Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chillin n Kenya

Since getting to Kenya on Friday I have been enjoying the sunny but not too hot weather, hospitality of my hosts the Mugeras, getting the off the beaten path guided tour and taken plenty of pictures. I am currently using the laptop at the Mugeras to type this entry and will post it tomorrow when I go to town (Nairobi) to get on the net again. I have already seen over half the dozen or so people I was communicating with by email before coming and will be seeing others throughout the week. The original plan was to stay in Waithaika with Thomas Mugera and his family till Tuesday and then head to Migori but due to a schedule change I will be traveling on Saturday with William a Christian Scientist studying at a college in Nairobi and Rachel the friend of Emily who is my friend from SIT.

Thomas his wife Janet and their children Bishop, Beryl, Gift, Emanuel and Angel and their nephew Jackson all live at the home I am staying in along with their dog David (a female) and their cat who has no name as of yet. They also have some geese who are pretty hostile and I have been told bite. We are in beginnings of the farm area that spreads out to Karen and other communities. Another pleasure has been the milk that comes right from the cow to fresh to us from the farm. It is really some of the best milk I have ever had and farm fresh just won’t mean the same thing anymore. Since I don’t drink tea normally I have only tried Kenyan tea once. I have never been a fan of hot drinks but I figure it is an experience not to be missed while in Kenya so I will have it a few times. The Mugeras live on the grounds where Sunrise of Africa School is located. This school was started as a joint effort by Thomas and some other Christian Scientists in the area. I got to visit the school today (Tuesday when I am writing this) and took many pictures of the cute little kids ages 3-9 who attend the school.

Yesterday, I went with Robert, who is a long time friend of Thomas, to Karen named after “Out of Africa” Karen Blixen who at one point owned hundreds if not thousands of acres. We went to an elephant sanctuary connected to the Nairobi National Park and got to watch and pet orphaned elephants some as young 10 months and old as a few years. I found it funny to see the keepers/rangers applying sunscreen on the babies so as not to get burned. At least the older ones wallowed in the mud and put on more natural protection. Each day between 11 and noon dozens if not hundreds of tourists come to see, learn about, take pictures of and pet the babies and it was almost too overcrowded to enjoy. It is nice to at least have the illusion that you are doing something that has never been done before or at least not common. We left before the masses as I had seen enough and in order to avoid the exodus and drove to the nearby (relatively speaking) Giraffe Center. We beat most of the crowds from the elephants but were later joined by many of the same faces. The keepers/info guides were giving out pellets made of cereals, molasses and more for us to fee to the giraffes many of whom were orphans or hurt as children. I got my picture taken with a giraffe as I was feeding pellets to it and others even put the pellets in their mouths and then the giraffes took them out. I learned that giraffes sleep between 5 minutes and half an hour each day because this makes them less easy of prey and also because while they eat almost all day they don’t move far or fast normally and thus don’t expend a great amount of energy. All of this was just icing on the cake for the big finale to come a few hours later.

After the giraffes Robert and I went to the Nairobi National Park to have lunch with Muthoni, a friend who is at Principia College which is my undergrad and is doing an internship for the park before graduating from Prin in June. I met her at the Principia Pan African Conference in October of 2005 when I met and spent most of the day with the real star of “Hotel Rwanda” Paul Rusesabagina. Muthoni is from here (Nairobi) and is home for a few months to do this internship. After she, Robert and I went to the “Safari Walk” basically a amped up zoo complete with large areas for the “Big 5” and their friends. It includes a high bridge that allows you to walk through some forest canopy and overlook a river, trees, savannah and more. Before we had gone to far after entering the “Safari Walk” we saw a worker/keeper doing something outside a gate and Muthoni asked him what was inside and he invited the three of us in. We came in to see a female cheetah named Milo who was four years old in a cage right next to us. The worker/keeper said we could go in a pet her. He opened the gate and let us in and I was the first to reach her and pet her. Her fur was rough more like a goat or horse than a domestic cat and she was really sweet and gentle. She just wanted to lick my hands and arms to get the salt off and her tongue was very rough like strong sandpaper. For hours after I could still feel where she had licked me but it was definitely worth it. Unlike the elephants and giraffes which everyone gets to pet if they go at the right time and pay the fee this was a unique opportunity and really exciting. We got many pictures of Robert, Muthoni and myself petting her and being licked by her and it was really great. When we were done the keeper let her out of the cage into the area where the general public gets to watch and she was soon playing with the other cheetah and people were watching from a distance admiring them and I really wanted to tell them what we had just been able to do. We were told that leopards and lions cannot be kept domesticated after a certain age as they get too dangerous but cheetahs can’t be domesticated throughout. I am not really the biggest fan of zoos but this “Safari Walk” seemed to have adequate space for most animals to roam and allow visitors to see the animals in their “natural” surroundings.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Off to spend three weeks in the land of the Maasai, Lake Victoria, the Great Rift Valley and the 2007 World Social Forum! Packing for Kenya.

