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Farewells

Our first farewell was to Joe’s new house, and the arrow commemorating the contribution in memory of Bill Haynes that paid for the roof.

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The house looks good

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Teddy cutting the grass

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Deacon Joseph, Father Joe, Bridget, Steve and Teddy

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Then to Shanzu, where at last we caught up with Joe’s brother Martin

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He took us back to his house to see the family

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Cecilia (Joe’s sister in law) at the fruit and veg stall.

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And then to Barnabas, where we greeted each class

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Bridget with Eva (in red gingham)

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The cooks at work

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Relaxing, waiting for lunch

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Sadly our schedule meant that we had to leave before lunch was served. We met Eunice and went with her to Kiembeni where her friend Mary has “plarn” baskets for us to bring home – plarn is “plastic yarn” made from old plastic bags, crocheted into very functional baskets (and if you’d like one I have some for sale!).

And then, a not-too-quick drive to the airport, hand back the car, check in, a mooch in the shops, onto our flight. First stop was Kilimanjaro, where Bridget got her first glimpse of Africa’s highest mountain, then on to Addis Ababa where we hit the ground with a bump. A long chilly evening in Bole International Airport preceded a bumpy flight to Heathrow. At last, when we emerged from the terminal, the car was waiting for us, one signature and we were off, and soon home to do the laundry!

And finally – a couple of recommendations from this trip:

  • We hired both our cars from Glory (www.glorykenya.com). They were in good condition, clean, and the service was excellent, and flexible. More expensive than back street, but well worth it.
  • For the first time we used a Meet and Greet parking service (of airport) by DriveFly (www.drivefly.co.uk). Prebooked, we simply drove the car to the right place in the short stay car park and they took it away; when we returned we called them as we picked up our bags, and when we got to the same car park the car was ready and waiting and warm (and had done just 8 miles in our absence – I took a photo of the odometer before we left it). Cheaper and easier than long stay, will use them again.,

Haller Park

Our last full day took us to Haller Park, a zoo in a reclaimed cement quarry owned by Bamburi Cement (part of Lafarge)

 

Monkeys are everywhere

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Giant Tortoise

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Monitor Lizards

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Regular tortoise

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Butterfly

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Fig tree

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Green mamba

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Black mamba

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Baby crocs

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Bigger crocs

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Giraffes at feeding time

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Water buck

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Hippo

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To be honest, Haller Park seems a bit dilapidated now, even compared to 2 years ago when I went there. Low tourist numbers mean low revenue, so many of the snake cages were empty, for example. But feeding giraffe is always good!

After this visit we went back to Cobba Cabana at Mtwapa, enjoyed a tasty lunch on the beach served by our friend Miriam, then we sat in the shade and read – a rare chance to just relax. When Miriam finished we took her to Majaoni where we both enjoyed her massage skills, followed by supper at one of the family of Boko Boko owner Yolande..

Sunday Outings

After Mass in Kikambala and an IT surgery, we drove to Cobba Cobana beach in Mtwapa, where Bridget was delighted to find a well-maintained pony for hire. She had 20 minutes of fun riding up and down the beach.

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Then we enjoyed a soda.

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Sisters with matching phones!

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Bridget and Lucy photo-bomb Maggy’s posing

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After lunch in Kikamabala, Daniel took us to a local cave where African Barn Owls live. The cave is amazing.

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And then to North Coast for one last Passion Juice

Map of the Day

Majaoni

First stop was to visit Eunice who runs Okoa Jahazi

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We then took a walk down to Mtwapa Creek

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Canoes and mangroves

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Mangrove nursery

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Crab

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Mangrove pods

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Fishponds

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After lunch with Lucy in Shanzu we visited Jacob and Lydia and went to Chalets Beach, swam in deep water, but Aid got stung by a jelly fish..

Map of the Day

Bombolulu, Nguuni Tatu and Jumba la Mtwana

Tina came with Shanique to do some laundry for us. Shanique is such a poser!

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Then (with various stops on the way) we headed to Bombolulu Cultural Centre where we had a tour of the  different homesteads of the various Kenyan tribes.

