Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Neveready for Mara

This is a brief story about why there are no pictures to post from a trip to the latest wonder of the world - the Masai Mara

We were scheduled to leave very early one morning. So the night before, I went to the ATM withdraw some cash to buy some batteries for a digital camera. However, the ATM was acting up (no cash on Sunday night) and so I went to Uchumi with whatever cash I had left in my pocket. I didn't have enough for any of the alkaline batteries (about 230 shillings for 4 AA) and so I settled for some "super heavy duty" Eveready batteries.

Early in the trip, I started taking some pictures of road construction work around Narok area, but soon the low battery prompt began to blink at the corner. I ignored it, as the batteries were new, and continued on taking pictures.

At the gate of the Mara, that garden full of almost every significant animal found on the continent - the camera conked out. The last picture the camera I was able to take was of a group of Masai ladies dancing and trying to sell some beads to a minivan of tourists. So much for the super heavy duty batteries, which only lasted for about a dozen pictures.

Great Mara: Driving through the Mara (no game drives or searching for animals), we were able to see buffalo, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, baboons, monitor lizard or crocodile (dived into the bush near river as soon as we approached), wildebeest, gazelle, warthog, and ostrich. The only ‘kill’ I saw was a secretary bird stomp a green snake and swallow it in about 3 seconds.

Also encountered, separately walking along the road was a hyena and a jackal, whose odd location could probably be attributed to tourists who had (illegally) thrown scraps of food at them. In addition, outside the park (which is not fenced), there were considerable herds of gazelle, wildebeest and zebra grazing close to herds of cattle watch over by Masai lads. There are no photos of these animals as I was neveready for the Mara.

Tourist economy/inflation: Back to the dead batteries. One peeve of domestic tourists is the inflated price of every day goods sold at (and around) hotels and resorts. The batteries I couldn’t buy at Uchumi for 230/= were being sold at a kiosk outside the park for 500 shillings and at 700/= at the hotel shop. Eventually I had to relent and buy them for 550/= at another shop we stopped at. These 100% mark-ups on the price of everyday items like toothpaste, slippers and batteries are a nuisance and should be cut down as the hotels/vendors don’t add any value to them.

15 comments:

sassy said...

mara must be really beautiful esp in the current season.....

jke said...

Welcome to the touaaarist world! :-)

Does anybody know what happens to old batteries in Kenya? Is there any concept on recyling them?

Imagine when I told my boss in Embu to avoid burning them with all the office garbage, he looked at me and asked what to with them instead.

AfroFeminista said...

Bankelele: i can commiserate with being neveready! This happened to me over easter in Naivasha. As we hopped on to the boat, we got ready to photo Hippos, the batteries we had purchased in Naivasha town conked out...wished I'd coaxed my semi charged ones they'd have done a better job. Maybe it's something to do with Eveready's...

@Jke: your boss has a point! What do you do with old batteries, other than keep them out in the sun to 'recharge' and reuse for like ten minutes. . .

Whispering Inn said...

Hey Banks, who's the "dumbestic" tourist now? He he. Pole sana. With digital cameras, always use Lithium batteries or recharchable NiMH batteries (at least 2500 mAh). Stay away from alkaline batteries.

AfroM said...

couldnt help but laugh abit... same thing happened to me when i went to samuburuland in early '06, i now carry MANY extra batteries. As luck would have it that is when you see the most interesting things!

I second whis' recommendation, though i have found that the new-ish energizer e2 (silver in color) last much much longer for digital cameras, the rechargeable ones loose the charge faster i think.

bankelele said...

Sassy: low season now till July, with low prices. Also the current rains make some roads impassable, but the whole place is green.

Jke: we used to try and burn them as kids. Now I don’t know where the end up. At least mobile phones (the most prevalent gadgets) have re-chargeable ones; otherwise they’d be a toxic problem here

AfroFeminista: pole

Whispering Inn: I never buy Eveready AA because of their short life span, but cash problem forced me too. I just never thought they’d go so fast – 10 pictures only? I mean why bother manufacturing the battery

AfroM: I’ve been quite satisfied with alkaline batteries, and thought the new lithium batts were just energizer & Duracells marketing gimmicks to extract more cash

Mitzy said...

It seems the Paka Power tagline about 9 Lives really means 9 photos...or 9 minutes, whichever comes first!
The Kenyan version of Eveready batteries are not worth it. As for battery disposal, I remember them exploding when we purposely threw them in the fire back in the day. Aren't we all lucky to be alive and healthy despite such stunts.

Anonymous said...

Why should the kiosk not markup the batteries 100%. That is just the law of supply and demand. Hey satisfy a need and make some mulla if/when you can

m said...

I NEVER buy those NEVEREADY batteries. I think their work is to hint to devices that they exist.

Alkaline all the way. Cost more but they can take some abuse. I once took 230 photos on one set alone.

Anonymous said...

hehehe and did u buy everready shares ?
but for real we need an electronic waste policy

coldtusker said...

Banks - Another reason why neveready shares sell for less than the batteries!

Anonymous said...

Bank...it happens...early this year i went on a tour of Alcatraz island and was pissed off when the camera started misbehaving...i had just bought it a couple of days before and here it was...all acting up. I had loaded some Energizers and every 20 minutes it went off...missed taking good pictures....found only one pair available on the islands gift shop which forced me to buy a disposable..and next day took back the camera and in a Kyuk fashioned screamed for a refund. Pole sana.

PS:Thanks Heavens that i got only 500 eveready shares.

acolyte said...

Pole sana about all that drama!
I know how you feel about the excessive mark ups, I remember the shop outside a hotel I was living at in Mombasa selling a 30/= bar of chocolate for 100/=!
Rest assured there and then I took a matatu and did all my shopping in the town.
Next time buy energiser!

egm said...

Have to agree on the Energizer E2. We use them for a one of the products we make, and I ran some tests on them that beat the crap out of them, yet they kept going, just like the rabbit. They may be expensive, but they are most definitely worth it.

bankelele said...

Mitzy: 9 photos is apt. Kids still pull explosive stunts, and they are even bolder these days

M: They shouldn't even make them. Eveready already sells the Energizer brand in Kenya

coldtusker: They're good for torches, but nothing digital it seems

acolyte. Marks ups totaly unecessary as they chase customers away.

Egm: I'm happy with plain Energizer, not yet tried out the E2.

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