S: Africa 2010: Kenya & Sudan
FC: Africa 2010 | Kenya & Sudan
1: After my American Airlines flight from Chicago to Heathrow was canceled due to mechanical difficulties, meaning I would miss my British Air connection to Nairobi, I was very glad to be able to take Air France through Paris instead. From Paris to Nairobi, I flew on Kenya Airways. I actually arrived in Nairobi a little earlier than originally scheduled! | Mom and John arrived a few hours before I did, and they, Elly, and the Mayfield van were waiting for me upon my arrival. | The baggage claim area in Nairobi - my suitcase didn't make the connection in Paris, but since it was mostly stuff for Elly, it didn't affect us too much. It was delivered to Mayfield while we were on safari. | Travel to Africa | "Karibu" means "welcome" in Swahili.
2: Around Mayfield | The AIM Mayfield Guest house was donated to the organization for the use of missionaries and their families who found themselves traveling through Nairobi. Because we were traveling with Elly, we were able to enjoy the wonderful accommodations (including wi-fi) and beautiful grounds.
3: Above: One of the sitting areas, and the dining room, where meals were served family style three times a day Left: Sammy & John, two of the employees at Mayfield Right: Bedroom that Mom & I shared Below: fabric and artwork found around the guest house
4: On our first full day in Nairobi, John & I applied for our Sudan VISAs. Afterward, we went out for lunch with the Carpenters (friends of Elly's) and we visited the "Toy Market", below, which mainly sells clothing, new & used. Elly, Mom & John bought hats for the safari. | Around Nairobi | before the safari | Walking to lunch we passed a nursery selling plants. The jacarandas in the background were in full bloom - beautiful!
5: and after | We enjoyed dinner at Mark & Jodi deBlois' the Friday after the safari - Reint Jan was in Nairobi for business and was able to join us as well. | calling James on his birthday - I was able to talk to the family for 1/2 an hour for only $1.80. | We took the "matatus" to the mall for some souvenir shopping - it costs about 30 cents for a ride, and they really pack you in! | a Christmas baobab tree at the mall | We got back from the safari too late for lunch, so decided to order pizza!
6: At 7am sharp, our driver Titus from ACTs arrived at Mayfield to pick us up. When Elly heard the drive to the game park & lodging would be five hours, half over bad roads, she promptly went back inside for her Dramamine! | The scenery quickly changed from city to slums to countryside. | View of the Great Rift Valley from the Escarpment | On the way to safari...
7: Titus wasn't exaggerating about the roads - there were times it was smoother driving on the shoulder than on the actual road. | Many Maasai live in the area around the Masaai Mara Game Park. We saw many compounds with animal enclosures and men and boys tending cattle and goats. At very bottom is a market gathering. | These Maasai children had found a young Thompson's gazelle.
8: Ol Moran Tented Camp | Ol Moran is Maasai for "Warrior" | We were very pleased with our accommodations . The "rooms" were canvas tents with screen windows under a reed roof. At the back of each was a cement room with flush toilet and hot showers when the generators were running (in the mornings and evening only.) It wasn't fancy, but it was comfortable and clean. Mom & I shared one "room", and Elly & John the other.
9: The grounds inside the walled camp were nicely landscaped. We enjoyed buffet-style meals in the dining and sitting area (upper right). At left below is the sitting room where we played cards in the evenings | Breakfasts consisted of crepes, sausage and omelettes made to order. Lunch and dinner were usually rice and pasta with meat & vegetables. Fruit was served with every meal.
10: On Safari in the Maasai Mara | On the hunt for leopard.... the only one of the "Big Five" Elly hadn't seen on her previous safaris... | Park entrance | Beautiful scenery! | What we must've looked like from the animals' perspective! | Candelabra cactus
11: We arrived at camp around 1pm. After lunch and short rest, we ventured into the game park for a late afternoon game drive. We spent about 2 1/2 hours in the park that day. The next day we stayed out all day - leaving the camp around 8am and not returning until 5pm, with Titus driving about 118 kilometers during that time. The camp sent along a boxed lunch on our full day, which we enjoyed on the open grassland. Vans and other safari vehicles dotted the landscape, and the drivers communicated via CB and cell phones to let each other know if a rare animal had been sighted. | While John preferred to stand while Titus was driving, at times it was safer to be seated, due to the rough roads. His response after I told him he would either break a rib or his camera if he didn't sit down: "I'd rather break a rib - it'd be cheaper!" | Acacia tree
12: The Plains zebras that inhabit the Maasai Mara have wider stripes than the Grevy’s zebras. The young zebra's stripes are brown instead of black.
13: The Masaai or Kilimanjaro Giraffe can grow up to nineteen feet tall. | Bending down to eat or drink puts the giraffe at risk for attack, because it cannot quickly get back up.
14: We saw many elephants, either males traveling alone or one or more females traveling with young elephants.
15: Lions | The lions we saw were mostly resting, as they do most of their hunting in the early morning and evening hours.
