Monday, March 15, 2010

Was I really in Kenya?

I spent an amazing 6 days in Nairobi!   I can't believe I am saying that as much as I dislike being there.  I arrived on Friday and met a friend to see the Kenyan Archives which was a great look at Kenyan history.  I later met more PCVs for a fine Indian dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the city.  Saturday and Sunday were  meeting days to plan for Camp GLOW and iron out many details.  We will have 30 campers from all over Kenya, 5 of which will be deaf, 10 counterparts to help out, 3 PCVs and 6 committee members.  It will be held at the DEPOT in the outskirts of Nairobi.  It is the site of the Rowallen Boy Scout Camp (which will be hosting an international scout event in June!).  The camp is based on empowering young girls in Kenyan.  Our chair woman, Tameisha, has been in contact with some incredible Kenyan women who will serve as presenters and mentors to the 30 campers.  Two of which I had the pleasure to meet.  Betty, who used to work in the corporate world has now become a well known Kenyan poet and has a troupe that performs her works through out Kenya.  She has even traveled to London.  This was one smart woman who has always been a feminist and leader.  I was in awe of her.

Wanjiku was the other impressive woman I had the opportunity to spend time with.  Tameisha and I were invited to her home for a visit and dinner.  She was the provincial commissioner in Isiliyo (an upper  level governmental position) and then with USAID for 16 years as their gender and development coordinator.  Either of these women would put Oprah to shame they were so incredible.

The best part of the week was being invited to Ambassador Rannenberger's annual International Women's Day dinner.  There were over 150 women of all walks and ages - what chance to meet some great people.  I put on my best Junior League manners and met as many people as I could.  There were several ex-pats who had served as PC volunteers years ago, an 84 year old American who has lived in Kenya for the better part of her life, an ambassador's secretary who has lived in at least a dozen different countries and so many more.  It was a great opportunity to rub elbows with some pretty fancy folk, especially for Tameisha who would like to stay in Kenya after Peace Corps.

I have no pictures of this event to share - but the food was great, the wine was good and the evening delightful.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mt. Longonot adventure

Friends, I have had another great Kenyan adventure. I traveled to Naivasha with another PCV, Paula, for a coupe of long overdue days of hiking.  This is the third time I have attempted to climb Mt. Longonot and the weather was never cooperative.  Even this trip was a bit iffy, but the rain gods smiled on us.  Friday (March 26) Paula traveled to Nguluni and we spent the afternoon walking about my community and greeting my friends.  Saturday was an early morning walk to Tala to catch the matatu to Thika.  Since Paula had not had the "pleasure" of traveling the back roads I wanted her to have that experience.  But darn! the road crews had been out and grated the roads.  So much for a bumpy ride.  We traveled to Thika and on to Lake Naivasha and Fish Eagle Inn, just in time to order a glass of wine and sit under an umbrella poolside before the rains came.  After a few glasses of wine and a so-so hamburger we retired to the dorms for a nights rest.  Got up early and headed towards Mt. Longonot.  It was a bit of challenge to find the road into the gate, but we did.  Had another 2 km walk to the base of the mountain and then the hike began.  Mt. L. is a volcano and it is a walk up the mountain, around the crater and back down.  The dark clouds were forming and I was fearing rain.  Some of the "paths" lead you up a small crevice and if the rains came one would be washed away so needless to say we walked fast.  Once at the top, we still had peaks to scale to get to the summit and some incredible views of the Rift Valley.  Nimechoka kabisa by the time we were done.  And for those who think I walk fast, Paula is even faster.  We did a 7 hour hike in 4.5 hours.  Once more, we dodged the rains and got back to the Inn just in time.

Mt. Longonot

                                                                                   View into Mt. L. Crater

Monday looked like more rain, so we decided to ride the matatu and travel to Nakuru and Nyahururu to see some country.  2 hours later we are taking lunch in Nyahururu and meeting Charles, a retired school teacher and environmentalist.  He drives us to Thompson Falls and shares a bit of local history.  He asks the matatu driver to stop at a certain point on our return trip to see the "best view of the Rift Valley" - and it was.  It had rained lightly all day, so we were glad to be in a matatu and not on the trail.
                                                     Thompson Falls

                                               View of Rift Valley from matatu

Tuesday was a hike into Hell's Gate, a trip down the gorge and back out on the Buffalo Circuit trail.  We were hiking for over 8 hours that day.  Once more, dodged the rain bullets and managed to return to the Inn before it started to rain.  We met 2 young girls from Holland - medical students working in Rwanda and had a great visit with them.

Wednesday was the return trip to Nairobi and home, to wash clothes and pack my bags for another most interesting work-week in Nairobi - my next blog.

I hope all is well with all of you - I know spring must be close and that any snow that falls will not last long.  Life continues to be good here.

Hugs and love to all - Mutanu (Pat)

My Great Family

My Great Family
Katie, Shannon, Lucy, Pat, Russ, Betsy

Contact Information

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Pat Novak, PCV
        PO Box 539
        Tala   90131