Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pictures (just a couple)

Egypt then Paris and now heading home

Wow, when did we leave Kenya? I guess it was the 22nd of November but it feels like it could have been a month ago. It's been a great trip which we plan to blog about (thereby closing the blog loop) after we return to the states. In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures (if I can squeak them out with the remaining battery power). See you soon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Safari in Tsavo West National Park

We'll write a longer blog about our adventures in Tsavo this weekend (actually Ben will because he is the master blog writer) but I thought it would be nice to post some pictures. In short...the landscape was stunning, the Kilaguni Lodge was an oasis (especially after the drive from Nairobi), the animals were fun to watch (you can watch zebra, gazelles, and baboon at the water hole from your breakfast table), the game drives were fun - we saw elephant, kudu, dik-dik, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, hippos, crocs, impala, oryx, and a tortoise), the meals were extravagant - especially dinner by candlelight with the waterhole slightly lit up so you can watch zebra wander in for a drink, our driver was pretty funny and a great guide for the park even though he reminded us every hour that we would have seen more animals in the Mara, the drive from Nairobi was scary and dirty (though better than most drives I've done in Kenya). Here are a few pictures.

Cute kids on safari

On the road to Tsavo

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thoughts, happenings, and notes in no particular order and perhaps missing some punctuation

The kids are down for an afternoon nap, simultaneously (!). Erica is at work. I’ve been thinking about our temporary life in Nairobi, Kenya. Me and the kids spend most of our weekdays now generally inhabiting the triangle between the Gigiri Homestead, the UN complex, and the Village Market. Dylan typically takes a 1-2 hour nap in the morning while Grayson and I play some pretend game or watch cartoons or help the gardener (Mbito) with weeding or watering the plants. I tack on to this drinking multiple cups of coffee. Grayson is fond of taking guests’ breakfast orders and then reporting them to Rosa and Faith, who are usually the staff people doing the morning cooking. Rosa and Faith laugh and participate in Grayson’s play as he rushes between the dining room and the kitchen taking orders from the guests and delivering them to the cooks. The dining room and kitchen are connected by a large opening cut in the wall where there is also a countertop with coffee, mugs, cereals, milk, and juice. Often Grayson doesn’t remember the whole breakfast order so he shouts back to the guests from the kitchen, “Pancakes, bacon, …and what else?” Rosa and Faith seem to enjoy Grayson’s play which I think makes the whole thing work for everyone. Or, they are just putting up with it and looking longingly forward to the day we leave. Nah, they love it! After Dylan wakes up, generally around 10 am, we load up the stroller—-swim suits, diapers, wipes, extra clothes for Dylan, soccer ball, jump rope, gym clothes, room key, cell phone,…oh, and some baby food and a spoon—-and walk toward the locked gate to the compound. This is where Grayson usually gets to get off the stroller again and run inside to ask someone to unlock the gate for us. They are gracious about it and unlock the gate but I’m guessing that they sometimes wished we’d leave in the morning with everyone else. Walking down the lane (Gigiri Court?) we pass a number of large homes situated behind 10 foot plus tall hedges and big locked gates. Most are probably owned by foreigners. Guards stand out front and cheerfully greet us-—“Hello”, “Hi”—-as we pass. Grayson has gotten considerably less shy as time has gone by and as he stands up at the back of the stroller will greet these people in Swahili—“Jambo!”, “Habari!”. They always (I can’t think of an exception) respond with a smile and in kind they’ll say “Jambo sana”, “nzuri sana”. He did this once with a group of about 10 men that were gathered across the street we were walking along and they burst out with surprised laughter and responded “nzuri sana!” He’s made a good impression on people here. From the lane we veer right down a short street with a UN office (?) of some sort on one side and more large houses and compounds on the other. The end of this short street marks the beginning of a much busier street where we pick up the pace. On the busy streets we move as fast as we can to minimize the amount of time we are exposed to traffic, which is often not the friendliest. Though, I have noticed that most drivers are more than willing to provide a wide berth for pedestrians, especially those with children. At this point on our walk (in this case I’m taking you from the Gigiri Homestead to the UN complex) we’ve probably encountered about 20-30 people, many of them security guards but also some other people out on walks or commuting between home and work (I presume). We’ve done this enough now that I’m sure everyone knows us and as time has gone on people have gotten more willing to interact with us as we walk along our way. I can’t help but wonder what the rumors are about me or generally what people think. Perhaps I’ll ask someone before we leave. It can’t be that unusual? Can it? A white man, taking care of two small children, always on the same walk to mom’s office or to Village Market while not common place I’m sure has been observed around here many times before? While people have generally been enamored of Grayson and more than willing to be friendly and play with him they have been most verbal about their admiration for the blue-eyed chubby little baby looking so serious grasping his play keys and then once spoken too giving out a giggle. It appears that all kids hold a special place for people (men and women) here but babies are apparently the ultimate. We’re clearly biased toward our children (shouldn’t all parents be?). It would be difficult to persuade us otherwise, and it has been fun to have people react to our kids almost as if they were their own. Even the Kenyan soldiers, stationed at intervals outside the US Embassy automatic rifles hanging from their shoulders, will from time to time stop and peer in at Dylan under the stroller hood and grasp his little hand and say “Sasa! Sasa!” (to be pronounced in a slightly high pitched baby talk like way). Grayson from the beginning has referred to the soldiers (and any armed security guards) as “gun guys” often exclaiming such (easily within earshot) and pointing when we walk by. We’ve recently dissuaded him from doing this (he still does it quietly and without pointing), though these people never seemed to mind terribly. He met one soldier the other day (Kevin) who was very friendly and when Grayson asked what the gun was for he said “to shoot bad guys”. We’d told him that the guns were in case of lions. Or, actually he decided himself that that’s what the guns were for and we never suggested otherwise. I think that perhaps one of the ways I am now known around here is that white guy with the big black and yellow stroller with the adorable fat baby in the front and the cute kid in back that likes to greet people in the local language and sometimes verbally acknowledge when someone is packing heat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lazy weekend

After our expensive weekend around town last week, we elected to hang out at the pool at the UN complex and relax at the house this past weekend. It was a really hard weekend.