Posts Tagged With: Kenya

Day 2

(Continued from Day 1)

Throughout the night my body kept rolling to the right due to the uneven ground, around 3:00AM I had a great sensation to pee begin, tree hyraxes (large fluffy rodents) made loud calls all through the night until 5:00AM, and then at 6:00AM the birds started.  Once I heard the birds start, I knew it was dawn and eagerly wiggled out of my sleeping bag cocoon and promptly relieved myself behind our tent ready to be done with that awful night of sleep.  Over breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, porridge, and chai, Scott told me that his night hadn’t been any better.  His mind was plagued with worries of elephants the whole night and one time he thought he heard elephant footsteps and grumblings, which caused him to freeze perfectly still and scarcely breathe for a full half an hour as his sleep-deprived brain reasoned that if he moved the elephant would surely be startled and charge the tent.  His worries proved to be unfounded though as the guide confirmed in the morning that no elephants had been near the camp that night.

Scott, sleepy-eyed, at breakfast

DAY 2

We left camp around 10:00AM and hiked up and up through the hills of Spanish Moss draped trees, turning to bamboo forests, changing again to a bare, burned forest with rocky and soggy ground underfoot.

Up through the forest on the other side of the valley. Notice the lack of a trail. When I say Kamweti is rarely used and you really need a guide, I mean it!

This is my second favorite flower on the mountain. I don’t know its name, but I call it the Flame Flower. These were quite common. Upon further research, it looks like they belong to the Kniphofia Spec. family.

The “macro beauty view” from our morning break stop. We waited here for the crew to catch up (they had stayed behind to disassemble the camp) and to make sure they hadn’t gotten lost on their way up the hill. Notice how it seems like we’re level with the clouds already!

The “micro beauty view” from our resting spot.   I can count at least ten different species of plants/fungi in this picture alone. Also, notice the water, that is the wet and over-saturated ground that we are walking through, very squishy.

Here Scott is holding flower number 30. I started counting species halfway through Day 1. I ended with about 70 different species of flowers, but I am sure I missed many because I started counting late and I missed all the plants that do flower, but weren’t blooming while we were there because it wasn’t their season.

Scott and I chilaxing.

Farther up, the vegetation changed to tall grasslands with chest-high yellow and green grasses. We walked on and on, combing the grass between our fingers, until we finally reached the top of a steep ridge where we would have lunch.

The beginning of the “grasslands,” end of the burned forest.

We walked through fields of tall grass. . .

. . . and fields of shorter grass. Scott discovered that these grass blades were hollow inside and used one as a straw to drink his water just to see if it would work.  It did.  Maina looked at us like we were nuts.

See that fleck of white in the center-right? That’s a waterfall. Hidden waterfalls like this, that no one ever sees, remind me of Lost or Jurassic Park or like I stepped into a time-machine and went back a few thousand years. Are you reminded of the same?  Do you think like me?

Scott and Maina. At the top of the ridge to the right would be our lunch spot. . . in a CLOUD!

From this lunch point until our campsite for that night we were in the clouds.  The air was cold, wet, and rather miserable inside the cloud.  The land we were crossing was over-saturated with water and one had to quickly jump from one small clump of tall grass to the next to avoid sinking into the wet ground.

This is us walking in a cloud. Scott is up there, with his poncho on now, and Maina further up, to Scott’s immediate right in this picture. Scott is looking back wondering where in the world I’d disappeared to. I think these plants are related to the Giant Lobelia, of which we would see many varieties.

Of course, one can only accurately hop to so many clumps of grass and eventually I took a spill and ended up knee-deep in cold, muddy water.  Uggh!  For the second night in a row the porters and Maina would be drying my shoes and socks around the fire.

When we reached our campsite it was raining.  My body was cold and soaked from both my fall and the rain. While I’d had my brave, “tough-girl” face on for the past few hours, when we reached camp I was so thankful to see that the porters already had our tent set up that I immediately dove into it delighting in the dry, wind-free shelter.  I quickly changed into fresh, warm long johns and wool socks, leaving my soggy wet pants and socks in a heap at the corner of our tent.  Ahh, so much better!

Eventually, Georgie beckoned us out of our tent with “Tea is ready.”  Once seated in the kitchen tent, I took off my wet shoes I had worn over to the tent and Scott brought them, and all my wet clothes apologetically over to the crew around the fire outside so my stuff could dry.  The crew gamely rigged up a drying method, hanging my shoes from sticks stuck in the ground and hanging everything else on a multi-branched limb, which they stuck in the ground and occasionally took up and “roasted” over the fire like nyoma choma.

Maina being awesome. He undid my laces, pulled the tongue of my shoes out, and hung them on sticks to dry. Very effective.

The stick with the rest of my wet gloves and socks.

Inside the kitchen tent it was warm and the hot tea and accompanying freshly fried mandazi were quite welcome.  Since I couldn’t move without my shoes, I just sat and stayed in the warm, but smoky, kitchen tent for a few hours watching Moses prepare our dinner of oxtail stew (made from a seasoning packet), ground beef and vegetables (fresh vegetables which he chopped by hand with a cutting board in his lap) with spaghetti, and fresh fruit.  After a while it stopped raining and the sky cleared.  Georgie gave me his sandals so I could get up and walk around.  Once outside, I looked around more carefully and realized that though the place was a bit barren, it was beautiful in its own way.   The fact that we were some of the very few people to ever see this place magnified its untouched beauty and lent us a feeling of being explorers on a maiden trekking expedition.

This babbling brook was our source of water.

The kitchen tent, crew around the fire, and cliffs overlooking.

Barren, solitary, untouched, rugged, beauty

Me posing for Scott.  After he took this picture he have the camera back to me and then crossed this creek to try to find a private place to go to the bathroom.  Unfortunately, he slipped on a rock and fell in the stream!  Scott’s clothes joined mine around the fire to dry and I apologized to our crew as they set up more sticks for Scott’s hiking boots.

After dinner, I retrieved our now dry shoes, socks, and pants from the campfire and we retired to bed.  Despite waking up several times that night shivering and having to jab my icicle fingers into my armpits, between my thighs, or inside my clothes on my warm belly, I always fell right back asleep as I was on level ground and exhausted from not sleeping well the night before.  Scott on the other hand, whose sleeping bag’s zipper we could not get to work, became very cold and shivered miserably most of the night.

To be continued . . .

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Brief recap of last week at Tenwek

Hello!  Hello!  As you might have guessed, we have been quite busy the last few weeks.   I started typing the post below two and a half weeks ago.  Though we are back in the US now, there are still many things we want to share with you and record for ourselves.  In the meantime, I figured I would just share this short post with you.

Our last week at Tenwek flew by.  There were so many errands and things to do to prepare for our departure that I told Scott more that once I felt like I was running around “like a chicken with my head cut off.”  One of the things I did was host a gathering on our last Monday evening in honor of our Kenyan friends.  For the get-together, I made an array of desserts:

  • Banana Fosters layer cake,
  • Chocolate cake with chocolate orange frosting (Kenyans, at least at Tenwek, are not familiar with frosting so these cakes were quite novel to them),
  • Mint chocolate chip (brought from the US) brownies,
  • Pumpkin (they have pumpkins here!) pecan (pecans brought from the US) pie (This was my friends’ first ever pie and they really enjoyed it!),
  • “fruit punch” with mango and pineapple juice mixed with a Stoney (a soda here with a strong ginger flavor).

The food table after the party. I forgot to take a picture before and during the party! Pictured here clockwise from top: empty punch bowl, mint chocolate-chip brownies, Banana Foster’s cake, savory roasted tomato bites, pumpkin pecan pie (Clearly Kenyans don’t know that pie is normally sliced into triangle wedges! They scooped this out like a casserole, which is an ok way of doing it too!), and chocolate cake with chocolate-orange frosting.

All items turned out great, despite many substitutions according to what was available.  At first, our Kenyan friends didn’t quite know what to think of it all, as everything was very different from what is normally available to them. Thus, they were a bit timid to try the foreign desserts I prepared.  After sampling one thing though, they had to try everything and told me they loved it all saying, “It is too sweet,” which is a great compliment here!

The rest of the week was filled with laundry, packing, travel planning, cooking big batches of food to last us the rest of our stay as well as provide snacks during our two weeks of travel, and many “goodbye” errands.   The goodbyes were bittersweet because we don’t know when we’ll be back, but yet they felt good because we realized just how much we’d accidently come to mean to these people and how much they appreciated us, without us ever doing anything “extraordinary.”  We are in awe and so thankful for all of the relationships the Lord blessed us with in Kenya.

Below are some pictures from our last week in Kenya.  Looking at them now makes me “homesick” for Tenwek and these people!  Praying that the Lord himself will go before them and will be with them. He will never leave them nor forsake them.  May they not be discouraged and fear far from them.  (My prayer paraphrase of Deuteronomy 31:8)

Some of the teachers that I taught with and myself. Due to the teachers’ strike, these were the only teachers present at school the day I went to say goodbye to them. These teachers were not government employees and therefore not part of the union. Even then, they did not teach for fear of retaliation from other teachers. For a few days during the strike I taught math to the 8th graders (who are having “life-determining” national exams in two months), but then I too stopped just in case my teaching might cause a ruckus. I was sad not to see everyone before I left and sad not to be able to teach!

My teacher friends who were at school my last full day at Tenwek were very glad to see me and were sorry about the national strike. We chatted for a while and they would not let me leave without taking lunch first (pictured above, rice with beans and carrots). I was happy to do so because I had come to really love these humble, but tasty meals!

Before I left, I snapped a few pictures of the 8th grade boys playing soccer (football!).  The 8th grade class was still coming to school despite the teachers’ strike so they could review material on their own together.

