About Aidan Simons
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My final couple of days were quietly preparing to travel and sorting out the truck. Friday started with a dawn run along the length of Bamburi beach (foolishly in bare feet)
Truck tyre sorted, some final shopping down, I returned to Majaoni and took a walk by the creek.
On the way back I saw these kids enjoying their sloping tree.
Saturday morning – a visit to say goodbye to Beatrice and family (Ben is home from hospital)
Lydia, Francisca and Martin
One for granny!
And then Jacob drove me to the airport and I’m catching up as I wait in Nairobi for the midnight flight to Amsterdam. 2 weeks has passed very quickly, and I’ll miss all my Kenyan friends. Tutaonana tena marafiki.
A visit to Mivumoni, my Kenyan rural home, is a must. Sadly this was squeezed into a few days. We took some of Lucy’s belongings home in the truck.
After lunch we delivered Maggy and her belongings to her shamba, and her Dad Boniface (and many grandchildren) took me on a walk round.
We met Boniface’s brother Peter and walked to his home, where his daughter Lina (sister to Father Dominic) was cooking chapati (tasting was mandatory, after eating their tangerines and oranges).
They were using a Jikokoa, a modern charcoal stove that is cleaner and uses less fuel than a traditional makaa jiko. Sadly, at 3500 shillings (about £30) they are rather expensive for the average family.
We found Maggy tending her goats.
And her nephew Caleb.
Me and most of the kids
Mivumoni Sunsets through the mivuma trees.
John getting milk for breakfast
Next day Athanasia and I made a long tour to visits clients of the epilepsy programme. I took lots of pictures of clients and their families which I will write up properly in due course.
Making brooms (fagio) from palm leaves
Fenesi – the craziest fruit, supper sickly sweet.
The young man in this photo suffered brain damage from malaria which resulted in epilepsy. He is violent and has to be kept securely in the little room here. It felt a bit like a caged wild animal, but I saw the risk as he turned on his grandfather.
Mother and daughters of a client we were looking for.
The client with the rest of her family
One client had terrible sores on his leg. I wished I had some medical knowledge to suggest treatment. Like several we saw today who live a long way from Mivumoni the journey to the clinic is long and they don’t have strength for the walk so they lapse on their drugs.
Back at Mivumoni Maggy and her sister Vero were cooking for my Kenyan birthday party and Maggy’s nieces and nephews had swelled the numbers at Lucy’s home.
Ann helping with the cooking – eldest daughters have responsibilities.
Mike and I had a sneaky beer (I needed one after a long dusty drive) and collected some drinks for the party.
Vero in the kitchen tending the pilau.
Thursday morning Mike took me for a walk to the Mivumoni Primary School
We moved next door to the polytechnic (technical training – dress making, carpentry, masonry, ICT, welding, mechanics etc). They have a smart new dormitory for female students, but no toilets so that can’t yet use it.
Beds for the dormitory
A lady sorting beans at the shopping centre
The shopping centre
Bananas on the move.
Lucy preparing cabbage for lunch
The neighbours children share our lunch
Maggy’s nephews and niece wanted a lift to the posho mill (to rind maize into flour)
Time for goodbyes
Heading back to Mombasa we stooped to share tea with Lucy’s sister Ndunge.
I made my annual visit to Barnabas school where we provide 3 teachers. Over the last few years they have worked to make more permanent classrooms on one part of the site, self-contained and separate from the orphanage.The newbuildings include a large classroom which doubles as a hall and a church.
One of the older temporary classrooms
This classroom was opened just after I visited last year.
One of the older permanent classrooms – it was Imelda’s class when we were here and is currently Lucy’s.
One of the Kindergarten classes
The girls’ dormitory in the orphanage.
Kenyans love to play games, here using bottle tops.
In the kitchen. It’s rather black and smokey, even with the hood over the stove.
One pose before I move on.
At last Sharifu and John installed the new water pump
The well is some 39m deep (at last that’s the length of rope we had to get to lower the pump into place) so it’s pretty scary to see Sharifu working with no means of support other than his feet wedged across the walls.
