So we did this all more than a week ago, but it is Africa, and we were t.v. and computer free for essentially 2 weeks.  It was a nice break…..learning to just be still and smelling the dampened earth, exhaust free air, plumeria on the warm evening air.  I could go on and on.  Have I ever mentioned that plumeria is one of my favorite scents…could it be because I am always in Hawaii when I smell it?  I loved it here too.

Our safari was fantastic.  I don’t think that I would have changed a moment of it.  It allowed us to have wonderful quality time with Ian’s parents, and also much needed time together as our own little family.  Ian loved the spontaneous loves he got to give and receive from the kids while out on the game drives and walking around our tented camp.  So did I.

On our last evening, we enjoyed hanging out outside of the tented camp open air dining hall chatting with the hotel manager.  He is a medical doctor who later went into tourism after many years of frustrated work at Kenyan district hospitals.  What a wonderful, intellectual discussion we had with him ranging from spinal tuberculosis to how the American economy trickles down to reduced Kenyan tourism dollars.  Here Kapur is identifying animals with Eli and Lucy and chatting with our family:

A few fun other photos from the safari:

And we got a rare photo of us all together!

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Hyena resting

Vultures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat (Lion) napping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overseeing the female hunting at sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset in the Mara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water buffalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing zebras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonita insisted I post the fresh kill....cover your innocent child's eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sleepy boy...we were so close I expected to hear him snore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Or at least that was Lucy’s version of our trip.

Since arriving in Kenya in May, the extent of our exploring has been limited to day trips within driving distance of Nairobi.
We have been looking forward to Ian’s parents visit because it means we have a wonderful reason to take some time off from work to explore a little more of Kenya.
 
We live in the Central Province of Kenya, specifically right outside of Thika.
 
Our vacation started with a few days of family recuperation in Thika, and then our driver from ACTS (African Christian Travel Service), George, picked us up on Tuesday at 6:30am. We were driving in a private van to the Masai Mara National Park.
 
George was great because he knew all of the back roads that Ian and I haven’t been able to figure out on our own. We traveled from Thika, to Ruiru, towards Kiambu and dropped into the back part of Limuru. Limuru is beautiful, lush and green. This is a typical picture of the countryside where there are numerous tea (and coffee) plantations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Limuru we traveled above and then down into the Rift Valley through the hot water town (supplies geothermal power producing 15% of Kenya’s total power) and Narok (their municipal council governs the Masai Mara Park). Along the way, before we got into the park, we saw these baboons and also many Thompson’s gazelles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After about 7 hours of travel, 2 hours at least by incredibly rocky, bumpy dirt roads (that no American would dream of traveling by for any distance….think back roads of Idaho mountains riddled with huge sharp stones or an out of control massage chair), we arrived in the Masai Mara and at our accommodations: Sekenani Tented Camp.

Here we are walking from the dining area across a suspended swinging bridge to the reception area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is our tent from the outside:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the inside:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there we had a quick lunch and then went out for an evening game drive….I’m gonna make you wait until tomorrow for the pictures because they will make a wonderful blog all by themselves!

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Big weekend.

Megan comes back to Kenya from her adventure in the US

Ian’s parents arrive for a visit from Portland:

And, this wonderful loaf in the oven that we are expecting turns 15 weeks new!  It is a relief to be over so much of the tiredness and nausea that I have had so far!  Some of you have asked how pre-natal appointments go here in Kenya & for the most part, they are very similar to those in the States, at least at the private hospital I go to http://www.agakhanhospitals.org/:

I have a wonderful physician who grew up in Goa, India who sees me for all of my pre-natal visits, and she also delivers all of her own babies.  Amazing in this day and age!

This is where I’ll go to deliver and recover:

Specifically here:

Looks pretty much like in the States huh?  Overall, the cost is less than a delivery in the States, but because our international insurance does not cover maternity (you had to have that well in advance of getting pregnant), we’ll be saving our pennies for the months before the big arrival.

We’ll have a regular appointment the first part of December, and then an ultrasound around the end of December/first part of January where we can find out the gender.  I’m still on the fence about finding out the gender—-with a lot of encouragement from my friend Eve to save the “surprise” until the actually day.  I told her that a 1 1/2 hour drive to the hospital on the big day was about all of the surprise I needed.  What do you all think?  Should we or shouldn’t we find out?  You know, Ian and I  like to play games and place bets on just about everything, even our precious children.

 

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Lucky Day

Anne and I play dumb games with each other all the time.   Take little bets, try to predict things, or guess things in advance just to entertain ourselves.  Since coming here we’ve taken to guessing what causes traffic jams, that we get stuck in pretty much whenever we go out.  Goes like this:  after about ten minutes sitting there sucking exhaust, one of us will say why we think this traffic jam started, we make official predictions, then wait to see who’s right.  No prize, no glory, just a silly way to pass the time.  What we’ve found here is  that we’re usually both (or all three since Megan is with us a lot of the time) wrong.  We’ve seen so many ridiculous traffic situations that we never could have imagined in advance because things like this just don’t happen at home.  More often than not we’re surprised by some amusing, or totally random thing as the  cause of an hour or two backup. 

