Sunday, April 22, 2012

Easter with the Kids

 Easter with the Kids:
  I must say, this was one of the best easter I have had in a long time, despite the fact that I didn't get my regular bunny cake.
 On Sunday, we made brunch and had a party for the Amani Shelter Kids. I think we had 25ish kids total, including some other random children, and it was so much fun. Egg races, candy, crafts, pin-the-tail on the Rabbit ( my project) and egg hunt ( my project). The egg hunt turned out to be very difficult, and the woman in charge was bit of a control freak and required the eggs to be labeled. This was a good idea in theory, sort of like communism. But when you have to re-lable eggs 10x, new kids keep showing up, and some kids don't get the same amount of eggs, you realize why the classic, run for eggs as fast as you can, method is much better. Thankfully though, no one cried, and with some in-the-field name changes on eggs, everyone found eggs!
  The second easter party was for the kids at Sally Test. Crafts, cupcakes, egg hunt, egg dying, and candy.  It was great fun too!
  Last easter party was for the street kids at Tumaini Children's Drop-in Center. Kids can go three days a week for shower, 3 meals, education, and some structure. The kids there are pretty rough. Haven't found those pictures, so not sure if we didn't take any because we were afraid our camera would be stolen. I am not trying to judge, if I were on the street I would probably be the same way.

Easter party 2: Sally Test Center

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mt. Elgon Caves

Ok, So I know this is bad. I am writing about the previous weekend! I am so behind. The internet has been ok, but for some reason uploading photographs took about 4 hours! EEEK So I will make this short. 
Below is me in our hotel room at Mt. Elgon. I was stretching and Nolan decided it was a cool picture. I look like I am falling, but I really wasn't. Back-bends: my only talent. 
 Below is a sort of silly picture, but I thought I looked like a movie star. Look kids, movie stars wear sun tan lotion too!
 The edge of the caves. We were supposed to go in the caves at the national park. The park though said we could not come back unless we paid the fee again. Well, the park fees are ridiculous here. 30$ if you are a muzungu, and we didn't want to pay. Our guide though found a man who owns a cave nearby. We paid him a tiny amount compared to the park and he showed us around his caves. We all agreed it was much better. We got to walk out onto their farms, and every child from the village followed us. They would yell at the kids to go back, and usually they would for a minute, but then come right back.
 Below are our new friends Katey and Lenny. They are both about to graduate from medical school. We have really enjoyed getting to know them.
 There are not many pictures of the inside of the caves because they camera wouldn't focus or take clear pictures in the dark. Everything was extremely dusty, and the flash would pick up the dust fragments. When we got out, our snot was brown.
Below is the dry dirt at the opening of the cave. During rainy season, the water will flood this entire opening, but it is odd know that it looks like the dessert. We seen a lot of bats and spider cobwebs.

 Kids here love to have their picture taken with a digital camera, then look at it. They usually don't smile. Adults never smile in pictures.

Nolan on top of the cave on the edge of a cliff. I told him not to!

 In the distance is Mount Elgon.
Walking back to our car. Red dirt =Kenya 

Our hotel from the outside. We think it was probably a British plantation home. The inside was very old, very english, and interesting.

Sadly, this is a typical biker in Kenya. Bikes aren't for fun here. They are transportation. 

Ok, Well, I am only here 3 more days. I don't know whether I will continue the blog after that. Any suggestions. I don't think Fort Worth will be this interesting. 

Love, Abby 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mt. Kenya

This is a view from probably 1 1/2 to go.  Again, at this point, we thought, there is no way we are going to the top of the rocky part. We were wrong. 
  It was slippery, wet, tiring, hard, difficult, scary, dangerous, thundering, raining, cold, and crazy.  You could only go about 10 steps before you had to stop and take a breath. As you can see, we all made it. We had expected a view, but when you are in the clouds, I guess that isn't a correct expectation.
 It was freezing cold.  The sign, obviously, had fallen apart. We scarfed down pb and j sandwiches. One of the best tasting things on the trip. 

Below is Nolan on the way down. He was really scaring me. The altitude affected him more than myself.  He kept tripping and saying things like, "If I stop I won't be able to start again." I was really worried about him.  He did make it, and after a nap was much improved, but had really scared me. he looks pretty cute still though.
 We were laughing about this room. In the states, we would have demanded a new room. As, Nolan says, Its all relative. Here, we were like, wow, 3 clean beds, some electricity, a guard, and hot food, luxury! Its funny, there were 3 twin beds, and we only used one. The electricity didn't work, they gave us a new room. The water didn't work in the first room, and in the second room, the water ( cold of course) squirted out the bottom of the faucet when you turned the shower on.

