Thursday, August 17, 2017

Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya Africa

After leaving Nairobi we boarded a small prop jet that took us into the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The reserve covers 583 sq. mi in south-western Kenya. Flying into the park we could see just how huge this place was. It was fun to be up above and see all the animals roaming below. The great migration is the time of the year when all the animals travel from Tanzania's Serengeti National park to the Maasai Mara reserve to stay for better hunting. This is 1,800 miles and on that adventure an estimated 250,000 wildebeest die while traveling. We knew that we wanted to travel there in August to see them in action. 

During our stay at an all-inclusive lodge (Below) (there was nothing for miles) we went on numerous game drives (safari) in order to see the animals. We would get up early when they were hunting their prey and at night before sundown. It was a scavenger hunt to try and find all of them.

 One day we decided to catch the wildebeest crossing at the Mara River. For hours the wildebeest gathered at the foot of the river waiting to cross. The river is dangerous because it is filled with crocodiles and the current can be hard to cross. We watched and waited for what felt like forever before all of a sudden they started crossing the river. I was so proud of them! Watching hundreds of wildebeest cross the river was crazy to experience. Some had a hard time making the journey, and babies and mothers had to be careful once they made it onto the other side because they had to climb a steep mountain. Luckily we didn't experience any crocodiles hunting during the cross, but we saw them lurking nearby. 

One morning we got up before the sun to take a hot air balloon ride over the savannah. It was so peaceful floating up above and catching the sunrise over the reserve. After the balloon ride we were served a brunch in the savannah under a tree. We were lucky enough to spot some animals as we floated on. This was definitely a bucket list experience and I am glad we did it. 

One afternoon we wanted to go see where the Maasai people lived. We traveled right outside of the reserve and were taken to a tribe that lives off meager means. We were invited into their village and taught how they survive and their customs. It was sad seeing their living situations as they live in dwellings that were made of mud and cow poop. They showed us their tricks of jumping very high and how skilled they are at hunting and creating their houses. Although it was sad to see their living circumstances, I love seeing how diverse the world is and all the different cultures. 

 The Maasai Mara was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Africa is truly beautiful. I fell in love with the sunsets, the wildlife and the country. I loved seeing animals that you don't normally see in their own habitat instead of in a zoo. I could've watched them for hours. I am so glad we went during the great migration and that we were able to experience this amazing part of wildlife. I definitely recommend it. Heres the lodge where we stayed.  Check it out HERE.

After we left the Maasai Mara we headed to Zimbabwe and Zambia to visit Victoria Falls, which is where we experienced the craziest thing we've ever done. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 24, 2017

China >> California >> Florida

Since I have written last, a lot has happened to our little family. First and foremost- Im pregnant. Quite pregnant, actually. 32 weeks, 1 day, 20 minutes pregnant, to be exact. But, who's counting? We are expecting a little boy in September, and couldn't be more thrilled. Samantha (3 years) has been very curious and engaged in the pregnancy. She never misses an opportunity to help and hold my hand while we go down stairs to make sure I don't fall, and she reminds me on the daily how big I am getting. She even told some strangers at the pool the other day that she had a baby in her belly that was kicking quite a lot. Boy, will she be surprised in a few months.

Secondly, we moved to Florida. Peytons new project for Walt Disney World is Guardians of the Galaxy themed and the move to be closer to work was fairly obvious. We had been back from China for about a year when we moved and I had moments of self sympathy at having to pack up all the boxes I had just finished unpacking from the previous move. The good news is that moving in your third trimester hasn't been as horrible as I thought it would be. (Don't tell my husband). We purged unnecessary and unused items that were fresh in our vision and this whole nesting thing has amplified my need and desire to organize our new home.

Other positives include living close to the park, which means Peyton has only about a 20 minute commute as opposed to the hour he was doing in Glendale, and the obvious perks of being able to head over to Disney World if I had the undeniable urge for a stuffed pretzel. Not saying this has ever happened, but hypothetically...

It is interesting to see the things that Samantha has noticed about our new home, and the assessments she has made with Florida. Such as, "This place has lots of bugs, lakes and heat." I'm with ya, homegirl. I'm sweating bullets over here. Our new ward is super friendly and promises lots of potential friends and connections, for which I am continually grateful and happy about.

Apparently my phone is hot in Florida, too. 

I will be honest, after moving to Shanghai I thought this move was going to be a walk in the park. After having to rely on public transportation, a language barrier, and the obvious city life, how hard could moving across the country be? I was surprised with how difficult moving-- anywhere-- in general is. The logistics were never-ending. Packing, sorting, organizing and purging the never-ending piles of sentimental items (a.ka. crap), Setting up housing utilities, getting a new phone plan, making sure our shipment arrived, finding the closest Tj Maxx and Home Goods. These were vulnerable and sensitive times. But after a month of living here I am enjoying the scenery (lots of green open space) the friendly hospitality of people, all the lakes, and lets be honest, legit southern BBQ.

We'll be here for about 3.5 years, give or take, and between our daily pool visits and alligator sightings, I think we'll enjoy this place. Just don't ask me about all the toll roads, those suckers really add up!