Month: December 2013


Chilling in Kikambala after a little stress

After we returned last night there was a lot of discussion with the owner of the car over the reimbursement of the cost of the new tyre and the bribe we had to pay the police to be allowed on our way on Christmas Eve.

This morning, with Jacob at work, Maggy and I took the car back and had a long and rather heated discussion with the owner and his many friends, the result of which was a little cash now and the promise of more later, but we’re still well out of pocket (and not confident about getting the rest of the promise money).

We then joined Meld and Lucy at Kikambala, and after lunch went to Blue Sky for a swim, sodas, and photos on the beach.

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Leaving Mivumoni

Before we got up, we’d heard birds squawking in the trees, and Meld spotted the green parrots.

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Lucy’s uncle brought his children Margaret and Titus to visit.

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Accompanied by Agostino, Meld and I drove to John Mulwa’s home, which proved to be a long way out from the village on a very rough road. We met his grandmother, cousins and niece.

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They liked to try on my hat.

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Setting out to return to Mivumoni

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John’s neighbours are building a house by the road.

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Back at Lucy’s we sat and chatted

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After lunch, with the car loaded, we waited for Mike to return from work so that we could get some group photos (although Japhet was out with the cattle)

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And so we set off, heavily laden. The blue water lilies near Milalani were stunning.

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The journey proved quite easy, apart from Mombasa traffic.

Back home we had a few challenges – the gas ran out so we had to move to the charcoal jiko, and big debates with the owner of the car who wants the car back and said “come to the office tomorrow for your money for the tyre and fine” to which he got a resounding “you don’t get your car until we see the money”.

 

Base Titanium

Today’s main activity was a visit to Mike’s workplace, Base Titanium, but before we set out we had to have breakfast – githeri and casava.

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Agostino has become a villa fan.

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At the titanium plant we only visited the catering section where Mike works, and met his bosses David (pictured) and Brian. Dave gave us a tour of the kitchen and described the operation.

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After lunch in the mess we said farewell to Mike.

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We drove to Ukunda for shopping, and visited the Kamba carving centre. Meld bought a karamba for school, and Ndunge demonstrated how to play it.

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Bixa, used for dyes, grows well here.

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Lucy working again, this time the laundry.

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The new bathroom – no more views of the stars as you do your ablutions.

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Japhet brings home the goats and a calf.

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Meld makes sure that Sue’s Christmas decorations are still hanging on the wall – it’s been a bit breezy.

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Kennedy and Japhet prepare coconuts.

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I went with Maggy for a drink at the pub (well, we’d promised the owner we’d return), then back to Maggy’s where Black Jack soon jumped on my lap (having licked my feet).

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Sitting tasting Maggy’s githeri I suddenly realised I’d left my camera at the pub, so Agostino, Maggy and I hurried back. Nearly to the pub we heard squeals from behind – Black Jack had followed us and was being bitten by the black ants. Maggy had to carry her to the pub and home again, and hold onto her as Agostino and I left.

Back at Lucy’s it was Chapati Party time, accompanied by green grams and potatoes fried in batter (which Meld cooked with Lucy).

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Boxing Day Walks

Every morning found Lucy doing the washing up from the night before – it can’t be done in the evening because there is no light. It’s a careful process as all water has to be carried from the spring, so you don’t waste it.

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The cattle stay in overnight.

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Our car by the sitting room. (OK, this morning we did drive the car to church because we were so late, with lots of people in the back!)

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Meld found my bed jumping – and this was who was in it!

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Lucy’s parents took us on a tour of their shamba. The maize is growing well.

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Oranges

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Mike explains what they are growing.

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Lucy’s mum checks some low-hanging pawpaws.

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Bananas.

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Afterwards we walked to Lucy’s uncle and aunt’s for lunch and a tour of their shamba.This is the store.

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Checking the oranges.

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Passion flowers – there were fruit too.

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Carrying home the fruit we’d collected.

