Archive for the 'Diani' Category

Less Than 48 Hours to Go

I’m in Nairobi, back from Lodwar and the Lake Turkana region.  Our trip was filled with all sorts of cramped transportation and intense, constant bargaining, so in a way it was a nice final Kenyan trip, because it was nice to see how much better we can handle all of it than when we first arrived, but also it made us feel very, very ready to not have to deal with it anymore.

We spent a few nights at a lodge from the 70s that appears to have been abandoned long ago.  If you can get past the lack of any toilet paper there and in the surrounding village, and if you put aside any fear of the long snake that sleeps in the beds, it’s really quite nice.  Here’s a view from it, looking out at Lake Turkana, where the locals spend all day fishing, bathing, and singing songs.  This particular village felt so idyllic that it really challenged my understanding of poverty.  Unlike everywhere else I’ve seen here, people here really seemed quite content.  Maybe it’s just that I wasn’t there long enough, but it left a very different first impression on me.  I think it was the singing that did it.


In the middle of Lake Turkana is an island, and on the at island are three smaller lakes, if you can believe it.  Here’s “Flamingo Lake,” taken from one of the higher points of our pretty strenuous hike around.  If you look closely there are about five flamingos in the bottom left corner.


Here we are in front of “Crocodile Lake.”  I saw two crocodiles, but was assured that there were thousands hiding in there.  We did see a tracks of a crocodile that ran across the hiking path in one spot.


And it’s a little out of order, but here’s a picture from the “blow out party” I mentioned previously.  There was a lot of this—sitting around with the Indian Ocean in view, doing nothing in particular.


Today was a big day in Kenyan politics—a bunch of high-level politicians got subpoenaed by the International Criminal Court—so I was a little worried that there might be protests and violence, and when they said the announcement would come in the next hour, I skedaddled from the office where I was saying goodbye to my colleague from the Nairobi Project, since it’s about a block from parliament and it seemed best to head to the suburbs.  So far things have been calm, though.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing all my final paperwork, closing my last bank account here, and taking my final Language Proficiency Exam.  I’ll be doing my best not to use any American Sign Language on accident, but we’ll see how it goes.  In the evening I’ll be attending the Ambassador’s Christmas party, and then the following day, I’m stepping onto a plane that will take me out of here.  For the past to years, the farthest I’ve gotten from Kenya has been Rwanda, so I’m bracing myself for the culture shock that everyone tells me I should expect.  Personally it’s hard for me to imagine having difficulty adjusting to a world that has an abundance of Dr. Pepper, but there may be some things I’m overlooking.

2 Responses to “Less Than 48 Hours to Go”

  • i wish i saw the singing

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ErinRose Back in Kenya, Part 2

Well, my girlfriend left on Sunday, so it’s back to the usual routine for the rest of the term.  It was a fun two weeks while she was here.  In my previous blog post I uploaded some pictures from her first weekend here, so now here are some pictures from the second and third weekends, with a few weekday pictures thrown in for good measure.

Second Weekend (Watamu and Malindi):

After some good snorkeling in Watamu, we took the glass-bottomed boat back to our hotel, Hemingway’s.


In Malindi, we dropped by Vasco de Gama’s Pillar (made from Lisbon limestone… none of that unacceptable Porto granite, even if if does hold together better in earthquakes):


In Watamu, one of the few butterflies in the Butterfly House:


Next door, the mysterious Gede Ruins (and me sitting upon them, ruining them further):


View of the ruins from a nearby staircased Baobab tree, which was an enjoyable climb:


Second week:

Upon our return to my home in Mombasa, we went to the Eid (end of Ramadan) festival/carnival.  To get in we needed tickets, and there were two lines to buy them: one for men and one for women.  The men actually made up more of a mob than a line, so it was handy that ErinRose could get tickets for us pretty quickly.

The carnival itself was like an African version of Something Wicked This Way Comes-meets-Dr. Lao.  The whole thing was old-fashioned in a charming but unsettling way: many of the rides were manual, with men spinning children around or pushing giant swings, and we had the opportunity to see the world’s shortest women, twice (there were two of them), as well as the Nigerian rat monster.  There was also supposed to be a severed head but it hadn’t shown up yet.

Here’s a clip of the carnival, with a man pushing one of the most popular rides, of which there were at least a dozen.

Here’s a professional photo taken in one of a half-dozen similar carnival booths.  Because Eid is a Muslim celebration, and other people were taking rather conservative photos, we settled on this pose:


Here I am debating the merits of paying to see the severed head (which is depicted on the sign on the left).


The head wasn’t ready, so we went into another tent.  Ahead of us, children climb over each other to see the world’s shortest woman:


Here she is, in a tiny little corner of the tent, just standing there with some extra clothes and some snacks at her feet.  Because each shortest woman had competition from the other, we were encouraged to ask how old she was, to which each would reply “65” or “75” or something similarly impressive.


After much anticipation (there was a dramatic countdown), we were allowed to go into another tent to see the Rat Monster from Nigeria.  The flash photo makes it a little less scary, but even with minimal lighting, it wasn’t much more terrifying:


Later that week, ErinRose’s birthday dinner at the Tamarind restaurant, which you may remember as being the swanky place with a fish tank as part of its flushing system:


In her last class with the younger kids, ErinRose taught them how to make paper puppets (I don’t actually know what these things are called—it was more of a girl thing in school).  Here’s a clip:

Third weekend (Diani Beach):

For our last weekend we went to the Shaanti Holistic Health Retreat, which was a cool little new-agey yoga resort.  We only did the yoga once (my first time ever), but we enjoyed the overall peaceful vibe regardless.  Here’s a view from the restaurant:


This place was a full board experience, so we only ate out once, at Ali Barbour’s Cave restaurant, which was pretty cool, just like it sounds… a restaurant in a cave.

On our last evening at Shaanti, we took advantage of the outdoor bathtubs with a view of the stars and the ocean.  They are next to communal area where people do yoga, so they are keep-the-swimsuits-on kinds of baths, but especially with the sparkling grape juice, it made for a romantic final evening.


So as of Monday, I’m back to teaching my classes without a helper, which means the blog posts will look much less like I’m on a luxurious vacation and much more like I’m busy teaching.  I hope you enjoyed all the pictures!

1 Response to “ErinRose Back in Kenya, Part 2”

  • i enjoyed this posting. so much to say about each of them. First of all with the carnival viewing i didnt even think it was weird that the man was pushing the ride until u pointed it out, at which point i realized how weird it really was. Second im really glad it was not a real severed head. thats always good news. I also really like that there were camels walking on the beach, and am glad u took a video of the art project. I also love the picture u took professionaly, its so silly, in such a seriouse way 🙂