Celebrating

I love this action shot with the ball up at the top of the frame. I also like that this picture shows the normally neat and tidy uniforms as haphazard and ripped in this picture, giving the viewer more information.

The road in front of the hospital on my way back from visiting the school. You can see the piki pikis on the left, women roasting corn over jikos in the top center, and cars used as taxis on the right.

I passed by these mamas’ stalls . . .

This is Nancy. Nancy is always sweet and smiling whether I buy fresh produce from her that day or not. In front of her, you can just make out a bowl with fresh beans in it. She was shelling beans to sell them when I took this picture.

This is Amy. Her stall is next to Nancy’s and she managed to sell me more bananas for “banana cakes” than I can count! Amy also always greeted me with a smile and a handshake and asking how I was and then “How is Daktari?” finally instructing me to greet my husband/family for her when we parted ways.

And then Nick’s duka . . .

This is Nick, in the center of the photo. I met Nick on one of my first few days at Tenwek. He was the first Kenyan-on-the-street that I spoke with. I remember I was a bit nervous and slightly scared/intimidated, but I just smiled and tried to be nice. Turns out that’s all I needed to do to make a friend. He works in his brother’s duka and we often bought napkins, toilet paper, or soda from him. Nick is trying to be a cool cat in this picture and refused to smile for me. He is missing his left front tooth so I think this is likely why, that, and he’s probably seen many a rapper pose like this.

I then started joking with Nick and managed to sneak this photo of him smiling. I felt bad resorting to trickery to capture him smiling in a photo, but after I showed him this picture of himself he was quite happy with it so I think it would be OK with him to share it with you.

Crossed the road that leads to Mama Joyce’s house . . .

Mama Joyce has a beautiful shamba where she grows many, many different things. When I visited her shamba she gave me a full stem (branch? stalk?) of bananas, two pineapples, and a 6 foot tall piece of sugar cane.

. . . and reached home where I had to pack up some things to give away.  When I was just ready to leave one of my favorite students came to say goodbye.  I was so surprised and happy to see her!!  This girl, Dorcas, is awesome!  Besides being smart and participating in class she is very wise and totally loves the Lord.  As we sat and talked about life and the future, she referenced the Bible multiple times and I was amazed how well she could comprehend certain lessons of life I have only recently learned!

As a goodbye gift, she gave me some bananas and a loaf of white bread she had just bought at a duka (with permission from her mother).  Of course the gift was completely unnecessary, especially when I have plenty of things, but I thought this was so, so sweet of her.

Dorcas and myself

I said goodbye to Dorcas and made my way to my two best Kenyan girlfriends, Mercy and Betty, to give them some food, containers, and ziplock bags (these do not exist in Kenya) that I hadn’t used up and they would appreciate.

Betty is on the left. She is a seamstress and a single mother to Victor, who is 10 months. Mercy is on the right with her son Caleb who is 2 1/2 years old. She too is a single mom and I met her because I bought a lot of fresh produce from her and she had Scott and I over to her home to have chai earlier on in our stay at Tenwek. She has great faith! She introduced me to Betty when I needed someone to sew me a skirt. Both women would come to my house after church on Sundays and I would show them how to make some typical “American” meal and we, along with their sons, nieces, and Scott, would all feast together.

After saying goodby to them, I went home and started packing again.  When Scott got off of work, we went together to say goodbye to our friend James who runs and owns a duka and restaurant.  On our way we fortuitously met some of my other 6th grade students!

Me with some of my most participatory boys. I was so glad to see them again! (Please excuse my outfit.  I was testing the hiking boots, which I deemed to be too small and uncomfortable to use on Mt. Kenya, and the over-sized sweatshirt is Scott’s because all of mine were packed!)

Scott and I with James in his duka. We loved James! He has great English and is very quick-witted and fun to talk to. On this evening he was so happy to see us as he had eagerly waited to give us gifts. Scott received roughly 30 pieces of candy to help him climb Mt. Kenya for “energy boosts.” For me he pulled out a beaded bracelet he had talked about getting for me before so I could buy it from him cheaper than I (as a mzungu) would be able to get it myself and gave it to me for free. Then, after thanking him and raving about it for a little bit, he pulled out another one just like the first, but a different color. This one he also gave to me as he remembered I originally wanted the bracelet for a friend back in the States. I thought this was so nice and thoughtful of him!

On our way back home both Scott and I remarked how much we appreciated James and his friendship and how we had been so blessed with so many great friends in Kenya.  We love and miss them all and because of them, our time in Kenya was truly special.  We praise God for these promised blessings of friendship.

We packed late into the night and woke up early the next morning to leave Tenwek. Though we left it physically behind, I think we will always keep Tenwek, and the people there, close in our hearts.

~Whitney

P.S. There are more posts on their way in order to complete our Kenyan story!

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Chronicles of Casualty

Well, 0ver the past two weeks, I (Scott) have made the transition to work in Casualty, which is the name of the ER at Tenwek.  Needless to say, this has been quite the interesting, challenging, and unique experience.  In addition to working in Casualty, I continue to round in the ICU and on the medicine service in the mornings, then cover casualty in the afternoons/evenings.  This double-duty has made the past few weeks especially busy, but Steve, a fellow Duke resident, is also on the medicine service now, so it has been enjoyable working together and brainstorming solutions to a variety of dilemmas.  Below are some of my experiences I’ve had while working the last two weeks.

A tough case:

My first day in casualty was actually rather calm with no trauma cases and no pediatric patients (two types of patients that Internal Medicine physicians like me do not typically provide care for).  However, day two was especially hectic with several minor traumas and an overflowing Casualty unit.  One particular patient was especially difficult.  He was a 17 year old young man who presented with right leg swelling and difficulty breathing.  He had been completely active and healthy 5 days prior, and never had any medical problems.  When I saw him, he was clearly in distress.  His heart rate was very fast, his blood pressure low, rapid breathing, and his oxygen saturations very low at 54% on room air (normal is >90%).  With his leg swelling, I presumed that he had a blood clot in his leg that migrated to his lungs causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a blood clot in the vessels that supply the lungs.  I gave him a shot of Lovenox, which is a blood thinner used to treat the clot.  Ultrasound was done which confirmed the clot in his leg, but we are unable to do a CT angiogram or VQ scan, which are the tests to confirm PE.  Nonetheless, based on his history, it was clear that this was the diagnosis.

Unfortunately, over the next few hours in Casualty, his condition deteriorated.  He became more hypoxic, restless, and developed more labored breathing.  He was still able to saturate ok with an oxygen facemask, but I anticipated we would have to intubate him if he worsened.  I grabbed an ultrasound machine, and did a bedside echocardiogram on his heart.  What I discovered was a massive clot in his pulmonary artery and that the right side of his heart was in complete failure due to the clot.  In the U.S., this would be someone that would be a candidate for thrombolytics, which are potent “clot busters”, however, we do not have that here.  A few minutes after the ultrasound, he suddenly coded, stopped breathing, and his heart stopped beating.  We immediately started CPR, and shocked his heart several times due to an abnormal rhythm.  During the code, his labs came back that he was also in renal failure with a high potassium, which may have contributed to the code.  We continued the resuscitation attempt for about 30 minutes giving him continuous CPR, shocks, multiple drugs, and intubation, but we never regained a pulse.  I was devastated…probably more than any other death I have had in a long time.  I don’t know whether it was that he was so young, or that the cumulative effects of all of the mortalities I have witnessed here, finally taking its toll, but whatever the cause, this death was especially difficult.  After talking with the family, I came home, and was fortunate to have Whitney to help process my emotions, as I was struggling.  That night was a near sleepless night.  I replayed the events of that day over and over again, trying to determine what we could have done to save this boy.  Through prayer and reflection, I eventually realized that no matter what we do for patients, whether in Kenya, or even in the resource rich United States, we cannot always save everyone, which is a hard truth, but the reality.  Although I was able to re-compose myself in order to continuing taking care of patients the next day, I will never forget this patient, and his memory will always be with me.

Happy endings:

Fortunately, despite having several patients pass away, we are able to help the vast majority of patients.  We had a number of patients come into casualty this week that made dramatic recoveries as well.  One such patient, was a 20 year old college student.  She presented with acute lower right abdominal pain that had just occurred 2 hours prior to arrival.  She was previously healthy.  On arrival, she had a very low blood pressure, and severe lower abdominal pain.  We gave her several liters of fluid while awaiting her lab work to return, but her pressures continued to be low.  She denied the possibility that she could be pregnant, but we checked a pregnancy test anyways given her age and presentation.  While waiting for the results, she was found to be very anemic with a hemoglobin of 5.7 (very low).  We ordered emergency blood products to transfuse her, as she was becoming drowsy, and more hypotensive.  We continued infusing fluids rapidly, and eventually her pregnancy test returned positive.  Immediately, based on that result, I suspected a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which occurs if the fertilized egg implants in the tubes instead of the uterus, and then ruptures.  A quick ultrasound confirmed that there was no embryo in the uterus but a large amount of fluid (likely blood) in the pelvis.  We rushed her to the OR where the OB team operated and confirmed the ruptured ectopic.  She also had >2L of blood in her pelvis, which is why she was so hypotensive.  She is now doing great after getting transfused, and the proper operation. Praise God that she presented when she did, and that we could help!

There are numerous cases such as these of patients who present likely hours from dying, but after stabilization, a careful physical exam, and focused diagnostic workup, we are able to help many patients.  We also have continued to have patients give their lives to Christ while in the casualty bay.  Yesterday morning, casualty was slower than usual with only a few patients in the unit.  Moses, one of the young Clinical Officer’s (equivalent to a PA in the U.S.) who was with me in casualty was very excited about the hour or so with casualty not being busy.  Instead of just sitting around, he excitingly proclaimed to me, “Scott, this is a great chance for us to really talk to our patients about the love of Jesus.”  We walked around spending extra time with every patient and there family about God’s love, the gospel, answering spiritual questions, and praying for patients.  It was awesome to see Moses’ excitement to do this, as if he could not contain the love of God within himself,  but just had to share it!

