Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Odds and Ends

When I began on this journey three weeks seemed like a very long time to be away from my family.  Now that I'm back home, sitting in my parents' TV room publishing the last of my blog posts, it seems more like I blinked and the time was gone.

After our safari in Nakuru we returned to St. Mary's and just relaxed on Friday evening.  After so much driving and a 5am wake up call we were all pretty tired.  Saturday was spent tying up loose ends in town.  Several students went to town to do some last minute shopping and I had some free time, so I decided to get my hair done.  At only $5 it would be a sin not to!

The big shopping item on everyone's list was tire sandals.  A man in the market makes sandals out of old tires with pretty incredibly precision.  Sakwa was even thoughtful enough to buy a little pair of tire sandals for Amare.  They don't fit him quite yet, but I can't wait for that day.  He has a little guy named Liam who was born on Landry's and my wedding anniversary last year, so the two boys aren't too far apart in age.  He and I and his wife Oliviah definitely bonded over our newfound parenting roles.

Amare's tire sandals.  You can see the treads on the bottom of the left one.
Saturday night was bittersweet for the students.  On Saturdays the boys at St. Mary's have a dance party in their auditorium before watching movies.  Our students all went down to the dance for one last opportunity to spend time with the boys and to say goodbyes.  A lot of letters were exchanged and tears shed.  It was clear what an impact the boys had on our students as well as our students on the boys.  We then all returned to the Brothers' residence to watch the football (soccer) championship game and spend one last night telling stories, laughing at jokes, and eating Habiba's famous popcorn.

Grilling corn on the cob on the jico
Sunday morning we packed up early and headed to Nairobi.  We stopped at the Maasai Market and Kazuri Fair Trade Jewelry for souvenir shopping before dinner with Brother Dennis at a barbecue spot close to the Scholastic House.  If you remember from my first post, this is where we stayed the night we arrived in Nairobi and it is the house where the brothers live while they are in training.

This is how Brother Francis gets us around in one piece!

On Monday morning Brother Francis took us on our last outing of the trip to an elephant sanctuary and giraffe center.  The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a long term elephant and rhino orphan program that seeks to protect young orphaned animals with the goal of returning them to the wild as adults.  At the giraffe center we were able to climb up into a platform and feed giraffes right at eye level.  Very cool experience!
Warthogs that came trotting down the road before the sanctuary opened to the public
Oh tourists
These "babies" drink 18-24 liters of formula a day!

This is Kelly the giraffe.  She was not feeling us on Monday morning...
We returned to the Scholastic Houes for lunch with the brothers before packing up and heading to the airport.  Our flight wasn't until 10:30 at night, but traffic is so unpredictable in Nairobi that we had to leave by 3pm to ensure we arrived by 7:30.   Fortunately (or unfortunately) there was absolutely no traffic on the way to the airport, so we got to hang out and tour the Jomo Kenyatta International for several hours before boarding.  We got in some last minute shopping and the time really did pass more quickly that we thought it would.

Sakwa poses with lot of the students before leaving for the airport

Students are so sad to be leaving Kenya!
After a total of 31 hours traveling door to door I can't believe that I woke up yesterday (sort of) in Kenya and am now sitting in Morrisville.  I missed my family and some of the comforts of home, but I miss Kenya already.  I miss the brothers and Sakwa and Habiba and Stephen and all of the people who made us feel so welcomed in Nyeri.  I miss the work we were doing, the smell of charcoal burning, and even the red dirt that still stains my feet even after several rounds of scrubbing in the shower.  The impression on me has been immeasurable and I'm certain I'll be back in Kenya soon.

Odds and ends photos that I never published:

Oh red dirt....how I love your staining properties
When your steering wheel falls apart in a parking lot....just put it back together!  Brother Francis: Jack of All Trades
This is Patty.  He's, shall we say, precocious.  Definitely the little mayor of St. Mary's
Patty without the mask

Dirt path to a home visit...can't remember if I posted this or not, but it's a great shot!

I milked a cow.  And probably drank the milk the next day at breakfast.  Crazy!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Nakuru Safari

Wednesday marked the last day of service work for us and on Thursday we loaded into our van and headed for Nakuru, a town a bit larger than Nyeri about three hours to the southwest.  On the ride there we passed across the equator several times as the roads here zigzag up and down and we are literally that close to it.  We made three stops along the way.  The first was at a large waterfall, which was beautiful and we took lots of pictures there.

The next stop was at the Great Rift Valley (for a scientific description of this site, click here, for a less scientific description, clicking here would be better).  It's said that civilization began in the rift valley of Eastern Africa.


Sakwa and one of our students
Our final stop before arriving to our hotel was a crater.  The crater was pretty magnificent, but the journey to get there was far more interesting.  Brother Francis has been our steadfast tour guide throughout our time here in Kenya.  Driving in Kenya can cause anxiety, but we trust Brother with our lives and he's an excellent navigator.  He also likes to ignore gates and fees...lol.  Driving up to the crater we passed a guard booth.  The guards said something to Brother, he yelled something back and off we went.  Since none of us speak Swahili we didn't know what the actual interaction had been.  About ten minutes into our climb up a pretty bumpy dirt road a guard on a motor bike pulled up next to us and insisted we pull over.  He was so rude to Brother and then turned to us in the van and tried to be all nice and polite like we couldn't read tones even though we didn't speak Swahili.  He insisted Brother had ignored some rules of the road and after having him get out of the car I watched him try to count how many of us were in the van.  That was a sure sign of one thing: he expected a bribe to allow us to continue.  I was having no part of his attempts to be nice and sweet to the mzungus and really wanted to give him a piece of my mind, but since I was there for work and not personal enjoyment I kept my mouth shut.  After being allowed to go on by the guard we came upon two trucks, facing opposite directions on the road, both broken down and completely blocking the way.  We ended up having to take a back road that turned from dirt to grass to a small foot path and ended in someone's backyard, where we cut across back to the main road.  I think you'll agree from the photos it was worth the adventure.

Taking a stretch break waiting for the guard to let us go.  Can you tell he's excited for a safari?

Thunderstorm moving its way across the crater valley

We then checked into our hotel, had dinner with the brothers who work in Nakuru and called it an early night as we had to get up at 5am for our safari adventure.  Below are the photos from the safari.  As it rained the night before we had some close calls driving on the dirt roads in the park, but ever trustworthy Brother Francis got us through it all with no problems.  Amazing day!

Sunrise from the gate of Lake Nakuru National Park
Waterfall inside the park
A surprise rhino!  We had been told that they had all been moved for protective reasons, but then we found one.  So exciting!
A troupe of baboons hanging out in the road
Water buffalo


Baboon family thoroughly enjoying the picnic area

Warthogs....like Pumba from The Lion King
These trees were just really cool.  Brown on the bottom and green on the top.
View of Lake Nakuru from the top of a VERY rocky road

Zebras too!

Our safari shirt boys
After a 5am wake up call the kiddos were out for the count on the car ride home