Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the air again...just can't wait to get in the air again...

I know, I know...I have been absolutely terrible at updating this blog and nobody knows what I have been up to these past five weeks or so...but a brief run through and then I get home I will post some 1,000 pictures or something to tell the story...so if a picture is worth a thousand words then my story will me 1,000,000 words long and that is way more than I can ever write....maybe not ever, but I digress. Special note: to those of you who have yet to look through all of our Hawaii pics, get on it cause the Africa ones will be up soon.

So the class was great. We left Nairobi and went north to Samburu, ten of us, our professor, a TA, and a groups of guys who drove us and cooked for us. We camped five nights in Samburu on the grounds of a health clinic and spent our time visiting the projects of the NGO SAIDIA. At times I felt like I was in a Nat'l Geographic magazine by the traditional dress worn by the Samburu tribe members. It was quite amazing. My favorite part of this site was a visit to an Early Childhood Devlelopment Center with about 100 small children who sang and danced for us and we danced for them. I sat with a group of them while they ate their porridge and made faces and sounds making them laugh. It was a top five moment.

After Samburu we drove to Lake Bogoria for R&R, and the place we stayed at had a really nice pool. Unfortunately, on the way there I hurt my back so I was somewhat incapacitated. I could enjoy the chlorine pool but not the natural spring for fear of infection. All in all, it was a nice time to relax.

We then drive to Bungoma district and Kakichuma village where we camped in someone's yard and visited with an NGO called Rucebo. We stayed there for about five days and met with support groups for people with HIV and was inspired by how empowered they are. Each group we met sang and danced for us and actually we were all dancing together. One of the main projects there is kitchen gardens and community gardens where they grow indigenous plants that provide needed nutrients for HIV patients and that complement the ARVs. It was also in Kakichuma where we encountered the rains, and actually a few of us ended up sleeping on the floor in our hosts house because our tents got flooded. So much fun!

From Kakichuma we drove to Suba District, which is located near Lake Victoria. Part of our trip was a ferry ride over the lake which was neat. Suba District has the highest rate of HIV in Kenya. It was a totally different picture here than in Kakichuma. The people seemed much more destitute. At one point we sat down with our hosts and looked at a village map that had been drawn two years ago and had them tell us which households had had someone die of AIDS in the last two years, and it was way too many. It was hard to see. We also visited a fishing village where they practice a system called jaboya, which is basically trading fish for sex. Men develop relationships with women who sell their fish and sex is involved in the deal. Unfortunately, one man will be with many women, and the virus spreads rampantly. The stigma is so terrible that none of the men will get tested. It was here where we saw it the worst, for sure.

That was the end of the class part of the class, and then we went to the Masai Mara National Reserve, literally camped in the bush, and went on two game drives. The sunrise one was absolutely amazing. We saw male and female lions, topi, Thompson's gazelles, elephants (amazing tusks!), zebra, buffalo, widebeest (but just missed the migration), giraffe...etc. I have fabulous pictures. On the afternoon drive we went to the river and saw about a dozen hippos. Pretty amazing.

So then we drove back to Karen, a suburb outside of Nairobi where our professor currently lives. We had beer and pizza and a hot shower, which after three weeks straight of tent camping (and 2/3 of that time in the rain) was a gift from heaven. We stayed two nights there, wrapped up the class, and then the group all went to their destinations.

I will close this post for now, and save our holiday for another post. I hope this finds everyone well. Happy belated birthday to my bro and Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. I hope to call you later.

Bek Abroad


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