Posts Tagged ‘kenya’

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Heather: Lamu! (and then home)

May 7, 2010

We arrived in Lamu last Saturday afternoon, after a night bus to Mombasa and then a very not fun ride from Mombasa to Lamu. We took a boat to the island and found a place to stay for the next two nights. We stayed at a place called Yumbe House in Lamu town, which is an old coral castle! It was a great place, and we had a couple rooms on the top floor so we had an amazing view of the city! Great architecture in the city and around too. All for $10 a night. We went to the Shela, where the beaches are and found a place to stay for the rest of the week.

Because it’s low season, there’s absolutely no one else here so we got a really good rate for our rooms. We basically have the entire building to ourselves, so the top level and rooftop are all ours! We have fully taken advantage of the kitchen. The first night we made white snapper, sauteed veggies, and red wine and noodles. So delicious. Last night we bought fresh crab (~$18 for 12 pounds!!) and made more veggies and rice to go with it too. Fresh fruit juices as well (banana passion=great mix!).

We’ve just been hanging around Lamu town and Shela and going to the beach. We ran into one problem though. On our first night here some drunk guy wouldn’t leave us alone and tried kissing Sara and actually grabbed me inappropriately. So I turned around and would have given him a new face. However, two of our guy friends were there and stepped in between and wouldn’t let me. But the next day he found us again and followed us to the beach. Still drunk, and still groping at all the girls. We finally just had to be extremely rude to him and were actually causing a scene, but then a local man came up and started yelling at the guy and lead him away. The next day at the beach I was laying there and he came up to me again. I don’t know how he keeps finding us! Another local guy came to my rescue though, thank god.

There are donkeys everywhere here, as there are no cars or any other transport except for boats. We tried renting donkeys the one day, but the guy totally tried screwing us over, so we unfortunately haven’t had a chance yet. But we will! Everything else is going great! The place we’re staying at is very nice and the guy is extremely helpful and nice too. We went on a dhow trip on Tuesday. It rained the entire time, but it was so much fun! We met two people from Holland so they came along with us. We went to some ruins from this old village and got some great pictures. We did some fishing as well! This was fun, but I didn’t catch anything. It was difficult to cast because our rods were literally blocks of wood with fishing line wrapped around it with shrimp as bait. Two people caught fish, and Michael caught a rock. We had a sunset ride last night, absolutely gorgeous!

Anyways, I’m having a great time and am getting excited to come home! We are heading back to Mombasa on Saturday morning and we’re taking a night bus back to Nairobi and flying out to Egypt on Tuesday morning at 4am. Then I’m home!!

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Heather: Back home

April 28, 2010

I have made it safely home to Nairobi! It was a decent bus ride, no problems. We had a Saw marathon showing. It was so nice seeing my Nairobi family again, I think they missed me! We stayed up for a couple hours just talking about everything that’s been going on and telling them about my experiences and everything. And the next morning I got an amazing breakfast of tea, samosas, and eggs. Better than the white bread I’ve been getting recently. It was great!

We headed to Methodist Guesthouse to stay there for the next couple days while we finished up the program. The first night was really great seeing everyone again and catching up. It’s crazy that we all missed each other so much. I guess we’re all pretty good friends! Sara, Rebecca, Mia, and I lucked out on our room in the guesthouse. There’s four beds with our own bathroom. Well, everyone has this. BUT, our room has an extra door that opens onto a closed balcony overlooking the pool area. So seriously everyone just chilled in our room the first night and last night too. Later on in the night other people were being extremely loud and we could hear everything through the walls, so we slept on the balcony. So great! No mosquitoes; the weather was AMAZING!

We’ve just taken our exams. Today we had discussions about our internships and reverse culture shock. It was ok, but a rather long day. It sounds like some people really enjoyed their internships while others were indifferent, while others didn’t like it at all. So, technically, we’re done! Just have to hand in our papers and head out! My future plans are: take the night bus to Mombasa on Friday, then catch the 8 a.m. bus to Lamu. Stay in Lamu for 5ish days or so, head back down the coast. Then get a bus back to Nairobi from Mombasa. Then fly out of Nairobi on May 10 to go to EGYPT!! Then May 18th, fly home!

I will be on a boat for about a week, then traveling without my internet modem working, I will have very limited internet. My blog posts will probably be few and far between. Just so you’re aware. I will be going back to my family tomorrow morning and staying with them until Friday.

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Heather: Rodent & Butterfly Week

April 18, 2010

Last week at work I started off in the reptile park. SNAKES! It was actually pretty interesting. I helped with all the feedings, including a few crocs and Nile Monitor Lizards. To do this, we headed to the rat house to get the food. 11 rats, 10 mice, and 38 baby chicks later, we had our lunch ready! I helped feed the East African Egg Eater. Because he was just a little guy, he wasn’t able to fit the whole egg in his mouth, so we had to manually take the juices and feed it to him.

