Saturday, February 6, 2010

week 3.

We're halfway done! With time that is, halfway done with projects... well, that could take a lifetime. The week started with a trip to Naivasha and Hells Gate National Park, a 1 1/2 hour ride from Gilgil on two matatus (read: minibus crammed with at least 14 people). But, the transport was only about $1.50 and we were a world away from the camp, which was pretty welcome at that point. There occurs a time during every trip I have taken when I get a little anxious. Not for any particular reason, just because. This was it. It probably also had to do with the fact that it was my birthday, and let's face it, I've never really been into my birthday (for reasons unknown to me). But this was going to be a very relaxing vacation, for sure.

We rented a "banda" (read: small house with 4 beds and a bathroom) for about $30/night on the shores of Lake Naivasha. It was UBER RELAXING. We ate delicious food and drank beer from the open air patio of the restaurant on the lodge's grounds- they even had 'sticky' chocolate cake for dessert! Though I am not sure how sticky played into the cake at all. At 6:30 pm every night, a two foot high electric fence was activated and spotlights were turned on so that we could view the hippos coming out to graze. Big, fat, and hairless, I was pretty much satisfied with everything I saw over the three days we were there. After a relaxing first day, the following morning we woke up early to rent bicycles to ride through Hells Gate National Park. 8 hot, dusty, sweaty hours later, we had seen more herds of zebras than I had ever imagined in my life. The park has amazing topography- cliffs and rock monuments, rolling grasslands and acacia forests. Pretty much everything you think of when you think of African landscape. And by bike- fantastic!! Though the first turn we took was probably the wrong one (think, biking uphill through sand in search of "Obsidian Caves" that actually don't exist anymore because they collapsed 5 years ago... thanks for changing the signage, park employees), we ended up with sore backsides that were well worth the journey. We determined that we rode a total of 40km (rough estimate) mostly in sand or on rocky surfaces on 20 year old mountain bikes with names like "CHevrolet, the Heartbeat of America". Hahaa, only here. We pretty much got up close an personal with warthogs, zebras, gazelles, kudus, antelope, and 2 giraffes! I was actually 100 yards from the giraffes, but Ben and Robin were much much closer- I was a little jealous. It was a low point in the ride and I was struggling know, typical heat exhaustion. I was glad we didn't encounter any hostile animals...because really, I cannot imagine trying to out-bike a rhino or wildcat. I could hardly out-bike myself walking. Our third and final day was spent lounging again, mostly in the same chair all day. It was fantastic. Though we knew we had to go back to the camp, it re-energized and vamped our spirits for the next three weeks, especially because I know Ben and I will have some more supre awesome times post-volunteering.

Back at the camp this week it was slow going. Everyone was kind of in a rut. Our assessment project keeps being pushed back for some reason or another (laziness on part of our interpreters? Not really sure) And the greenhouse roof ripped off over the weekend due to high winds. Ben spent an entire morning fixing it HIMSELF, without the help of anyone at the camp for some reason, while I held his rickety ladder steady so that he wouldn't kill himself in the name of some 500 tomato plants. The camp was supposedly "preparing for a meeting" with some government official, which in the end, didn't even happen. Yesterday I took charge and said that we should start this interview process, interpreter or not. So we started with Rev. John (everyones name is john, and this one is on the way to becoming a reverend..hence the nickname). He was the perfect person to start with! He is probably the most motivated person in the camp, having worked as a mason, carpenter, on an industrial wheat farm, owned his own restaurant, and many many other talents. I think a direct quote of his was something like, "I can do pretty much any job." He is totally motivated, but lacks connections with people in the camp to start projects with. Hopefully our project will help this! Ben and I were invited to dinner at his tent last night where we had ugali and greens (much tastier than the ones we have at home) with he and his wife and their 5 children. While Ben talked to John about anything and everything (the usual question/answer session that takes about 3 hours with every Kenyan we meet), I talked to the youngest two boys, ages 8 and 11 about school and soccer. They both have VERY good English skills, most definitely due to the ferocity of wit and intelligence of their parents.

Well, must cut this short so that I can respond to some emails, and return to the camp to do some more interviewing!

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