16: Cape Buffalo | Topi | We saw large herds of cape buffalo and wildebeest. Also common were the topi. We saw many different types of impalas, gazelles, and antelopes as well. | White-bearded Wildebeest | Topi
17: Eland | Hartebeest | Waterbuck | Bush buck | Defassa Waterbuck | Thompson's gazelles | Impala
18: Grey Crowned Cranes | Secretary bird | Ostriches | Vultures circling overhead | White-necked Vultures | Egyptian geese | Ruppel's Vulture | Lappet-faced Vulture
19: Birds, large and small, were everywhere! | From upper left: Guinea fowl, Crowned plover, Yellow-billed stork, Lilac-breasted roller, Heron, East African spurfowl, Yellow-throated bee-eater, African ground hornbill, Wattled plover, Egyptian goose, Superb starling, Purple Grenadier Finch
20: Spotted Hyenas | Black-backed jackals, above and at left | Sausage Tree | Cheetah | Termite mound | Leopard kill in tree - young wildebeest carcass | Various other sightings
21: Vervet Monkey | Common Mongoose | Red-headed agama lizard | Olive Baboons | Warthogs | Hippo foraging inland | Nile crocodile | Hippos in the Mara River
22: Although the famous mass migration had already taken place, we waited a while by the Mara River, hoping these animals would try to cross while we were watching. They didn't, perhaps because they sensed what we saw - a Nile crocodile just around the bend of the river. A few zebras ventured down to drink, but Titus told us they would never be the first to cross - the zebras always wait for the wildebeests to begin crossing before they will.
23: After stopping at the Mara River, we stopped to eat lunch and then continued on to an overlook from which you could see both the Masaai Mara and the Serengeti. | On the return trip, Titus drove through the area where a leopard had been seen earlier in the day, but had been scared off by all the safari vehicles. His efforts were rewarded! Elly got to see her leopard, the only one of the "Big Five" that had eluded her in her previous safaris. The others are the lion, cape buffalo, elephant, and rhino. Since rhino sightings are extremely rare in the Maasai Mara, Titus said the rest of us would have to plan a return trip to Africa for that! | Our lunches were too big to finish!
24: Maasai Village | The last morning of our safari, since we had seen pretty much everything the Maasai Mara had to offer, we visited a nearby Maasai village. The chief's son (at left, inside his hut) took us around. The huts are constructed of limbs and branches, and then packed with mud to make the walls. The cattle are kept inside the center of the camp at night to protect them from wild animals and would-be thieves, and are kept in an enclosure made from brush and downed trees. During the day they are driven out to pasture in the countryside. The wife and children of the chief's son are in the picture at the bottom right.
25: Some of the men did a traditional dance for us, consisting of singing, chanting and jumping. Part of the men's dance is a competition to see who can jump the highest. | After the women danced for us, they invited us into their market area to view their wares, where we were mobbed in traditional African fashion by the vendors. We let Elly do the bartering for us and left with a few things.
26: Back in Nairobi, we visited the National Museum and Snake Park on a day when they had a lot of students there as well. Many were from very rural areas, and we found ourselves being stared at and even touched by the curious children. | Great Hall of Mammals | Tower of Gourds: Gourds assembled from about forty-two ethnic groups symbolize the diversity of cultures in Kenya. | Our guide was a university student. | Nairobi National Museum
27: We also visited the Snake Park which had more reptiles than just snakes. There were at least four different kinds of snakes on the bush shown above. At left, our guide is showing off a male tortoise. | Many items from various Kenyan tribes were displayed and grouped according to purpose. | A replica of Ahmed, the elephant put under armed guard by the Kenyan government to protect his extra-long tusks from poachers.
28: Flying into Nagishot, our AIM Air pilot John Hildebrand took us over Makiria, the area where Elly's team used to live and where we would be hiking into later in the week along the trail below. The former Makiria airstrip is behind the trees in the upper left of the photo. The sandy spot in the middle towards the bottom is where Elly's hut used to be. | Next stop: Nagishot, Sudan | Here we parted ways with Mom, who stayed in Nairobi with friends.
29: A group met us at the airstrip, including those who were eager to carry our luggage in return for payment in salt or soap. | Showing our Sudan VISAs at "Nagishot International Airport" | From Nairobi, we flew to Lokichoggio, Kenya on a commercial airline. AIM Air took us from Loki to Nagishot, Sudan and back again. On our return trip to Nairobi we flew on a Mission Aviation Fellowship plane, after waiting in Loki for about five hours. Temperatures in Loki hovered around 100 degrees, while it was much cooler in Nagishot due to the elevation. | Waiting for salt or soap in payment for their labors.
30: school | girl's area | William & Eunice's compound | Hidden behind the trees in front of the compound is a grinding mill operated by WIlliam & Eunice. They keep a portion of the corn in exchange for the grinding to supplement their income. | Abona (Pastor) William with Kim, Tianne & Elly | Corn, before & after grinding | With Eunice & their son Joshua in the market area | Elly, Kim & Tianne live on the compound of William & Eunice Laku, who planted the church in Nagishot four years ago. Another missionary couple, Jonathan & Lauren Ramirez, live there as well, but they were in the States with the birth of their first child. | Nagishot | inside the compound
31: The school building also serves as the church meeting place since the former church was damaged in a windstorm. At far right, the "bell" that calls students to school and worshipers to church. | The church service, which included community announcements and a children's choir, lasted about 2 hours. Afterward, the children enjoyed some dancing. | Several afternoons a week, Elly & Tianne teach a class of older women basic English and math, ending with a Bible Story each time. | After recess, the children head back into the school. Kim teaches the P3 class (ages 10-12) with help from her language assistant, Philip.