Francisca with her aunt Sidi
John, Tina and I went to Joe’s regular haunt, Kendas, for a late night drink (I’ve only ever been there late, with Joe).
John and his dad Samuel at their shop.
Joe’s brother Martin and his wife Selina, in their new house in Majaoni.
We made a Sunday afternoon outing to North Coast at Kikambala, a regular haunt when Joe was based there, as an early celebration of Francisca’s birthday. While some of us swam, Dorine took photos of the babies… Francisca
On Monday Beatrice and I grabbed some lunch at a little Swahili place in Bamburi – great value and quick service, and some interesting decor (egg trays on ceiling and walls!).
We then drive to Coast General Hospital to visit Beatrice’s brother. Relatives sit around outside waiting to see their loved ones. It seemed much less chaotic than Kilifi (and given the weather, sitting around outside in the shade is far preferable to being trapped indoors)
Ben was working as a boda boda rider and had an accident at the Bamburi junction (an “overlapping matatu” hit him and broke his leg). Apart from the pain, the financial impacts are severe (hospital fees, drugs, loss of income, damage to brand new bike…). This is also why I only use boda boda off the highway where there are no matatus to be hit by.
Father Joe asked me to visit the Pwani Secondary School for the Deaf. When it was started almost ten years ago it was only the fourth secondary school for deaf children in Kenya, but others saw that it could be done and there are now about 10.
Last time I visited about 4 years ago there was a mud-built kitchen, now they have a good modern kitchen (decorated by my teachers).
Most of the students are away as only those taking the KCSE public exams remain. They were practising their sign language exam.
One of the dormitories, sponsored by Mombasa Port Authority, built since my last visit.
The nearest building, the ablutions block, was brand new when I last visited. The customs beyond were the first buildings on site.
On one of my visits I remember the steps at the front being built. I was struck by women hammering nails straight for reuse, which no one at home would ever bother with these days.
The students enjoy a break.
The school office. They’d like a proper building, but they also need a science lab…
The principal and his deputy. They are in the process of building 2 more classrooms.
After the school we went to look for food, and my inbuilt food radar found the mkahawa Joe and I met Fr Anthony at many years ago, Simia Tamu where we had a good lunch of githeri.
We went on the the little beach on Kilifi Creek and walked among the rock pools. On the way down we saw this interesting baobab tree, looking like organ pipes.
Collecting sea water to bathe baby Aidan
I’m a star!
Rush hour traffic
The cliffs (Kilifi is a corruption of Cliffy) are interesting
The mangrove reminded me of a Buddhist shrine with its prayer cloths, but it’s a shrine to our disposable culture.
Kilifi has more than its fair share of impressive baobabs.
We went on to the North Coast Beach Hotel, an old haunt at Kikambala, where Lucy and I swam in the pool as the tide was out.
Then back via Tuskys to a chapati party.
Tina has been training this year on the Marianists’ Catering Course at their school in Bombolulu. Today, as the end of term approaches, she had to do her practical exam: preparing a meal and serving it to a table of guests. I was lucky to be chosen; sadly most of her relatives who were invited were unable to attend but we made up a table of 5,
Afterwards I took a walk at Majaoni to view the creek.
After a busy day yesterday today was one of relaxation. Lucy, Beatrice, Dorine, Aidan and I went to Coba Cobana beach for lunch (when we eventually found it – they’ve built some new road around Mtwapa which confused me!).
Beatrice found a job as baby sitter.
They were landing some fish, including a ray with huge wings that was lying in the beach.
I swam when tide came high
We walked along by the mangrove
Back at Majaoni Jacob was comforting Francisca, who has malaria.
We made an extremely early start today, as we were to visit Joe’s family’s rural home, where they are suffering from drought. Our first stop was the big market at Kongowea to load up with maize to feed the animals.
This all took ages, though it gave me a chance to see the market, all hustle and bustle. Eventually we were loaded, some string find to tie down the load, and we were on the road again. Next stop was the airport to collect my missing bag, then up the main highway towards Nairobi as far as Mariakani, where we had an excellent yet cheap breakfast. Then on to the rural home, where the youngsters turn need out to unload the maize.
It really does look dry here. The trees are still green, but the ground is parched.
