One night we met a man working for Starbucks who was also staying at the camp. He was from Chicago and had graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and knew some of mom’s friends in City Year Chicago. We got to talking. His thin rimmed glasses and collared shirt fell just so. He had come to Kenya because his job at Starbucks is corporate responsibility. He explained, gesticulating with his thin wirey hands, that he was meeting with local bean producers. Apparently Starbucks pays these farmers prices that are above market prices in order to assure that the farmers get the compensation they deserve and to make sure that Starbucks gets the best beans. Seemed like a pretty cool job. Despite his wirey hands and corporate undertones, his eyes held steady eye contact when he spoke, he didn’t let his eyes roll around as if searching for the words, they came naturally. He knew his stuff. He surely boosted my view of Starbucks. I understand that local coffee shops hate this chain. So, locally, maybe the company is doing more harm than good. On a global scale, however, it doesn’t look this way. Starbucks is actually aiding the many coffee bean producers from around the world and not allowing market prices to exploit small-scale production. I cannot deny it, I got excited for my first Starbucks drink when I get home in December.
That same night Dad didn’t sleep. Why? There was a hippo outside our tent. He said he heard it peeing for half an hour. Mom and I were passed out.
In the morning we went to see the great migration of the wildebeests. Groups by the thousand would come close to the water, then go back, come close, go back. Over and over again. We sat in the safari vehicle, a land rover with massive wheels.
As we sat, waiting for the wildebeests to cross, something that never happened, other special things did happen. I was just with mom and dad. The three of us. Talking, being, breathing, laughing, relaxing. Speaking to the past, both the good and bad. Envisioning the future, literal things that will happen like the fact that I will gradeuate from Midd in just a year and half, and the figurative things that may happen like where I will end up living.
The real beauty of that safari wasn’t those animals but rather the open, relaxed forum that the safari provided us with. The land were the animals dwell welcomes Mom, Dad and I. It was a forum which allowed the three of us to just be. The animals eat, play run around. We ate watched them and talked. It was three days that I will never forget.
I will also never forget Dad sitting on the front of the truck, as the sun set behind him and he pointed into the open sky. It was a great image. And, I think that the Maasai men who were our leaders, Joseph and Peter got a kick out of it – imagine that, Dad made people laugh… of course.