32: Elly's hut, in between Kim & Tianne's, was very spacious (and dark) inside. | Below, visiting with Kim & Tianne and guests in the girl's shared kitchen & eating area. To the left of the structure is their rain barrel and to the right is part of their filtration system and their dish-washing station. They have a few solar-panels on top for a little power. | Inside their well-stocked kitchen. At right, by inverting one pot on top of another on their kerosene stove, Elly is able to make an oven in which to bake calzones and chocolate chip cookies (with supplies that we brought from the States).
33: Clockwise from upper left: watering the garden with reclaimed dish-water; women bringing water to fill the rain barrel (now that the rainy season is over - they are paid with bags of salt); John figures out the women's secret to carrying things on their heads; a discarded woven-grass ring - the women put it on their heads to level their loads; one of the small birds that love feeding on the sunflowers; with Peanut/Young Man (a lovable puppy who unfortunately died a few weeks later from rabies); the view from Elly's hut; doing laundry | Around Elly's compound
34: Registration for Sudan's Referendum in January was going on in the market area. | VIsiting with Eunice in her "restaurant" in the market area... she hoped to raise some money selling chai (tea with milk) and mandazies (pictured) to the people registering to vote. | Above and below: At the clinic where Elly & Tianne volunteer | Around Nagishot
35: Clockwise from upper left: visiting with Juliette & Charles (John gets a seat of honor, while I sit on a rock); with avocados received from Juliette; with language helper Philip at his mother's compound; checking on the progress of a beaded belt Tianne is having made; Elly with Lodi, who is recovering well from malnutrition; coming back from the fields with a type of pumpkin received from Philip's mom; group visiting compounds to announce an upcoming harvest dance; Elly with neighbor Theresa
36: We left for Makiria, roughly 10 miles away, around 7:30am Tuesday, and arrived around noon. Regina, at right, in red, was our patient guide, as she was undoubtedly used to hiking at a faster pace. Our final destination was one ridge beyond the one shown in the distance behind her. | The path was rough at times, but the views were beautiful. Right: The compound dogs accompanied part of the way, and enjoyed resting in the shade as much as we did. | sights along the way - Colobus monkeys in the forest & flowers along the path | Hiking to Makiria
37: Our guides on the return trip were both named Lino. We got a little off track and ended up having to cross a wide stream, but we all made it across without getting wet. John was probably disappointed, since he would have loved a photo of me falling in! | We encountered many others on the path. Here Elly is exchanging the typical greeting; "Akatuno" (How are you?) The usual response is "A-bu-na" (good). Below, a young man watches over his goats. | Many were on their way to sell corn or beans they had recently harvested.
38: Hiking in to Lino & Natelena's family compound - where we would spend the night while in Makiria. Part of the compound is shown at right: the elevated shelters keep their harvest dry. In the middle is corn drying that has recently been harvested. In the upper right is the chicken coop. | From left: Lino's mother takes a break from taking kernels off the corn cobs; one of Lino's sisters prepares food over the fire; we join the family in eating "ahut" & “daiati.” This is what they eat for most of their meals. They make a ball of the corn porridge (in the beaded bowl) with their fingers and dip it in the green sauce (in the metal bowl) made from a spinach-type leaf. We did likewise, | in Makiria
39: Clockwise, from upper left: Elly's friend Natalena, with her baby Abona Anteo, named in part after our dad, Anthony; me holding a different baby: Elly showing off a Didinga knife Lino had traded for on her behalf; Lino's father and one of his nephews, enjoying the pictures and suckers Elly brought; Didinga children with suckers; Elly & Natalena visit and look at some pictures
40: Mauro & Lino, the lay pastors of the Makiria church, took us around to various compounds. Mauro & Lino are pictured in the upper left. Below that is a picture of the church where they gather on Sundays. | From left: Women pounding corn at Mauro's family compound; Mauro's sister Grace grinds corn in the depressions formed over the years by other women doing the same at "La-baraba" (the large rock); a man chops up dried tobacco leaves to prepare them for sale; ground-up corn fermenting in the sun on a goat-skin - they will use this to make their "merti" or beer
41: Clockwise from upper left: Elly & Lino sing a song about Jesus with the children at one of the compounds; visiting around a smoky fire; holding a young girl - the children were eager for attention and to be held; youngsters with their younger siblings strapped to their backs were a common sight; a proud grandmother shows off her new granddaughter | More Makiria
43: The day before we left Nagishot, we were fortunate to experience one of the Didinga harvest dances. The women encouraged us and even John to join in, and we tried to follow their lead. Many of the men carried spears and many of the women wore goat-skin skirts embroidered with beads, as well as the popular beaded belts. | Didinga Harvest Dance | Nagishot
44: Final views of Nagishot | Fields awaiting harvest or recently planted dot the landscape | British ruins near Nagishot | John & Abona William working on the shutters at the school | Jonathan Ramirez has planted sunflowers, intending to make oil from the seeds.