Mass Casualty

A few days ago was an especially interesting day in casualty.  First off, we were crazy busy.  Our casualty unit has 7 beds, however, that day we had at one time 15 patients in casualty, most sitting in chairs or where-ever they could find room to sit.  By 6:15 pm, we still had 12 patients in Casualty, most of them had been admitted, but were waiting to be taken to the various wards.  However, since we were so busy, our two casualty nurses did not have time to wheel the patients to the wards.  At 6:20, we received a phone call that there had been a serious, multi-car accident, and that 8 patients were being taken by ambulance to Tenwek, and would be arriving in 20 minutes!

Over the next twenty minutes, myself and Steve, took matters into our hands and were wheeling patients all over the hospital trying to clear out the unit for the victims of the car accident.  We quickly wheeled patients to the ICU, medical wards, surgical wards, pediatric wards, and for the ones not yet admitted, we moved them into the hallway to wait.  Before we knew it, we had completely emptied casualty.  This left a few minutes to inform the on call surgery residents, and additional clinical officers, and any other personnel that was around.  We set up eight stations with IV lines, oxygen tubing, IV fluids, and other essentials.

Next came the victims.  Initially, the first two patients walked in and aside for some scrapes and bruises, looked not too bad.  It seemed that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.  However, a minute later 6 patients were brought in, all bleeding, hurting, or even unconscious.  Each consultant and resident assigned themselves to a particular patient.  Since we didn’t know their names, patient were assigned a number based on the severity of their injuries with #1 being the sickest.  The patient I was working on was patient #2.  My patient had a massive laceration of his head with a large hematoma.  He also dislocated his right hip and had a severe fracture of his left arm.  Fortunately he was conscious.  After getting him stabilized and determining the extent of the injuries, he was taken to the OR where he was fixed up.  Patient #1 ended up dying, although everyone else has now been discharged from the hospital.  It was a unique experience for me, since I have little experience working in an ER, and during those previous experiences, never had a mass casualty like this.  It was cool to see the efficiency and teamwork displayed during that chaotic, but effective two hour period.

A few images:

Once again, I could go on and on with countless stories about the interesting cases we encounter on a daily basis, but again I have become more long-winded than I intended.  I am on call this weekend, our last weekend at Tenwek.  I cannot believe our time here is coming to an end.  It has gone so fast, and been life changing!  Please pray that our last week here will be fruitful and cherished, as we say goodbye to friends, patients, staff, etc.  I hope to post once more before leaving.  Anyways, I thought I would end with a few xray and CT scan images from some of the cases I have seen that may be of interest.  Thanks for reading.

This is a young woman that had a large brain abscess (the white ring you see) with severe edema. She came in with multiple seizures, and could not move the left side of her body. We were fortunate to have a visiting neurosurgeon to drain the abscess, and she was recently discharged with continued antibiotics. Pray for her recovery!

This woman presented to Casualty a few days ago after falling off a motorcycle taxi and smashing her head. At the top of the image, there is a large, depressed skull fracture. The fracture caused intracerebral bleeding and edema. Additionally, some of her brain was visible outside the skull. She received emergency surgery, and left the ICU yesterday. She is doing amazingly well with only mild neurologic deficits.

This was the mass casualty patient that I saw (trauma patient #2 as discussed above). Here you can see his humerous (left arm) is fractured in multiple pieces.

This patient was admitted for “asthma”. However, when I met him, I heard what sounded like stridor (a high whistling breathing noise caused by airway obstruction). On examination, he had a massively enlarged thyroid gland that can be seen extending into the chest above. CXR showed his trachea was displaced and extremely narrowed with as little as 1-2 mm left for air to pass through. He was likely only hours from completely obstructing his airway which would cause him to suffocate. Fortunately, we had his thyroid removed, and he did great!

This xray is extremely abnormal. This is an unfortunate woman who came in with severe anemia. She received a unit of blood from a relative on arrival, and within hours of her transfusion, she developed severe respiratory distress, requiring intubation. Her xray revealed that she likely had TRALI (transfusion related acute lung injury) which is a rare reaction to a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, she later developed kidney failure and passed away.

This is what disseminated, or miliary TB looks like on CXR. We see this often, and patients tend to do poorly with this, especially if they also have HIV. This woman recovered well and has been discharged home.

Until next time,

Scott

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A Survivor

Short Story Bios Part III: Tabitha

A man was going to the bathroom in a pit-toilet when he heard a baby crying.  He looked around for its source and saw nothing.  He then realized that the sound was coming from beneath him.  In the hole beneath him was a baby lying in the morass of human waste.

The man somehow dug the baby out of the hole and lifting it to the light he could see that she was covered in feces and maggots.  He brought the girl to Tenwek Hospital immediately where a nurse lovingly and carefully washed her clean and picked off all of the maggots.  The baby was tiny and severely dehydrated.  Lots of fluids and love were transfused into her little body and she was named Tabitha.  After a week and a half the baby was well enough to be discharged, only there was no home for her to go to.

Mrs. Stanford, a short-term missionary here for six weeks, had been volunteering in the nursery and caring for Tabitha.   She decided to take Tabitha “home” to her residence here at Tenwek and care for her.  They live across the hall from us and when I can hear Tabitha crying during the night, I thank God for it and how He saved her.

On Saturday, we celebrated her one-month birthday.  She is just now nearing nine pounds, and while you can see some scars on her back where the maggots were eating at her, these will hopefully go away.  Since she is doing well, she will be brought to Tenwek’s baby home in Nakuru this weekend.  It will be sad to see her go!  Her beautiful eyes are so big in comparison to her tiny face and she just learned to smile yesterday! She must stay in the baby home for six months and then she will be up for adoption.  This baby home has a 100% placement rate for their babies so pray that a most loving family gets this beautiful baby girl.  She is such a gift.

She once was meant to die and very near to death, and now she is alive and well.  Praise God.  “Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’  She opened her eyes . . .” Acts 9:40

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A Confession

School has been out for two and a half weeks now and I (Whitney) have been doing a variety of different things, coming into contact with many different people.  I would like to share some of their stories here in a series of “short story bio” blog posts.  I plan to share the stories of Timothy, Joselyn, Tabita, Evette, Edna, and Mercy.  Some of their stories are inspiring, and others sad, even cruel, but unfinished.  I hope you enjoy meeting these people as much as I have.

Part I: Timothy

School had been out for four days and Scott and I had just returned from an amazing trip to the Masai Mara.  While we were unpacking and settling back in, our land-line telephone rang.  I answered the phone and identified myself.  The voice on the other end of the crackling line was an unfamiliar one and clearly Kenyan.  I was able to make out that the person said her name was “Helen.”

“Helen the guesthouse cook?” I asked puzzled.

“No, I am Helen Tongus, chaplain at Tenwek Hospital.”

This statement piqued my already heightened curiosity even more as I had not met any of the hospital chaplains yet, and I had no idea why one would know me or call me at home.  I asked how I could help her, hoping to figure out the reason of this mysterious call, but first she had some questions for me,

“Are you the one who has been teaching at Dr. Steury Memorial School?”

“Yes.”

“Were you teaching students who were around 11 years old?”

“Yes” I answered again, becoming slightly nervous at this interrogation.

“Why?”  I asked, happy to ask a question of my own and hoping to understand what was going on.

“There is a boy, one of your students, he told me that something you did made him very uncomfortable.”

Gulp. My sympathetic nervous system kicked into full gear and silence ensued as my brain processed this information zipping along at lighting speed alternately running through any potential scenarios in the last few weeks that could have possibly made someone uncomfortable and at the same time shouting jumbled exclamations in my head of

“No!  I’m innocent!  Ahhh!  What did I do?!  I’m doomed!  How did I get myself into this?!  Stupid!  No!  I’ve been framed I tell you!  Please no!  All I wanted was to help and now I’m RUINED!  But wait!  Wait!  I don’t even know what I did!

During my silence Helen decided to continue her interrogation.  “Did you give your students a test or homework or something?”

“Yes, homework,” I responded.

They asked for homework!  It wasn’t my idea!

“And I think you told them, like many other teachers do, not to copy from each other?” “Yes.”

What’s so wrong about that?   It’s right, other teacher’s do it too, you even said so! However, I did do something other teachers don’t do, I made frosted banana cookies and gave them to the kids who got the extra credit problem right.  Do you know about the cookies Helen???  You see, I’m not a real teacher, so I could not give them extra points, but I wanted to reward them in some way.  Is that wrong?  It probably is.  Maybe that’s what made him uncomfortable?  It is probably a terrible violation of some Kenyan cultural tradition that I didn’t know about.

“And when you marked their papers, did you ask them if they copied?”

Alright Whitney, you’re going to have to start talking sometime, just be smooth, nonchalant.  Innocent until proven guilty, right?  Act innocent!

“Ahem. Yes, I wanted to make sure that they did not cheat so I checked their papers very carefully looking for work that would indicate that they had done it themselves.  If I didn’t see enough work to support the answer of the math problem, then I called them to me in the teacher’s office, where I was correcting their work, and had them explain how they arrived at their answer.  One boy admitted that he had copied so I told him I couldn’t give him credit for that problem, but everyone else was able to explain, to a reasonable degree, how they found the answer to the problem.”

