Nimechoka na nimechafu – kabisa! I am tired and dirty – totally. I just returned from a 10-day journey to the Coast and I am exhausted. It was a great trip in so many ways. I started my journey on Tuesday, working in the PC office trying to get as much information re: GAD (Gender and Development) and Camp GLOW (Girls Leading our World) meeting on Friday. I have a friend living in Nairobi so I spent the night and left early for Mikindu. Since I had time to spare, I walked for over an hour from my friend’s house to the staging area in town (Nairobi). I saw a lot I had whisked by in a matatu. It took a bit to find the staging (departure) area as there are so many, and so many of the streets have no signs. I knew it was by the Salvation Army and Tuskys (a grocery store). Once found, I had an hour wait until it filled and then a 3 hour “bus” ride to Makindu. Rafiki yangu (my friend) Paula is working there with the Makindu Children’s Center which helps find funding for OVCs (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) and their guardians as well as operate a primary school. She truly has a job and works 6 days a week. She is an AARP member of PC and the one I plan on hiking Mt. Longonot with at the end of this month. I stayed at the Sikh gurdwara (hostel) which was incredible. We took our afternoon chai and snack there as well. The cost was merely a donation. It is truly a sanctuary in the midst of the African desert!
Next morning I was up and sitting on a bus to Mombasa. This was a 6 hour trip. Fortunately the Mombasa Road is well paved and there was only one stretch of road construction. Reminded me of home! Once reaching Mombas I had to alight in town, find a matatu to the ferries, cross over, catch another mat to Mtwombe and my friend Jonathan’s. The ferry is very controversible – several have sunk and during busy hours there are literally hundreds of folks pushing their way down the ramp to board. My timing was good so I avoided the “crowd”, but it was still packed. Felt like I was in a cattle herd and being pushed down the ramp. Pickpocketing is rampant so I was extra cautious! Once landing on the other side, it was another 15 minute ride to J’s site with is a NYS (National Youth Service) school where he is an IT person. His house has 3 bedrooms, huge sitting room, kitchen, indoor toilet and bath! A palatial estate and he has opened it up for PCVs who want to stay on coast.
Next morning, another mat ride to the ferry, cross over, and then a 3 hr ride to Mswembenie and Jeff’s site. He is with a camping group and ecotourism. The campsite is on a plot above the beach on the Indian Ocean. The treat here was watching Jeff greet and interact with the locals in his community. He lives in one room of compound/hotel. Takes most of his meals out and the mama at the hoteli prepares dinner for him every night. He has an hour ride to get to his posta and beinki.
Pat and Jay - Indian Ocean Gede Ruins
On to Sharuimoyo. We had to leave Jeff’s site by 6 to make sure I was on the early mat. to Ukunda to catch the bus to Mombasa in time to catch the matatu to the next stage! Even if I was at the stage, we could wait for a period of time for the mat. to fill, or on the other end, it could already be filled and there would be no room for me. Yikes, did I feel the pressure of what I had no control over. The travel gods were smiling and all went well. Five hours later I arrived at PCV Mary site late afternoon and had a 20 -30 min. walk UP hill to her housing. She is a public health volunteer and often times they are placed in remote areas. Her house is 2 rooms and a kitchen with sketchy running water. But she has no stima (electricity) but she has adapted well. Hopefully they will be able to hook up in the near future as the poles and lines are in place. Mary is another AARP PCV so we had much to talk about. Saturday we went to the Gede ruins near Watamu. Built in 13th Century and abandoned 400-500 years later. Traveled to Malindi for lunch, Kalifi for grocery shopping and then back to Shaurimoyo. After a great meal, a bottle of wine, birthday calls from children it was a full day. Sunday we went to Timboni beach with Jay, one of Mary’s Kenyan friends, saw another PCV site on the beach (ecotourism again), back home for an early start to Wongoni the following day.
Pat, PCV John, John - Taita Hills
Travel to Voi was easy (4 hours) – the 2-hour, 24 mile ride to Wongoni was on the worst road I have ever been on. I will never again complain about potholes in the US. How the matatu driver made is beyond me, but I am glad he did! We kept climbing up, up and view was incredible. I am now in the Taita Hills. PCV John works with another ecotourism group. We walked around his village, truly a village with no stima at all, and saw the 3 hotelis, and small dukas (shops) ,one bar and many traditional African homes. The next day, we hiked for 8-9 hours in the Taita hills with one of his counterparts and Isiah, a friend and guide. Unfortunately there are no trails and we got “off” trail only once and I was not sure what was going to happen. It was a bushwacking adventures. We talked about what they needed to do to make it a successful hikers destination. My legs still hurt. Next day, back down the hill (slightly faster), and back to Nairobi.
The adventure gave me an idea of what other PCVs are doing, how they are living and how difficult travel can be for some of them. Me, I have it easy. I have water and stima, easy access to food and travel and a paved road to Nairobi. Everyone is having hiis/her own work and living experience. This trip put a lot into perspective for me and made me realize how good I have it here.
It also made me realize how hard it will be to share my PCV adventure as so much of it is internal and personal.
I hope this finds you all well and enduring the winter in Nebraska. Spring is just around the corner! Love and hugs to all. Mutanu (aka Pat)