I'm HOME! Denver sunset from DIA.
Hanging out at the Brussels Airport-- we have 5 hour layover so we are chilling in the shopping hall. Happy to report the cough syrup is really helping 😀
The tip of Greece from the air this morning just before dawn. I didn't realize our flight out of Entebbe was going to Rwanda first before Belgium -- we couldn't get off the plane but I technically was in Rwanda for about an hour.
Beyond excited-- I have been coughing my fool head off and have been worried about controlling my cough for 23 hours of flying. Michael ran down to the pharmacy where he got me codeine cough medicine for $1.50 US -- no prescription. Be taken one dose and immediately my lungs feel better -- am now confident I might even sleep on the flight!
Got to do a quick look at grocery store when Teresa stopped to get coffee-- check out the fresh milk in bags.
Spent good day meeting with director board chair and accountants discussing working together.
View of Kampala from the front door of the Namirembe Guest House. The haze is smoke from the cooking fires -- most people cook outside with wood or charcoal fires so you can smell smoke all day.
This may look like a solid black photo but it is view off my balcony as I listen to the morning prayers broadcast from the local mosque. Kampala has many more churches than it does mosques but hearing the prayers float over the city in the morning and evening gives it a larger "presence" which maybe you learn to ignore but since I've never heard it before it seems hard to do.
Me with my girls -- Marion and Angelle seems to have adopted me! I later learned both are being raised by grandmothers who are in their 80's so the girls are more comfortable with "old ladies" which is evidently why they gravitated to me 😳
Cutting cake to celebrate the end of camp!
Reminds me of violets but it is growing on a vine.
Me melting in the hot and humid Uganda sun.
A wrinkly tree blossom-- no idea what it is...
The little one I've taken a bunch of photos of because she is usually standing away from the crowd -- found me today and decided I was okay--she most of sat on my lap for almost an hour ... I think she even napped for a few minutes!
George listening to the songs and bouncing on a log to the rhythm.
You may not be able to see this clearly but I was attempting to video the opening song and this little girl kept pressing my hand against her head. She must have kept her hand there for 5 minutes. They just are so affectionate and wanting of love.
Today is the last day of camp -- when we arrived the youngest children swarmed the van like we were rock stars. All wanted hugs.
Just a counterpoint to all the pretty flowers and smiles... there are some big bugs, geckos, rats and other critters here. When we left for breakfast this class was empty when we got back a drunk cockroach!
A flowering bush outside my cabin.
Our last breakfast at the lodge.
I slept all afternoon but got up for dinner. The rest of the crew was going back to camp for a bonfire but I was still not feeling well and was worried the smoke would really irritate my cough so I stayed behind and asked the cook to make me another batch of Uganda cough medicine. I drank it and went right back to sleep.
When the hotel manager discovered I was back in my room resting he had the staff make me the Ugandan cold remedy! It is a hot ginger and garlic drink with honey. Heavy on the ginger and garlic -- after just one sip I can believe it will do the trick -- wow😯
This is what the rice looked like when the banana leaves came off. My cough is still going strong so I left camp before lunch to come back to the resort for a nap. The children are going to be doing sports/games all afternoon and my duties (getting those photos and letters done) was complete -- so I'm napping the afternoon away in hopes of getting over this cold.
Here they are getting help with their letters. These are the kindergarteners/1st graders so their English is still very basic. Goodluck and AlphaHannah are from a tribe up north and don't even speak Swahili like most of the other children--but they hang in there and keep trying!
Here they are playing with some legos to occupy them as they waited to write their thank you notes.
This morning the children received their gifts from their sponsors after the opening gathering -- here are the 5 & 6 year olds sitting with their bags patiently waiting until they are allowed to open them.
My job this morning was to take a photo of each of the little ones with their gifts -- the sponsors will receive the photo and a letter.
This is what was cooking inside. The leafy stuff is actually banana leaves sitting on tip of a tarp-like cloth (probably the sack the rice came in) over rice--it is how they steam things.
