sky.
Tim and I are not huge believers in UFOs... but these were definitely UFOs as in they were 100% 'Unidentified Floating Objects'. They weren't zipping around the sky like flying saucers, but instead, they lazily bobbed around in the atmosphere like arial jellyfish. This wasn't the first time Tim questioned reality, but I had no real counter argument to disprove his otherworldly suspicions.
But finally, I heard about some Google internet balloons that were being tested in Kenya, and I realized I'd solved the mystery. These Google Loon Balloons are huge, the size of a tennis court. They're silver, and are flown at extremely high altitudes (sometimes as high as 17 miles up, twice that of commercial planes). So it's not aliens or spy drones, but it's still pretty fascinating. There's an article on them here.
But I digress. Back to our typical day.
After coffee time and waving to the spying aliens in the sky, we work on our writing until lunch. Tim is finishing up his next book on our trip through South America (super exciting!), and I've been writing screenplays. We both just really enjoy writing and are trying our best to make it into a career for ourselves, and we've taken this downtime during the pandemic to focus on our writing dreams.
Since we live in a house with a kitchen, we usually cook our own food. When the electricity is on, we can use the electric oven (the electricity goes out a lot), so sometimes I can make awesome feasts, like roasted chicken for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. But most of the time, we are not nearly as elaborate with our meals, and end up eating ramen, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
After a bit more writing in the afternoons, we have a nice dinner together and watch some Netflix. And then, as night falls over Nanyuki, we turn on our security lights, lock ourselves into the house, crawl into bed with our mosquito net tucked around us, and wait for the freaky screecher-creatures to come out.
It gets eerily quiet here at night, until the screams start. They sound like banshees, or like a demon-possessed-griffin giving birth to a live, and very unhappy demon-possessed-griffin child. Actually, these blood-curdling screeches can be easily mistaken for a human cry, like a six-year-old being woken from a nightmare. And until you know what it is, it's extremely disturbing.
You'd think it would be a bird, like an ugly vulture, or maybe a poison-spitting lizard. But in fact, the perpetrator of this horror-show mating call is a cute little rodent called a Tree Hyrax. Tim refers to them as Dr, Seuss's 'Evil Lorax' as they speak from the trees, but instead of a rhyming environmental lesson, they emit a spine-chilling sound that will send your pulse racing. They look like a fat prairie dog, and you can find them across Africa in the more temperate regions.
And so every night, to the wailings of our worst nightmares, we finally get to sleep, dreaming about playing with kittens in the morning.
Next week, I'll talk about safety and security issues here in Africa. Until then, I hope you have a great week!
Tim received a pretty exciting email when we woke up this morning! His book '2Up and Overloaded' just got a five-star review from AdvMoto magazine! What a huge honor!
A five-star review that speaks to the entertainment value of Tim's writing, which is descriptive and humorous, bringing the reader along eagerly on the couple’s motorcycle journey from Chicago to Colombia. - ADVMoto Magazine
We would love to hear what you thought if you have read Tim's books! Please do leave a review here: Amazon Reviews.
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