Category Archives: Kenya

Friday 17/01/2014

To try to catch up :-
Our first night in Livingstone we all went for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, with a buffet dinner and as many drinks as we could consume in two hours. It was a lovely setting –

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The next day a group went white-water rafting, but I chose to go and ride an elephant. All the original elephants were reared as orphans, but they have had offspring – of which more later.
My elephant was called Madinda, if I remember right, and he was the character of the group, constantly wandering off the track to tear trees apart and shaking his shoulders in what his keepers called “dancing”. Of course I fell in love with him the moment I looked him in the eye.

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And then we met Muni, who was only twelve days old.

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A dream come true to get that close to African elephants.

By this time we were having to say goodbyes and go our separate ways, but a few of us set off for the Victoria Falls the last day. Locally it is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “the smoke that thunders”, because of the spray and the noise. You get absolutely drenched as the water comes at you from every direction. It was a wonderful experience and I couldn’t stop laughing with excitement. Pictures cannot do it justice but here are a few.

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Our first view

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The spray

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The bridge we had to cross to see the complete falls.

So now I’m in Cape Town, after two days in buses, border crossings, delays and junk food. You don ‘t want to know.
Complete culture shock as this afternoon I was sitting having a Windhoek beer, looking at the clouds sweeping over Table Mountain, (the “tablecloth”), and watching a Splendid Starling picking up scraps, having just been in the V & A Waterfront shopping mall and passed a mural video of MC Hammer, “You Can’t Touch This”.

Thursday, 2nd January, 2014

On Christmas Eve we set of for the Serengeti reserve, but to get there we had to go up the side of the Ngorongoro crater. This felt like travelling into The Lost World. Tall trees reach out of the crevices, the sides are lush with vegetation and you peer down onto the plain below.

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But we also saw a Serval, a bat-eared fox, Dik Dik and many other animals. In the evening of Christmas Day we sat around the camp fire on the edge of the crater and sang songs and told each other about what we all usually do for Christmas. There are 19 of us, 8 from Australia and a mix of others, from Canadian to Swedish. It’s a really good group who are getting on well. We’ve had lots of fun and they have been very kind to me.
No time to tell you more today, but after the game parks we were off on the road to Zanzibar

We drove for miles and only saw Maasai cattle. But the Serengeti did not disappoint us in the end. We saw a leopard tail hanging from a tree and there was the cat, dozing and stretching in the shade, rolling over
on it’s back and staring back at us.
Over the next two days we saw lions, cheetahs and elephants from close quarters.

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Lamu.Tuesday 17/12/13

No photos today but some pictures in my mind.
I miss the roof terrace at Jambo House, the sound of sweeping in the morning, the ever-present washing on the rooves and the children in their rags and veils wanting high fives. And the beautiful voice of the muezzin from the old mosque.

Instead I get the birds, swallows or swifts,wheeling over the water in front of the veranda in gusts at dawn and sunset and the hurly burly of the harbour.

I hear Jambo, Hello, a hundred times a day. People are friendly and I don’t get too hassled. They call me Mama and sometimes Queen. A man from a shop where I did not buy, even complimented me on the Kikoi, or cloth skirt, that I bought more cheaply from a stall.

I love the bright, clashing colours
of the clothes people wear. Some of the Muslim men wear little white pillbox hats called Kofia that recall old connections with Oman and the Yemen. Even the women in black robes have colourful veils or gold or silver sequins and look beautiful. Outside of their homes they seem to have a degree of freedom and stop and chat to the menfolk, but traditionally inside the homes men and women had separate quarters.

The men play “Bao la Kiswahili” a form of Mancala, the game that resembles Backgammon, but here it has four rows of eight pits. Each player has 32 seeds or stones and it requires a mathematical mind. They also play Carrom, which is a bit like pool but with counters on a board.

I wander about, taking meals and drinks at different places. I sit under the ancient almond tree in the square. This morning I lay on a log under a tree looking out on a flat horizon of sea, sand and mangrove trees, all in shades of blue, blue/grey and grey/green. Donkeys wander past which seem to have no purpose or owners while others carry people, coral stones or Coca Cola crates. Sudden smells of donkey dung or raw fish but mainly sea breezes.

I’m living a lazy life two degrees south of the Equator. There’s dust and sand on my feet and in my eyes. Tomorrow I may take a boat to Manda Island – or maybe not.

Sunday 15/12/13

Had a great night out on Friday
A new party of guests came to Jambo House and they agreed to let me join them for a dhow trip to watch the sunset and have a fish dinner. Roger, Brian and Arthur were from Niarobi, had recently graduated and are involved in the production of a satirical TV programme a bit like Spitting Image I think and the channel associated with it. Ben is an American who has travelled extensively and is the creative sort and he was with his girlfriend, Shiko, who was having her birthday.
It was very kind of them to accept me. The night was beautiful, the food cooked on board by the crew spicy and delicious and the company a delight.

