Saturday, December 19, 2009


There isn't too much to report on. Life in the village has been pretty good. We've had fun walking around and getting to meet the locals.

Joyce made us guacamole last night and it was just as good as when we made it a few nights ago. mmm.....

We are in Nyahururu checking email after just hiking Thompson Falls. The waterfall was beautiful, but our flat-lander legs combined with the fact that we were at 7,800 ft, made the climb a bit slow. Lonely planet promised that we would see dozens of baboons while hiking. This was not the case. The only baboons we have seen were on the side of the road so far.

The other night the girls from Nebraska were awoken by Scooby (Issac's gaurd dog) growling at something in the night. We were a little spooked, and when we went to the bathroom an hour later, we took the "elephant stick." Turns out that there were elephants in the area that evening. About an hour later Jill was startled by Kristal yelling out, "Who is it!" About an hour later Kristal started calling out for Scooby in her sleep. I must have been dreaming it too, because then I started yelling for Scooby. I don't remember this at all and Jill was not in the least bit amused because she had not been sleeping with all the commotion. After a while Kristal did some more talking and Jill decided it was a good time to wake her up. Poor Jill did not get any sleep that night. I think it was the best night of sleep so far in the village as I did not need a nap later that day. Scooby is a really great gaurd dog, but doesn't fare so well on or walks. If we don't hold him back, he tries to attack motor bikes and mutatus. He doesn't make the best decisions.

On monday we will leave for Lake Naivasha where we will spend 2 nights relaxing and checking out Hell's Gate. I'm looking forward to the bikes we get to ride while we are there. We will be joined by yet another of Austin and Sarah's friends from the PC in Malawi. His name is Ross and it turns out that we went to Junior High together.

The weather here is still amazing and people are getting excited for the holidays that are coming up. It doesn't really feel like Christmas to me, but I am excited to pull out the Santa hats and reindeer antlers for our safari.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This is what we have decided to call a burrito wrapped with a chipati. Last night the Americans cooked dinner for the Kenyans. We had a Mexican Fiesta complete with salsa, guacamole, rice, beans, and a thinner chipati that we used as tortillas. Chipati is a staple Kenyan food that is made just like a tortilla. Joyce uses wheat flour to make hers, bascially it's a very thick tortilla that we eat with breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Chipati were made very thin last night to accomodate the mexican theme. With the mango fruit as dessert, it may have been the best meal of the trip so far. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially Max (issac's oldest son) who, when asked about dinner simply replied, "It was beautiful."

Yesterday Jill and Austin attended a 3 hour village meeting. The rest of us girls went on a long walk through the village, took a few naps and had lunch. We were getting ready to make dinner when a neighbor asked us to walk with her...she said it would just be a quarter of a kilometer. 40 minutes later we were welcomed into a Women's group meeting and had some is customary in Kenya. We hung out for a while but needed to head back since dinner needed to get started. We made it home before dark and started on dinner. I had fun in the kitchen cooking rice and beans over coals. We pulled out our ipods and had a few dance parties. Issac's kids really like Lady Gaga for some reason. It was a really fun evening.

The next few days are pretty loose. Hopefully they involve a ride to Thompson Falls to check out a waterfall and another trip to the city to check our email and shop in the market.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Village Life

Greetings from Nyahururu!

So much has happened in the last few days and I don't think I have time to write it all down. We are on a tight schedule. We left the village later than expected to catch a mutatu to Nyahururu. We still have to get to the market and try to get home before dark.

The drive from lamu was long, but really great. We saw girraffes, baboons, and zebras...all just hanging on the side of the road. We won't even be on safari for another 8 days! We took a back way to nairobi and drove through dozens of villages and some really incredible landscape. We even drove through Tsavo national park which is known for it's man-eating lions. Don't worry mom, we stayed in the car. That night we stayed at the hostel and hung out in Nairobi most of the day on Thursday.

We left for the village late that day and drove through the Rift Valley. I can't wait to come back to this place when we leave for safari.

We received a very warm welcome into the village by joyce and her family. We were greeted with chai and a warm meal. Chai is the drink here. It's about half water, half fresh milk (from their cows) and black tea with sugar.

After "elephant proofing" our door, we got some much needed rest. Saturday was Kenyan Independence Day as well as Brian's (Issac's son) manhood ceremony. Brian had spent the last 30 days in a private room away from his parents where he received advice from other villagers. About 100 neighbors showed up for the ceremony. Brian came out of his room with the help of a local choir and was greeted by everyone. Many people spoke on his behalf and then donated money to him. After the ceremony, there was dancing. Aunty Em pulled me out in the circle and we cut a rug. It was really neat to be invited to particpate with them.

On Sunday we went to church. That was an experience. After about 2 hours of worship, we were greeted in song by the choir and then introduced ourselves to the parish. We then enjoyed a short break and came back to our seats for the auction. Among things being auctioned off were, belts, 10 goats, 12 chickens, and a cow. It was definitely an experience. I bought some bananas, austin bought a belt, and jill bought sugar cane. I've never had sugar cane, but it was really good. I guess it's good for your teeth and they encourage kids to chew on it.