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Giriama musicians

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In the Swahili House

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We then headed to Nguuni Tatu Nature Sanctuary, but the track to the picnic area was blocked!

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Eland in the bushes

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Sunbird

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Baby giraffes

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Ostrich showing off

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Jumba la Mtwana – ruins of a Swahili town

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Map of the Day

Tsavo East Trip

 

Buchuma Gate to Voi Wildlife Lodge

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Elephants at Voi Wildlife Lodge

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Afternoon Drive

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Lions – honest…

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Voi Wildlife Lodge

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Bufallo at the water hole

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Morning Drive

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Leaving Voi Wildlife Lodge

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Voi Safari Lodge

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Voi to Buchuma Gate

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Monitor Lizard

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Hippo!

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Map of the Trip

 

A Day in Town

Today we said goodbye to our Kluger 4×4, which had served us well taking us on rough roads to Mivumoni, around Arabuko Sokoke forest, and to Kolewa church as well as being well suited to the local roads with their lumps and bumps. The Glory Car hire office in near the famous tusks, and Edu was with us as guide.

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We then walked through to Marikiti (the market) where we bought a couple of kikoi. It was interesting to see the hustle and bustle, but a bit intimidating for B (and not a place to get a camera out). We ended up at Jahazi Coffee House where we lunched on biriani, then took a tuk tuk to the Holy Ghost Cathedral to met Fr Joe. This is the grotto where Joe used to celebrate mass with the youth when he was posted to the cathedral, and also where the late Archbishop Boniface Lele is buried.

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After a visit to Kenya Wildlife Service offices to buy our tickets for the trip to Tsavo, Joe  dropped us at Fort Jesus. There’s lots to see…

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But Bridget is more interested in cats!

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We paid to go round the fort, built by the Portuguese, taken over by the Omani Arabs then by the British.

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16th century graffiti

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The old Police Station from colonial times, still abandoned.

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Typical Old Town architecture.

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Map of the Day

Visit to Barnabas

 

We called in at Barnabas School. here I am talking to a Peruvian volunteer.

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The kitchen

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Selfie time

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With Harrison, the head teacher

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Bye!

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Class 3

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Lucy and her Class 1

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Maggy and her KG2 class

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The new Class 5/6 building

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Smart new house opposite the school

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Bridget and Imelda

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Then at Shanzu we met Grace

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and Gloria

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Reef Walk

Our friend Daniel (aka Ali) took us on a walk out to the reef.  Here are some of the things we saw.

Bridget and Daniel.

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Sea urchin – the reason we wore shoes.

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Sea cucumber.

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Bridget and her sub-aqua camera

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Star fish

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Crab burrowing into sand

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Sea cucumber

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The top of the reef.

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Daniel at the ocean’s edge.

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And us

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Sea millipede

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Looking back to Sun and Sand Hotel

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It was a bit deeper on the way back.

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Heron.

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Me!

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Another cucumber

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Starfish

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Underwater view

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Living rocks.

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Different sea urchin

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Clam

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Map of the Day

 

Sunday – Mass at Kolewa

After a late night we awoke to the sound of singing from the church where Fr Anthony was celebrating the 07:00 mass. We had a lazy morning, then drove ourselves to Kolewa for mass in the mud-walled church here. It’s quite a long drive up onto the ridge, rewarded with great views into Giriama country.

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Our trip to look over the edge was accompanied!

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A huge mango tree

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Heading to the church

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After Mass (we were too involved to take pictures during the service)

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After Mass we returned to Kikambala for lunch, then we drove to the Serena to swim from the beach, where we met Tina and friends.

After supper, Aid, Maggy and Tina went for a drink at Lambada in Mtwapa, had fun, and got home rather later than planned!

Map of the Day

A Quiet Day

We had a quiet morning at home, catching up with the blog. The girls did some laundry.

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Chickens for Imelda!