45: Below, the hills memorialized in the opening line of Karen Blixen's book Out of Africa: "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills." Ngong means "knuckles" in Maasai. | On our last full day in Africa together, John & I visited the Karen Blixen "Out of Africa" Museum in Nairobi. | Back in Nairobi
46: Friday, November 5 Headed to Detroit around 6pm, after meeting Doug's dad at McDonald's for dinner and to hand off the kids for the night. Doug had made reservations at a hotel right by the airport, so it was a quick trip from there to the airport Saturday morning. Saturday, November 6 Arrived at the airport at 6am for my 8.10 flight. Flight to Chicago was uneventful. Boarded American Airlines flight to Heathrow on time, but then had to debark after a few hours due to a maintenance issue. We remained on board so we could immediately take off if the problem was fixed, as the airport in London closed for incoming flights at midnight. We received several extensions, but the problem was not able to be fixed to get us there before 1am, so everyone had to get off, collect their luggage, and get back in line to be re-booked. So I had to drag my 50 lb suitcase through the airport and try to get a different flight. Initially, the agent was only looking at flights through Heathrow, and since there was only one daily flight to Nairobi, this would have had me arriving in Nairobi a full 24 hours later than I was intending to. Thankfully she kept looking, and I was able to get booked through Paris on AirFrance to Nairobi, with about a 4 hour layover in Paris, arriving roughly at the same time I would have under the original itinerary. I had to wait a while in Chicago for the flight to Paris, and was given a $10 food voucher, which I spent at the Chili’s restaurant in the airport. Sunday , November 7 I was unable to sleep on the flight to Paris, and then didn’t want to sleep too much on the flight to Nairobi as I would be arriving at 9.45pm local time and would want to try to get on schedule as soon as possible there. So I was exhausted on my arrival in Nairobi. Once we landed, the passengers had to go through immigration to show visas, be photographed and fingerprinted. Then on to the luggage claim area. Unfortunately, my bag did not make the connection in Paris. They promised to deliver it by Tuesday morning. While most of the stuff in the suitcase was for Elly, there were a few items (snacks) that we were hoping to have on safari, but nothing we couldn't do without. The van from Mayfield was waiting and we headed there for a good night's sleep. Monday, November 8 Breakfast was served at 7.30 am – oatmeal and muffins, after which we met with the individual who would apply for our Sudan visas. He would get the process going while we were on safari and deliver | them to Mayfield in time for our Saturday flight to Nagishot. When that paperwork was completed, we emailed news of our safe arrival and then walked to the Java House where we met Phil Byler (Elly’s boss) and Deb Carpenter (friend of Elly’s who would be hosting Mom for a few days while we were in Nagishot) for lunch. It is a favorite restaurant of Elly’s in Nairobi, with chicken sandwiches and fish & chips on menu, among other things. On the way we looked at some souvenirs that were set up along the way. After lunch we walked through the “Toy Market” – mainly used clothes for sale, but some new. Elly was not sure where it got it’s name. Elly was looking for baby clothes for little ones born in the hills, and Mom, John & Elly bought hats to wear on safari. The main aisles were wider, but there was a section with very narrow aisles and uneven footing. On the way back to Mayfield, we bought a few souvenirs, stopped at a grocery store for bottled water to take on safari, and then took a taxi the rest of the way home. We all laid down for a little before dinner, sorted through the suitcases for stuff for Elly, and repacked items we would need on safari. After dinner, Elly spent some time checking emails and taking care of our flight back from Nagishot. Tuesday, November 9 At 7am sharp, Titus, our driver from ACTS pulled up to take us on safari. We made our way through the busy Nairobi traffic, eventually coming to a highway where traffic lightened up. We stopped along the Rift Valley Escarpment to take in the view and purchase a few souvenirs. After another stop for gas, we left the “good road” and bumped our way along the rough roads (even leaving the road at times because it was so bad) for about 2 hours. We saw giraffes, zebras, monkeys and mongoose along the way. We arrived at the Ol Moran tented camp shortly before lunch, which was served at 1pm. “Moran” is the Maasai word for “warrior.” We moved our belongings into our tents and rested for a bit, before heading out at 3.30 for an afternoon game drive. We returned around 6pm, having seen many animals. Dinner was at 7.30 and consisted of rice, noodles, meat sauce, chicken & fruit. The fare was simple, but tasty, and there was plenty of it. The accommodations were simple as well, but clean and adequate. Elly & John shared one tent, while Mom & I shared another. The tents were canvas with screened windows on a cement pad under a reed roof supported by poles. There were beds and chairs in each. At the back of the tent was a cement structure housing a flush toilet, sink and shower. Electricity was only available in the in the morning and evening, provided by a generator, and during those times you could even get a hot shower. We played some cards after dinner, but were in bed by 9pm.