Helen continued, “Ok, so this boy is, I think, one of your students.  Last week his parents noticed that he was not acting like himself.  He was quiet . . . He was not active . . .  They were worried that he was sick, so they took him to Tenwek.  The doctor in Casualty [Tenwek’s Emergency Room] evaluated him and said that there was nothing wrong with him and told the parents he was not sick.  I thought to myself that maybe the boy had something else wrong with him, something emotionally disturbing him.  So I asked his parents if I could take the boy aside and talk with him.  He was able to confess to me that he had been picking on his neighbor kids and he had also copied his homework from his friend and then lied to his teacher when she asked if he had done it on his own.   He felt very badly about this, so much so that he felt physically sick.  He had been told that God sees and knows everything you ever do, and he knew that God had seen him cheat and lie.”

“Oh.” I said, wondering at this turn of events, this boy’s story and curious as ever what Helen’s agenda was in calling me.

“I then prayed with him and we asked for God’s forgiveness because he knew that he had sinned against God.”

“Like David.” I managed dumfounded, thinking of Psalm 51:4.

Helen:  “Yes, and then I explained to him that all was forgiven because he had confessed and asked God for forgiveness with all of his heart.  That Jesus had already paid for that sin on the cross for his sake.  So that he could become the righteousness of God, clean and perfect before Him.  I told the boy he had nothing more to be worried about, he could now feel comfortable having confessed to the Lord.  Still, he told me that he wanted to see you and confess to you, his teacher, and ask for your forgiveness too.  I tried to find you that Friday afternoon, but I was told you were in the Mara.  So, I called the boy on Saturday, after he had confessed to his parents, and I prayed with him and encouraged him then.  He still wanted to meet with you and confess to you, so I am very happy to have reached you tonight and I would like to prepare a time to meet with me and the boy, Timothy.”

“Yes, yes please.  Anytime is good for me.” I stammered.

Aye!  Wow. Oh Lord, this boy and his pure, sweet, uncontaminated spirit humble me.  I am honored to be a part of this.  May he never become jaded to sin and accept the world’s tolerance level.  May he always desire to be clean, and therefore near you, as he does now.  Thank you for the indwelling of your Holy Spirit convicting him.  Thank you that he heeded your Holy Spirit and did not find ways to justify himself, even though his peers may also cheat and lie.  May I also be this sensitive to my sin, I don’t want to deceive myself, may I be weary when I find myself reasoning and justifying.  Thank you for this boy’s example.

I met with Helen, Timothy, Timothy’s mother and younger brother three days later on Wednesday.  Helen led the conversation and Timothy told me what had happened and asked for my forgiveness, saying that if I forgive others, our heavenly father will also forgive me.   I thought this was so sweet, that his reason and plea for me to forgive him, was so that I too could be forgiven by God, a quote of Matthew 6:14.   I assured him that I forgave him, praised him for listening to the Holy Spirit’s convicting and humbling himself, leaving his pride, which enabled him to admit that what he had done was wrong.  That is hard to do!  I encouraged him that all had been forgiven by me, Helen, his parents, and God, and that now he could grow in his faith and walk closely and joyously with God.  When we have sin, it’s like a wall that separates us from God and we can’t feel close to him, but when we confess it, that wall is removed, gone forever, and we can be in communion with our loving Father again.

On a scrap of paper, I had written down some thoughts and favorite verses that I go to when I have sinned and wonder at God’s forgiveness.  I gave this to Timothy and encouraged him to read through it.  I also included Psalm 32:1-6, which reminded me exactly of him and his story.

Helen asked me to close in prayer, I prayed, Timothy and his family left, happy, and Helen and I rejoiced at Timothy, his character, and how his mistake had caused us to meet.  We planned for me to round with her on the surgical ward the following week.  This arrangement caused me to meet Josephine and Evelyn, two women with unique stories that I will share here in the following days.

For now, peace and blessings to you!

~Whitney

“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165

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Lake Naivasha

We went on a surprisingly awesome trip to Lake Naivasha, not this past weekend, but the weekend before.  Sorry this post is a bit late!  Our internet was out all weekend so were not able to get this post published sooner.  I say “surprisingly” awesome because Lake Naivasha is not necessarily a tourist hotspot like the Mara or Lake Nakuru, and people did not get excited when we told them we were going there.  Additionally, our last-minute replacement driver was a stranger (sort of a friend of a friend), so we kept our expectations low–but it was great, jam-packed, adventuresome weekend and we again experienced the beauty of Kenya!

On Friday afternoon, our driver, Antony, arrived early to pick us and our friend Steve (a fellow Duke resident) up and immediately we clicked with Antony and fast became friends.  We exchanged stats about our lives and shocked each other with cultural facts from our respective countries and lives with a lot of joking in between.

We hoped to see some animals over weekend, but again, kept our expectations low, so when a pack of baboons crossed the road on our way to Naivasha we were excited.  It proved to be a great foreshadowing of what was to come!

We heard that all of the flamingos had left Lake Nakuru (the place that we had initially planned going where literally millions of flamingoes flock) and some had headed to Lake Oloiden, which is a small lake next to Lake Naivasha so we headed there first before the sun could set on our first night there. We were delighted to see the beautiful pink, tall birds before it got dark!

Flamingos at Lake Oloiden

After viewing the flamingos we drove to our lodging passing zebra, giraffe, and gazelle on the way, had dinner, and made our way to our lodging for the weekend.

We stayed at Fisherman’s Camp in a “banda” that slept the four of us. On the top left you can clearly see that Scott is way too tall to fit on the bed, as the wall-to-wall distance for sleeping was only 5’9″, and he is 6’4″. In fact, only our driver, Antony, was short enough to sleep comfortably. The first night, it was so muggy in our banda with no air circulation, and Scott felt so trapped in his little bed that he had a minor panic attack (which he never has before) at about 1:00AM and suddenly made a big racket unbolting the door so he could sprint outside to be free and get some fresh air. On the right side you can see our lovely private bathroom consisting of a cement floor with a hole in the ground. On the bottom left is the outside view of our banda. Needless to say, it’s no Ngerende, but the price was right at sh1000 (about $12) per person per night and surprisingly they did have hot showers!

We woke up early the next morning and this sunrise over Lake Naivasha greeted us as we drove the short distance to Mt. Longonot.

Whitney’s preferred sunrise pic.

Scott’s preferred sunrise pic.

Mount Longonot is a dormant volcano that has a huge, deep crater on top of it with a smaller satellite crater one off the side.  Both craters are remnants of the volcano’s eruption.

Mount Longonot as seen from Hell’s Gate. The more flat slope is on the left side is the rim of the crater. The peak on the right side of the mountain is the highest point on the crater’s rim and the summit of the mountain.

Even on our hike up, the mountain and surrounding landscape were already so beautiful!

The huge and deep crater that met our eyes at the top was stunning!  The forest inside the crater is untouched and seemed mysterious and exciting to us, almost like you expect some unknown, or even extinct, creature to live down there.  L to R: Steve, Scott, Whitney

Crater stats. Love the cloud shadows in these pictures.

The view to the left. The group of men there were from all over the world and were in Nairobi for a United Nations safety and threat course. One of the men is a Risk Analyst for the UN and his job is to analyze threats, decide whether or not certain countries are safe for foreigners to be. He also “eliminates threats” . . . I think you can read between the lines there, right? The funnest member of the group though was their leader (at least the leader of the hike), a hilarious, energetic, crazy Dutch man that had more Dutch pride than all of Pella, IA combined. (Maybe that’s an exaggeration?) It was a pleasure meeting all of these men, hearing their stories, and observing how they joked and bickered with one another about their respective countries’ past entanglements.

Leaving the UN group behind we started on our 7.2Km trek around the crater. Left side: the path ahead. Right side: the steep crater wall–don’t want to fall off the path!

Looks like we might be in the clouds when we reach the summit!

We passed by the small satellite crater on our right.

Getting higher and closer to the peak, but we still have a long ways to go! The red line shows the path to the peak.

Left: Scott taking in the crater. Top right: A lava tube formed from the outside cooling faster than the lava flowing inside. Bottom right: The narrow, and steep path up.

One last look before we’re in the clouds!

The summit! Sadly, the top of the mountain was in the clouds while we were up there and we couldn’t see anything but white.

In typical Whitney fashion, every flower was pointed out and whenever she could get the rest of the group to stop for a second, she would snap a picture.  The water on this flower is from the moisture of the cloud condensing.

Outside vs. Inside.  We disagreed on what views we liked looking at best.  Whitney loved looking to her right, at the ever changing landscape outside of the crater.  The picture on the top left shows the many rippling ridges beyond the mountain that reminded us of Kauai, HI.  The picture on the bottom left shows the many different colors of vegetation growing which prompted Whitney to exclaim more than once, “It looks like a Monet painting!”  Scott, on the other hand, was all about the massive crater inside the mountain.  The top right picture gives some sense just how deep the crater was.  The bottom right picture shows how wide the crater is (over a mile wide) with the summit directly across from us.  The shadows in the forest were made by some very tall trees stretching up and out over others.

After climbing Mount Longonot, we headed directly over to Crescent Island on Lake Naivasha that afternoon.  Crescent Island is actually a peninsula where many grazing animals live happily without any real predators.  Since there are no predators, you are allowed to walk around the island and get as close as you dare to the animals.

Upon entering Crescent Island through a forest of Yellow Fever Acacia trees, we were greeted by giraffes! In this picture you can see Maasai giraffe (front and back) and a Rothschild’s giraffe (middle).

This giraffe was holding still for our picture, but when we heard it move we both turned to look to see where it was going and our driver snapped this picture.  It’s an accidental favorite.

Do the eyelashes make him/her seem feminine to you?

Tadah!

Lilac-Breasted Rollers–Whit’s favorite

Just some wildebeest and zebra chilling beneath the acacia trees.