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Bridget loves Hibiscus

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After lunch we went to visit Ngomongo Villages. After several attempts to find the place (no signs) we discovered it was closed because of poor tourist numbers (which explains the lack of signs). So we went to the nearby Shanzu Transitional Workshops for young disabled women, where they make goods (mainly bags) out of kikoi. They have a little sensory garden.

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Bridget, as ever, found a furry friend.

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From there we drove just down the road to the Serena Beach Hotel, and sat in their beachside garden watching things go by (and drinking passion juice).

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Looking from the hotel towards the beach.

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After returning to Kikambala we went to supper as guests of Yolanda who owns the Boko Boko Seychelles restaurant nearby, with wonderful food and a warm welcome.

Map of the Day

 

Arabuko Sokoke Forest

 

A long but quick drive to Watamu took us to Arabuko Sokoke Forest, where our guide first took us on a guided walk. This is a local fruit.

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A black kite.

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A pink Lucy

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A praying mantis

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The larva of a bug (anti lion?)

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The larva sits in its hole and waits for prey to pass, then pulls them in with its jaws.

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Maggy adding scale to a mahogany tree.

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A baby baobab tree.

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An ex butterfly, still pretty.

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Land snail shell

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A fungus

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Flamboyant tree

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A live butterfly – they were impossible to photograph.

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Swinging on a tarzan creeper, our guide Johnston showed us how and we all had a go

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Completing the walk.

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Gecko

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We all climbed the tree house.

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An eagle over the swamp

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B under a famous arched tree

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Lucy at the view point taking a panorama on her new phone.

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All of us

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On the way back, we saw a mongoose ahead on the track. Not very close, but better than we’d achieve with the duiker and red-rumped elephant shrew we’d seen earlier.

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The viewpoint was a long way (28km of bumpy track each way) so we were glad to be back on the highway and head back to Kikambala

Map of the Day

 

New Year’s Day – Kikambala and Shanzu

 

As we walked to the beach, we found a chameleon on the roadside.

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The tide was not as high as we’d hoped, which meant there were many birds around still.

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It was a little breezy as we walked along the beach.

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Still We were able to wallow in the warm water.

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As soon as we were in the water, Maggy wanted Lucy to take her photo

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On the way back we found some Colobus monkeys.

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Bouganvillea

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Kikambala Village (restaurant, accommodation, beverages) was till being built when we were last here. Looks good.

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We headed to Shanzu, where we called on Samuel’s family. Gloria and Shanique were playful, and liked b’s water bottle.

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Map of the day

 

Mivumoni to Kikambala

Another day, another cute puppy for B!

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Lucy meanwhile is hard at work making breakfast.

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Baby Mike and his teddy.

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We visited the Franciscan sisters, and after tea and bread Sr Grace took us around to see their new fishpond.

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The pawpaws are abundant.

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Teamwork to pick a pawpaw – and yes, I caught it.

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On tour

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Pineapple

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Baby pineapple

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Freak pineapple with 5 heads!

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Bridget found a passion fruit.

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The two Mikes: grandfather and grandson

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Mwanamkuu also liked a teddy.

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Saying farewell to the family.

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At Kikambala we attended the New Year Mass, after which the youth burn a figure representing the old year, symbolising a new start in 2015.

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After Mass, before we headed into the house to toast the new year in Tusker (and sodas).

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Happy New Year!

Map of the Day

 

Mivumoni Exploration

 

After a good sleep, we were up surprisingly early, and Bridget loved all the animals around the place (the cattle get taken out after breakfast).

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One of several cats.

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The two puppies.

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Mike took us on a tour of the shamba.

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Blixa – used as a dye and for make up.

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The famous mivuma trees that give the village its name.

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I picked my first coconut (I was the only one tall enough to reach it)

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Bananas!

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Testing the pump at the new well near Lucy’s shamba; sadly it needs to be deepened as the water has dried up already.

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Bridget spotted someone’s bathroom as we walked to the spring where they still fetch water from.

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Butterfly.

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Ndunge and her son Mike and one of granny’s teddies.

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Bridget tastes her first madafu.

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Bridget is dressed properly by her sister Lucy.

