Tuesday Travel Trouble: Out with the friendly warthogs

When I was a kid, my grandparents spent three years on a small island in the Indian Ocean called La Réunion (a French overseas department).  While they were there, my parents planned a family trip for us to see them, with amazing experiences in Egypt and Kenya on the way.  In my recollection, everything went pretty smoothly in Egypt (except for an incident with my brother’s low blood sugar in Cairo), and our Kenyan safari was spectacular.  Where we ran into trouble was the overnight stay in Nairobi just before heading into the brush.

We arrived in Nairobi after several hours’ delay (which we’d spent playing games in the Cairo airport), ready to head to our lodging.  A huge women’s convention was going on in Nairobi, and all hotels were booked or overbooked.  Somehow, we were a victim of overbooking, and we ended up at a tent camp just out of town.  We had been assured that it was a “comfortable alternative.”  My Mom wasn’t buying it, and the flight delay had really aggravated everyone’s nerves and general well-being, but there were no other options at that point.  We only had one night in Nairobi, so we would just have to make it work.

We had a few campers in our family, but mostly not.  Especially not my great mom.

But off we went in our taxi-van to the tent camp.  This place was definitely not in the city.  Not terribly far, but worlds away from a comfortable hotel.  But they had a tent for us, with cots for everyone.  And as a kid, it really didn’t strike me as that bad.  Kind of fun, in fact.

As we got a tour of the camp, though, a few alarms went off in our heads:

  • “Watch out for snakes,” the guy said. Er…okay.  Like…cobras?  Really not sure—better not to ask questions.  “Especially at night,” he added.    Stay in tent.
  • “Oh, and keep an eye out for friendly warthogs.” Yes, that’s what he said.  Not sure how to tell if it’s a friendly or unfriendly one, but maybe it’s just better to stay in the tent.  At least we didn’t have too many guidelines to remember.  Stay in tent.
  • We also passed the pool.   Think half-full with some garbage and moss.  Stay in tent!

Remarkably, it all worked out.  We treated it like a cross between hoteling and camping.  We played some of our favorite family games before calling it quits and heading to bed.  And most importantly, we stayed in our tents.

The morning found us all safe and sound, ready to move on from the tent camp to the excitement of a safari!

The moral of the story?

Book early!  Once you have your airline tickets, which are almost always expensive to change, you’re locked in.  So hop to your hotel search and get things booked as quickly as possible.  In most cases, if you wait until a bit closer to your travel dates, you’ll have no trouble at all finding a room.  But let’s face it—you never know when there will be a huge convention that fills everything up.  And you probably don’t want to end up in a tent camp.  (I’m guessing there are exceptions among you…)

And when there’s nothing else to do, just make do—and chalk it up to family bonding and the creation of great and unforgettable memories!  We Wheelwrights will NEVER forget our night at the tent camp in Kenya.  Period!

Photo credit: Warthog, © Ikiwaner via Wikimedia Commons


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