I think of the philosophical question, “When a tree falls in an empty forest does it make a sound?” and suddenly realize that no forest is ever really empty. No one is trapped under the tree, but if a person hasn’t been certainly a monkey could have been.
We arrive inside the gates to well-manicured gardens with a few very tall trees. We get a bit of history and a brief tour: started as a logging mill, the miller’s wife wanted her home close to the largest tree in the forest. The tree has since died but the remains of a giant stump still grace the yard.
There is a main house with a dining hall and two large sitting rooms for guests. Several cottages of varying sizes unobtrusively dot the grounds. At the lower end of one side of the garden is a small round chapel with a lovely wooden interior. We’ve already passed through the small reception area and had a peek at the tiny gift shop. We’re fed a little breakfast and then given time to settle into our rooms before lunch. We’re advised the forest is known for both birds and butterflies. But we notice there other life here as well; monkeys – three kinds live in these trees, and we’ve read the snake warnings. As it turns out, Kakamega Forest may have the highest concentration of poisonous snakes in the world. (But we don’t hear about that until our last day.) That afternoon while sitting on our verandah we hear the very loud creaking than a crash! A tree has fallen in the forest nearby. A couple of us go to investigate, sure enough a medium sized tree (for this forest) has fallen across a foot path just outside of the Center’s grounds.
That evening as the sun is setting the full orchestra of the forest around us crescendos. I relate the sounds to the only experiences I know of rain forests – ‘it sounds like one of those rain forest CDs that you can get to fall asleep by.’ Much more real now that I have sat there and heard it for myself.