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I’ve now left Jambo House as it was all booked up. Arnold, who runs it, is very knowledgable and anxious to please. It has good recommendations from TripAdvisor.

Where I am now is SunSail Hotel which is right on the quay.

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It

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It’s twilight, I’m drinking ginger beer and watching the passersby.

Thursday 12/12/13

So, cycled round Hell’s Gate in Naivasha.
This is Fischer’s Tower, where the two men who help people climb it introduced me to the rock hyrax, who share a distant relative with elephants. They admitted to me that they have given them names.

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My pictures of them didn’t come out well as they are small and were in shade but you can find them on google

More pictures of the park –

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And of Njorowa Gorge which I was shown through by a Maasai guide called Jacob. It was a bit of a scramble down and up out of it and there are very hot springs along the way.

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Anyway, failed to find out anything about my father’s farm, Glasslande, and it was raining so have now taken a room at JamboHouse on Lamu island.
I’m staying in the town, because I’m not much of a beach person. It’s shabby and friendly and sunny. No cars but lots of donkeys and boats.
This is a picture of two little boys with “hobby donkeys” – a stick, a piece of rag and a length of string.

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Today was Kenya’s 50th Anniversary of Independence. Their were parades and speeches in the small town square. In the afternoon I was on the roof terrace and heard a woman giving a speech. The crowd was roaring with laughter and it sounded like the “save Bwian” scene from Monty Python.

Tonight lying under a ceiling fan, a mosquito net and listening to John Cale.

Monday 25/11/13

Now back in Nairobi after a week in Watamu.
While I was there I met Tony and Judy who organise projects for The Paper Chase Trust (www.thepaperchasetrust.org)and arranged with Tony to visit two of the clinics they have given financial aid to. This is a picture of me with Dr. Katana.

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The conditions in his clinic before the interventions of the trust were appalling.
There was often no electricity and he was performing minor surgery and delivering babies with a torch in his mouth. There was no clean water and many rooms had no ceilings. He’s the only doctor I’ve met who knows how much it costs to tile a floor. There are no administrative fees for the charity in the UK and every penny goes to improving conditions and medical care. Check out the website.

Got a lift from a guy called Nigel to Voi. This meant taking a short cut on a dirt road through hills and forest to avoid Mombasa – very much off the tourist map. He is a builder and has a house overlooking Tsavo East National Park. A big storm blew up ten minutes after we arrived and after the rain the lightening went on for hours.

The next day a storm came
over in the morning and I watched a herd of about twenty elephants streaming over the rise and racing to lower ground, all ages and sizes led by a powerful Matriarch.

On a similar theme, went to the David Sheldrick elephant sanctuary today.
Pictures say more than I can.

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Wednesday 20/11/13

Watamu Beach is known for its marine reserve and turtle rescue centre, as well as having some rather expensive hotels.

There were no turtles to be seen when I went to Turtle Watch, but I have had lunch by the beach and taken a boat to the coral reef.

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On Sunday I went for a 5 hour walk in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest with a local guide and saw, amongst other things, Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, Fischer’s Turaco and Trumpeter Hornbill.

Due to contacts, I’ve also been to Jua rescue centre for young girls who have been sexually assaulted and are pregnant. It is run by a Dutch woman. They take the girls in, the babies are delivered at the adjoining clinic and they stay for a year, with a further year of follow-up.

I visited Happy House Orphanage, an inspirational home and school run by a couple from Blackpool and tomorrow I’m going to see the work of The Paper chase Trust that provides medical advice, education and much needed funding for clinics.

Very hot and humid here and the electricity is off for some time nearly every day.

Should be back in Nairobi next week.

Thursday 14/11/13

Spent two days with Lydia and Brett in their idyllic home in Karen, Nairobi.

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Took the night train from Nairobi to Mombasa – only three hours late on arrival. Shared a second class berth with Lara, a young German girl volunteering to teach English to children in the slums of Nairobi.
As we were leaving the station a young woman from the train asked where we were going. It turned out that she was going to Watamu beach with her two friends and asked if I wanted to share a taxi with them, which I did.
She comes from Sweden and works as a project manager for migrants – that is the kind of people who turned up in my office as asylum seekers, so we had experiences to share.
Now sitting in “Savannahs”, a lovely B&B and bakery run by a welsh couple. Yes, I realise I haven’t met many Kenyans yet, but I learning a lot.
And this place is lovely.

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