Lots of birds!  The top left is called the Superb Starling and our Kenya travel guidebook doesn’t tell us the other birds’ names. 😦  There are over 500 bird species at Lake Naivasha

Scott had Whitney slowly walk backwards smiling the whole time while this picture was taken.  Needless to say, Whitney did not like approaching the zebras without being able to see if they were getting irritated with her nearness!

Great White Pelicans in flight on the left and a coy looking stork on the right.

“Whatchu lookin’ at?” –Waterbuck

Scott and waterbuck

Male impala on the horizon.

After a big supper at the Fisherman’s Camp restaurant, we went to bed early and slept slightly better due to our tired and worn out muscles.  The next morning we woke up early again and headed to Hell’s Gate National Park.  We rented bikes to bike through Hell’s Gate and convinced our driver to join us (he deferred on Mt. Longonot).  Hell’s gate has mostly herbivores with a few leopards, cheetah and hyena so it is relatively safe to bike through.

Acacia tree with zebra.

We love giraffes!

Scott with giraffe and zebra

Ok, so, there are two zebra at the bottom of this cliff, but it’s the colors and texture of the cliff that we love!

Crazy zebra stripes!  Look at all the stripes on their legs too!

When we reached the other end of Hell’s gate we left our bikes and went with a Maasai guide through the gorge.

A section of the gorge

Inside the gorge.

This water was super-duper hot!  Hell’s Gate, next to dormant Mt. Longonot, is a site of geothermal activity.

Here we’re using an Emergency Exit to climb out of the canyon to go see Central Tower up above.

There are emergency exits along the canyon because there can be flash flooding of the canyon and in the narrow parts this means death for the person in it.  A half hour later, we were back in the canyon making our way to the Devil’s Bedroom when we were told that seven school children from Nairobi died here in April. There had been a flash flood and some children had not heeded the guide’s pleas to get to an emergency exit upon hearing the sound of distant water rushing.  We had just been told this when we heard the sound of water in the distance.  We saw the Devil’s Bedroom with its waterfall for all of a second before our guide started sprinting and yelling, “Quick!  Quick!  Move now!”  Muddy water began flowing beneath our feet and we all sprinted through it, soaking our shoes and our socks, adrenaline pumping, acrobatically jumping from one rock to another trying to keep up with our agile Maasai guide, and wondering if we might see a flash flood or if we might get out in time.  We reached this emergency exit and clambered up it as fast as we could.  Luckily, it was a false alarm and it was suspected that a water pipe from the nearby geothermal energy plant had burst.

Towards the end of our hike with the Maasai guide he dug up some ochre (what the Maasai traditionally use for face paint for ceremonies) from the ground, mixed it with water, and, upon Whitney’s request, painted our faces according to the traditional male and female patterns. Here’s our best attempt to look tough with imaginary bow and arrows and spears.  I’m not sure we live up to the face paint.

We then biked back!  Our poor driver is in the background walking with his bike.  He told us he felt “lighter” on our drive home.  😉

After Hell’s Gate we started the drive back home to Tenwek.  On the way we passed through Narok, where our driver lives, and there we bought the beef and goat you saw in our last post and also went to our driver’s home where his wife served us a late lunch with mango juice and chai to drink

Scott and I with our driver, Antony, and his sweet family.

We then returned to Tenwek quite tired, but happy with all we got to experience.

~Whitney and

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Our Masai Mara Safari

Wow.  So Scott and I just had one of the best weekend of our lives, just below the weekend we got married of course!  This is going to be so hard to put into words, so instead we’re just going to bombard you with pictures.  So, grab a cup a chai, sit back, and enjoy!

Last Friday morning we left Tenwek for the Masai Mara.  The Masai Mara, in southwest Kenya, is Kenya’s (and possibly all of Africa) most famous game reserve and safari destination.  After a two-hour and fifteen minute drive (most of which was on a rocky dirt road) we arrived at our lodge, Ngerende Island Lodge which is almost completely surrounded by the Mara River with many hippos and crocodiles living in the river.  Ngerende is a luxurious safari lodge that normally we would not be able to afford, however, they graciously provide Tenwek missionaries with an incredible discount.  Before our car had even come to a stop, we were greeted by these guys.

Some Masai Warriors encircled our car and greeted us as our luggage was quickly whisked away to our room by butlers.

One of the Masai warriors promptly took our camera and clicked away snapping many photos and even doing a few short films as they led us to the lodge.

Upon reaching the lodge entrance they did their traditional Masai dance which involves jumping as high as one possibly can.  You can watch this video to see them jump and here their chanting song.

Then they had us give it a try!

Scott jumping high like the Masai

Giving it a go. Unfortunately, I’ve never been known for my astounding vertical leap.

After this traditional dance, the Masai all shook our hands goodbye and when we turned towards the lodge we were greeted with cool washcloths scented with eucalyptus oil to wipe the dust from our hands and faces, and given a glass with freshly made mango-pineapple juice with a sprig of mint.  Once finished with our juice, our own personal private butler, Evans, showed us to our tent.  Well, maybe I should say “tent” as it is really more of a luxury suite!

The view of our tent that meets you at the door.  We hadn’t been in our room more than 10 seconds and Scott was already checking out the river.

Scott heard a noise while out on our back porch and looked down and saw this little guy waiting to greet us.

The view from the opposite side of the room looking towards the entry door.

The view from our porch. The bathroom with the soaking tub and a shower with the fancy “rain-like” shower head are to the immediate left. There is only one robe hanging here because Scott had already eagerly tried on the other one when I took this picture. 😉

On the left: Scott enjoying the view of the river in his Egyptian cotton bath robe. Top right: Another view from our room. The bathroom entrance is through the swinging doors. Bottom right: I am lounging in a super comfortable lounge chair while watching the hippos below.

After getting settled in our room, Evans (our butler) met us at the lodge to lead us to our lunch destination.  He arranged for us to have our first lunch at Ngerende under a beautiful thatched roof hut overlooking the Mara River with dozens of hippos lazily basking in the sun or soaking in the river. We had a wonderful lunch with a Mediterranean feta salad, a grilled duck stir fry, and strawberry mouse for dessert!

Enjoying the view, the food, and the company!

A few of the hippos we saw. The little one is less than one week old!

Another shot of the hippos! This one is showing off his grill!

Sitting by the pool overlooking the Mara River and hippos as we wait for Evans to bring our dessert course.

A Nile Crocidile nearby the group of hippos

Here is a video of the hippos, please note that Scott and I crack up and laugh every time we watch this video because we think we sound so flaky!  It is at a great cost to my personal pride to post this here, but I am doing so at Scott’s request so you can see the hippos.

After our tasty and refreshing private lunch, we were ready to get back in a car and bounce along rocky terrain, only this time we would be on a game drive discovering animals in the wild! We met Matthew, our guide and game driver, and he took us on our first ever safari!  We saw thousands of animals and took so many pictures, but we will just share a few to give a general idea of the drive.

The first animal we came across on our afternoon game drive. Little did we know that over the next two days, we would literally see thousands and thousands of zebra. Their stripe pattern really is a thing of beauty.

A couple of Masai giraffes.  Giraffes are my favorite!

Two giraffes reaching up to have some dinner!

I love giraffes. Have I mentioned I love giraffes?  I could post so many picture of giraffes, but I will try to move on!

A female ostrich running through the plains.

A male ostrich chasing the female shown above!

A female ostrich protecting her nest.  We learned that these eggs were laid by different female partners of the male and then the male choses his “best” female to sit on the nest for him during the day, and then during the night he sits on the nest.

In the Mara there are many groups of Impala. A group of Impala contains one dominant male and a few dozen females (without antlers) who the male breeds with. Here, the two male Impalas battled for dominance to determine who gets to control the group of females. The one on the right was the victor!

A Grant’s Gazelle with its long antlers. Many Acacia trees can be seen in the background.

Thomson’s gazelles. These are extremely numerous in the Mara and one can spot groups of these basically at any time. The baby seen here, was not more than 1 day old!

This is a Topi. You can often spot them standing on top of a termite mound looking for predators.  They have a shiny coat with bluish coloration along the upper legs. Our guide refers to the colors as the topi’s blue jeans.

We next encountered a group of 30+ African Buffalo. Apparently these are some of the meanest and most dangerous animals in Africa.

We then went to a rhino reserve where we got out of the car and walked with a park ranger to see the rhinos. . .who were not in a fence!

The White Rhinoceros. These animals are among the most endangered animals in Africa. This particular one weighs over 7,000 pounds!

This picture was taken about 10 feet from the rhino behind us. Of course, on multiple occasions I (and also the park ranger once) had to holler at Scott to back up as he more than once got too close for comfort!

Pumba! We saw many, many warthogs on our various game drives. Each sighting prompted our van to sing…”If I was a young warthooooog!” (from the Lion King movie)

Our first lion! We saw this one toward the end of our first game drive.

A close up!

As the sun was setting, we found these four giraffes on the horizon with gazelles and wildebeests in the foreground!

On the way back from the first game drive, we had the opportunity to witness a gorgeous African sunset

Another picture of the sun setting over the savannah.

Sunset, with an acacia tree and zebra of course!

At the end of our game drive we were taken back to the lodge and our “tent” where Evans had filled our bath with steaming hot water, bubbles, and amazing smelling Eucalyptus oils.  He also started a crackling fire in our fireplace so our suite was warm and cozy when we got back.  The bath felt like I was at a spa.  The heat of the bath did wonders to loosen up tense muscles from a day of driving on dirt “roads,” the smell of the bath oils were calming, and the occasional grunts, snorts, and bellows from the hippos in the river below were an amusing reminder that I was on safari in Africa.  By the time I reluctantly left that soaking tub of bliss, I only had time to sit in front of the fire in a leather, wing-backed chair for a full five seconds before Scott, hungry and ever puntual, pulled me up and out the door to enjoy an amazing five course dinner in the lodge served to us by Evans.