It has rained during the night and in the morning the last two days we've been here... here is the camp puppy curled up next to the cook house trying to stay warm and probably be close to any scraps as they become available.
The kids swimming again at days end. The same little girl again trying to "take in" all these kids! I think there about six little children who live on this property. We've folded them into the group but they often hang on the fringes.
Another cool photo of the fisherman in their canoe pulling up nets. I particularly like the clouds.
An unknown blossom from a tree found on the ground.
The cooks peeling the plantains for tonight's dinner -- makote. This was only half of the amount they needed to prepare!
Crested cranes -- the national bird of Uganda.
Grasses in the sun.
Here is Abby playing with my hair. I wish I could have gotten photos but at least 4 different little ones have slid up next to me, wrapped their arms around mine and petted my skin. My white skin, freckles and arm hair are evidently fascinating. Arm hair in evidently very rare in Uganda.
I learned how to clean a freshly killed chicken today by watching the cooks prepare lunch for the children.
Who had a gift for me! She put this beautiful flower on my hair 😁
Here is beautiful Chosen Gift!
Black heron on Lake Victoria--not sure if you can see it but there is also a water lily. These herons make a raucous sound almost like crows.
Wheels and tires are classic play things. I've seen many children playing with them in both Kenya and Uganda.
The kids kicked off their shoes to play running games in the grass.
Here's a close up of her. Children work here-- they chop wood, kill and clean chickens, cook and care for their younger siblings.
If you are ever tempted to complain about making a meal or your kitchen you might pause to think how good your kitchen is! This girl with the beautiful smile was chopping wood for the fire in her family's kitchen on the camp property.
Kingfishers on our porch this morning.
Me wearing my very stylish sun hat while the kids played in the water.
The child of the owners of the camp -- she was mesmerized by all the kids playing in the water.
The kids got to go swimming at the end of the day! The sun had come out and it was glorious.
An African broom.
Camp begins... the children listen to the opening program.
A lunch with traditional Ugandan food. It was very tasty. The yellow food next to the pineapple is the main staple of the Ugandan diet it is called matoke -- it is made from a type of banana that is not sweet and it is steamed in the banana leaves. It is quite plain -- kind of like a potato (which is also on the plate) along with rice-- their diet is heavy on starch/carbs. The purplish thing is a type of yam.
Found Travis, a Denver Broncos fan 😉, at Starfish camp in Uganda!
13 year old Hailey with her Ugandan sister.
Another sponsor, Heather, with her Ugandan daughter.
A couple of cuties waiting for camp to start.
Beth with a girl she has sponsored since her birth! Sponsors send $100 a month to help these children go to school. 80% of the population of Uganda is under 18! Life expectancy is improving but it is still in the low 50's -- AIDS really hit this country hard so they are building a whole new society.
Luckily it is not mango season or I might have been tempted 😉
Fishermen coming back from fishing in a traditional canoe on Lake Victoria.
A lily petunia? Possibly some kind of Nile Lily? The Nile River starts here in Uganda.
From a huge bush of poinsettias.
Beautiful purple flowers! It rained hard last night but is just overcast and cool today. Had to sleep with ear plugs because the critters kept chattering away all night. We're out in the country and there are many many birds, toads, bugs, and who knows what else...
Sunset over Lake Victoria. The place where we are staying is right on the lake. These are not the accommodations I was expecting-- this is very high end.
The view from the front door of my room. Had a nice nap and am now heading to the restaurant for dinner.
We were met at the airport by three members of the Uganda Youth for Christ team that Teresa has been working with for years. They took us to our accommodation which is a resort with cabins. This is my cabin -- I'm sleeping in the loft. Teresa has gone off to find the others who arrived last night and are setting up the camp at another location. My head cold is infull bloom today so I've stayed behind to take a nap.
Once inside the airport we had to go thru immigration and have our passports stamped, fingerprints and photo taken again. Our luggage was scanned at the gate. When it was time to board we took a ramp outside, crossed the tarmac and boarded the plane. We flew Rwanda Air and it was lovely-- big seats, leg room and a meal on a 50 minute flight!
