Wow. I came to Kilifi, Kenya, (north of Mombasa about 1 or 2 hours, you learn to not worry about the time here) on Wednesday April 13th. I’m a beach girl, I love swimming and getting sun and laying and being restored spiritually and with Vitamin D. There was no question that since I’m going to be close to the beach and have a gap in schedule I’d have to go. AND considering in my “previous life” I pretty much never want on vacation (usually used my paid vacation time from work to visit my family in Nebraska…), I totally deserved this!!
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When I first found out I was probably going to Kenya, I realized Mombasa was also in Kenya and I told myself I just have to go there. I didn’t know much about it, but honestly, I remember the male “Lover” from the SNL sketch “The Lovers” (circa 2003 or so) told some story about “Mombasa!” and it sounded exotic and interesting and that I just had to go.
So, after leaving Kisumu, I took a very long bus ride across the country. The bus left at 2:45 am from Kisumu, I arrived at Mombasa at 9:30 pm. So…. about 19 hours? I had a nice seat though, a VIP seat with Modern Coast. I recommend it. It was quite comfortable, it was big and wide. I could gain over 100 pounds and still fit in the seat, not that I’m wanting that but just saying. This bus ticket was only 22$!
I’ve been in Kenya for about a week now, at a Christian Women’s Retreat in Kakamega Forest. It was a good, peaceful time, rejuvenating spiritually and was just what I needed to start me off on this next adventure. I met some great ladies and saw some monkeys. I feel like
I’ve been shown some clarity about my “mission” and my path (enough clarity anyways!!!). I’ve just come to accept and appreciate that if I can only see 2 feet of my path in front of me, that’s fine and great and what wonderful adventures may lie before me. Maybe I’ll find something wonderful in Kenya I want to get attached to, maybe I’ll go back to my Uganda, (yes, I said MY Uganda), maybe I’ll go on another tour of African countries like South Africa and Namibia or Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria, or maybe I’ll enjoy my family in Nebraska for awhile. WHO KNOWS, and I’m OK with THAT!!!
I feel very comfortable here. I have my own room, my own space, my own bathroom, my own mirror, my own life. Mbale has a mountain to the East, supermarkets, lots of wifi bar and cafes, lots of good restaurants. It feels very safe, I have never felt anyone trying to hurt me or rip me off. How I feel now really makes me think that I’ll be coming back to Africa for a longer stay, maybe to Mbale!
It’s great that there are so many volunteers here at Taata Kids. The first batch that I met here: Esther, Pablo and Devon were young, fun, risk takers that helped me do crazy wild things like ride motorcycles, stay out after dark and climb insanely unsafe looking ladders. They have all gone now, though Pablo and Esther should return for a couple weeks about a month from now. I am looking forward to Pablo and Esther coming back for sure! This week, a Spanish girl helped cut my hair!
So, my lovely friend from Providence, RI, USA, Joelle, who is working with MSF (Doctor’s Without Borders) in Ethiopia came to visit me this past weekend. We had many adventures!!!!
Big Adventure #1, was going to Sipi Falls. Sipi Falls is one of the big tourist attractions around here. It’s about 90 minute drive from where I’m staying in Mbale. We took a matatu. We stayed in a place called Noah’s Ark that had a gorgeous view with a very nice tree house, and no bed bugs as far as we could tell! The price was 60k shillings (about 18$) each, which included food, stay and a guided hike to all the nearby waterfalls. Not too shabby. It was beautiful.
I found the safari to be pretty stressful actually. I has happy to get back to the hotel, the Rwenzori Internation Hotel. I was ready for some decompression time, journaling, sitting, laying, watching tv, drinking tea, coffee and wine, etc. I REALLY liked the hotel, for 50,000 shillings, which is about 15$ USD, I had a great room on a great property with really good free breakfast.
My room had:
- me as the only occupant. For the last half of the weekend I was the only occupant in the whole building (since there were multiple buildings on the premises)!
