Monday, October 31, 2011

Goats, Erosion, Peaches & Pits

I woke up several times last night because of the heat and humidity. We have a fan blowing in our room that helps cool us down but it is still too warm for me to sleep comfortably. I also had several mosquito bites on my legs that were itching badly. I think they got me after my shower while I was writing in my journal.  Even so, I arose well rested and ready to go.

I took my weekly Mefloquin pill for malaria prevention this morning. I really didn’t notice any ill effects today from it. Last week I felt some brain fog after I took it. Some people have bad dreams and even hallucinations when they take it, but I seem to do well with it. Everyone else is taking the daily doxicycline pills, which only have sun sensitivity as a side effect. I prefer the once-a-week pill without the sun sensitivity. Here on the equator the sun really beats down on you hard.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Sabbath Day in Kenya

This morning we had Kenyan flat bread for breakfast. It is similar to a tortilla only three times as thick. We also had some fresh mango that was very good. We drove into Mombasa for church and arrived over an hour early because Johnson had to go to the airport to get Grace, Kevin and Shad. Mark had arrived sooner than them and had caught the flight last night so Bret had picked him up at 2:00AM.

A Few Observations on Kenya

(Excerpted from a letter written to my son, Joseph, who went with me to Ethiopia in 2010.)

Kenya is very similar to Ethiopia. The people are so wonderful and friendly. The countryside is full of rolling hills that have recently greened up with the fall rains. You see animals grazing all over the place that are quite thin due to the fact that they are just coming out of the dry season with limited feed. The roads are congested and poor.

The compound where I am staying in Mnyenzeni is much better than the Kenyan’s living conditions. We have concrete floors and a tin roof over our heads. We sleep on narrow bunk beds with a three-inch foam pad for a mattress. There is mosquito netting draped around the bed to protect us from getting bitten.

The showers consist of an outside cubical where you carry your bucket of water and the dipper. You pour the water over yourself, soap up, then pour the rinse water.  There is a flush toilet buiding outside next to the shower stalls. We have two cooks that prepare somewhat American style meals for us. They do a good job of taking care of us.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Ethiopian Cowboy in Kenya!

Today is my first day in Kenya. Travel was very good except for a two hour delay as we sat on the tarmac of the Addis airport. Patricia and others of the Spanish contingent were about to mutiny and leave the plane. The pilot said five minutes then half an hour later said ten minutes then an hour later said 15 minutes which ended up being almost another hour. I just sat back and enjoyed my time. I knew that stressing about it wouldn’t help. If I would have only had that attitude while I was packing.

We were the only people in the airport when we arrived so we were able to go through easily. I filled out the two forms and paid my $50 for the visa and I was in.  At customs there were two people arguing with the customs lady about having to open their suitcases and how much they had to pay. We told her that we didn’t have anything to declare so she just sent us through without even looking at our luggage.

Johnson picked me up at the airport. He is a driver that is used by Koins and other similar groups to drive people around. He told me a lot about Kenya as we drove the one hour to the compound. Kenya has 42 different languages but the principle language is Swahili. Most of the younger generation also learns English.  On the flight over I watched the movie The First Grader which told the story of an 84 year old man that went back to a rural primary school to learn to read. It was a good movie that helped me understand a little of the Kenyan history.

At the Koins Community Center I met with Anthony who is in charge. He introduced me to most of the staff: Emily and Ester who run the kitchen and laundry, Mwanzara who runs the wood shop, Samuel who runs the welding shop, Patrick and Edison who work on the animals and plants respectively, Buffalo who is the projects manager and several others. Anthony showed me the outside showers and toilets, the bedrooms, the research plot area, and the work shop. They have quite a project going here.

Bret came by and took me out to the river area to show me where he is planning on putting in dams. The land is much more rolling than I had imagined and the river gorge deeper.  I think that the dams will work very well.  Now that I have a better idea about how the land is I can start thinking about how we should approach the challenges and opportunities that we have.

Kenya reminds me very much of Ethiopia as far as the climate, the people, and the cultural advancement. The roads are poor at best. The main road to Nairobi isn’t too bad once you get out of Mombasa but the road that turns off and heads to Mienzeni is very rough.  The children are wonderful. They are so happy and welcoming. We watched several of them dance in the public church house close to the KCC (Koins Conference Center). They were very good and were having an excellent time.

I am just about to the 36 hour mark from when I boarded the plane in Salt Lake City. I was able to sleep on several of the flights but I am totally wiped out now. I hope that I can sleep well tonight and get my biological clock reset and going right away.

~ Lonny, AKA "The Kenyan Katalyst"

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