The next morning, Saturday morning, we woke up early, had our three course breakfast at 6:30AM and left for the Maasai Mara on an all-day game drive where we hoped to see a wildebeest crossing. Again, here is a tiny sampling of a few of the things we saw:

This is a jackal.  Now you know what a jackal is.

These hippos we found out of the water. They typically come out at night to graze on the grass, and return to the water in the morning where they remain for the rest of the day to keep cool and sleep on the shore.   Apparently, they eat something like 170 pounds of grass each night!

These are wildebeests, the most abundant animal in the Mara.  Our driver joked that they were made with “left-overs.” They have the long face and tail of a horse, the horns of a buffalo, and the body of an antelope.  What do you think?

Everywhere we looked there were thousands of wildebeests. In total, we likely saw more than one million of these animals.

We came across this mama lioness nursing her adorable little cubs

Another image of the cubs

In this video you can see the lion cubs squirming and working hard to get their fill of milk.

Next, we found a group of vultures scavenging a dead animal. This bird (not sure the name of it, it’s different than the normal vultures) came away with what looks to be a piece of small intestine or maybe the trachea. Sorry, it’s kind of gross!

Wildebeests on the move, with vultures in the tree taking notice!

We came across a group of wildebeests standing on our path and soon we had the whole heard on the move running away from our car.  It felt like we were herding cattle.  Below is a video.

Another female lion resting in the shade during the mid-day heat.  No male lions seen yet!

The Great Wildebeest/Zebra Migration

The great migration is deemed one of the seven natural wonders of the world!  Each year, 2-3 million wildebeests (and hundreds of thousands of zebra) migrate from the Sarengeti in Tanzania, into the Masai Mara in search of vegetation and water.  As they arrive in the Mara, they have to cross the treacherous Mara River. In the river lurks many massive Nile Crocodiles, ready to devour these animals.  The migration occurs annually, typically in August-September.  During these months, the Mara savannah is literally carpeted with zebra and wildebeests.  When groups of animals reach the river, they often will stand at the banks for days before proceeding to cross. Therefore, it makes witnessing this spectacle very hit or miss, as nobody knows which days they will cross.  Well, we arrived at the river and there were thousands of wildebeests and zebra.  We parked our vehicle, and waited hopefully (yet trying not to get our hopes up too much) that we could be one of the lucky ones to witness this.  Sure enough, after about 45 minutes of waiting, one brave zebra decided to go for it and took the plunge, thereby opening the floodgates.  We watched in awe as thousands of zebra and wildebeests braved the water to cross to the other side.  In the process, we watched as two wildebeests were taken by crocodiles, and another broke his right hind leg and was unable to make it past the shore of the river.  After watching the crossing for about 45 minutes, a woman in our safari van actually had to hold back a few tears as this was a one of her dreams to see the crossing, and here she was experiencing it.  It really was an amazing thrill.  Here are a few pics and a short video clip:

Zebra and wildebeests jumping into the river.

This guy leapt out of the water.  Note the crocodile on the shore on the left side of the picture.

Zebra and Wildebeests moving to the river to cross

More animals joining in on the fun!

We saw several crocodiles on the bank and in the water.  Here, this zebra narrowly escaped becoming this crocodile’s lunch.  In the background, you can see hippos, and more crocs.

It is kind of hard to see, but here, on the left part of the picture, you can make out a crocodile’s jaw and teeth as he is taking down a wildebeest.

Here’s a video of the crossing to give you a better idea.

An example of the thousands of animals on display at all times.

More zebras!  The one on the left is younger as its stripes have a brown color and its coat is more shaggy.

After viewing the various animals and the river crossing all morning, we had worked up quite an appetite.  We were told that we would be having lunch in the Mara, which we figured would include a picnic/sack lunch type of deal.  To our surprise we were brought to a beautiful spot under the shade tree with views of the river, as well as views of the many animals roaming the plains.  Even Evans was there to greet us and serve us an octopus/seaweed delicious salad, a chicken and Sobe noodle main dish, and finished with an amazing grilled pineapple dessert.

Our picnic lunch in the middle of the savannah

Evans, our butler, explaining the menu.  We loved Evans!!  He was so sweet, nice, friendly, warm, hospitable, and ready to do anything to make our experience just that much better. We enjoyed getting to known him, and of course, appreciated all of his help!

After lunch, we resumed our safari and continued to be wowed by all that we saw.  Here are a few more pics:

Close up shot of another African buffalo.  Their horns remind me of a hairdo with a center-part and maybe Pippy Longstocking pig-tails.

We were taken to a more wooded area and came across 13 elephants.  Beautiful, enormous animals!  Here is an adult and a child.

Elephant strolling along.

The bird here is a Lilac-Breasted Roller.  When it flies, its neon blue color is absolutely radiant!  Another elephant is just behind the bird.

I like this picture for its layers. In the right foreground is the Lilac Breasted Roller, then a young elephant, then three zebra, and in the very back is wildebeest and zebra herds.

Our first male lion!  The king of the jungle!  I was just itching to see a male lion after seeing three females before we found this guy with his girl. He even stood up to greet us and smiled!  Or maybe he was barring his teeth and warning us to stay back.

Settling back in, he began groom himself so he would look nice for his lady friend when she woke up.

On our way back from the game drive, we had yet to see a Cheetah, Scott’s favorite animal.  They can be hard to see in the tall grass.  We were searching intently, and sure enough, in the distance we spotted something, and as we approached, we found this cheetah, feasting on a freshly killed young Eland (similar to antelope).

Just look at those eyes! Love it! Not to mention the blood splatters on his nose and the piece of flesh hanging off of his lower canine tooth.

Staring down and standing over the kill like the haughty cat he is!  (Truthfully I think he got up to look at a jackal nearby and make sure the jackal did not intend to cut in on his meal.)

So, perhaps I should put a warning before this video that it may not be suitable for all audiences.  This is a video of the cheetah ripping flesh out of the young eland.

After an amazing day on safari, we eventually made it back to the lodge, and again, Evans had a hot bath prepared.  We got cleaned up and made our way to dinner where we had stuffed peppers with a delicious filling involving mushrooms (Scott’s favorite), smooth potato leak soup with our names written in the soup, frozen grapes in a wine granita, roasted turkey, and finished with a lemon panna cotta.  Yum!!

A few pics from dinner!

We woke up early the next morning, Evans gave us hot cups of chai, and we headed out for our final game drive.  We were treated to a beautiful sunrise, and of course, countless animals.  Here are just a few more pics:

An Afican sunrise.  Just like the sunset from the first night, there’s an acacia tree and zebras!

The sun just peaking over the mountains.

A giraffe frolicking in the distance among acacia trees.

We observed a group of Topi (shown previously) all staring, motionless at something.  We drove closer to investigate, and sure enough, found another Cheetah.  We watched it for quite sometime as it prowled through the plains.

A little closer up

Staring contest!  Sorry to interfere with your hunt!

We again loved seeing all of the beautiful surroundings and animals.  We were brought back to the lodge, where Evans surprised us by having a private table set for us at another beautiful setting right on top of the Mara river.  We were treated to multiple fresh, tropical fruit smoothies (all grown on site), eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, pancakes, toast, tea, fresh fruit, and a yogurt parfait.  After we could eat no more, we finally had to pack up, and head home.  We were so sad to leave and joked many times that day that we needed to devise a way to stay forever.  It was an amazing weekend getaway, and something that neither of us will ever forget!  Thanks for viewing some of our pictures.

Blessings,

Whitney

Final breakfast.

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Miracle at Tenwek!

Hello all!  Scott again.  I wanted to share a story from the medical ward. 

The patient I want to share about is a patient whom I will call Harrison.  Harrison is a delightful young man in his early 30s who came to us with considerable shortness of breath and hypoxia (low blood oxygen saturations).  After taking a history, performing a physical exam, reviewing his chest xray, and having his sputum evaluated in the lab, we diagnosed him with tuberculosis and started treating him for this.  Incidentally, his labwork revealed severe kidney failure.  The kidney has many jobs, including getting rid of potassium and maintaining an optimal pH (acid-base status) in the body.  Since his kidneys were failing, he had a profound elevation in his potassium, and was severely acidotic.  The cause of his kidney failure was quite unclear, and our investigation did not reveal a cause.  Unfortunately, despite our initial treatment approach, his kidney function had worsened the next day, and his potassium level and pH had reached dangerous levels.  At this point, seemingly the only available option was dialysis.  However, in Kenya, dialysis is only offered in two cities, and is extremely expensive, with few able to afford it.  I explained to him that without dialysis, I was worried his heart would develop an arrhythmia and he would likely not survive (this is what commonly occurs when potassium reaches his level), and his ECG was already showing abnormalities from his potassium. 

We next had a family meeting with his wife, brothers, sisters, and parents.  He and his family are primarily farmers, and were already in hard times financially as much of their maize (corn) crop had been wiped out by a fungus.  They determined that if they sold a few of their cows, they would be able to raise enough money for at least three dialysis sessions with hope for eventual improvement in his kidney function.  I hated to put his family in financial hardship, but he was so young, and I was really hopeful that dialysis would possibly be merely temporary if his kidney function improved.  I called the referral hospital in Eldoret, a city a few hours away to arrange the transfer, but they said it would be several hours before they would be able to accept him.