The goats soon found the maize that was dropped.
Some of the cattle are really thin.
Our queue at the water point
Reloading the truck. It handled better with the weight on the back!
Back home, the water had to be carried. I could barely lift the full jerricans.
I had some clothes donated by colleagues at work which a shared admin the extended family, all very needy.
Two of granny’s teddies found happy owners.
It’s a very peaceful spot, if only there were more water…
We walked to the dam, the reservoir is almost dry, but there is just a little water which can be used for the animals (so this community is luckier than some).
Some people also drink this water, if they don’t have means to fetch from the water point. It’s hardly clean!
However, the animals appreciate it.
We then made out way home, a fairly easy drive on the new road to Kaloleni and Kilifi, then back down the coast road.
Maggy and i had an early start to get to Mto Panga, though it’s only a few miles from Shanzu. We were met y Maggy’s cousin, Dominic, recently ordained priest and appointed to the parish here. After breakfast in the priests’ house we drove to the first of 2 outstations, newly opened above Tudor Creek.
The church is temporary, though it’s already not big enough for th growing population in the area.
A happy mass-goer
Back at the main parish church
The priests’ house
After a fine lunch and a little snooze, I hurried on to my next appointment, Shanique’s 4th birthday party, hosted by Tina.
Shanique and her cousin Gloria
I’m back in Mombasa again, and staying at Joe’s place in Majaoni where Meld and I stayed 3 years ago. It’s like coming home. though some things have changed.
For example, some building work has been started, I think this is linked t the rescue centre that Joe is working on.
Lydia took me to her shop a short walk away, where these children had been keeping an eye on things.
This is the shop.
Aidan enjoyed his sun bed
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.
The house looks good
Teddy cutting the grass
Deacon Joseph, Father Joe, Bridget, Steve and Teddy
Then to Shanzu, where at last we caught up with Joe’s brother Martin
He took us back to his house to see the family
Cecilia (Joe’s sister in law) at the fruit and veg stall.
And then to Barnabas, where we greeted each class
Bridget with Eva (in red gingham)
The cooks at work
Relaxing, waiting for lunch
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.,
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
Giraffes at feeding time
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..
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.
Then we enjoyed a soda.
Sisters with matching phones!
Bridget and Lucy photo-bomb Maggy’s posing
After lunch in Kikamabala, Daniel took us to a local cave where African Barn Owls live. The cave is amazing.
And then to North Coast for one last Passion Juice
First stop was to visit Eunice who runs Okoa Jahazi
We then took a walk down to Mtwapa Creek
Canoes and mangroves
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..
Tina came with Shanique to do some laundry for us. Shanique is such a poser!
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.
In the Swahili House
We then headed to Nguuni Tatu Nature Sanctuary, but the track to the picnic area was blocked!
Eland in the bushes
Ostrich showing off
Jumba la Mtwana – ruins of a Swahili town
Buchuma Gate to Voi Wildlife Lodge
Elephants at Voi Wildlife Lodge
Lions – honest…
Voi Wildlife Lodge
Bufallo at the water hole
Leaving Voi Wildlife Lodge
Voi Safari Lodge
Voi to Buchuma Gate
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.
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.
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…
But Bridget is more interested in cats!
We paid to go round the fort, built by the Portuguese, taken over by the Omani Arabs then by the British.
16th century graffiti
The old Police Station from colonial times, still abandoned.
Typical Old Town architecture.
We called in at Barnabas School. here I am talking to a Peruvian volunteer.
With Harrison, the head teacher
Lucy and her Class 1
Maggy and her KG2 class
The new Class 5/6 building
Smart new house opposite the school
Bridget and Imelda
Then at Shanzu we met Grace
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.
Sea urchin – the reason we wore shoes.
Bridget and her sub-aqua camera
Crab burrowing into sand
The top of the reef.
Daniel at the ocean’s edge.
Looking back to Sun and Sand Hotel
It was a bit deeper on the way back.
Different sea urchin
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.
Our trip to look over the edge was accompanied!
A huge mango tree
Heading to the church
After Mass (we were too involved to take pictures during the service)
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!