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Time to say farewell.

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Mivumoni is named for the Mivuma trees which grow here/

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We passed one of the boreholes that we helped to refurbish a few years ago, still working.

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Back in Mivumoni, we went for a drink with Mike and meet some of his work colleagues and other villagers.

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Lucy’s sister Ndunge

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We were invited to supper with the St Joseph Sisters, who made us very welcome. Seminarian Gabriel came along too.

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Mivumoni Christmas Day

I should have said yesterday, Christmas started with the vigil Mass, which was full of song and joy. Starting at 10pm, home about midnight. No Christmas Carols as we know them. The church was decorated with balloons and was very festive.

Christmas Morning we got out the banana-fibre crib we bought in Nairobi.

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After breakfast, Lucy was soon onto preparing lunch – a simple meal of ugali and cabbage ahead of tonight’s feast.

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We were visited by the children of some neighbours (the parents were working I think)

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Soon Lucy’s aunt (in pink) and uncle joined us.

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We spent most of the day sitting and chatting with visitors.

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The watoto eat their lunch.

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In the afternoon, Lucy,Meld and I paid a visit to the St Joseph Sisters whose convent is next to the church.

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The sisters loved seeing the photos on my phone, and were soon taking selfies (but the light was challenging and they weren’t very good)!

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Sister Ancilla had dislocated her wrist working in the shamba.

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We returned via Maggy’s home, saying hello to her family and to Black Jack.

Back at Lucy’s, preparations for dinner were under way. Our contribution was a Christmas Pudding and custard. teaming the pud wasn’t too difficult, though making custard (even from powder) on a very hot wood fire was a challenge.

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Soon the pilau was served.

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The Christmas pud was liked by some and not by others (just like home!). And I got to finish off the custard ūüôā

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And so to bed.

Preparing for Christmas

Having got the electrics wired up to the oven, Meld made some Lemon Drizzle cakes for Christmas.

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In Shanzu, Tina was more traditional, making ugali for the family.

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The four remaining pups wait for supper.

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Christmas Eve, Black Jack is ready to travel to Mivumoni.

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But runs off to lie with her brothers.

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Then it all went a bit pear-shaped. Our hire car, promised at 8, only appeared at 11. We hurriedly loaded and set off, picking up Maggy. But we only got as far as Nyali when we were stopped by the police because one tyre was very illegal.

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We got taken away to the police station, where extended discussions took place, trying to get the owner of the car to come and take the rap, but eventually we were encouraged to make a payment to the police and meet the owner in town to resolve matters.

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Needless to say, the owner didn’t show, so we had to get a new tyre fitted, then we headed off, but the queue to the ferry was long. Net result was that it was getting dark as we reached Likoni, so we drove all the way to Mivumoni in the dark (the one thing I wanted to avoid). We arrived in time for late supper instead of lunch!

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Then we hurried off the Christmas Mass, taking Black Jack with us because there was no time to take her to Maggy’s home beforehand.

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And so, back to Lucy’s home, and bed.

Shaurumoyo – at last

Today we got to visit the last of Joe’s mass centres, in a school at Shaurumoyo at the northern end of the parish.

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Mass is celebrated in a classroom.

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The congregation is small but enthusiastic

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There are huge baobab trees all around.

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After Mass we visited a nearby family for Joe to bless their new baby.

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Back at Kikambala, we had lunch, Tusker and a snooze, then helped Teddy preparing mchicha (a kind of greens).

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We then went down to the beach at Blue Sky

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And drank sodas in the shade

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Whilst enjoying the view

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A Couple More Days

Friday, a day for massage, laundry and visitors! In the afternoon, Joe came and drove us to Chalets Beach for a quick swim and soda. Next to the beach are the Cowrie Shell Apartments: you can almost see the coloured glass in the link between the two blocks.

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Joe dropped us in Bushy and we¬†picked up vegetables before walking home. We met Joe’s sister Sidi on the way an she took us to see her home/.