Next, I updated the family on the situation and told them it would be a few hours before he would be able to be transferred.  By this time, I had developed a nice rapport with the patient and his family and we discussed various other life issues, which was made easier by their excellent proficiency in English.  He and his family were people of tremendous faith in the Lord, and they were trusting God for a miraculous healing, and trusted that his will would be done.  Before I left, they asked me if I would be willing to pray for him.  Here at Tenwek, we commonly pray with our patients, but it struck me that despite knowing he was very ill, I had not taken the time to pray for this patient.  I proceeded to pray, and I must say, while praying something came over me.  It was as if words were coming out with such ease, and with more confidence than I had ever prayed.  I knew from a medical standpoint, based on everything I have ever learned and experienced, that urgent dialysis was needed.  Yet, for some reason, I thought God was revealing his glory through this patient.  After praying, I left and prayed again by myself for God to intervene for this patient.  I sensed he was moving, so I grabbed a needle, and lab tube, and went back into the patients room to re-draw blood to recheck his kidney function (even though we had just checked four hours earlier).  I brought the tube to the lab, and just waited in the lab for the results to return.  In my head I knew it was silly to expect his kidney function to suddenly improve without any intervention, but yet I held onto that glimmer of faith, that maybe, somehow, God was actually really going to intervene.

Anyways, 30 minutes later, the technician had finished running the sample.  He handed me the printout of his labs.  My eyes went right to his creatinine, which the lab we used to measure kidney function…the higher the creatinine, the worse the kidney function.   His creatinine had dropped by more than half, meaning his kidney function had more than doubled!  Additionally, his potassium levels had considerably dropped,and his acidosis was much better!!   I honestly could not believe what I was seeing with my eyes!  This sort of thing does not just happen.  With essentially little to no treatment, over those past four hours, his kidney function suddenly and rapidly improved.  There was no medical explanation for what I was witnessing, and only God could be behind what was happening.  I was so excited to tell the patient the results, however, on the way back to his room, I honestly was overcome with emotion.  I will admit that I found a bathroom, locked the door, and just broke down after experience the glory of God revealed in this way!  Finally, I gained my composure, and delivered some of the best news I have ever been able to share with a patient.  There was so much joy in that room, and we all gave thanks to God for what he had done. We cancelled the transfer to Eldoret as he no longer required dialysis.   I eventually left the room, did several fist pumps and was able to proceed with the rest of the day.  I will never ever forget those moments, and my faith continues to expand in new ways.  The Tenwek motto indeed was true…We treat, but Jesus heals!  I am happy to say that over the next 48 hours, his kidney function completely normalized, his potassium levels are normal, as is his pH.  Also, he was weaned off oxygen and is completing his TB treatment.  He returned yesterday for his 10 day followup from discharge, and continues to do amazingly well with absolutely no symptoms.  Praise God!!

As I left the hospital that day, a motorcycle taxi (called a boda boda) crossed the road right in front of me.  Many of the boda bodas will have a message of some sort on the rear of the bike.  This particular bike had on its bumper, “Jeremiah 33:3.”  When I got home, I read this verse which reads, “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  This was such a fitting verse to end the day, and I am sure it was God’s way of reminding me to continue to call out to Him, and he will continue to reveal himself to me in new ways!

Thanks again for reading and sharing with me in celebrating another Miracle at Tenwek!  I have another incredible story from just today of a really amazing recovery in one of our patients, but I will save it for another time. God Bless!

 

Scott

Image

Myself and Dennis, a Kenyan intern, rounding on the medical ward.

 

 

 

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Kakamega Rain Forest!

Whitney and I just arrived back from a wonderful weekend at Kagamega Forest, Kenya’s only rain forest.  I thought I would share a photographic tour of our journey to Kakamega, and some highlights from the trip.

The Journey to Kakamega

We left at 8am on Saturday morning toward the forest with four other short term missionaries from Tenwek (Steve – a resident from Duke, William – a medical student from Ghana/Ukraine, Comfort – a banker from Ghana, David – a medical resident from South Korea).  Our drive initially took us past numerous tea fields, similar to what we posted about previously.

Tea pickers working the tea fields.

Our driver, Donald, had arranged for us to visit and tour a tea factory  to learn how black tea was produced since the factory was on the way to the forest.  We visited Chelal Tea Factory, where we were welcomed and treated to a excellent informational tour of the factory.  Here are some pics and highlights from the factory:

Whtiney and I donned our oversized white factory coats, and started the tour!

Left to right, starting from upper left: a) Freshly picked tea leaves are brought to the factory, b) Upon arrival, the bags of tea are transferred off the truck and weighed, c) random sample handfuls from every bag are sorted into different categories, based on the quality of the tea leaf. If the bags do not contain at least 75% of leaves in the highest quality category, then that bag is rejected and sent back, d) after a bag is accepted, the leaves are initially dried slightly for 4-18 hours (not shown) and then go through a cutting/shredding process, fermentation, oxidation, further drying, and sorting into categories based on particle size, appearance, and quality. In this picture, the tea leaves have been cut/shredded, and are starting the fermentation.

More pics from the factory. On this collage of pictures, the tea further changes color via fermentation/oxidation/dehydration and eventually ends up a dark black color. Following the extraction of the finished product, the tea is made and a quality control inspector samples each grade of tea for taste, color, texture etc. in the tasting room. Following the tour of the factory, we were taken to their wood burning furnace which aids in the drying process. They had thousands and thousands of wood logs to support the wood burning. They use Eucalyptus trees which grow quickly, and for every tree that is cut down, a new one is planted to ensure sustainability. Finally, after the tour, we were treated to a delicious cup of chai, and I must say, this tea certainly passed my taste test!

We finished the tour at about 11am and met Donald at the car.  We anticipated having another 2-3 hour drive prior to arriving at Kakamega.  Unfortunately, we had some serious car trouble and could not get the car started.  We ended up stranded at the Tea Factory for 2+ hours while awaiting for Donald to take a motorcycle taxi (called Boda Bodas) to a nearby town to purchase a part that was the suspected culprit.  While waiting, we chatted with many of the friendly tea workers and learned more about Kenyan culture, traditions, politics etc.  I was impressed with their incredible hospitality.  Fortunately the car did eventually start, and we were back on our way.

Pushing the car in the Chelal parking lot as it was blocking delivery of the tea leaves. We enlisted the help of a few others and were eventually able to move the car uphill and out of the way.

While waiting to leave, dozens of kids came to the factory fence and observed/followed us everywhere we went

The journey continues…

After getting back on the road, we drove through various small villages, past many dukas (small roadside stands selling produce or other basic supplies).  The tea fields that dominate the Tenwek landscape became less prominent as we drove north, and were replaced by sugarcane as the dominant agriculture product.  A few more pics…

A road-side stand selling banana clusters

A Kenyan sugar cane field

After harvesting, the sugar cane is transported to a nearby sugar factory. We saw dozens and dozens of sugar cane loads being carried. Small loads are actually transported by bicycle, or even on the top of someones head while they walk to the nearest factory.

Unfortunately, about an hour or so from Kakamega, our car stalled again and we had another 1+ hour delay.  With the help of a local mechanic, we were able to get going again, although the delays made the trip a bit more exhausting.  Once going again, we next drove through the Nandi Hills, which are the home to many of the famous, elite Kenyan distance runners.  On this trip, we didn’t see too many runners…maybe they are all in London!  Here are a few pics from the Nandi region:

The Nandi hills

Nandi Hills again visible in the background

Kakamega Rain Forest

Well, after a long journey, we arrived to Kakamega rainforest and I must say, it was well worth the wait.  400 years ago, this forest spread across much of the central belt of Africa, but with settlement, the forest largely disappeared.  Kakamega is now a protected rainforest in Western Kenya featuring immense, ancient hardwood trees, an extensive network of vines, orchids, innumerable other plants, and a diverse array of butterflies, tropical birds, and monkeys.  We stayed in authentic bandas (small thatched roof huts) designed in the Luhya tradition (the Kenyan tribe that occupies this region).  The bandas are maintained by an environmental/educational group called KEEP.  The bandas offered a truly authentic Kenyan experience as this is the type of home in which many people in Kenya live.  Additionally, it only cost ~8 dollars per night per person, so it was tough to beat that price.  A few pictures of our accommodation is shown below:

Whitney and I next to our authentic banda!

Whitney hanging out in the banda. Ours included four single beds (with bedding included!), 4 mosquito nets, a coffee table, toilet paper, and…well, thats it!

The roof of our hut!

Around our campsite, was a group of about 20 Blue Monkeys.  They were a riot to watch as they jumped from one branch to the next, eating leaves, and glancing down at us every now and then.  It was dusk when we arrived, so the lighting was poor, but here is a representative picture and short video of one of the monkeys.

A Kakamega Blue Monkey!

 


http://youtu.be/999aw1y2o-c

Hike to Lirhanda Peak

The next morning, we met our guide, Abraham, at 5am for a sunrise hike to Lirhanda Hill, which is the highest point of the forest at ~5200 feet above sea level.  It was pitch dark when we left, so we all had flashlights to navigate through the forest.  It rained overnight, so the paths were quite soft and muddy, which made navigation a bit more challenging!  On the way, we encountered a Jackal, but did not get a great view of it due to the darkness.  By the time we reached the top of the hill, it was nearly sunrise.  Unfortunately, it was a cloudy morning, so sunrise did not make a dazzling appearance, however, the views from the top were still quite spectacular!  Here are a few examples:

One of the first views from the top!

It was cool to see the fog settling over the forest

another view from Lirhanda

Whitney and I at the top

A group picture overlooking Kakamega

On our way down from Lirhanda, we stopped at this bat cave. Bravely, we all entered to the back of the cave. We were joined there by a group of hammer-headed fruit bats, much to the displeasure of some in our group! They were harmless, but we certainly didn’t stay long in the cave once seeing the bats.

