Elizabeth Gilbert had to travel all over the world to accomplish these three things, but all Charlotte needed was just two weeks, a Covid test and some very stretchy jeans.
Happily, I made my way to Nicky’s house on the 9 June with my small carry-on luggage, wide-brimmed hat, and camera bag. It wasn’t long before my bag disappeared under a pile of heavy material needed for the bathroom vanities at Angama Safari Camp. My hat was squashed into a bag carrying an assortment of exciting and mysterious items for the lodge, and I had to add another 15kg suitcase to the hold.
Slightly weighed down, but as excited as ever, we arrived at Wilson Airport with great pomp and ceremony. I say this because I was travelling with Nicky Fitzgerald and it appears that anybody who has anything to do with tourism in Kenya has enjoyed a long and fond friendship with her (it was this, and maybe the mint chocolate cake we bought along as a luggage overweight peace offering for the airline team).
I remember thinking on the flight: “It doesn’t get better than this,” as we flew over the Mara in all its glory. My, on my, how wrong I was.
You know how they have those cameras at the most terrifying section on a roller-coaster? Well, I think Angama Mara should have a secret camera hidden for when people see the view for the first time. Luckily, I had Azei next to me to help pick my jaw off the floor.
And good thing too, because that jaw was put straight to work with ‘The Best Burger in the Mara’. This was something of an embarrassment because I had “trying to be a vegetarian” as my dietary requirement but in my defense, it was the best burger in the Mara.
The culinary treats just kept coming, from homemade ice-cream to curries that warmed the corners of your tummy. To say I was in heaven is an understatement. I tried my best to eat the Angama chefs out of house and home but they reveled in the challenge and won outright. I will happily go for round two though, this time with even stretchier jeans.
The pray and love part of my story at Angama are inextricably intertwined. There is a quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner inscribed on a plaque under Denys Finch Hatton’s (movie) tree near the Pavilion that reads “He who loveth well prayeth well”. If that quote is true, then I was in the company of all the spiritual entities those two weeks because, my goodness, did I love. My meditation was our 8:15 daily guest briefing; my rosary, the binoculars slung round my neck. Each morning before the sun rose, I faced eastwards as the balloons progressed on their gentle sunrise float across the Mara.
It was at Angama Mara where I finally understood what Elizabeth Barrett Browning meant when she wrote: “to the depth and breadth and height, my soul can reach”.
In Eat Pray Love, a quote goes “some days are meant to be counted, others are meant to be weighed”. I spent a day with Kina in the kitchen and she put me to work on weighing out the dough for the bread rolls. When I think back to my time at the lodge and look at the days as little mounds of dough all weighed up, I know that Kina would be proud of how my bread rolls turned out. The days I spent at Angama will keep me full for years to come.
Now all I need is some Maasai honey.