47: Wednesday, November 10 Titus suggested that instead of a morning and afternoon drive, we head out for the whole day with a boxed lunch so that we would be able to go further into the park, all the way to the Mara River. We left around 8am, and returned after 5pm, covering 118 km, so it was a full day! Early on, Titus heard a report of a leopard sighting on the CB, but didn’t get confirmation, so we continued on our way to the river. At some point, the leopard sighting was confirmed and Titus headed to that area in a hurry – Elly was eager to see the leopard as it was the only one of the “big five” that she hadn’t seen on any of her previous safaris. Unfortunately, before we got there, the leopard had been scared off by all the safari vans surrounding the tree, and had come down to disappear into the brush. We continued on to the river, where we saw many hippos and several Nile crocodiles. There were a large group of wildebeest and zebra on the one side of the river, and we waited a short while to see if any would attempt a crossing, but it did not happen. For some reason, the zebras will not cross first – they wait for the wildebeests to start before they will. Several zebras came down to drink from the river, though. We ate our lunches on the open plain, under a tree. From there, we continued on to a high point from which you could see the Serengeti and then started back to camp. On the way, Titus drove by the place where the leopard had been seen earlier, and we were thrilled to see that it had decided to return to the tree!! We stayed for a while, watching the leopard and then headed back to camp as the news began to circulate and more vehicles headed our way. The roads in the park were not the greatest, and while John preferred to stand and look out the top of the van, at times he had to sit down for safety. At one point, as he was being bumped around I commented that he was likely to break a rib or his camera if he continued to stand up. His response was “I’d rather break a rib – it’d be cheaper.” Returning to camp, we talked with some girls who were coming back from a 2 year stint serving in India (Anna & Kimberly), and played some cards with them after supper. Thursday, November 11 After breakfast, rather than head out to the park again for only a short time, we chose instead to visit a nearby Maasai village. After some haggling over the price – they wanted $20 per person, and Elly said we would only pay $10, we were permitted to enter. The chief's son escorted us around. He showed us a Maasai house under construction, where they kept the cattle at night, and the inside of his own house, where he tried to sell us some good luck | charms and bracelets. The men did their dance, and they showed us how they started a fire without matches. We saw the women do their dance, and then went into their market area, where, in traditional African fashion, we were mobbed by vendors. Our guide wanted to show us their school as well, but we needed to head back. We arrived back at Mayfield too late for lunch, and so ordered some pizzas for an afternoon snack to tide us over to dinner. We then headed to the JaJa mall to do some shopping. Elly thought it would be “fun” for us to ride to the mall in matatus – the little buses that are jammed with people and charge 20 shillings (or 30 cents) for a ride. Because there was not room for all four of us in the first one that stopped, Mom & Elly took that one and John and I waited for another. We ended up arriving somewhat later than they – to the point where Elly was starting to worry. For a while, no matatus drove by, and then the next several didn’t stop as they must have been full. When we did catch one, we were dropped off at a different point than Elly & Mom were, and so had to walk a little ways. When we joined up, we headed into the mall, which was decorated for Christmas with ornaments hanging from artificial baobab trees. Elly had several stops she wanted to make and some groceries to pick up for Nagishot, and the rest of us souvenir shopped a bit. Friday, November 12, 2010 We got a ride on the Mayfield van to the Nairobi National Museum & Snake Park at 9am, and had a guide take us around until our ride returned at noon. There were many children there on field trips, some from very rural areas. Some of the kids stared, others touched our arms while we weren't looking. We had trouble getting through to our guide that we didn't mind the children and that he didn't have to ask them to move out of the way so we could see the exhibits. We had lunch at Mayfield and then rested and packed for Nagishot until around 3.45pm. Then Elly walked John and I to the phone place, where we all sang Happy Birthday to James, and then Elly continued on with some errands and John waited while I talked to the family for about half an hour. We went to Mark & Jodi deBlois for supper – steak and kabobs on the grill, garlic bread and several yummy salads. Reint Jan was also there, and we had a very nice time. Mark took us home around 10pm. Saturday, November 13 Elly, John and I got up at 5.30 and left at 6.30 for our 8am flight to Loki with ALS. We got on the plane, but then had to get back off because there was a problem with the communication system. They told us it was ok to leave all our stuff on the plane because they
48: expected it to be easily fixed, but then they pulled the plane back into the hanger to work on it. After several hours, they told us they would be taking our stuff off the original plane and moving it all to a different plane. They brought all the luggage and carry-ons from the hanger, and all our stuff was there except John’s camera. For a scary ten minutes, we waited while they looked again on the original plane for that. We were very relieved when they said that they found it, and brought it in time for us to board the second plane five hours after our originally scheduled departure. Fortunately, our next flight was with AIM Air, so that departure time was flexible. We left for Nagishot shortly after arriving in Loki. Our pilot, John Hildebrand, led us in prayer before take-off and was very entertaining with his pre-flight speech. At Elly’s request, we flew over Nagishot to let them know we were coming so they could head to the airstrip, and then flew over Makiria to give us a bird’s eye view of that area. When we landed at Nagishot International Airport, there was a large group of women and children waiting, as well as Kim & Tianne, Elly’s AIM Team in Nagishot. Our