Jambo! As you might recall back on October 29th I announced my plans to travel to Kenya for a few weeks mainly to attend the World Social Forum (WSF) from January 20th to 25th in Nairobi. Well the moment has arrived and the time to travel will soon be upon me. I am excited to get to visit Kenya for the first time, see old church and university friends, make new ones along the way and get to experience my first East African country (Moz is kinda in between south and east) It should be a great time from tomorrow the 5th until Saturday the 27th. I will be in Nairobi for the first few days and then head with my friend Jared Ogega (see about his school) to Migori in the western part of the country near Lake Victory and stay there for a week or so before retuning to Nairobi a few days before the WSF. I have made contacts with many people in Kenya mainly in Nairobi (see about another Christian Science school in Kenya) and the area in and around Migori so I will have lots of stories to tell when I get back, photos to share and more. I would write more but I gotta run and keep working on my packing and prepping for Kenya. I will try and write a few times while there but as in Moz I might just get carried away and not take/have the time to do so. Catch you on the info superhighway in the near future!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Battle of the Bulge. Chókwè might be experiencing a mini drought but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to treat long lost sons to tons of food!

That is right I am back from Mozambique and off to Kenya in 1 ½ days time. I got back this afternoon and was picked up by my friend Ernest Karanja at the airport. It was nice to be in Moz for almost three weeks to see friends, eat some great food, spend the holidays, survive the heat, dance the night away, feel like a rock star again, matar saudades and come home with some great music*. It was good to go back but now I have not idea when I will be back but I know for sure I will go back. I of course didn’t see everyone I wanted to as some were visiting friends/family for the holidays, others out of country studying or working and sadly many have passed on since my last time in Moz two years ago. That seemed to be the only real “novidade” (news) in fact besides more children, potholes, the heat and of course lots of bebidas (drinks) due to the holiday time.

I am tired so I won’t write too much now but just wanted to put something up to announce my return to the Republic of South Africa. I will be busy tomorrow with all kinds of stuff before leaving for Kenya on Friday at 11:30 AM. I need to download all the photos I took, load the music I got onto my computer and start listening, get rid of the virus that got onto all my flash cards in my camera, charge my batteries, catch up on some emails, finish up my prepping for Kenya, do some laundry and sit with computer which I have missed these past 3 weeks. In fact it was nice to be gone and if I hadn’t been busy, cheap and not wanting to miss a minute I would have written while in Moz. I might post a few times in Kenya but it all depends. I will have lots to catch up on when I get back to the States later this month but I will have 8 jam packed days before going off to Brasil! The reason for the title of this blog is that I was very much so over fed my whole time in Chókwè. I had at least four full meals a day and plenty of snacks on the side and people kept offering me soft drinks and juice on top of that. I didn’t have the heart to tell most that I don’t drink soft drinks and was relieved when they just offered me water. I have never eaten so much in my life

*That is right Tober (and any others who are interested) I have about 8 GB of new tunes from Moz. A mix of passada, marabenta, hip hop, etc. from the likes of Ziqo, MC Roger, Neyma and Lizha James. Como e nice esta musica! If you want me to burn you some CDS just let me no. Holla mbique!