Thursday, November 12, 2009

Safari to Maasi Mara!

I'm not sure what took us tso long, but Sara and I finally made it to Maasai Mara for safari. Our guide was Mike, a very talkative and determined Kenyan. We were accompanied by Kate, a friend of Mike's, and Adam, a 19 year old volunteer from SanFran. It was a good group. This sounds funny, but I liked having another American with us. It was weird at first because I'm not used to the accent (yes, it's an accent) anymore but its nice having someone who understands you all the time so there's no need to constantly elaborate (though I still love our Germans : )). We decided that between the Germans and Kenyans, we're destroying our good English. Just today Sara turned to me and said, "We go." instead of "We will go." It's bad.
Anyway, the vehicle we were in was a van with a roof that popped up so we could stand and take pictures. The very first thing our guide asked us when we started our safari on Friday was, "What animal are you most excited to see?" I immediately answered that it was the giraffe and it was the first animal we saw Friday night! On Saturday morning Mike was trying to find a lion for us and I totally spotted one laying in the bushes. I've always said I have the best eyes in the family and now I have proof. My favorite part of the day was when we were watching some elephants wash themselves when Mike suddenly yelled out, "Rhino and a baby! Rhino and a baby!" He literally put his foot down to the floor and gunned it down the hill to the Rhino. It was pretty funny because you could see other vehicles racing to the same spot from all over the park. I love it. Besides the millions of zebras, gazelles, and wilder beast, we saw cheetahs, hippos, rhinos, crocs, ostriches, and lion cubs. I definitely took the most pictures of the babies.
The scariest moment was when we saw a lioness and lion on honeymoon. They got up from where they were lounging and walked right towards all the vans and passed between them. It was crazy how close they were!!
The place we stayed was also really nice. They were permanent tents that had electricity, running water, a toilet, and HOT showers. Basically everything we don't have at the project. We were so pumped about the showers, we took four of them! Anyway, a great weekend away!
Michel, one of our colleagues from the project, left last week. He dressed in a Shuka (which is pretty much a dress) to take pictures with all the kids. We, the volunteers, gave him a tree to plant as a goodbye gift...and made him plant it in the traditional Maasai dress. : ) It was entertaining.
A new volunteer, also from Germany, came on Monday. It's really nice because the kids have exams next week so we need all the help we can get in preparing them for it. I've been working on math with the three older girls; Mary, Mary, and Agnes. I've seen some actual progress with them so I'm really excited. It's certainly an uphill battle trying to teach multiplication and division when they don't know their basics. BUT, that's good for me! The whole reason for becoming a teacher was so I could see the Aha moment a kid has when it suddenly clicks. So, I'm exhausted, but really happy. : )
Pictures are coming soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The IDP Camp and Lake Magadi

Well, it's been a really busy week! Over the weekend, Sara, Jakob, and I went to an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp. A couple of weeks ago, Sara and I met Izzo, a Kenyan who works with an organization for volunteers. We exchanged numbers and he agreed to take us to the camp. There was a total of 600 families that were displaced after the election violence in January. We met up with a doctor who put us right to work taking blood pressure, giving pregnancy tests (my job), and handing out the medicine. It doesn't sound chaotic but for a good two hours, it was. I think I could be a pharmacist now because I had to pick up the lingo real quick and learn to read a doctor's messy handwriting. : ) I enjoyed it!
After we were finished with the doctor, Izzo took us around to some of the surrounding camps to give out food. We had a ton of food with us. Our matatu was so packed, we almost didn't have room for ourselves! The food was definetely something I wouldn't look twice at in the states...or even here. But the people were very grateful. At times it was overwhelming. Izzo would give me some fruit to hand out to the kids or adults standing by and all I would see are hands in front of my face. Often, mothers would point to their babies and say, "Please, give him." And because I didn't know how to turn away, I did. Izzo said I had to be mean for the day, choosing who would get something extra (everyone got the staple foods; potatos, onions, and carrots). It wasn't easy but definetely a good experience. Hopefully, we'll have a chance to go back again before we leave.
On Monday, Michel managed to talk Sara and I into going on a motorbike tour to Lake Magadi. So, putting our previous experience behind us, where two out of three bikes crashed, we got back on. Don't they say, "When you fall, get back up again"? Anyway, we were glad we did because it was totally worth it. Sara rode with Michel while I rode with his friend, Bedin. They are two very capable drivers! The lake itself wasn't that exciting because its almost dried up, but we had a great time driving down and back through the Rift Valley. It was absolutely gorgeous! And Bedin was really good about stopping whenever he saw an animal or a great picture so I took a lot. When we got to the lake, we hiked all the way down to the water. Though, when I say 'hike' I really mean practically sliding. So while Bedin and Michel gracefully made it down, Sara and I were getting stuck on thorns, slipping on loose rocks, and bracing ourselves on dead, dried up branches. You can imagine how well that went. What really added to the atmosphere were all the dead cows and donkeys from the drought. It you stood in the right place, you had a great view of the lake....and then the stench of rotting carcuses.
Yesterday, John, one of the Kenyan workers, got married and we were all invited. Granted, it took place in Kenyan time...meaning about 4 hours late, but it took place and that's all that mattered to John. It took place in a government office because neither of them have the money to throw a big wedding. We bought a cake on the way there, cut it up, and everyone ate a piece in the office afterwords. A little strange but a lot of fun. Alice, his wife, is very nice and I think will be a good addition to the project later on when their house is built.
This weekend, Sara and I are going on safari. We're excited to take our first trip since coming to Kenya! I'll be taking a lot of pictures so I can report back.
Thanks for all your e-mails and prayers!