luggage was quickly distributed among the waiting Didinga, who would receive payment from Elly in the form of soap or salt for carrying our things, with the salt going to those who had carried the heaviest bags. The hike from the airstrip to the compound took about 30 minutes. When we arrived, Elly gave us a quick tour of the compound and we put our stuff away. We saw the grinding mill, which the pastor and his wife run to raise money for themselves and the church, taking their payment in the form of a portion of the corn brought to be ground. They are able to have the gasoline flown in on the AIM Air flights. Tianne made dinner that night – rice, with curry sauce, lentils, onions and carrots. We went to bed early, as we were tired. Sunday, November 14 We slept in a little, and then Elly made us each two eggs for breakfast. Church started at 10am, they rang the bell at 8, 9 & 10 to announce it. After some singing, each visitor introduced themselves and there were some announcements. We were introduced by Eunice, the pastor’s wife. The children’s choir sang and then prayer request were taken and prayers offered. The pastor “Abona” William was concluding a sermon series on what a Christian is i.e. born again, a new creation, light in the world, salt, an ambassador. This week’s topic was “A Citizen of Heaven” and he emphasized that citizens of Rome were expected to promote Rome in all their dealings. Likewise Christians should promote eternal life. His next series will be on how a Christian should live. After the service, people lined up to shake hands. As you shook the hand of the last person | in the line, you got in line next to to them in order to shake the hand of all who came behind you. Afterward, the young women and children danced for a bit in a circle, and we joined in for a while. By the time we got back to the compound it was 1pm, and Tianne had prepared fried rice and vegetables for lunch. Once lunch was done, Elly took us around to visit some of their neighbors. We started at the compound of Philip, their language helper, but no one was home. From there we went to Juliette’s compound and Marta’s compound. Marta is an older widow who is somewhat crippled. Elly visits her often to bring chai and food. Marta gave John the Didinga name meaning “big belly” – Lo ti boi. They are all very interested in our birth order, so Elly tells them I am “Na-kung” – which means girl, first born, she is Na-boi – girl, second born, and John is Lo-di- boy, born third. The “Na” at the beginning indicates female, while the second syllable indicates the birth order. “Lo” indicates male. They usually stop with the order after the third or fourth and then the second syllable will indicate something else – Lo Quar if they were a boy born at night, for example. While we were out, a group of dancers came through the compound we were visiting, announcing a dance coming up. Back at the compound Elly made calzones with the pepperoni and pizza sauce we brought from the States, and cheese bought in Nairobi. Because they don’t have an oven, they bake over their kerosene stove by putting two pots on top of each other (one upside down) and place a metal plate inside with what they are baking on it. The kerosene warms the interior and makes it like an oven. It takes a little longer, but works well. She made the crust from scratch. We each had two – they were very good! Elly also made bread for lunch the next day. After dinner we pulled the table into the kitchen so that we could play cards under the solar-generated light-bulb. Monday, November 15 Eunice brought over some “mandazies" for breakfast – almost like donuts, but made from corn flour and square, hollow in the middle. We put a little sugar inside and they were delicious. She was making a big batch to to take to the market area where they were registering people to vote in the upcoming Referendum. She hoped to sell the mandazies and chai to raise some money for her family. After breakfast, I watered the garden with the water they save from showers and dishes – no water is just dumped. It has not rained in a month and they are currently paying some neighbor girls with bags of salt to bring 20 jerry cans of water a week for them. Elly made some popcorn and chai to take to Marta, but she wasn’t home, so we sat by Juliette’s compound and shared it with them
49: instead. A neighbor, Charles, came by to sit. He spoke some English and was interested in where we were from in America. We drew a map in the dirt and indicated where we lived and the distances between us. On the way back we walked through the market area where they are registering the people to vote. The system goes like this – the registration worker puts the person registering's name and other information on a card that they keep and on a card that the worker keeps. The person registering has to put their fingerprint on their card and on the second card. The second card has a spot for them to put their fingerprint again when they come to vote in January, at which point they are given their ballot. From there we stopped at the school, where we gave Kim the blackboard erasers I purchased in the States, and she introduced us to the class. For lunch, we had grilled cheese sandwiches with the bread Elly baked and the leftover mozzarella cheese from the calzones. After lunch we went with Elly and Tianne back to the school where they lead a group of women in English, math and Bible lessons, with Philip as translator. The group was small as this time of year the harvesting and planting seasons overlap, and they have more fields to care for. While the men help hoe the fields in preparation for planting, the women do most of the work planting, caring for and harvesting the crops. When we got back to the compound, we showered, packed for Makiria and rested. Dinner was soy chicken patties and mashed potatoes. After dinner we headed to William & Eunice’s to sit by the fire. We brought marshmallows, chocolate and some cookie wafers to make s'mores. Joshua, the son of William and Eunice who has epilepsy and some learning disorders, asked questions, as he is wont to do, and we sang some Christian songs in English. Joshua and his parents speak English, Arabic and Swahili, in addition to Didinga. Tuesday, November 16 We got up at 6am, Elly made pancakes for breakfast, and we were at Regina’s house at 7am. She was to be our guide on the way up to Makiria, somewhat for safety and somewhat because Elly didn’t quite have the whole trip