Writing here has been much harder than Morocco because I spend 40 hours a week in front of a computer, researching forests and climate change. Even during my free time I'm having many fewer interactions with locals and so I'm learning less about culture.
This weekend a group of friends and I went to Lake Nakuru, a major tourist destination. We were put off by the ridiculous park fees so instead went to a smaller lake a few miles down the road. There were thousands of flamingos, storks, and pelicans. A flock of flamingos flying across the lake is a spectacular site...keep an eye on facebook for when my friends post pics.
The only land animals were cows, sheep, goats, and humans. The lake was surrounded by small villages that supported themselves on small-scale farming, herding animals, and charging tourists a small fee for entry. There were half a dozen small boys that followed us down to the lake and made flamingo feather flowers (say that three times fast).
Another part of my life is the amazing places I've lived in. After living with Rose and Dan, I moved in with a SAIS colleague, and we housesitted for embassy staff on leave. I've already mentioned the ridiculous security at their house. Another noteworthy feature was the giant projector and ninentdo wii, which consumed many hours of my time. We're now housesitting a new house. At this house I have my OWN BUILDING to sleep in. There is also a cook and someone who does laundry/cleans up. We ate pumpkin pie last night.
We were chatting with the houseowner last night (he doesn't leave for another week) and he was talking about all the different perks of working for the embassy. House paid for. Cook. Househelp. Kids tuition paid for. The embassy will ship 7,000 lbs of your stuff (more for people with families) from the states to wherever. You can also order anything online and the embassy pays for the shipping. You can, for example, order a used car from Japan and the embassy will ship it for you. Naturally, with all this money and nothing to spend it on, our house is well-stocked with every American convenience/consumer product that you can imagine. It's amazing how easy it is to live in Kenya without having any contact with anything Kenyan.
My work is going well. I've finished the first draft of my paper and am waiting for feedback. It's hard to believe, but I only have 3+ weeks of work left. The summer has flown by! This weekend I think I'm going to Maasai Maara, a massive conservation area. At this time of year, there is the "Great Migration," where millions of wildebeasts are on the move, predators in tow. Should be great!
Hope all is well.