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John gave the puppies a bath.

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Lucy took us on  walk round the village.

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The catholic church

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Bridget was loving the flowers as well as the animals.

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The secondary school where most of our young friends were educated.

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inside one of the classrooms – we hoped order would be restored before term starts next week.

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The staff room, with its inspirational mottos.

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More passion flowers.

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At Maggy’s Bridget found more friends.

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Leaving Maggy’s we met Mike and went for a Tusker, letting Lucy go home to help with the cooking. Another feast awaited us.

Map of the day

 

Off on another trip – with Bridget

Here we go again! Bridget and I slipped away from the Christmas celebrations at home and headed to Heathrow. Having found our meet-and-greet driver and handed over Meld’s car we entered the newly-refurbished Terminal 2, checked in, did some shopping, and headed to the gate. The flight to Addis was uneventful except for me turning white and unresponsive, to Bridget’s alarm, but I was OK soon afterwards.

Addis was OK – we were in the modern terminal – but our onwards flight was an hour late. Approaching Mombasa from over Shimba Hills it was very bumpy, but we landed safely, got through the ebola scans, queued for ever to get a visa, then found our driver.

Map of the flights

The car was waiting, and we drove into town, picked Maggy by the Cathedral, and joined the queue for the ferry. Two hours later we were on South Coast and had an easy (fast) drive to Mivumoni, with a short stop for shopping at Ukunda. Soon after dark we dropped Maggy at her home then got the car a bit stuck trying to turn round! (We hadn’t found the traction control button a this stage).

Minutes later we rolled into Lucy’s homestead to a warm welcome, and a feast.

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We didn’t really do justice to the feast, we were so tired after a night with little sleep, and were happy to slip into our beds, Bridget sharing a room with her Kenyan sister Lucy.

 

Can you spare some cash to sponsor a child through school?

As elsewhere in the world, an education is crucial to a Kenyan’s prospects in life. There’s lots of competition for limited poorly-paid work, and education opens up new opportunities as well as making a more-rounded individual. Most Kenyan youngsters are keen to learn, but education is not free – although Primary Education in state schools is ostensibly free, it’s only the tuition that is free and students need to pay for uniform, exam fees, books and miscellaneous fees. Even then, the government schools have huge class sizes and thus limited opportunity to do well (the teachers do their best, but we’ve heard of classes up to 100 children).

So many families, scraping by at (or below) subsistence level, cannot afford to send their children to school, certainly not to the school of their choice. This obviously includes families infected/affected by HIV/AIDS, for whom life is a real struggle, but there are many other families who work hard but cannot pay fees for school or college.

There are several organisations around who organise sponsorship of children and young people, but I can tell you about a few that we’ve had direct contact with during our trip.

As a general rule, these organisations prefer sponsors to commit to see a child through their education, so sponsoring a child just starting school could be a long-term undertaking, but shorter term arrangements or one-off donations are also possible. If you sponsor a young child you’ll get feedback from the organisation on their progress; sponsor an older child to high school or college and you will probably get direct feedback from the individual (Kenyans love Facebook!).

How much it costs depends very much on the “package”: paying uniform / books / exams for a child at a government primary school will likely be less than paying the same plus fees at a private school. School fees vary depending on the school, as do college fees, and transport may be required as well (or accommodation at/near school).

Imelda is here giving her time and energy directly educating Class 4 pupils at Barnabas; for the rest of us who can’t do that, sponsorship is a real way to help a child.

So here are my options for you to consider:

  • Barnabas Children’s Center is the school in which Imelda is currently working. 90% of the children cannot pay fees and are educated for free. The school is run on a shoestring with money from donors around the world, and they also provide a home for 29 orphans and street kids. They need every penny we can give them, either to develop the school or to sponsor individual needy children.

 

  • Community Light Programme, run by Edu and others here in Shanzu with support from overseas, aims to help families affected by HIV/AIDS and have an established process for placing children in schools and supporting them. I’ve seen this in practice with school reports being collected, scanned and e-mailed to the sponsors. Some of the children are at Barnabas and Fumathoka, the schools Imelda has volunteered at, others at schools around Mtwapa which I visited with Edu.