down yet. We left Regina’s around 7.30 and arrived at the Miller’s old compound around noon. There we were able to eat our lunch of sausage, tuna and crackers, which we shared with the workers staying at the compound. We also were able to get more filtered water (but not boil it because the kerosene was gone) and rest a little before heading on. Lino and Maura, the lay pastors in Makiria, accompanied us for much of the remaining trip. We first went to Lino’s familiy's compound, where we would stay for the night to drop off our packs. Lino had his own “house” – | rectangular in shape with a reed roof and a metal door that could be locked. Natalena, Elly’s good friend, is Lino’s sister. We had met her on the hike in, going to harvest beans in the family field with her baby strapped to her back. She would not return until dinner time. Her baby is named Abona (after Pastor William) Anteo (after our dad, Anthony) There were quite few people living at their compound, Lino’s mother & father, several of Lino's sisters, and their children. Elly had brought suckers to give to the kids, which they really liked, but we also gave one to the grandfather. We helped Natalena’s mom take the corn off the husks for a little bit. I held one of the babies, who promptly peed on me. The babies are mostly naked except for maybe a shirt, and then beads around the waist, wrists and ankles, which they believe will ward off evil. From there we went the compound of Mauro’s mother, Rose, who was also Elly’s home-stay mom. She was also in the field, so we did not stay long, but handed out some more suckers to the children there. All the children were very eager to be touched and held. Next was the compound where Maura lives with his wife, child and their family. His wife was pounding corn. Elly got the many children to sing for us, before we headed to the grounding rock, which they call La-baraba, meaning large rock. There are many depressions in the rock formed from grinding the corn with smaller rocks. Mauro’s sister Grace was grinding corn there while we sat and enjoyed the view. Elly pointed out where her hut had been – it was totally gone. We returned to Natalena’s compound, where they offered us some cooked beans (Elly had brought a large bag of beans along to give them so they wouldn’t have to use their own supplies to feed us) They gave John and I spoons, but Lino, Mauro and Elly just ate with their fingers. Before we ate, they did pass a bowl of water around to clean your hands- you were to scoop some out, and rub your hands together off to the side so not to get the water dirty for the next person. The water was obviously unfiltered and didn’t look too clean, so I was glad for the hand sanitizer we brought along. We then sat around the fire for a little bit, and Rose came by to visit. Elly had brought her some sandals, and she was very happy with them. Before we went to bed, they brought out their traditional meal called “ahat” – a thick corn porridge in one bowl/gourd and a “sauce” of spinach type mashed leaves “daiati” in another. To eat, they form the porridge into a ball with their fingers, and then dip it into the green sauce. I liked it better without the sauce. We went to bed shortly after. John stayed in Lino’s hut (Lino stayed at the Miller’s old compound) and Elly & I stayed in the hut with the two older men and several children. We had our own partitioned area by the door, so were not right by the smoky fire. We did not sleep
50: well, as it felt like something was crawling on our faces, which it may have been, as Elly saw some small bugs in the morning, or it could have just been the smoke and sunburn. At least it wasn’t mice like Tianne experienced the last time she slept in a hut! Also, we were woken up several times by what Elly said were conversations regarding who would stoke the fire. We were warm enough with sleeping bags, but apparently they were chilly. Wednesday, November 17 Breakfast was “ahat” again, although we did have some pop-tarts and granola bars in our backpack that we ate in Lino’s hut. We had hoped to start back on the early side, but word had gotten around that Elly was there, so we had to make a few stops on the way out, plus Lino and Maura wanted to stop at a compound to pray with a woman who had not been feeling well. When we got back to Lino’s compound to pick up our stuff for the way back, they had beans ready for us again (at 10am) Finally, we thought we were on our way again. Lino and Mauro were going to go with us as far as the compound, and then Lino and another younger Lino were going to take us back to Nagishot and help with carrying Elly's and my backpacks. I followed the younger Lino and waited at the compound a while for the others, because they had made yet another side-trip, having been invited to eat some cooked pumpkin at the house of a “sub-chief” – Lino’s potential future father-in-law’s compound – if he can ever afford the dowry. After filling the water bottles with filtered water at the compound and eating some pop-tarts with the guides, we finally left for Nagishot at 10.50, which had us hiking during the hottest part of the day. We arrived back at the girls’ compound around 3.30, having taken a slightly different path than normal. We fed the guides some more pop-tarts, Gatorade, avocado and pineapple, and then Elly paid them in batteries, salt and soap. Washing up/showering felt great!! Kim made a delicious tortilla soup for supper, with tortillas made from scratch, and avocado garnish. We talked till about 9pm and then headed for bed. We had heard the harvest dance would be that evening, but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Thursday, November 18 John heard sounds around 1.30 this morning indicating the rumored dance might be starting. We all went down to the area of the school and stood off the path. There was a group coming from the market area. They may have been heading down to the clinic area and then seen us, or they may have been heading to the compound anyway, but they turned and headed our way. They | continued on to outside the compound area and danced for a while. A lot of jumping in place, and lunging and thrusting with spears. One older guy seemed to be in charge. It was hard to tell in the dark, but most of the dancers seemed to be young men. They danced for a bit and then headed back towards the school/market and we headed back to bed. We got up at 8.30 and Elly made us eggs again for breakfast. John transferred Elly’s pictures and videos