Three months into our around-the-world bicycle odyssey, we flew to Kenya from London. We landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi in the morning and rolled our bikes out to pump up the tires. We fortified ourselves with a sweet roll and tea with milk at the airport, clipped on our panniers, and biked ten miles into the city. Traffic was light on the two-lane road in the early-morning hours. We cycled past zebras and giraffes grazing in the plains. The view of those wild animals in their natural habitat felt like the authentic beginning of our adventure.
One night we camped near Lake Naivasha on a beautifully manicured lawn.
Hippos swam in the lake during the day. The tips of their ears flicked at us as we boated by.
But late that night in our tent, we found out how the lawn was maintained: large hippos came out of the lake to walk around and graze. We inched the zipper open and peeked out. The huge, black hulks of hippo bodies stood too close for comfort, with their red eyes reflecting back at us. We could hear them quietly munching the grass.
Around midnight, I had to leave the tent to go to the bathroom! Shaking and scared, I gave the hippos a wide berth and got back into the tent as quickly and quietly as possible.
Many years after our trip I found out that the hippo is considered one of the most dangerous and deadly land mammals in the world. They are aggressive and unpredictable, and they kill an estimated five hundred people a year in Africa. Their massive weight—an average of three thousand pounds for females and as much as nine thousand pounds for males—can crush a human to death. Had we known that at the time, we would have been even more terrified.
You can read about my life-changing around-the-world bicycle odyssey in my book.
Bicycle Odyssey An Around-the-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery
Available in print or ebook through amazon.com , BalboaPress.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or at your local independent bookstore. Ask them to order for you. Help support indie bookstores! These independent stores now carry my book: Half-Off Books in Fullerton, California, Vroman’s in Pasadena, and Book Soup in West Hollywood.