 

  • Okoa Jahazi, run by Eunice and her committee, are similar to CLP but the Community Based Organisation is composed of people infected/affected by HIV/AIDS helping others in the same situation; they are based in Kiembeni, a few miles away. They too arrange sponsorship for children. Read Eunice’s Story to see what drives her and why she needs your help. She really is an amazing lady.

 

  • As I mentioned, I’ve had a number of requests for direct sponsorship of individuals hoping to go to High School or College. These don’t fall under the HIV/AIDS umbrella of Community Light Programme or Okoa Jahazi, and are too old for Barnabas, but their needs are no less real. I’m hoping to get these youngsters to write about themselves, their aspirations and their needs so that they can seek sponsorship.

So there it is – there are hundreds or thousands of children here who need your help. You can’t help them all, but maybe you can support one and make a real difference to their life prospects. Do ask if you have any questions.

The Last Farewell

Our final hours in Kenya were spent… packing, doing the previous day’s blog, and relaxing. Joe arrived, having delivered Mary to school in Kaloleni. After a light lunch, it was time for farewells and to travel to the airport.

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Bye, Flash

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Bye, Shanique (and Tina)

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Edu came with us to the airport and organised the bags.

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We enjoyed a final drink with Joe and Edu, then we were on our own – into the terminal, balancing weight between bags (though we’d got it pretty close), check in, upstairs to departures, a few minutes to get the computer out… then we were called through security!

The flight to Addis left almost 30 minutes early (which was a pain, because at Mombasa we had internet and at Addis we had naff all!). 6.5 hours in Bole International Airport is a long wait, though there were beds to lie on and we had books to read.

The flight to London left on time, and arrived 30 minutes early. Luckily Mark, who was meeting us, was there when we emerged, and we were home soon after 08:30.

Last Full Day

Our last full day in Kenya was quite low-key, thanks to Kenya Poor. The blackout started early and, having completed yesterday’s blog entry and processed some photos for Barnabas, my battery was flat, so any plan to do some last-minute website updates went out the window..

Catherine, her mum, and Eunice came bearing gift to wish us farewell, not long before Joe came to collect us for lunch. We prayed together before parting.

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Joe took us to Kikambala for lunch, a White Cap, and a postprandial snooze. Then we went to Blue Sky to sit in the garden, sip sodas, and then take a final walk on the beach and paddle.

Meld’s first selfie?

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Then back to Shanzu for a farewell supper with the extended family. We gathered outside the house in the falling light.

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The food is ready.

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Maggy complained about the cold.

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Some of our hosts

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Tucking in

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Grace rests after cooking and serving

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Last Day of School

Today was Imelda’s last day at Barnabas (we felt we needed a clear day to get ourselves organised before travelling home), so I was also invited to join them for lunch and the afternoon farewell ceremony.

First, we took a look at the new temporary classroom

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It still needs a concrete floor.

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The house mothers were busy cooking lunch… chapati…

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…and pilau…

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The kids line up to wash their hands, the big ones helping the little ones.

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With Edu, the Danish volunteers and some visitors from Action Aid, we were treated as VIPs, seated with the men teachers. (Imelda in particular would have liked her female colleagues to eat with us, but that’s not the Kenyan way).

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Silas shares some pictures with the kids.

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Lunchtime

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After lunch, and showing Harrison the new version of their website I’d built (I’m getting to love WordPress!!) the kids were lined up outside to say farewell

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The reaction to “Hands up if you love teacher Imelda” (her class 4 are the back row)

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Singing and dancing

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An action song (like Father Abraham if you’re a pilgrim!) – here it’s “tongues out” and Teacher Rose and her daughter Eva were caught!

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Headteacher Harrison on “turn around”

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Class 4 group hug Teacher Imelda

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Au revoir Harrison

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We were escorted, by Class 4 and others, to the road, where they waved us off as we left in the matatu.

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Barnabas, kids and staff, we will never forget you.