to memory sticks, I journaled and Elly made bread. After that we all did some laundry, first soaking it, then scrubbing it against the washboard, and finally hanging it up. John and I organized some things for our departure Friday, and Elly began making chocolate chip cookies with the huge bag of chips donated by SKCC. The dancers returned around 11.30, coming into the main compound this time. There seemed to be more women this time. After Elly went over to dance with them, some of the women came over to “invite” Tianne and I to join them – by gesturing and pulling on our arms. We danced for a bit and John took photos and video. When I went back to sit down by John, some of the women came to get him to join the dancers. He was following the women’s lead until Elly pushed him towards the men who were just watching at that point, but then began to show him what to do. I couldn’t figure out how to do the video on John’s camera, but fortunately Elly had her video camera along too. After the dancers left, we had tuna fish sandwiches and salad for lunch. Kim and Tianne then had their language lessons with Philip, while the rest of us looked at some videos and pictures and rested. Around 4pm we headed over to Philip’s store in the market and bought some sodas from him, which we drank at Eunice’s “restaurant” – which she had moved to be further away from the drinking spot. We walked through a few compounds on our way home, checking the progress on a belt that one of the women was making for Tianne and on the little boy who had been so malnourished. Kim made quiche for dinner, which we ended up eating in the dark since we started late. Then we headed over to the fire at William and Eunice’s for a bit before heading to bed. Friday, November 19 John was up a lot in the middle of the night not feeling well. The winds had picked up overnight and continued to gust much of the morning, making us nervous about getting out on time. Jerry, the AIM pilot was supposed to pick us up at 1pm, and our MAF flight was supposed to leave Loki at 5pm. We transferred the last of Elly’s photos and videos and finished packing. John and William worked on some shutters on the church and school that were hanging down, but couldn’t put the shutters up that had come completely off Kim's classroom because
51: the 2x4s had been destroyed by termites. Eunice gave me a bracelet in the Didinga colors. Back at the compound, the girl’s nearest neighbor, Theresa, stopped by for a visit. Elly had not seen her for several weeks prior to her coming out to meet us, so was very glad that she was okay. She had been working in her mother’s field some distance away, and had therefore been staying at her house. We had a light lunch, and then began the hike up to the airstrip. We “contracted” with someone to carry the suitcase, but John and I carried our own packs this time. We left around noon and arrived at the airstrip around 12.30, sitting in the shade until Jerry taxied in. The winds had died down somewhat by that point, so he was able to land without any difficulty. He unloaded some things that William and Eunice had ordered, and we were in the air at 1.30. The ride was quite bumpy due to the winds, but we settled down in Loki without any problems. Tianne had come out with us and was going to hang around in Loki for a few days and then fly back in with Kim’s parents, who are coming in the next Wednesday. Our MAF flight ended up coming in a little late, so it was 5.30 before we were back in air. In the meantime we played some cards and had some sodas/water from the shop there. It was HOT - probably close to 100 degrees. When we arrived in Nairobi we got a taxi to take us back to Mayfield, where Mom was anxiously awaiting our return. Apparently, Elly didn’t give her the details of the MAF flight and Jerry didn’t phone Mayfield from Loki as we had asked him to so she was more than a little worried. Since dinner was long past, we had some sandwiches, showered, emailed Doug and headed for bed. Saturday, November 20 In the morning we repacked the bags with the stuff Elly had asked us to take back to the States with us. After lunch, John and I headed over to the Karen Blixen Museum, taking a taxi there. Traffic was pretty rough, due to some construction, and for a while I was worried that it wouldn’t be open since it was a Saturday. It was open, but there was a wedding reception on the lawn, which obscured the view of the Ngong Hills mentioned in the first line of the her book, Out of Africa. We were back at Mayfield for dinner and a relaxing evening. Sunday, November 21 Up early to see Mom & John off to the airport, as their flight left around 8am. Mine didn't leave until 10.45pm, so I spent the day typing up my journal notes, googling African wildlife to match up to what I had written down, watching movies and reading. A little before 9pm, I went to get the container key to get my backpack and the suitcase I was taking back for Elly and the key was not at the desk. I spent about | 10 minutes waiting while the staff tried to see if they had a copy of the key anywhere, but then decided to peek down a few halls to see if anyone looked like they were in the process of packing and might have taken it. I really didn't want to leave without the luggage. I found someone packing, and sure enough, they had the container key! Whew! Off to the airport! On the flight from Nairobi to London one of my seatmates was an elderly gentleman who didn't speak any English. I found myself helping with his seat-belt, opening meal items and finding his shoes for him. Monday, November 22 After a layover in London, it was on to Chicago. No issues on the return flight until we got to Chicago. They had some heavy rains/thunderstorms, so our flight out of Chicago was delayed, and we spent some time circling Detroit, waiting for clearance to land. I landed about 2 hours later than expected, so was greeted by an excited but hungry family. The kids had made welcome home signs. We found a McDonald on the way home, arriving at our house around 11pm. It was good to be home again! | Postscript: We were saddened to learn that shortly after we left, several in the Makiria and Nagishot communities passed away from what was suspected to be meningitis. One of those who died was young Regina, to the left of Elly in this photo, holding the baby. She was a special friend to Elly and the girls when they lived in Makiria - they dubbed her their "constant shadow"- and they were heart-broken over her death.