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Jacob brought his girlfriend Lydia home, and on Saturday morning they looked smart for the children’s birthday party.

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After a morning of websites, we went up to Kikambala with Maggy and had a drink at Sun’n’Sand Hotel.

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The tide was far out when we arrived so we didn’t swim, but the view was nice.

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In the evening we went to a house mass with some of Joe’s parishioners, their children and grandchildren, followed by supper.

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Catching Up

Tuesday morning we went up to Barnabas Childrens Center to deliver some bits and pieces we brought from home, and to greet thee kids. There are about 29 kids (orphans and street kids) who stay there even during the holidays.

Football in the classroom!

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The little ones were playing school

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Marius, a Norwegian intern, has just arrived and was soon playing games with the kids.

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Silas, the deputy head.

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Pretty flowers near the school.

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Back near home, some huge spiders on a web between two tall trees.

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Wednesday we planned to go to KWETU, a project just across the creek, that specialises in products of the neem tree, but when we got there we were told we had to pre-book because the staff were mostly away on holiday.

On the way there (it was a long way: into Shanzu, matatu to Mtwapa, then 6km on motorbikes) we stopped at a former childrens fun centre. The owners have returned to Europe, and edu has the option to use the premises, but its a big undertaking and needs capital.

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Back home, we had a visit from a friend of Jacob, Kisten…

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And then by Manny and cousins.

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After supper I made another trip to Club Lambada for some light refreshments.

Thursday we went to City Mall shopping and I lost our small-change purse with about ¬£20 in it. Not a disaster but very annoying. In the evening we were given super at Eunice’s (just round the corner) before Aid went off to Bundus to meet Edu (who turned up 2 hours later!)

 

 

Ticking Over in Majaoni

It’s been a few days since we blogged, so it’s time for an update. We’ve not been idle, but we’ve been doing things that aren’t really photo-worthy. So this is a pot pourri of snapshots from the past few days.

On Friday we found Mary sporting a T-shirt she’d got from the scrum on Thursday, and looking very pleased about it.

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On Friday, Saturday and Monday we had downpours just before lunchtime.

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On Saturday, Angelo (the largest of the puppies) was off to his new home with a cousin, so he had to be shampooed.03

Catherine had come to get help in completing an application form to be an au-pair in Germany, but ended up picking fleas off Angelo!
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Handover – kwaheri Angelo

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And then there were four.

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Saturday night I went out for a drink or two with Tina at Club Lambada in Mtwapa (so I wasn’t very impressed when Jacob got up at 5 on Sunday and started housework!)

On Sunday we went to Mass at Barani and Bomani, the two southerly outstations of Kikaambala (both pictured before). In both places (as at Vipingo last week) there was a big fund raising push to help the Diocese pay off its debt.

After lunch we went to the beach with a youth group from Kongowea parish – unfortunately, few from Kikambala turned up. The water was full of the remains of fishing nets – Natasha and I did our best to clear up so that we could swim.

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The youth played games on the beach.

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Gillian, the local representative.

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Group photo

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On the way back we stopped at Sweetwaters Pub for a soda – Maggy and Gillian insist they are the Tangawizi Twins, it’s not Tusker!

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Monday was spent at home, with me working on a web site for Okoa Jahazi (you can see the early progress at http://okoajahazi.asimons.co.uk) before heading to a very wet and muddy Mtwapa for shopping.

 

In Memory of John Mumba Mwagandi

John Mumba, father of Sidi, Samuel, Joseph, George, David, Jacob and Elizabeth, died on 6 December 2012 and was buried at his shamba on 12 December 2012. Soon after we arrived in Kenya we were told “on 12 December we will all go to the rural home for a memorial service”. And so it was that Joe picked us up early and, together with Samuel, Ed and John we drove to Mariakani where we stopped (for ages, it seemed, in the hot sun) to buy supplies. We then proceeded to the shamba.

