Although we’ve been back in the states for a while (after an unexpected return), I thought I’d post this and bring some closure to the whole shebang. Due to the power rationing, I never had a chance to get this up while we were still in Bungoma. Anyways, here’s where I left off before we headed back to the US…
We are headed back to the US this weekend. After nearly three, long and incredible months, it is finally time to come home. At times, it has felt like we were only a breath away from heaven or hell, as each day was an adventure, sometimes relaxing and sometimes nerve racking. We managed to avoid illness for the entire trip save for one or two bouts with a stomach bug. We made many new friends and discovered the unaltered, richness of Africa.
The Western media often hides the Dark Continent behind an incredulous veil of interminable war and poverty. Although “quality of life” standards are much lower here and violence has destroyed many lives, people still manage to live and thrive through it. I suppose that it is difficult to inhabit any place in Africa and not understand why it is called the “cradle of life.” It was truly an amazing experience and one that I recommend to the more adventurous types. For those who enjoy looking from behind the glass, here are some more pictures from our journey…
This is Bernard Simiyu and his wife Gladys. One of the most successful farmers with OAF, Bernard has quite an incredible story. For many years, he drove a shipping truck from Mombasa to Zaire, several times a month. That’s a distance of about 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) which is roughly the width of the United States. After witnessing several of his friends die at the hands of rebel soldiers, he decided it was time to go into farming (!). With the wealth that he gained from trucking, he was able to purchase 5 acres of land that lie right along the Butonge River. He has a rich and diverse farm consisting of maize, cotton, bananas, kasava, and more.
My translator and good friend, Dominic Ochola. One of the smartest and kindest people in Kenya. Big things ahead for this guy…
The children of Mukwa Primary. Pray for these kids. They are attending a school where the current and former headmasters have been participating in criminal activity and are corrupt to the bone. Not a nice thought but a very common thread in the Kenya public school system.
This guy is the worst chief ever.
He works hard 24/7. That’s 24 hours a week, 7 weeks a year. Like most chiefs, he was appointed by relation. To make matters worse, he’s young and won’t be leaving office any time soon. I met so many farmers who would and could do so much more for the people of Butonge! Like this guy, Frederick, the assistant chief. Awesome dude and works hard all the time…
This little shop was about a 1/4 mile away from the flat where we stayed. Owned and operated by Indians, it’s seriously an oasis in the shopping desert of Bungoma. I became best friends with everyone in the store. They have an awesome bakery, stock a large assortment of beer, and take credit card. Thank you Yako!
And some pics from closing time in Lake Naivasha. What a beautiful portion of the world!
This is about as close as I could get to the giraffes without them running away. They eat this strange looking fruit off of trees with HUGE thorny, branches. Looks dangerous but they seem to love it.
And some video of the giraffes…
Lake Naivasha. There are parts of the lake where the water is so full of flamingos that all you see is pink for miles. There were literally thousands of them! I think this is the same site where National Geographic does a lot of their “flamingo photo-ops.”
There were lots of wildebeasts, antelopes, and zebras!
And last but not least, our favorite place to eat in Bungoma, Red Hat. Only place in town where you could get a proper bowl of Spaghetti! Thanks for the memories Hasan!
The trip back from Naivahsa to Bungoma was a total nightmare. All of our cars broke down and we were stranded in rural Africa for a couple of hours. After several futile attempts to chase down a taxi, we caught a mutatu (can you say “death-trap?”) to Eldoret and then finally got a taxi back home. What should have been a 6 hour trip took us nearly 14 hours. Despite a few near-death experiences, we made it home safe and sound.
Although we had somewhat of a bumpy finish to the whole experience, we made so many new friends and lifelong memories. This was truly the trip of a lifetime. It won’t be long before we return to Kenya but for now we will be catching up on some much need R&R in the States. Now if I could only beat this jet-lag!
Seems appropriate to leave you with this.
Baadaye. Asante sana!