Ok -- here is a new twist on air travel -- when approaching the toll plaza at the airport-- all passengers have to "alight" which is English for "get out of the car." You then walk past all the cars in the plaza to the sidewalk where you go thru a security screening--you put your bag/phone thru X-ray and you walk thru a scanner. The car is inspected and the driver goes thru and picks you up on the other side.
Flying to Uganda this morning--no clue if I'll have Internet when I get there so no worries if you don't see posts for a while.
After lunch I had them drive me to the Masai market to get some souvenirs. Unfortunately it was a long ways away but they were troopers and drove me thru the terrible Nairobi traffic. We planned a strategy for bargaining before we went in and the guys were impressed--they said I was good at it getting everything for half the stated price 😋 It was funny -- the vendors all said "baby elephants?" when they saw us -- I guess our mud splatters gave us away!
We were starving after a full morning so we stopped at a nice mall and had lunch outside. This is a ginger soda (strong ginger taste) that is made by Coca Cola -- it is very good.
All three of us got sprayed with mud by one of the little guys. My clothes were speckled but Mokua got it on his face!
Since Holly assigned me the task of getting my photo taken with an elephant we had to go find elephants. They do not live in Nairobi Park because it is not big enough but there is an elephant and rhino orphanage adjacent to the property. Everyday at 11:00 they bring out their 29 elephant to be fed and play in the mud.
A selfie of the three of us!
A rhinoceros! It took a while to find them and we were excited that we did. We probably saw about six including a mom and baby but they were too far off the road to get a good picture.
The guys up front driving me -- Paul, who lives in Kibera, had never been to the park. He really enjoyed the day and was excited that we saw 4 of the "big five" missing out only on the cheetah.
Look carefully and you'll see an eagle atop this tree!
A herd of zebras are here if you look closely--they are a little skittish and never get close to the road. One thing that was cool was you often saw all the animals co-mingling in the distance -- the zebras, gazelles, giraffe with lions watching. I guess when one group gets spoiled by the lions they all take off in different directions. It seemed like some acted like sentries watching out for the predators.
Giraffes--again we saw too many to count -- some were off on there own --others in small herds or family groups.
Gazelles.. there were many herds -- I have no idea how many we saw -- a lot!
One of 12 lionesses we saw today! We saw 3 sets of 3 -- twice we watched them hunt but each time their prey got away. Then we saw two lionesses with 4 Cubs but they quickly disappeared into a bush and the last one which we had hoped was a male was napping in a culvert. Totally amazing!
Akuna matata -- it's a wonderful day! We start off the morning with a warthog 😀
I bet you can't tell but we counted 12 hippopotamus in this pond by their breathing "water rings." Only one poked his nose up.
Today was safari day -- I was up at 5:00 am to be picked up by John and Mokua to go to Nairobi National Park. This photo is of the Kibera slum at sunrise -- we drove past it on the way to the park.
For dinner, Teresa and I joined USA expats Ginny and Larry for an Ethiopian dinner. We had a lovely evening eating outside with a fragrant wood fire warming the cool air.
Here are some chickens in a corner -- it is pretty common to see farm animals in the middle of Nairobi. Today I saw chickens, goats, pigs, sheep and cattle grazing alongside or in the medians of the highway while we were driving or walking around the city.
Here we are standing outside their home.
After the meeting, two of the gentlemen who work for Youth for Christ, took us to their home/office where they work in the Kibera slum. We visited two homes and received nice hospitality. We met their families and learned much about their lives, culture and politics. John, who is going to take me on safari, tomorrow showed me his wedding album so I learned a lot about their wedding customs -- they have huge weddings with many in the bridal party. Remind me to tell you all about it!
