2018: a quick trip to Kenya

Posted on June 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Well here we are again. Not planning on visiting Kenya this time, but threw it in at the last month. Only here for 2 or 3 weeks to visit the families before heading back to South Africa and Botswana for some serious safaris.!!

Short stop in south Africa to pick up our camper and get the 2 new fridges installed that we brought over from Australia with us; this job is being done while we fly to Kenya just to say hello to all our friends there and do a little bit of shopping for our gallery back home.

Grandma, who they believe is now 105 years old, really lit up her eyes when we walked in... we wanted to keep it a surprise for her.  We were the ones who got a big surprise when we saw how well the girls food business is going. We paid to get them started last year, (makes sence seeing as tho we put Cate through college to her chefs tickets. Anyway, knowing how basic things are in the Githurai area, where they live, we did not expect too much... but we were quite surprised to see how they had set out their cafe with nice chairs and bench tops, tiled the floor, put up mirrors, a nice sign, even bought (paying off) a deep fryer and a glass case to put the chips in.  They are doing well with what they have, but when we asked why they dont cook sausages and samosas, we learnt it was because they cant 'keep' them,   they have no refridgeration. Well, considering how well they have been doing on their own back, we went to look for a new fridge to solve that problem.  We also found a juicer so they can offer cold juice and now cold sodas. (have a fridge in that area is a BIG thing.!!  they will be one of the only ones to offer such a range of food and drinks.  If you look at the photos, you see Githurai is definitley not like Beverley Hills, so everyone has to make the most of what they have.  They are working hard 6 days a week, so we dont mind helping!!

Naturally we went to Sheldrick elephant sanctuary to give them their annual donation which has been part of our fundraising from our Elephants Rest Gallery at home. This year we gave them 40,000ksh ( nearly $600-),  so while that is down on other previous years,  that is because we our fundraising has been split in two, as we are also preparing to bring Joseph and Nairesho (our maasai family) to Australia next April.

We decided to go back to Sheldricks at 5 o'clock when the babies go to bed. We were lucky enough to see Leyasan, Beverleys elephant who she sponsors,  because he, and 3 other ele's were preparing to head to Tsavo in 2 days time. This is where  they take the next few years to intergrate back into the wild.

We were also privledged to chat with Angela for a good 30 -40 minutes about the last book that her and her mother (Dame Daphne) worked on and completed just before she died on April 12th this year.  I had wondered if the ele's new and responded on the day Daphne died,....  I could Angela tear up a bit as she recalled the events of that day,... as she says... they knew,  and they were trying to console her in their own way that they do.    We were very thankful that she signed that book for us, which we will cherish.

Finally we picked up our hire car, we were given a almost brand new luxury Land Rover, which was of course very comfortable and nice to drive.... but of -course, were we were headed, was not a place we wanted to take a brand new car.   Yes we needed a 4 wheel drive, and the roads (what there are of them) are just major holes, ruts and muddy washaways waiting to grab anything it can. yes, many cars and trucks get bogged or stuck and you have to wait a long time to get through. But our concern was going through bushes and trees. We even got Joseph and Samson to cut paths in the bushes so we didnt scratch the car.  As if we needed any extra stress.... the rains they have had in the past month has caused major flooding in many areas, roads cut off completely, and disasters waiting to happen.  In one area, the ground had opened up and caused a huge split, but this was due more to a fault line than the rain.  We learnt the road had only opened up to traffic again one or two days prior. (We were wondering what we had led ourselves into)

Yep, it was great to get to Joseph and Nairesho's place. He is really becoming a modern maasai... he has extended his flower garden,  and made a big vege garden, (both are unheard of in maasai world).  He now has the  rain water tank that we organised last year, and it was great to have fresh water close by when we needed it.

We decided to go for a walk by ourselves one day down to the old spring, about 2 kms up the track.  On the way we disrupted the entire school when we stopped to say hello, and had students clambering all round us. We eventually found a teacher who didnt mind, especially when he found out who we were. (being the ones who started a lot of things in that school).  anyway, off we walked to check the spring and dam,  then found Joseph on our way home.  It was later that night that Amos, (Josephs brother and one of the rangers)  called in to let Joseph know to put his electric fence on, as there was 4 or 5 lions who have come down to our area to hunt.  The following day, they had injured one cow and killed 2 sheep up at the spring where we had just been walking.  So,  it is fair to say that when i woke up in the middle of the night wanting to go to the kitty tray,... there was slight bit of concern..... so as always,  you open the steel house door, and  shine your torch around before heading out to the loo, constantly checking for  red eyes shining back at you. (red eyes for cats /  green eyes for  sheep, antelopes etc).

Speaking of TOILET experiences,  let me elaborate just a little more.  Once you have scoured the area for wild life, you walk to the tin shed that sits about 30mts away.  As you open the door, the stench of a 'longdrop' (hole in the ground) hits you hard then you proceed to flash the torch around and chase away all the blowflies out of the bowl, (usually a day time activity)  and again to see where the family of spiders have gone. Have they moved, or still in the same spot, and where are there new webs.  We had 2 big long spiders above where we keep the toilet paper on the nail,  then there is a 'red-bum'  one who stays on one side,  and one night i had the pleasure of sitting there watching a red'bum spider running up and back creating his web.  All this going on as you try to balance on the porcaline toilet bowl that Joseph has managed to sit on a few rocks and timber about 6" off the ground.   To his credit,  he does try to make things as comfortable for us as possible.