Here is me at the bottom of the hike. 6 hours later. I was about ready to collapse.  We took a nap before supper at the Inn. Electricity was out, so we got up and ate in the dark.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mt. Elgon Part One

What Nolan and I had expected to be a day hike was our adventure on Friday. A group of 9 of us, 3 guys, 6 girls, and two drivers left at 5am to get to the mountain. In retrospect, I should have known then that this was not a simple hike, due to the fact that we left insanely early. I thought we were just trying to the beat the rain, which was true, but only part of the story. 

The first two pictures are Nolan and I in the car on the way there. It was a relatively nice two hour car ride

 Then it was a relatively un-nice two hour drive up most of the way of the mountain. I felt like we were mudding in Indiana! Luckily we weren't in the vans for this trip, but the Toyota Prados. I don't know if they have Prados in the states, but they are similiar to a Land Cruiser.
 The above picture is after our first 45  minutes on the hike. We soon realized this was not going to be easy.
 These are some of our new friends. Above me, Cece, Abby, Katey, and Vonnie.
Below is Lenny. All of them but Vonnie are IU Med Students. Vonnie is just about to complete her internal medicine residency.

 All of these pictures are of the first leg of our hike. Every few steps you had to catch your breath. My legs were tired, but nothing compared to our lungs. We are living at 7,000 feet which helps, but 14,000 is a whole new ball game.
  At the point of the picture below, we were entirely exhausted and the bottom of the giant rock peak of the mountain. We were told the hike was two hours, so we all assumed we didn't actually go to the top of it. It looked like it required rock climbing.
Well, we were wrong.
More on that later.
Love, Abby

Saturday, April 7, 2012

End of Kakamega

Ok, so when I put up the last post, it obviously was unfinished. The internet had malfunctioned, so I was able to retrieve an earlier version of what I had been writing, not realizing that 90% of what I wrote wasn't there. 
            We went on the sunrise hike. It was beautiful. Just like I learned about in elementary school with the canopy of trees in the rainforest. The fog was on top of the river, making it gorgeous. The air was cool, but it felt good while hiking.  
             After the hike, we came back to a late breakfast. Best tasting cup of hot tea I think I have had on the trip. It is funny how hunger makes certain things taste good! I mean, I like tea, but it never has tasted quite so good... except at Moya's! 
            We left after breakfast and got back by noon. It was nice to have the afternoon to ourselves, but Nolan had a project due Monday, so we spent most of Sunday evening in the dark, then in the computer lab due to lack of electricity. 
             Obviously, this was all last weekend! We have more exciting details of our MOUNTAIN CLIMB coming tomorrow, after we upload the photos. Yes... I said mountain, meaning around 14,000 feet, but it was sort of a cheat climb as we drove up most of the mountain. BUT more on that tomorrow! 
love, Abby 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kakamega Rainforest Continued

 Ok, I think I left of with our night of games by the lantern. It stormed that night, and we woke up very cold and damp! It was fun though, and completely worth it! Oh, and did I mention that we got up at 0445 for a sunrise hike! It was completely dark. I was hoping the star/moon light would brighten our way, but it was cloudy, so

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kakamega Rainforest

 So you may think Africa is dry... mostly true, but this weekend we went to somewhere it rains quite frequently, the Kakamega Rainforest! It was just like we learned about in school, with a canopy, monkeys, birds, lots and lots of butterflies.  It was beautiful.

We left at 9:38 am on Saturday. I mention the exact time because most of Nolan's group was convinced this was horribly late. In those eight minutes we may have discovered another species or something! I admit, when they tried to yell at us to get ready 15 minutes early during breakfast, both Nolan and I slowed down. We truly had a reason for those 8 minutes. We were writing back my friend Lisa whose husband was in the emergency room. Please pray for Lisa and her husband Drew as I am worried about them both. Pray for them both to be healthy!

We arrived at our bandas at around Noon. I have no idea what banda means, but it is sort of a hut/cabin. No electricity, but all of the essentials, bed, sheets, towels, mosquito net, hot water. Speaking of water, they heat it in a big pot over the camp fire. Perfect temperature for me, but most of our comrades complained of second degree burns. Later I will show you a picture of the outhouse/shower house. pretty scary, but what's the phrase, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. It was one of the best experiences here, and we all felt better staying somewhere were we were not pampered. I'm pretty sure it was still pampering by Kenyan standards, but by American standards I would call it primitive camping.

One of the first pictures is the dining hall banda looking straight up at the ceiling. We don't undertstand how they make it so water resistant. It rained and stormed but the straw thatched roof kept us dry. It was very tall too, I would say about 20 feet!.

The picture below is Nolan on our 4 hour hike through the rain forest. You should be very excited, because these pictures are from the tiny camera. Nolan was in charge of the zoom lense powerful canon, so all of the really good pictures will follow when he tells me how to upload them. :)