This photo is from Wikipedia-- it is an aerial view of the Kibera slum in Nairobi. It is about 2.5 sq kilometers and it has 1.2 million people living and working there in mostly corrugated metal and mud brick shacks. The internet says 75% of the population is under 18 and as many as 100,000 children are orphans. Today I did see many children, many in school uniforms. The littlest kids were curious to check us out. Nairobi is an expensive place to live and this neighborhood is one of the few affordable places for people who move here from the villages looking for work to live.
Not a lot of photos today because today was a work day and a meeting about wire transfers and expense accounts isn't photogenic. I did see this sign in their reception area and thought some of you might like it for your offices 😉As we were leaving the office I did get to see a big monkey in the tree outside which I thought was pretty cool. Around here it's like someone getting excited about seeing a squirrel but I don't care-- it's all new to me!
Tonight we are staying in a Catholic convent that has guest rooms -- it is very nice and has INTERNET--the first we've seen! So far the trip has been good -- many new experiences! The only downside is I think I'm getting a cold. I've got a sore throat and a runny nose. Tomorrow we go to the office and I will meet with the accountant and then in the afternoon I think we are going to the Kibera slum where most of the boys were found. Tuesday morning I will go on safari while Teresa takes a boy to boarding school and Wednesday we're off to Uganda.
This store was kind of cool and artsy it sold "painted bottles!"
These are "stores" -- all along the roadside were open air stores -- this is a lumber yard next to one selling playground equipment. There were many furniture stores and landscape nurseries along the stretch of road we went down.
Not the best photo but I wanted to try and capture the experience of driving in Kenya because it is not for the timid! The dirt roads would be classified as serious 4x4 off-roading tracks in the USA yet regular old cars and motorbikes bomb along them. The highways are jammed pack with cars, trucks, motorbikes, minibuses and pedestrians all cutting each other off. Robert mentioned as we were driving today that yesterday there was an accident where 30 people died--a bus hit a trailer truck-- it is very easy to imagine how it could happen 😳
Can you see all the people lined up in the parking lot? They are having a "Peoples Parliament" which is evidently a gathering where people get together to talk about their problems/issues. A representative from the government is there and is supposed to bring their issues back to the real Parliament. We saw two of these gatherings as we drove along the highway. Their election is in August so this is the start of their political season.
Some of the shops along the Mombasa highway.
Here I am with the boys and staff right before we left for Nairobi.
Here's the finished product-- each boy walked to the kitchen which is across the field with their plate and fork. Half of them started eating it as the walked back to their dorm which has tables where they can sit and eat.
The boys cook their own meals. They each have duties which vary -- today I think about six boys were on cooking duty. I have some good videos of them cooking but unfortunately track my tour doesn't support videos. The boys chopped wood, scrubbed the pot, boiled water, peeled potatoes, chopped tomatoes and onions. They only have one pot so after they boiled the water they poured it into a bucket. Then they sautéed the onions and tomatoes in oil. They added the chopped tomatoes and salt. Then they added the potatoes with water and covered it to cook for a while. Then they added more water and rice to complete the dish.
Here's another basket this one with a mother hen and her baby chicks. They've discovered that they have to let the chicks get bigger before they let them wander or they won't survive.
Handmade baskets are one way of protecting delicate things here-- this is a tiny mango tree they are growing-- it needs to be protected so the goats don't eat it.
I wandered about today taking many photos of the buildings to document what's there because they have a strategic plan to replace some and add some new ones. This building needs to be replaced but they plan on dismantling it so that they can save and reuse the bricks. I thought this "sign" was interesting.
Today was another beautiful day -- sunny but not too hot. After breakfast we went to the English service at the Anglican Church with the boys. The children from the local boarding school were also there so there must have been about 100 children at the service. They sang, danced and put on skits -- it was lovely. Unfortunately I don't have any photos because I thought it might be disrespectful to take them in church and I was trying to be on my best behavior 😊
This photo is from when we got back to Taraja after church. Two of the boys were doing their laundry. All the boys hand wash their own clothes on the weekend.