- a tv with two channels
- an AC that was ok, it didn’t get super cold, but it was still nice
- no bedbugs!
- an extremely clean looking bathtub
- a balcony, on the ground floor (so I guess that’s a patio), and if I sat down (on the floor of the patio,) there were bushes that totally hid me but even if I stood, there weren’t many people around at all
Sunday was an all day chill fest, which was very nice. I don’t even recall everything I did. I just REALAXED. I remember drinking some delicious coffee, instant with half water, half milk, both boiled, (which is typical for Uganda and me). I got a massage for 20,000 shillings ($5.88 USD), which was nice but probably not 100% sanitary. I tried to (and did) have lots of good alone time, meeting up with Luke for lunch, dinner, a walk, here and there. I thought a lot, journaled a lot and I think I got my head back to thinking about the professional and spiritual aspect of my trip, rather than the “It’s hot” “My feet are dirty” “My hair is a mess” and other cultural annoyances that I had been fixated on for the week leading up to the trip. I’m very happy for the realignment.
(click on any picture to see a bigger version)
My last blog left off with me on the way to the hotel. The hotel was awesome, but I’ll talk about that in my next entry. The first night was uneventful so here is the Safari story.
On Saturday morning, at 6:11 AM we (me and a friend of mine, Luke, from the UK who I met in Uganda) head out to Queen Elizabeth National Park with Stuart as the driver. The vehicle is more like a mix between a minivan and small SUV than an awesome safari vehicle, but that’s ok for what we paid. We actually only paid 77$ for the safari, and that would have been each day if we decided to continue. That doesn’t include our 15$ a night hotel.
This is the first part of a six day adventure that included a safari…. I went to Kasese, a town next to Queen Elizabeth National Park, meeting a friend, (Luke, from the UK who is living in Southwest Uganda and who I met volunteering with Sprout Care Foundation,) to do safari. This is that story….
On Thursday February 11, I left TAATA Kids Guest house, which I call home right now, for the latest adventure. I had my big backpack and my messenger bag stuffed. I don’t feel comfortable on boda bodas (motorcycle taxis, the number one way that Westerner’s die in the third world) so I REALLY wanted to take a matatu (a minibus/van taxi) to the post office to get on my bus that would then take me 6 hours to Kampala. The bus was Posta Bus aka Post Bus, which is the bus service that the Uganda Postal Service has. The Post Bus seems to be the best bus in Uganda for two reasons: it leaves at a scheduled time and they don’t pack it full, so I have always had a free seat next to me when I’ve taken it. It’s a great no hassle way to travel. The biggest problem with Post Bus, is it only travels once a day, the other buses might have 6 a day.
Today I hiked Mount Wanale, which is just outside of our town of Mbale. It was the most challenging hike I’ve ever done (6864 feet, 2092 meters (Mt. Monadnock in NH was my highest before that, 3165 feet or 965 meters), it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and some parts were quite scary! Click on any of the pictures to see a bigger version.
This ladder…. which I call 100% national geographic style, was about 20 feet tall, made with a whole bunch of sticks. Who knows how hold it was, and there didn’t seem to be any nails. At the ladder is where I said to my self, “Oh yeah, of course this isn’t deemed safe by the US Parks Dept or anything”. I was very scared, but only minutes earlier was I telling another girl, who was afraid of the heights and the steepness, that it’s all in the mind and you just have to power on and think about what you’re doing, not the risks. So, I tried to listen to my own advice, but I was thinking “Someone could die on this!”
Friday January 29 I arrived at TAATA Kids in Mbale Uganda. I love it!!!! (The Storm is Over is Taata Kids’ motto, and I think it’s a good omen for the storm I just went through!)
I was originally going to stay here for 4 weeks after 4 weeks at my previous place. But, since I was only at that place for 1 week, I’m changing this one to 7 weeks. But, if I love it and want to stay here and cross some other orgs off the list, I will. Frankly I am a little sick of moving around and showing up at an unknown place….