Most of the family were already there, having travelled earlier. Mary (now with her long hair!) was looking after Anton (her first cousin once removed).

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The kids wasted no time in exploring Joe’s truck.

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There was a lot of activity, segregated on gender and age. The younger men had slaughtered the goat and were butchering it.

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Many of the women were sorting rice for pilau

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others were peeling vegetables

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The kids were mostly just having fun

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The older men (wazee) sat under a tree and chatted (in Giriama).

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An old radio, powered by a small solar panel, played music.

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Jacob had told us it was de rigeur to wear the traditional kikoi and commemorative t-shirts. In fact, we were the only ones with the new polo shirts, though several people had the t-shirt printed last year. There were only a few people sporting kikois too, but it comfortable attire and it’s nice to be somewhere where no-one bats an eyelid when you wear one.

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The pilau gets under way – I thought we’d brought a paddle for someone’s canoe, but it was just a huge stirrer.

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Some of the family with granny, John’s widow, sadly now getting rather forgetful.

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Patrick and Mary – brother and sister together for once!

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This man seemed to spend the whole day making a mat.

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John takes a nap.

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Selina plaits Elizabeth’s hair.

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Mama of the spoon.

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A lot of mnazi (palm wine) seemed to be consumed in some quarters.

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Little Tina got hold of my phone and took some random pictures of her family

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Joe with Chris

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Samuel

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The pilau is served

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Oh, that’s me (asking for my phone back!)

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As we ate lunch, the grey clouds gathered.

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Mass was postponed as we sheltered in the tent (the brolly was necessary because the tent has holes)

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The women were in the house, dancing and singing, and came out to chase the rain away.

It worked!

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There was a lot of rain in a short time!

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We soon gathered for Mass around the tent (in case the rain returned)

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Joe preaching

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Blessing the water

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Around the grave, the cross ready to be installed

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Installation

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Processing back as the sun gets lower

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We then distributed the clothes we’d brought from various friends in the UK, which were greatly appreciated. Jacob and Robert had to act as askaris (security men) so we didn’t get squashed! Some of the recipients put their new acquisitions on straight away.

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The face fits the t-shirt!

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They didn’t seem to care whether the clothes were gender specific or not!

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Tina and Grace

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The moon is out- it must be time to go home.

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I thought it would be a good idea to get a picture of everyone who had the traditional kikoi on (I thought there were just 5 of us, me, Meld, Jacob, Elizabeth and Gladys) but suddenly loads appeared! (Sorry, I gave Grace a big challenge to take this in the half light)

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And then, everyone wanted their picture taken with the kikoi!

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So, we headed home in the dark, and eventually arrived safely, tired but happy after a wonderful celebration day. (It was also Kenya’s 50th Birthday, and we saw lots of that on the TV when we got back)

 

A Couple of Quiet Days

We’ve had a couple of quiet days. Tuesday Eunice and a friend came round to discuss a website for Okoa Jahazi, the women’s group we met a few weeks back. We sat under the mango tree and ran through things,using my camera as a scanner, until the geckos on the tree distracted me.

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After lunch I went to Shanzu for shopping and met some friends, ended up in Bundus drinking Tusker…

Wednesday we went to Samuel’s to collect Edward. Their eldest sister, Gladys, was there and we found John dressing his nephew, Anton.

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We headed into Mtwapa, went to the post office (a first!), then lunch at Al Mansura (lunch for 3 ¬†including a soft drink for ¬£3.50). We had planned to go to Kikambala so that Meld could get her hair cut at the salon at North Coast, but Ed mentioned the hairdressing school in Mtwapa so we wandered round there. But they said “we’re a salon we style hair but you need a barber” and sent us to Club Lambada (a night club). Strange as it seemed, they have a combined beauty salon and kinyozi (barber) and we both got a haircut (Meld’s first with clippers rather than scissors). The guy took a lot of care and ¬£10 for 2 seemed cheap to us (and expensive to Ed!)