After cleaning up Teresa and I again had dinner at the guest house restaurant. They are very careful to keep us segregated/out of sight from the other guests. While the restaurant was practically empty they had us eat in the lounge area on couches and use the coffee table rather than seat us with the others.
I had roasted chicken for dinner which was quite good. Unlike Japan where most of the food was raw -- here everything is very well done which is probably a good thing.
When the day was done the boys walked us back to our guest house. They were such gentlemen they carried our bags. We took a little detour to see their school. Here is the group of them in front of their day school.
After writing their notes the boys got a new soccer ball and they spent the afternoon playing football.
Me helping some of the younger boys with their thank you letters.
After receiving their gifts and letters the boys wrote letters back to their sponsors. This boy is the top student in his sixth grade class. He likes mathematics and science and wants to be an astronomer because he likes the planets and stars. He told me all about Mercury and Venus. He is also good at drawing -- he showed me his school notebook with his drawings so I showed him my paintings. He also really wants to go sky diving -- I told him you shouldn't jump out of working airplanes but he doesn't agree!
Here are some of the boys with their watches.
Teresa is in the background talking with the boys about the letters and gifts their sponsors have sent them. Every boy got a new watch.
This little guy in the front loved wearing his ski hat -- he wore it all day 😀
We had a meeting in the shade under a tree. There are many beautiful flowering trees and plants and some beautiful and colorful birds.
This is their kitchen. It is in a large barn like building away from the sleeping quarters and all it has are these two wood burning stoves, only one of which works right now. They have plans to build a whole new kitchen building.
They grow some of their own food.
And chickens and roosters. The birds were beautiful but I never quite got one to pose for me in the full sun where you could see their feathers shine.
They have a herd of goats -- I counted about 24 give or take.
After breakfast we walked to Taraja and met the boys and toured the 5 acres.
The restaurant attached to our guest house. We had a nice English breakfast with eggs, tomatoes, bangers, toast and cereal. Hot tea made with milk. They also serve their milk hot even for the cereal since it comes straight from the cow and its how they "pasteurize" it.
The weather forecast was wrong! In spite of it predicting rain all week I woke up to a bright blue sky! Not trusting-- I brought all my rain gear out to Taraja with me but didn't need it.
When I first got into room and got ready for bed I wanted to wash out my clothes but found that none of the faucets had running water. The toilet flushed just fine but nothing was coming out of the taps. Right before getting into bed I noticed another faucet on the back wall of the bathroom so I turned it on and viola! tap water. Once settled into bed I suddenly hear running water and I get up to investigate... water is pouring out the back of the toilet! The good news is turning off the main water valve stopped the leak. This trip is going to be an adventure 😉
My bed -- complete with mosquito netting. I'm about to try it out -- I did nap on the last two legs of the flight but -- no surprise, I am still tired...
Door to my room at guest house. Big ole bolt and padlock. Seems like overkill but I'm locked in even though I rarely lock things -- this is evidently just what you do here.
Swiss Air is a very civilized airline that I can recommend flying! Even in economy we got hot towels, good food and hot tea and a Swiss chocolate bar as an extra snack before landing.
The Alps! In the distance from the terminal.
The terminal and transfer process in Zurich was exactly what you would expect from the Swiss -- smooth and efficient! I froze on the flight here -- so much so I bought a very expensive Bright red Swiss sweatshirt because I don't want to be that cold again and I figured I may not have another opportunity to get one. If you see it appear later on in the trip you'll know where it came from 😉
Switzerland in approach to Zurich.
The New York skyline from the plane on approach to Newark Airport.
So a first trip story... I'm riding up a crowded escalator and notice a couple of boxes of this "no jet lag" in the bag of the woman in front of me -- so I ask her -- if it works. She says she travels extensively internationally and she swears by it. So I say great -- I'll see if any of the airport stores have it and get some. She says, they won't, you have to get it at a Whole Foods-type store and then she proceeds to give me a box! (She wouldn't let me pay for it either!) People can be so nice and generous 😊
Check in was super smooth and found Teresa at the gate -- we're good to go!