Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sept 22 - Mugumo Park

     Today, we truly did take the day off. We didn’t have to worry about where we were going or how we were going to get there. Instead, our hostess Marta was in charge of us, as well as her two little boys, as we walked to Mugumo Park for the day.

 When I was in Kenya with my daughter Val in 2017, she and I had walked there for the day when we had a “day off”. It’s a simple little kid’s park with a little essence of Africa. On my previous visit, there weren’t a lot of people around, it was very quiet and had just a few games and rides for children.

 On this Sunday last month, we packed up the kids around eleven and made the hike there from the house. It’s only a little over a mile and a half away, but carrying one baby and dragging along a 3-year-old, we took longer than usual, but that’s okay.  

 There weren’t too many people or kids around when we first arrived. We ordered drinks and turned the boys loose.

 Slowly more and more families with their kids showed up. Some in quite spectacular attire, like the two sisters in tutus or the mom and maybe 6-year-old daughter in matching dresses. I wish I could have taken pictures of all of them, but I kept snapping them of Caleb and King instead (plus I feel like a stalker taking pictures of total strangers' kids).  

 Eventually, for lunch, Marta ordered chips (which are really basically French fries), sausages and chicken for them, and I ordered 2 samosas, and Denise ordered her own chips.

 I can’t remember what time we finally left (according to the time stamp on the pictures I took, we had to have been there over four hours). It was a long, but happy day. 
  Supposedly, the park is named after this tree - the Mugumo tree.
 On one of the rides.
 Our table, where we camped out for the day.
 Into the bouncy house the boys go.
  It took a while for Caleb to get his sea legs.
  But soon he was flirting with some girls.
  On the Merry-Go-Round.
 The view looking back up the hill, into the area where adults without kids hang out and eat in peace and quiet.
 Think there are kids terrified by this statue?
And yet, they are willing to go into the pond he is guarding.
 What do you think? Topiary?
 Trying to get a nice family picture.
 Or not.
 So this is the statue at the entrance of the park. See the blood dripping off the cat's fangs? Is that kid-friendly or not?
  Here’s the best story. As we were at the entrance getting ready to leave, a couple kids stopped to check out this hyena. Their dad came up behind them and went, “Roarrr”. The kids screamed in terror. Totally something that my dad would do. I guess it doesn’t matter where you live. Dads will be Dads.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Sept 21 - Out of Africa

     Saturday morning, we rolled out of bed without a clue what we would do that day. Marta thought we should take the day off, as if we’d been working that hard during the week. She suggested we visit the Karen Blixen House and Museum in Karen. You know? The woman who wrote “Out of Africa”.

 It didn’t sound like it would be too hard for us to get there. A single matatu ride to Karen, then another ride to the Museum.

 We set out with the utmost in confidence.  

 Got to Karen on the first matatu that came our way. Then boldly found a cab to take us to the House. The driver even gave us his number, so we could have someone at the gate call him to come back when we were ready to be picked up.
 The house, the grounds and the wooded trail were all beautiful.
 The Ngong Hills in the distance. That's where Karen's lover, Denys (Robert Redford in the movie) is buried.

 Kenya Medical College, built in her honor, next door.
 Coffee bean processing machines.

  Recognize my Facebook picture?

 One last look at the house. 
 Back in Karen, we had lunch at ArtCaffe. I still can’t get over how good this chicken potpie and milkshake tasted. I can barely look at this picture without feeling sad that I can’t have this meal every day.
 Then we hunted down a matatu to return us to Kikuyu.
 It was a great day. Us two white chicks rocked it. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sept 20 - Returning Home, Medical Supplies and the 'Hood

     Our third day in Kenya, we got to return to the house where I stayed on my previous two visits to Kenya. Marafiki’s Volunteer House in Kikuyu, about a ten-minute walk from where we were staying this time.
 Not much has changed. It is still a beautiful house.   
 Even if it needs a little sprucing up, and a lot of interior decorating.
 But we weren’t there to admire the surroundings.
 We had arrived to clean up the donated medications and other medical supplies, discarding what was expired and organizing what was still good. I wish I would have taken a before picture.
 Nearly every time I go on one of these trips, someone will ask me if I would like to take some medical supplies along. This is why I decline.
 They get a lot of donations and unless they keep track of what they have, a lot of them unfortunately go to waste. I made an Excel Spreadsheet of what they had left so hopefully it will go to better use.
 The rest of the pictures are of walking around the Kidfarmaco neighborhood. I think I finally had myself acclimatized to the area so that I wouldn’t get lost.
 It’s a quiet little neighborhood with a lot of character. It feels like home to me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sept 19 - Cleaning the Hospital and then some

     When we were making our plans to return to Kenya this September, I’d told our hosts some of the things we wanted to do, places we wanted to see. There was, however, never a formulated plan. Each evening, our host, Marta, would say something like, maybe tomorrow you can do such and such. And we were like, sounds good, but we’d go to bed not knowing really what we were going to do or where we were going to go or who with, not even what time any of this might happen. And this was no one’s fault; that is just how they roll in Africa. And I’ve been there enough to know that I had to roll that way as well.

 The morning of our second day there, Thursday, after we’d gotten dressed, eaten breakfast and felt ready for the day, Marta asked us if we wanted to go to the hospital in Kikuyu to clean with some of the other volunteers. And could we meet them at the main drag in 45 minutes? Of course, my partner for the trip, Denise, and I got ourselves together and after a much longer than necessary hike out of our burg to the main road (I should have taken pictures), we arrived at the designated location with time to spare.

 Two matatu rides later, our group arrived at the Gichuru Dispensary in Kikuyu.
 Not what any of us in the US would think of as a hospital – a series of dusty cement block and tin-sided buildings, with peeling paint, screenless windows hanging open and random garbage laying around.

 We washed the windows,
 Picked up garbage,
 And gave it our best effort at making the grounds presentable.
 Until the male volunteers devised a curling match along one side of one of the buildings.
 You gotta have fun sometimes, right?
 Or at least make sure you come to the clinic dressed properly.
 When we had done everything we could, we took a matatu back to Kikuyu town and several of us walked to Crave restaurant for lunch.
 Let me zoom in to show you some of the menu. Choma is roasted meat and 1,000 KSH equals about $10. 
 After eating, we parted ways, so that Denise and I could get some cash at the ATM and some food supplies at Selfridges store.
 Guess I'll show you a closeup of Selfridges too. It's a three-story Walmart, only with very narrow aisles and not a huge selection of brands, but it's adequate for anything we needed. 
 Didn’t go shopping in the Kikuyu market though. I’ve been into that market before and just – don’t know – rather shop in a real store.
 We walked back to our neighborhood of Kidfarmaco and I once again got us lost. I just needed a short rest.
 It was, I believe, the last day that we got lost, though, so I don’t think we did too bad.