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Ed, who has a fractured hand after an unfortunate encounter with a drunk in Shanzu a couple of days ago, seemed happy to wait and watch!

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Haller Park with Barnabas kids

Today we took a group from Barnabas Children’s Center¬†to Haller Park.

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First we stopped in Shanzu to pick up supplies for lunch and caught Joyce enjoying her breakfast.

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Somehow we got 8 adults and 27 children into the matatu.

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The kids sang as we drove the few miles to the park entrance.

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After we’d been dropped off.

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Queuing to pay the entrance fee

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Graffiti on the leaves of succulent plants.

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Walking to the park centre.

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Water lily

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Antelope

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Mongoose

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Blue-balled monkey

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The kids listen attentively to the guide

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Single file for the reptile park

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Is there a snake in there?

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Looking at the dangerous snakes behind glass

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Green mambas

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Snake hanging in a tree eating a lizard

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Tortoise

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Nile monitor lizard

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More information

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I know Miss!

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Just chilling

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Feeding the giraffes – everyone had a chance (and most took that chance)

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Crocodiles

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Heron

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Looking at the fish – tilapia elsewhere, koi carp in this pool.

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Eland wading

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The sole zebra

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Kingfisher

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Looking up at the tree Jomo Kenyatta planted

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Giant tortoise

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Lunch – roast potatoes

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and squash and biscuits

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Little boy enjoying the end of the potatoes

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Monkey – one of them stole a potato that fell on the floor

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Walking out of the park

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Legion of Mary at Vipingo

Today we attended Mass at Vipingo, north of Kikambala. We went with Joe, and abut 20 members of the Kikambala community who are members of the Legion of Mary. They sang in the back of the pickup as we headed north.

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Vipingo was laid out for an open-air celebration.

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Processing Our Lady’s statue

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Liturgical Dance

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New recruits are commissioned

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The congregation sheltering from sun or rain (at different times!)

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We were fed on pilau after the celebration

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Most people had their pilau served in a black plastic bag (and it’s amazing to see locals eat rice with their hands, with no spillage)

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A Day in Town

There was no specific blog entry for yesterday because we didn’t do very much! I worked on the CLP website, Meld read her book, and we had several visitors, including Selina who (apart from befriending Black Jack) plaited the fringes of my kikoi and took some of Melds skirts away to reduce them in width.

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Also, a local lady came to give me a massage, and I’m very glad not to have photos of that to share with the world, but I did emerge very relaxed (and all for under a fiver).

Today we went into town. First stop was Marikiti (a corruption of Market by the local Giriama speakers) where there are lots of clothes and fabric shops, We bought kikois, shirts, dresses and shoes.

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Then down to the ferry at the south end of Mombasa Island, and a walk around Mama Ngina Drive.

Pilot boat returns, having dropped the pilot on an incoming ship.

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There were many huge baobab trees at the south end.

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Fresh casava crisps (casava is a root vegetable, widely eaten here – also the source of tapioca)

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The ship (a car transporter we think) approaches the entrance to the harbour.

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The coastline

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A container ship leaves port.

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Bird on a rail

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Parts of the coastline are quite unspoilt, considering you are in town.

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The golf course

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Walking round the golf course

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Smart houses

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A lighthouse

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Quite a location for the golf course

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The coral is in evidence

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Unusual road sign (Tuk Tuks are little 3-wheeled taxis)

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A park by the council office

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Into Old Town

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Not a lighthouse, but a mosque

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Good tag line “You ring, we bring”

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Swahili doorway

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Another mosque

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Ornate balcony

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Then home via the shops, including pyrethrum shampoo to try to rid the puppies of fleas. As the sun set, we bathed the little wrigglers.

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So, after a shower, Meld modelled one of her purchaces, a dress for church tomorrow.

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Then it was definitely G&T time!