Here’s some examples: huge truck stopped in the middle of the road (pretty common), police check, police directing traffic (usually against the traffic light and seeming to make things even worse (apparently some police take bribes from hawkers to slow traffic so they can sell more junk)),  human drawn cart in the middle of the freeway, new random speed bumps in the FREEWAY,   unbelievably deep potholes that have appeared overnight, flipped matatu or bus (with huge crowd of gawkers),  dead cows all over the road, dead guy in the road, freeway collapsed with a bus standing on end nose down in the hole, crazy road construction with no flagers or warnings about road changes or big machinery, big pile of lumber, cars driving the wrong direction down our side of the road to avoid something on their side of the road, or nothing…no identifiable cause. 

Yesterday we saw the funniest one yet, we wished we had the camera. 

There is a really famous beer here by the name of Tusker Beer  http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/822/2563.  There are huge billboards proclaiming, “Get back to your roots!  Try a Tusker”.

Anyhow, this was the cause of the traffic jam.  First we saw the huge police flatbed truck with about a dozen police arriving on scene….no overturned truck in sight.  But then we saw people walking off with huge bags of bottles….and then we saw them. 

Overjoyed Kenyan men drinking “recovered” Tusker beer in the middle of the day.

You would have thought it was Christmas.  One man had the most ridiculously happy smile on his face, waving to traffic with one hand, while gripping his Tusker in the other.  Another man must have arrived early on the scene because his goofy grin and sideways walk indicated that he was already sufficiently drunk.  Others walking off with half broken, half-filled bottles of beer, but beer non-the-less!

People were RUNNING down the side of the freeway hoping to get a bottle of Tusker…some kilometers away and sadly too late to grab their bottle.  Others were running the other direction as fast as they could with their booty….I’m sure in hopes of making off with it to the local market to sell, or to call their friends for an impromptu party.

It’s not every day most of these people get to enjoy a Tusker.  And now that I think about it, the police weren’t really doing anything in the back of that covered truck.  Perhaps they too were enjoying a Tusker.

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Love at first sight

I don’t think I’ve ever really felt it, until now.

This arrived at our house this week as a total surprise:

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Our new "old" washer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It belonged to another ex-pat  who went back to the States in June and I had almost given up on the fact that it might arrive.

This is what it looks like inside, not your typical American clothes washer:

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Washing tub on the left, spinning tub on the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whoops, the picture didn’t rotate, but you get the idea.

Now, laundry can take the usual 30 minutes per load to wash (including manual draining and refilling for rinses) and spin instead of the usual 7 hours or so it takes dear sweet Esther twice per week.  She is thrilled with the washer (as are we all) and now there is time for her to help me with other things around the house, like the constant job of keeping all of this Kenyan red dirt off of everything!

 

 

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I love soup.  That is one of my favorite things about fall in the northwest…cooking warm or spicy foods to warm you up after being out in the wind and rain of Portland.

It’s never really like that here in Kenya.  It pretty much feels like summer year-round, so now, even though it is strange, we eat soup in the summer.  I can’t give up soup!

I’m gonna try the Ginger-scented Apple-squash soup recipe that my friend cooked up and raved about on her blog.  If I could find the ingredients here, I’d also be making this, which I think is a favorite of my friend Erin.

 pre=””>THAI CHICKEN COCONUT SOAP (TOM KHA GAI)  from Sunset Magazine 2008

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1  can (14 oz.) coconut milk
  • 1  can (14 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 6  quarter-size slices fresh ginger
  • 1  stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-in. pieces
  • 1  pound  boned, skinned chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks
  • 1  cup  sliced mushrooms
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • 1  tablespoon  Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  Thai chili paste
  • 1/4  cup  fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4  cup  fresh cilantro

Preparation

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass and bring to boil over high heat. Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard lemongrass. Garnish servings with basil and cilantro.

I love that this has just 7.2 carbs per 1 1/2 cup serving!  Just my kind of meal these days!  Some of the reviews added egg noodles from Trader Joes or rice to bulk the soup up. 

If any of you decide to try it, let me know what you think!!!

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I’ve never been real keen on the idea of Halloween….except that I love the whole costume and candy part.

Around the first part of October, we received an email from the Embassy warden, who is basically an American in our area of Kenya assigned to keep other ex-pat Americans up-to-speed on security announcements and other general information.

This was a different kind of announcement though!  A flyer about a community picnic/trick-or-treat party put on by the American Chamber of Commerce.  I have been excited about the prospect of a costume party since hearing about it.

We got the kids all costumed up, Eli a lady bug and Lucy a fairy.  Not bad for Africa:

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The trick-or-treating ended up being kind of a trick because there really wasn't much candy

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Her face paint started out pretty....

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Squintville

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Working the beard...on the International School Campus in Nairobi

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Finishing the day with driving the 4-wheeler at the mall

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