I happened to sneak into a tour group’s briefing, for lack of a better thing to do while I waited to receive my guests at the airport’s arrival hall. My idea was to hear what the guides tell the clients when preparing them for what they are about to get themselves into.
Considering that some clients come into the country with some weird expectations, it is always important to let them in on the actual expectations either in the wild or at the beach.
I also wanted to know how some information is disseminated. It is easy to know what to tell the client as a word of advice or caution, or a little mention of culture and customs.
But it is a completely different cup of tea when you stand in front of a group of, say a hundred tourists, and start talking. Some forget their wordings and end up making their own statements that either embarrass them, or makes a mockery of their training.
But most of all, guides sometimes ends up misrepresenting facts, or misleading the tourists as a whole. At one point during the briefing, the guide told the clients to always wind up their car windows and make sure the doors are locked all the times and especially so, when they enter the city or when they join a queue in a tight traffic.
One client asked whether the warning was indicative of the insecurity the country was famous for. I expected a straight no from the guide, just to look patriotic for once, but I was wrong.
The guide went ahead to tell the client that there had been a huge influx into the city, of children of the displaced families who fell victim during the 2007 post-election violence.
And since they lost all what they called home, they had nothing else to lose and they would not fear to go to jail as long as they try to have a meal for a day. That would mean they are prepared to lift what they can from tourist vans as they snake along slow traffic.
As I listened keenly as the guide briefed his clients, I was wondering whether a client needed to know all that information. It is a fact that we have had visitors from rural areas, which were affected by the clashes.
It is also true that some of them are living in squalid conditions. Although we can’t hide the facts, do we have to let the clients know the details of our dark side of life?
How do they think of us who are able, in relation to the influx of those in need of help? While we wait for the government to resettle the displaced, what, in the name of good citizens who can afford bread a day, doing to help our neighbours?
At this point, I remembered a similar situation that I witnessed in the Mara, involving a disabled animal getting undivided attention from members of his species. There was this bird which had a crooked beak. The bird was a ground hornbill.
As the name suggests, these species of birds eat from the ground. They pick up insects like grasshoppers, snails, beetles, lizards and sometimes snakes. Like all birds in this category, they don’t tear their prey. They swallow them whole.
But this juvenile had the upper mandible crossing the lower mandible at the base of the mouth. This meant that the bird could not open the mouth fully, or pick up anything from the ground. But the bird looked well fed. You need not wonder how.
The bird was in a small group of well-abled individuals who were willing to help. They would pick up an insect, look out for the disabled and push the food down the gut.
The disabled bird had only to swallow. Even if one or both the parents were there, it was hard to distinguish because I witnessed almost each member of the group giving something to the poor bird.
We may not be in a position to help many, but we can do the very little possible to give a hand to those who really need. If that is too much, then the least we can do is to be patriotic enough to keep our dirty linen in the house.