On Wednesday my day was spent in the Rat House. Basically I learned why we have what and why they’re in the cages they are. We did some transferring of rats and mice from young to old and male to female from the stock bins. Yesterday and today I was in North Quarry working at the butterfly pavilion. Normally I’m in South Quarry where all the animals are. North Quarry is basically just butterflies and walking/cycling trails. They’re really nice trails that people just come and walk around on. Except you have to be careful where you step, those millipedes are nasty! There’s like a million of them all over! And you also have to watch for Safari Ants. They bite, and it hurts! I had a shoe infestation yesterday.

But, on the other side, I was supposed to work with butterflies, learning how the breeding system works. Unfortunately, as it is the rainy season, it POURED the past two days and the butterflies weren’t out much. But I did learn a little bit from other stuff they had available. However, this afternoon, it cleared up a little bit and we went “butterfly hunting.” I must have looked so goofy with my butterfly net and orange reflector on, trying to catch these things. They’re fast little buggers. End points: butterflies 127, Heather 2.  At least I caught some. And from what my supervisor said, the ones I caught were the hardest breed to catch. Maybe he was just trying to make me feel better. But it was fun nonetheless. As I have two days next week to do whatever I want, I think I’m going to go back to North Quarry to get some better pictures and see if I can’t try out my hunting skills some more.

As for the weekend, I am going to tackle the Tanzanian border again. But hopefully it won’t be so bad since I don’t have to pay for the visa again. This time I am heading to Moshi, right at the base of none other than the largest mountain in Africa, Kenya’s gift to Tanzania, Mt. Kilimanjaro. As it is VERY expensive to climb the mountain, and I have time restrictions, though this is one of my goals sometime in life. I will only be taking on the foothills this weekend.

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Heather: Snorkeling and Fishing

April 13, 2010

It was a weekend on the water! On Saturday Liana and I went to Wasini Island (south coast of Kenya) to do some snorkeling. We took a dhow boat out onto the ocean to Kisite National Marine Park. Before we jumped in to start or snorkeling, we of course had to see some dolphins! There were about 5 of them that we saw. Unfortunately they weren’t jumping or anything, but they were swimming between the dhows.

We did two sets of snorkeling. I’ve never been snorkeling before so it was kind of hard to adjust to the flippers and breathing out of your mouth, but it was actually quite easy once you got the hang of it. On the first one we saw a TON of really cool fish, really brightly colored and they were just all over. We also saw some sea cucumbers. Then we swam back to the boat to get some oranges and drinks and take a break for a few minutes. On the second swim we didn’t see as many fish, but we did see a sting ray, an octopus, and a water eel thing. We loaded back on the boat and it took us to our place for lunch. It was this really, really nice restaurant on the beach of Wasini Island, which was pretty secluded. We had a red snapper coconut soup and chapati for an appetizer. Then fried red snapper, crab, coconut rice, cassava stuff, and a few other not so exciting things for the main meal. So good! I even ate the crab, and normally I don’t do that. But the red snapper was delicious!

When I got home I started cleaning out my bag and realized that there was definitely something in the shell that Liana and I found. They told us we weren’t really supposed to take the shell because it was a national marine park, but no one would know. And they said as long as it was empty, we could just put it in our bag. So they even looked inside to make sure there was nothing in it. Well, apparently it was hiding because THERE WAS! So I had to figure out what to do with this thing, as I wanted to keep the shell. Finally, I just poured bleach in the shell and left it sit overnight.

Today Rebecca, Danielle, and I went deep sea fishing. We unfortunately did not catch ANYTHING! It was so sad. I guess that’s the risk you take. They said yesterday they had some pretty bad waves and the fish weren’t biting much, so they thought it must be because of that. I don’t really know. But at least it was a nice day and we got some sun and hung out on the Indian Ocean for 4 hours. I was going to take some home tonight to cook for my family, but that didn’t work out! I wish I could have said I caught something. Anything! Oh well. Dad, I tried!

For other news: my host dad came home from Southern Sudan last week so I met him. He was there for work; he’s a mechanical engineer. I told them that my dad and sister do that, and my host mom, not kidding, said, “Oh good, they can get him a job in the states.” But he’s pretty nice. My host brother is home from boarding school too, he’s maybe like 16? I don’t know where my sister is. I think maybe living with the grandma? This is whole thing is kind of weird, but whatever. I get my own room so it’s ok with me.

Other than that, it’s just been hot like normal here! Going to go back to Nairobi and need a sweatshirt! And then come back to the coast and die again. Ahh. Getting excited for my adventures after the program though!