Our few days here was spent at home, no safaris here, (too expensive here and more worried about the wet tracks and bushes on the new car to make it worth while), so, while the older boys were in Aitong one day, i was left the younger children, so i gave 4 of them a face-painting session. They have never seen this kind of thing before and thought it was hilarious.  I made one into a zebra, another was a cheetah, then a butterfly and a lion.  On another day, I only had Duncan with me, and he took great delight in drawing pictures with the pen and paper i gave him. (again, this small thing is pretty special to these guys).  So after dinner one night, it was especially good fun when i gave pen and paper to all 4 boys who created great little drawering to be proud of.

Much of the rest of my time was spent trying to get a phone signal long enough that i could install whatsapp and facebook on my old Samsung smart phone i gave him.  Naturally it took ages ( a few days to complete) but then was teaching him how to use it.  Not easy for him, cause when you cant read much, you have to remember a lot of things, and we all know what technology is like for those of us who cn read!!  Anyway, we kind of got there, and Samson, (our teacher) also came to visit and was a great help one day.  On our last full day with them, i saw that Nairseho's phone was also broken and could not take photos, so, gave her Bobs old smaller samsung and spent my last few hours in the morning we left them, frantically trying to install facebook and trasfer photos into the phone for her.... then we went and bought a 8gb SD card so they could, at the very least, look at their photos.

As always, we took some eye drops for maasai mum, but  we didnt take our full first aid kit this time, so i felt a little lost when i found mum sitting waiting for my return,  with a gapping wound on her shin.  She had been chopping with the long 'panga' (blade about 12 -15" long) and she missed and cut her leg instead.  By the time i had arrived, it was no longer bleeding fresh blood and looked relatively clean, but i did not have ANY anticeptic with me, or bandages this time... so the best i could do, was clean it with salty water and put a large bandaid on there that i just happen to have,.... and left a few more normal bandaids with her. It is normal practise when we are there, that we become the local nurse and drug dispensary.  Mum will have a good scar out of that one!!

A special day was held by the joined group of conservancies in the area. (something we are not particularly keen on), but anyway, they we having an opening ceromony for their new conference rooms and offices.  We went along and enjoyed the entertainment of the maasai dancers and singers and the school students belting out their poems with much gusto and passion.  The long procession of speakers however became a rather long ordeal, but that is normal here in Africa.  They all LOVE to have their 5 minutes of fame on the microphone.  I was given a Kanga (wrap material) carry bag with a book and hat in it.  Naturally, we forgot our hats when we left Samsons on the day, not an issue for me, but every single time Bob has taken an akurbra style hat there,  he has lost it... with out fail.

Saying goodbye to the family is always hard, but the day come and we kept telling Joseph and Nairesho that we will see them in Australia next year,  (once we get the name corrected in Nairesho's new passport).   it was a fitting end to our time there when we stopped to see a good size herd of elephants not far off the road. Beautiful to see them in the wild where they belong.   So as we bounded and grinded our way to Samsons place we just kept hoping the rain will hold off just another day.  

When we arrived at Samsons area, he rode his bike in front of us guiding us a way in that would not scratch our car, and once out of the car,  we had children jump right up onto us and clamber around us, holding on and squeezing like we were fresh oranges.  Even Purity,  she squeezed and hugged so much, you could not but feel the intense emotion she felt.... they were very worried that IF it had rained, we would not call in for the over night visit, so a lot of relief and excitement all rolled into one.   After our initial cuppa and chat Samson put on his video that he has been 3 years in the making.  This is a very special movie of his life and the turns that took place for him to achieve his success of going to Uni and getting his degree as Bachelar of Education.  As i said,  this movie has been worked on for 3 years, starting at his graduation. He brought family and friends in to interview them and explain his battles along the way. The movie went for over 2 hours, and, as it was all spoken in maasai dialect, we could not understand a word of it, so he had to translate as it went. But we did know that the movie made to inspire younger people to work towards their goals and never give up. This movie was dedicated to us,  which was shown a few times during the movie,  and as he says,   We were the reason he managed to reach his success.  We have a lot of time for Samson, and very proud of him.  In fact we greatly look forward bringing him and Purity to Australia in 2021,  once baby Cheryl is old enough to leave with other family members.I am proud to say that  Baby Cheryl is my Name sake, but also happy for them, for after having 3 boys and a last chance at having a girl,... like everything in his life.....  it happens.

I think i have babbled on well and truely.  We are now in Nairobi having a last day of relaxing before we fly out tomorrow morning.  Have to admit, when we got here last night,  it was nice to be back where we could have an actual shower and wash y hair with running water etc. and when we slid into bed,  it was so nice to feel crisp clean sheets that actually fitted and the bed and tucked under the mattress,-- to have a thick doona and big soft pillows,...--- it's the little things that you miss and appreciate..... but..... after having been enduring bedbugs a few times on this trip,  it all came flooding back as the mosquitos kept us awake for the next few hours,  so at 5am, we got up,  re-arranged the mosquito net to tuck it up under the mattress, kill the multitude of mozzies who where also inside the net,  and FINALLY,.... we got some sleep. (til 7am when Joseph rang to say goodbye... again).

Ah, it's the little things, so it;s time to enjoy a nice drink, and enjoy a pizza that Bob has ordered earlier in the day.

Tomorrow, we are back to South Africa, (where we will sell our camper before we leave at end of July), in the meantime,  we are going to enjoy a lot of safaris that we have missed out on in the last couple of trip. 


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