Other than that, we've just been relaxing. It's a great place to nap and the weather is very agreeable. I did my first load of hand washing clothes yesterday. It was a lot more work than I had anticipated.

We've been having a lot of fun with each other. I've enjoyed our walks that we've been taking to see other parts of the village. The local kids are really interested in us. They like touching our skin, a lot. They were also really interested in my sunburn and peeling skin.

Now, it's time for the market. We have a lot to get done before dark!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last day in Lamu

Today is our last day on this amazing island. Tomorrow morning we are going to boat it back to the bus stop and take the 6 hour bus ride to Mombasa. We are supposed to be on a nicer bus this time and I'm hoping the ride is better than the ride to Lamu. Issac has a friend with a van in Mombasa named Sammy. Sammy is going to pick us up tomorrow afternoon and drive us the 10 hours back to Nairobi. Once back in Nairobi, we will stay overnight in a hostel and take a Mutatu (van transportation from village to village) to Issac's village.

We will arrive on Kenyan Independence Day. It will also be the "Coming into Manhood" ceremony for one of Issac's sons. I'm really looking forward to friday the 12th.

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to two of our Malawi friends, Brian and Kirk. They are going back to Malawi while Austin and Sarah will spend the remainder of time with us. We've all had a really good time in Lamu. Last night we checked out the night life at a local bar. The evening ended with a few of us (me included) jumping into the Hotel/Bar pool and then getting kicked out by a Massai Warrior and the hotel manager. It probably wasn't the best idea, but it was really fun.

We are going to spend the afternoon at the beach and I will hopefully ride a camel. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Donkey Down and Camel Back

This is how we would like to get to the beach...or it was until our friend Kirk "rented" a donkey. Basically he took his donkey driving test, got yelled at by a british woman, the donkey bucked and his ride was over. We have seen camel's at the beach and would really like to ride them, but the locals aren't really feeling it. What can you do?

We have spent the last few days on the beach. On Sunday we got started late and didn't want to hike it to the Shaila beach that is 45 minutes away. We walked to what we now refer to as "Surprise Beach." This beach acquired it's name after various objects floated past us, including: a plank, a shoe, and a water bottle. Surprise! We did have a really good time throwing around the frisbee and made sure to take showers as soon as we got back to our tree house.

The next day, Kirk and Brian went on a fishing trip while the 5 Nebraskan's went to Shaila beach. It was a 45 minute walk, but so worth it. This is why people love it here. Warm sand, cool water, and men that walk by with water and Samosas. The boys sailed by us on their way back to land and picked us up. I captained the sails and we made it back to the city where we cleaned the fish. Well, I didn't clean the fish...I made sure that I was not anywhere near that. Later that night we enjoyed fresh fish and chips. It was really good until stray cats invited themselves in. That was interesting. So far we have done a good job of keeping them out of the house...though every once in while we find little lizards hanging out.

Yesterday was very similar. We went shopping in the morning and a few of us got shirts made and found lots of great fabric. Kirk went on his donkey adventure, and then a few of us found a motor boat to drive us to Shaila beach. When we got to the beach, we found Kirk 4 Bloody Mary's deep and being very classy. We enjoyed a cocktail and then hit up the beach. After a while we found a boat to sail us back to town where we showered and ate some local food at Olympic Restaurant, Lonely Plant's pick for the best Lamu food. I wasn't impressed with the food but had coconut juice that I think might be my new favorite...right behind the passion fruit and mango juice.

The sun rises before 6 and we wake up shortly after. This morning we walked around the quiet streets and took pictures, tried some donuts and then had breakfast. It was a very classy meal and so far it has been my favorite. A few people are back at the house (which is also recommended by Lonely Planet as the "coolest place to stay in Lamu") cleaning prawns for dinner. I think we will spend the afternoon at the beach again.

Today we were planning on going on a dhow trip. This used to consist of a sail boat, fishing, snorkeling, and a beach barbecue all for about $15 a person. Lamu sailors have since formed a union and these cheap prices no longer exist....nor do many of these trips. I was really looking forward to snorkeling, but I think I can handle some more time on the beach. We leave the day after tomorrow for Nairobi and will be the Nyahururu village on the 12th, this is Kenya's independence day. I don't think they celebrate it with fireworks, but we hear it's really neat and I am looking forward to experiencing it.

It's getting a little hot for my liking in this internet cafe. I think I'm going to head back to our tree house. Sorry for all the Nebraska snow. I don't envy you at all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Island Life

After about 16 hours in two different busses and a boat ride, we made it to Lamu! I'll get to the island in a bit, but I want to give a play by play account of our last few days.

We loaded onto a bus Nairobi at 10 pm on Thursday night. This 10 pm bus left at 11. After driving for about 5 minutes we were stopped by Kenyan Police and told to evacuate the bus with all of our belongs, put into lines and scanned with hand held metal detectors. What a way to start an evening! The bus ride lasted through the evening with one bathroom stop (which I don't want to think about) and dropped us off in Mombasa at 6:30 am. We were picked up by William, a Tuk Tuk driver (which is a interesting open air taxi) and taken to buy bus tickets. Once we had our 8 am departure time, we were joined by the rest of our travelers. Austin and Sarah! and their Peace Corps friends, Bryan and Kirk...all serving the PC in Malawi.