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Heather: internship lessons

April 10, 2010

This week for work was pretty boring. However, I found out how Kenyans like to deal with aggressive animals. Straight up kill them. I was so mad when I found this out. One of our oryxs decided he wanted to be aggressive toward the dominant male of the group so he could get all the ladies. Well apparently my coworkers don’t like that. So they decided the best way to deal with the situation would be to kill him. And lucky me got to watch. There are other options available you know. Like, I don’t know, maybe move him to another area of the park where he can’t get to the big male. Seems so simple to me. Ugh. But then later when they were cutting him up to feed to the crocodiles (sorry for the graphics), they asked me if I wanted some of the meat! Really?? But then I figured, why not, I’ll try it. But then they didn’t want to give it to me because it wasn’t doctor approved and they didn’t think my stomach could handle it. How thoughtful.

Yesterday I got to play with day old crocodiles, that was kind of fun. One bit me. But don’t worry, his teeth were like sandpaper, nothing dangerous! They were kinda cute in their own weird way. And then they grow up and be not cute anymore.

Today I walked around the park locating all of our tortoises. We think we have 12, but we only found 9 of them. There’s gotta be 3 more out there somewhere. One of them that we have, Mzee, is 270 years old!! He doesn’t do much except sit there.

Tomorrow Liana and I are going to go to Wasini Island and go snorkeling! And hopefully swim with the dolphins too. We thought there would be more people going, but I guess not. Oh well, their loss! And Sunday 4 of us are going deep sea fishing! Yes, be jealous. I will let you know how those things go soon!

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Heather: Weekend update

March 29, 2010

My eye is completely healed! No more swelling or nasty looking eyes. I think I told you, but I didn’t go to work on Thursday. Definitely not worth it. I went on Friday, but I had to wear my glasses, which was a really big pain because the heat and sweat made them very uncomfortable. But my supervisor let me work mostly indoors on Friday on account of the sun probably wouldn’t be very good. So I just worked on some snake information that we’re going to post for the visitors.

Yesterday Mia, Rebecca, and I just went downtown for a bit. We sat down by the water by Fort Jesus for awhile and then we grabbed some lunch. Pretty chill day. I bought 3 pairs of kangas too. I just had to make sure they said the right things before I bought them. Kangas are bright, colorful sheets of fabric that everyone wears around here because they’re so lightweight and easy to wear. They have swahili sayings on them, which are fun to figure out. I got ones that said, “When big trees fall, the birds have nowhere to stay,” (bought this one mostly for the design), “I will be with you forever,” and another one that said something along the lines of “tell your enemies the truth, and you shall be rewarded.” Not exactly sure on that one, my host mom didn’t really know.

Helped make chapati for dinner tonight. I don’t think they understand that I like to cook too, because she kept telling me how to knead the dough and how to roll it out, and when I could actually do it, she was like “oh, you do know how.” No, I was just lying to you the whole time. The thing is, though, I’d rather not help them make the dinners. Not because I don’t want to, but because I see how unsanitary it really is. They don’t wash anything, leave stuff laying out on the open counter. There’s these little bugs running around everywhere and they were getting into the chapati dough and I was getting really grossed out. I’d rather not know that I’m eating bugs. Oh well though. Protein I guess.

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Heather: 2 a.m. hospital trip

March 26, 2010

I don’t think Mombasa likes me very much. Last night I got home from work and I thought I had some dust or something in my eye so I took my contacts out to clean my eyes. Well, they still hurt so I decided I would just wait it out. Bad idea. I couldn’t sleep because when my eyes were shut it hurt even worse. So I got up at midnight and looked in a mirror, only to find that my eye was the size of an apple and swollen shut. I thought I would wait til morning to go to the hospital, but it was unbearably painful. I woke my host mom at 2am. She took one look at me and told me I had an eye infection.

I got to the hospital and got let right in (2am is a great time to go—no one there!). They didn’t really even look at me that much; they just told me I had an infection. I guess there’s a pretty nasty infection going around that’s really contagious. Guess I got it somehow. So I got some painkillers and eye drops to sort it all out. I hope it doesn’t take too long to fix—gotta go to the beach this weekend! And it didn’t cost too much either. The taxi ride there and back cost more than the visit and medications.

Other than that minor mishap, things have been going well. Just been working this week from 7:30–5. Pretty long days in the sun. Tuesday I had to walk around all morning in my full gear. I like to relate it to a Carhartt outfit because that’s what it feels like. I was drenched in sweat. Yesterday it was cloudy and a little rainy so I definitely embraced that. It gets sort of frustrating when you think you should be doing something at work, but there’s nothing to do. Like yesterday I sat around for about 4 of the 8 hours I was there.

When I do get to do stuff, I am doing some feeding and observing of animals. I feed the giraffes (Henry is my favorite, though he likes to steal the food from the younger giraffes). Before I left last night I helped with the snake feeding too. We went out to the rat house and killed 3 rats and then gave them to different snakes. It was actually really cool to do that. One of the Puff Adders was hissing like crazy. I thought he was going to strike. But luckily, he did not. Had to skip work today because of my eye, and we’ll see how it is tomorrow.

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