We next hiked through the rain forest where we encountered hundreds and hundreds of monkeys, birds of all different colors and sounds, butterflies, and amazing trees, ferns, and other types of plants.  Our guide, Abraham, was amazing!  It seemed that he knew the name, habitat, and behaviors of all of the different species.  He also could speak to the birds!  He was able to make many different bird calls to match the different species.  On many occasions, he would hear a bird, and start calling back and forth with the bird until we found the bird he was calling.  It was impressive!  We actually did two hikes with Abraham, with a breakfast in between. Here are a few pics of the forest, monkeys, and a few samples of the birds we saw:

Whitney walking next to our guide in the forest

The Blue Headed Bee-eater.

I don’t remember the name of these. I think they were called “Horned Billed…something”

Another view of the forest!

A few flowers we came across

Standing next to a centuries old massive sandpaper tree. It gets its name since the leaves are rough and feel exactly like sandpaper.

 

Our guide Abraham inside a Fig Tree. This tree was about 600 years old. Fig trees are often hollow inside because they are parasitic trees and grow on and around their hosts until the host inside dies. The host then decomposes over time leaving an empty cavity inside the fig tree.

Kakamega Monkeys:

Here are some representative pictures of some of the monkeys we saw:

These are the famous Black and White Colobus monkeys! They have long black tails with a fuzzy white ball at the end of the tail. They are known for their great leaping ability, and we enjoyed watching them jump far distances from one branch to the other. They apparently can cover up to 100 feet with one leap!!  Can you see all four in this picture?

Two more Colobus monkeys

The Red-Tailed monkey. Typically it spends its time high in the canopy, but this fella came down for a visit!

Two blue monkeys in a tree. These two, along with about two dozens others, were hanging in the trees just above our bandas.

Whitney looking up at a Blue Monkey with another Blue Monkey observing in the background.

Another Blue Monkey

Fortunately, our trip back was much less eventful without any car trouble!  Thanks for taking the time to view some of our pics.  I will post again in a few days regarding some more interesting and exciting medical cases that I have been a part of, and Whitney will share soon about some of her interesting experiences at the school!  Blessings!!

 

 

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Kenyan Dinner and a Day Out

Hello everybody!  Whitney here.

First, thanks to all of you who have been praying for Romano.  We have good news to report!  He is recovering well, and Scott said he actually was transferred out of the ICU today, which is a step toward leaving the hospital.  Praise God!

Life moves so quickly!  It is hard to blog about everything and do it all justice.  Below is my brief attempt to fill you in on a few of our recent happenings!

Last Friday evening we were invited to Pete and Lisa Kuyaya’s house for a Kenyan dinner (they are Kenya natives).  They are two of the nicest people I think I’ve ever met!  On Wednesday of last week Scott and I were attempting to squeeze a quick walk in before it got dark at 7:00PM.  On our way, we were admiring a home with beautiful flowers growing all around it.  As we stood there, Lisa, the Volunteer Staff Coordinator at Tenwek, came down the dirt road and greeted us and we realized that this was her home.  We complimented her on the flowers and she laughed and joked and said their were more plants inside the house.

Some of Lisa’s flowers

Or at least I thought she was joking until she invited us in for chai, Kenya’s national drink.  (Ok, I made the “national drink” part up, but it should be as it is impossible to go a day without chai!)  We accepted the invitation and we soon saw that she was not joking about having more plants inside.  Pots and vines were everywhere.  Vines were trained up the ceiling and over and across to the other side of the room.  One could make a game of finding which pot a vine originated from!

Pete and Maria playing on the deck.

Once seated, Lisa’s daughter, Maria, who is in third grade, prayed for our chai (so sweet!) and then Lisa served us the best chai we have had thanks to her fresh cow’s milk (unlike the usual unrefrigerated, ultra-pasturized milk that is common here that I think it tastes awfully funky) and a Tea Masala blend of spices which made the tea taste more like Indian chai.  Soon enough, Pete, Lisa’s husband who is a dentist at Tenwek, was describing the wonderful food Lisa makes and how she is a great cook.  Well, of course I had to find out all about what she makes and how she makes it.  In the end, Pete suggested a Friday night duo supper where the two “expert cooks” would make the food (Lisa the Kenyan meal and I a dessert) and the two “expert eaters” (Pete and Scott) would do their share of eating.  It is thus how Scott and I were invited to our first Kenyan meal in a Kenyan home and we looked forward to Friday night with great anticipation.

The meal on Friday did not disappoint!  Lisa made so many dishes it was like a grand buffet!  There was beef stew, beef stir fry, chapatis (like tortillas) with carrot and cilantro shreds inside the dough, sukuma wiki (cooked kale), cooked cabbage with cilantro, sauteed green beans and julienned carrots, a tomato and pickled ginger chutney, a tomato chutney with sultannas, Mukenye (mashed sweet potato and beans), Matoke(boiled and mashed green bananas) served with a peanut sauce, a lettuce salad with carrots and avocado, and homemade mango-pineapple juice.

Starting from the bottom to the top:  cabbage with cilantro, chapatis, beef stew, sauteed carrots and green beans, beef stir fry, avocado-carrot lettuce salad, a tomato chutney (hiding behind the spoon handle), peanut sauce, matoke, mukenye, another tomato chutney, and sukuma wiki.

It was all so good and fresh with almost all of the vegetable dishes coming straight from her garden–and if not her garden, then a farm a few miles away.  Except for the chutneys, none of the foods had any additional spices or seasoning.  I have been told by another Kenyan that lack of seasoning, besides salt, is common because historically spices have been expensive and thus they were never incorporated into the Kenyan cuisine (except on the coast of Kenya due to trade and the proximity to India).

Me and Maria

For dessert, I made this fudgy chocolate cake set in a pool of orange curd from this recipe with a variation of these espresso meringues crushed over top of the cake for texture.  I used my precious Ghiradelli chocolate chips I brought from the States (which I think my mom bought me for Christmas!) for the cake and I had to borrow beaters and an oven (my oven ran out of gas–terrible timing) to make the meringue cookies.  In the end though it was all worth it and I’m so glad I went the extra mile because Lisa’s meal, and endless leftovers, were such a blessing to us!

Daktari (Doctor) Pete proudly shows us the green bananas used to make the matoke.

The next day, on Saturday, Scott and I went with a group of other visiting medical staff to a town called Kericho (1-2 hours away) for a day trip.  On the way we passed by beautiful countryside, followed by gorgeous tea plantation fields, and then ended at the Tea Hotel in Kericho for lunch.  Below is a bunch of pictures (most taken while driving) so you can hopefully get a good idea how pretty the countryside is here and learn a few cultural tidbits.  Enjoy!

The countryside surrounding Tenwek. Sorry for the large proportion of road in this picture! Scott took this picture out of the car’s back right window and you drive on the left side of the road here!

 

The road behind.

A tea picker with a full basket of tea leaves on his/her head.

I really like this picture

. . . and this one too.

 

Some cows on the side of the road. Cows are everywhere here, they’re as plentiful as the squirrels are in North Carolina, only they are bigger and sometimes accompanied by a mean and dangerous looking bull so it is best to be careful. That said, I wonder if Kenyans ever tip cows over while they sleep like Iowans . . . thoughts? I think I may have to do some investigating.

Ok, so I know the dirt road here and in the picture above look relatively smooth, but trust me, we NEEDED this vehicle. Don’t leave home without one! The roads are so rough, riveted, rocky, rrrr-something and full of potholes, that you are constantly tossed and jostled around. These cars are also useful for when it rains and the roads turn to mud.

 

Our driver, Donald, stopped just before we drove through this river saying, “Just one minute,” as he got out of the car and disappeared into the trees on the side of the road (AKA-nature called). Scott and Allen (a prosthetician) looked at each other and decided to do likewise.  Unfortunately, there are no reststops or bathrooms for girls to use!

Luckily, there were these two little boys on the side of the road with a panga (a machete-like sword) who could, um, protect us?

 

A close-up. I can see why my friend wants to adopt a Kenyan child every time she comes here. They’re beautiful.  P.S. the boots the child in red is wearing are called “gum boots.”

The beautiful scenery continues . . .

 

Loving it!

 

Tea plantation workers with baskets on their backs on a British tea plantation. As we drove by many people, like the guy on the left in yellow, eagerly waved to us as we drove by, often with fists full of tea leaves. In fact, so many people eagerly waved to us on the back-country, dirt road that we took, that it felt a bit like we could have been on a float in a small-town parade throwing candy to the kids or something. Perhaps people along the rough road we took don’t see many muzungus (white people) forging their way through, or perhaps Kenyans are just that friendly.

Ok, do you see the uniformity of the trees in the distance here? These trees are also planted and harvested by the tea plantations and are used in the making the tea. The trees they use grow this tall in only five years and every time they harvest a “field” they plant new trees. Once harvested, they cut the tall skinny trunk up into four foot pieces and uniformly stack them high like a Jenga game until they are burned and used to dry out the tea leaves.

The trees in the very distant background of this picture (beyond the uniform ones) are part of the Mau Forest where some elephants live. Sadly, we didn’t see any. 😦

Identical houses of the plantation workers, some are rectangular like these, other groupings are circular like the traditional Kipsigis hut.

Perfect plantation fields

And again

Here we were on smooth road going at a reasonable pace and I felt divine with the sun on my face, the wind tossing my hair, beauty all around, and no worries.  Life was good, and then Scott snapped this pic of me. I think I look like Crazy Horse, what do you think?

The Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. 

Me outside of the Tea Hotel in Kericho where we had lunch.

The girls at the table.

 

Monkeys played on the rooftops while we ate.

 

Another monkey pic!

The garden and grounds in the back of the Tea Hotel

Thanks for viewing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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