After about 20 minutes of arguing with bus officials about being able to sit together, we left Mombasa. The 6 hour bus ride lasted 8 and was packed. Standing room only. It was hot and a few of us have burns on our arms from sitting in the window seats. The bus stopped every few hour to pick more people up. When the bus would make stops, villagers would come up to the windows and sell water and different foods. I passed on the homemade Samosas but did enjoy being called "Madame."

The first 4 hours of the ride were on a semi-paved road, the last 3 were on a road that was not paved at all. Imagine riding a school bus on the bumpiest road you've ever been imagine riding that HOT bus for 3 hours. Needless to say, it was a long, sweaty day.

The landscape on the ride was incredible. So lush and green. Many, many hut villages were passed the way. Even when it was hot and we were tired, I smiled and thought, "I'm in Africa." The smile dissapeared when we drove past refugee camps. These people were displaced during the Kenyan election of 2007.

We got off the bus and hopped on the island shuttle and after 30 minutes, arrived at our final destination. This is Jill's 5th time on the island and let me tell you....she's kind of a big deal, people know her. She sent a text to a friend and there were 3 people awaiting our arrival. They took our bags and led us to this amazing house. After a quick tour, we decided that we had to stay there. It's kind of like a really funky tree house. There is sleeping room for 8, a kitchen, dining room, two showers, and an amazing view of the ocean...all for less than $10 a day. It's incredible. We gave our host some money and went to the market to buy us beer and water...because, really, when you're on an island, do you need anything else?

After showering and feeling like "a million Kenyan Shillings" we went to Jill's favorite restuarant called Hapa Hapa. In Swahili this means, Here! Here! We had a great dinner. With all the traveling, the girls from NE had only had 1 meal and our 2nd meal was much overdue.

We spent our night watching the moon come up over the water (we're right on the equator and even though we get 12 hours of sunlight, the sun sets around 6 pm), and enjoying some breeze in our home's Penthouse. Not really a penthouse, but it's an openair bedroom with a nice breeze and ocean view. Actually our entire place is open air. It's safe, amazing, comfortable and I can't believe we can stay somewhere for so cheap.

We haven't seen much of Lamu yet. A few things about Lamu: There are no cars, donkeys do all the hauling/transporting and we will defintely ride one at some point. Most of the people here are Muslim and we have already experienced waking up before 5 am to hear their prayer. People are very nice and kind here and it's really relaxed. They call it "African Time" because there really isn't a schedule.

It's so great to see Austin and Sarah....or as the people in their Malawi village call them, Austella! Their PC friends are also a lot of fun and this made the bus ride a little more bearable. Our plans are pretty loose right now. We have an idea of what we want to do, but after all that traveling, all we want to do is relax in our house.

The weather here is really hot and humid. It's hard to adjust coming from an Omaha winter. We are getting used to being shiny and and sticky. I'll take this any day over snow. 

I think I'm going to join the team back at the house. They are a few Tusker's ahead of me (that's Kenya's brew) and I better catch up.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Go Team!

Three tired ladies made it to Nairobi last night at 8:30. An hour later we had our luggage and made it out of Nairobi's airport...which felt more like a zoo. Issac picked us up and we had a very comfortable ride to our hostel where, on the way, we saw a lot, including ladies of the night, and Kibiri, one of the world's largest slums. That was a first for me.

One of our themes for the trip is figuring out our Team name for the day. This is after we ran into Team Family and Team Super Family. Two families (one a family of 4 and one a family of 9!). These families are packing up and moving to Kenya...not sure why, but we were happy that we were traveling solo and not with babies. Yesterday were Team One More Time, Team No, We're Not Having Children, and right now we are Team's pouring here.

It was a big day of firsts: first hostel experience, first time in Africa/Southern Hemisphere, and the first time of many that we will be sleeping with mostquito netting. Not too bad so far, we are just having a hard time to adjusting to the time. It's 9 hours earlier here.

I took some Tylenol PM, put my earplugs in, grabbed my eye mask and slept for 8 hours and it felt awesome. After a shower and checking out of the hostel, Issac picked us up and took us to his Safari office where we will hang out today. Another first...we saw a man get accosted with a shoe for trying to steal from someone's car. That was interesting way to start the day.

Tonight we take an overnight bus to Mombasa where we will meet up with Austin and Sarah and then make our way to Lamu. It's a 10 hour overnight bus ride and then another bus ride, and then a ferry to Lamu Island. After all this traveling, I'm ready for the beach.

Even though it's raining and we had what Kenyan's call a FREE SHOWER, we are not feeling as clean as we did this morning after our hostel showers. We better get used to being dirty.

Well, it's Jill's turn to update her blog. Check it out at: She is going to talk about Kristal's rabit/cat ...crabbit experience.

Kwaheri (goodbye in Swahili)