 

Kikambala Building Update

The pups are growing, but they still like to suckle their mum (who is patient Рfor  while)

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We took the matatu to Kikambala to see Joe and witness the progress on his new house. They are rendering the internal walls.

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Progress is evident

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Surveying the works.

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The render is drying over the blockwork.

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Most of the windows are now in place.

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Teddy was drying maize in the sun.

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Joe dropped us at North Coast while he went to bank.

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Back at the church, rain was coming so Teddy was now rescuing his maize!

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The church choir were practising dance routines for their video.

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We stopped for shopping on the way back and dropped off some yoghurts for Gloria and Shanique. Shanique loves her yoghurt.

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Back home, we went round to David’s for supper. The house was full, not just with his family, these are 2 neices (twins) from Taveta.

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Emanuel and his friend Dick.

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The house cat – actually friendly (and purring!)

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Then we enjoyed a great Pilau before walking home under the stars, straight to bed, to awake to learnt that Nelson Mandela had died and Africa is commemorating his life non-stop on TV.

A Relaxing Day in Shanzu

After our trip, this morning was the time to catch up with washing clothes – Tina and Mary came and did most of it, while I was childminder of Shanique.

Later, David and Eunice came round with baby Tina, and Meld got to hold her.

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Then with Jacob and John (brother of Nick, Ed and Tina) we took a matatu to Chalets beach. The monkeys watched us as we walked down the track.

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After a long swim, we relaxed with some of Jacobs neighbours from Majaoni.(and a drink!)

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Well, the view was relaxing, as the sun set.

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A boat sailing by.

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Looking north

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Up the Creek

After lunch and a little rest, Jacob took me to David’s (about 200m away). It was the first time I’d seen David with his baby daughter.

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They have a neat little tent to keep flies and mosquitoes away from the baby.

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David took me for a walk down to the creek, where there are many fishponds amongst the mangroves, though some tell you to keep out.

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Fishing canoes (dug outs)

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A new canoe being made, they are cut from a tree with very low density

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A mother and child wait for the boat to return

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Here they come – bringing supplies from across the creek rather than fish (fishing is done at night)

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Carrying the shopping home – charcoal

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and firewood

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A baobab by the low evening sun

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Riding the Lunatic Line

Well, I slept though Meld didn’t! When I awoke, about 05:45, we were coming into Voi station and it was starting to get light. Past Voi we saw the Sagala Hills.

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The sun rising

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We passed along the edge of Tsavo East National Park

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The only animals I saw were these cattle with their Maasai minders

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We had to stop frequently to let freight trains pass (using passing loops, it’s mostly single track). This train was carrying Magadi Soda.

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Our train rounding one of many curves. Children waving at the train and asking for money was a common sight.

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The signal box at Miritini

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Another signal box, handing over the token for the next section of track.

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Water containers piled up on the outskirts of Mombasa – there’s no running water here, but at least the houses are reasonable.

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The track does downhill, and so does the accommodation

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And these “dwellings” are on a rubbish dump, just before the causeway onto Mombasa Island

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Fishermen on the edge of the island

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Coming into Mombasa station – wreckage of old sleepers (we’d seen buckled rails alongside the track at many locations)

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We’re here, at last, after 16 hours (only 2 hours late!)

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The smoky loco that hauled us here

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We stopped at Tuskys for supplies, opposite this temple.

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Then a taxi home to Majaoni.

 

Trains for Julian

From Helen”s we took a taxi to the Railway Museum, before catching our train “home” to Mombasa.

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The museum documents the history of the “lunatic line” from Mombaasa to Uganda, and the other East African routes.

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rack inspection bicycle

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One of the huge locomotives 4-8-4-4-8-4 configuration

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Meld boarding our train to Mombasa – looks like something out of the museum

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A local train

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Cattle claass

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Meld in her compartment (we ended up with one each!)

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And so, a mere 45 minutes late, we left Nairobi. Dinner was served as we passed through the suburbs and out through Athi River, then we retired for the night (there nothing to see in an African night!)

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