Tuesday, September 25, 2007

After a relaxing day at the hotel in Mombasa we had to wake up bright and early to catch a charter flight to the Masai Mara.

We landed on a nice landing strip and then let some people off the plane, but it turns out we were headed to a different destination - an even more remote landing strip.


it had an arrival & departure lounge:

as well as a duty-free shop:

Some jeeps came to pick us up and we headed to the lodge. It turns out that this is one of the nicest places to stay there and after our village living we felt like royalty.

We were given juice while they gave an orientation and then we were shown to our "tent"

It was a little bit chilly there so every night our room attendant would turn down our beds and place a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed under the covers which made our beds so warm and cozy. Then every morning he would awake us with a friendly "Jambo" and bring a tray of warm tea or hot chocolate and cookies and set it on our nightstand. Then we would hear the sounds of the birds and the hippos from the river below us echoing up. The sound of hippos is kind of like a mixture of a chainsaw and a fog horn. It seems like it would be annoying, but it's kind of nice. These creatures also seem like they would be gentle giants but they are actually responsible for more human deaths there than any other animal. It's because they are so unpredictable and they are very defensive. I loved watching and listening to them. This guy was right outside our balcony:

We went on several game drives and were able to see a lot of animals in the wild. It was so so so amazing.

We were also able to visit a Masai Village. This is a tribe who respects the animals and because they haven't killed them all off there are many to enjoy on their lands. The men used to have to kill a lion in order to reach warrior status but they don't do that anymore. The lions stay away from their bright red clothing because they are known to be a danger to them. The men go out with the herds of cows everyday and walk for miles. The cows wear bells so they will know where they are at all times. The men are also known for their ability to jump extremely high - much higher than a white man can jump.

After they showed us their village and how they make fire from sticks, they showed us some jewelry and crafts they had for sell out on blankets. As I was walking around the blankets I heard one of the women turning off her cell phone. The service provider in their area is called Safaricom. no joke.

more animals:

We spotted that lion couple earlier in the day and on our way out we saw that the woman had brought home the bacon (wildebeast) and Mr. Lion was enjoying a feast:

(toilets are at the rear)
for all the pictures you can:

and here is some video:

Posted by Posted by Judy Neil at 8:31 PM
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

I just flew in from Kenya (and boy are my arms tired!)
Sorry. I can never resist that joke. I wanted to briefly chronicle my journey so here you are...

It went a little somethin' like this y'all:

Flight #1 - SLC to Minneapolis

What's that? You forgot to bring your ipod? No Problem! The Minneapolis airport has ipod vending machines:

"Yes I had a pesky layover and I was bored and starving so I picked up an ipod and a snickers bar"

I'm just kidding. I had brought my own snickers bar because those vending machines are so overpriced.

Flight #2 - Minneapolis to Amsterdam

Cool airport with cool architecture:

They also have a few sleeping lounges that are dead quiet. I like this airport a lot:

Flight #3 - Amsterdam to Nairobi

Flight #4 - Nairobi to Mombasa

Mombasa is on the eastern coast of Kenya - right on the Indian Ocean. I didn't know this before but it is an island. During high tide it is surrounded by water and at low tide there are locations where you could walk to it from the mainland.

So we kicked it at a somewhat nice hotel on the Nyali coast. Too bad the beach is too dangerous. There was an armed guard who stopped us from walking down there because we were carrying bags. You can't take anything down there or it will get stolen. But it's a nice white sand beach (not the nicest I've seen) and I put my feet into the Indian Ocean just to say that I have. We stayed there and bought some native clothes to wear in the village.

We rode in a van out to the village (about 2-3 hour drive). I wasn't sure exactly how long.

We arrived in the Mwagoni Village in the Vigurungani area of the Kinango District. The people are from the Duruman Tribe and speak a mixture of Duruman and Swahili. The women greeted us with hugs and kisses and then performed a dance.

During the ceremony we were given Duruman names. Mine is Jinyavu. That is what I was called the entire time in the village. There is another girl in the village with that name. Here we are - the Jinyavu's:

We stayed in the house of the village leader - Mdune. Their houses are made of sticks and mud. We brought in our own cots and mosquito nets. The mosquito net saved me from some mutant wasp attacks. (There was a wasp nest in our room)

Our Project in the village was to help the women build a boarding house for teachers. They want to run this as a business that will generate money for developmental work in the village - hopefully soon bringing water pipes to their village so they don't have to walk a kilometer to a pond with buckets to get water.
We helped dig a foundation with pick axes and shovels and also helped with some babysitting - although most women have their babies on their backs with a kanga cloth even while they are working. The babies hardly cry because they are always close to their mothers.

We also helped to make bricks out of dirt and cement. The women would get a special dirt and carry it in buckets on their heads and then we would break up the clumps, mix it with cement and a little water and put it into a press. We could make at most about 150 bricks a day.

We got them started and they'll continue to keep building and working until it's done. The rest of the time in the village we spent visiting their homes and playing with the kids.

We had a celebration ceremony the night before we left. It was similar to the welcome ceremony.

And that was the end of village life for us.

After a week of no cold beverages in the hot hot sun, I enjoyed the most delicious Coca-Cola™ I have ever tasted in my life.

stay tuned. next time: safari in the Masai Mara

Posted by Posted by Judy Neil at 9:20 PM
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