I spent a month in Kenya, and now I am in England.
We did some of the typical tourist stuff, which included a trip to Masai Mara and the Serengeti in Tanzania . But most of my visit took me to small places where I was the only white man around. Although I was right near the equator, most days it was cooler in the morning, than it was yesterday in England. That's because many of the places were fairly high altitude, and there was cloud cover quite often.
Some children stared at me. Some reached out and touched my hand or hair. Many people tried to sell me things and several pitched business ideas that required financing.
Here is the most unexpected thing that happened. We planned a trip to see and climb some big rock formations. These rocks are in Luo territory. My girlfriend is from the Luo tribe, which is the same tribe that the Obama family are from. She suggested that we stop by for a look at the homestead. While we were looking, a gateman came to see what we were doing. She said that we were just looking, but since they might be related, would it be ok to come inside the fence? The gateman went up to the house and a couple minutes later, he returned to let us know that it was ok and that we could visit Mrs Obama in her living room.
For my girlfriend, this was like getting a private audience with the Queen. Our driver was also very pleased. Everywhere in Kenya there are images of Barack Obama, weather it be posters, etchings or soapstone carvings. He is their biggest celebrity.
After touring the grounds, we were brought inside to see Mrs Obama. It turns out that she knew many of my girlfriend's older relatives. She is a doctor of something, and has a case full of credentials and awards.
Obama's grandmother is the head of an orphanage. They have taken in many aids orphans and other orphans. She has a very good memory for someone who is 96. She gave a long list of accomplishments for some of the orphans. Some have gotten into medicine and engineering and others into government. They don't just house and feed them, like some places do. Education is their permanent way out of poverty. Many have returned to visit and have made sizable donations to their childhood home. My girlfriend didn't say anything at the time, but after we left she was very glad that I made a donation. Although nothing would have been said, in front of Mrs Obama, she would have been very embarrassed and angry, if I hadn't contributed. My girlfriend was orphaned, when both parents died in a car accident, and she runs a small Facebook group that raises money to educate orphans in her family. I really dodged a bullet, when I gave that donation . :-)
Mrs Obama, didn't talk much about her famous grandson, but lamented that her son died tragically, in his 40s.
We visited the grave sites of Barack Obama senior and his father. Only 100 ft from the house.
The home is quite nice and surrounded by mango trees and other edibles. Like everyone else, they have chickens and cattle.
The gateman appears to be any other gateman, at first, but he carries a concealed weapon. Being a gateman, is usually a low pay thing, often done by old men. This guy was very fit and sharp. I suspect that he was police or army.
If I had been asked to guess what we will do today, at 7 am, a visit with Sarah Obama would not have been thought of, as a possibility. Not if I were given 1000 guesses.☺
My hostel in London, is close to Buckingham Palace. There are many gatemen. Perhaps tomorrow, I should inform them that I have some English ancestry. Maybe I'll be invited in for tea, and to play with the Corgi dogs. 😎
Wow! That's amazing. Glad to hear about it, Dale. Great pics, too. When are you back?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I should be back on the 18th of next month. Bought a ticket that I thought was going to allow me to make many changes period turns out it would only let me change the return time and not the itinerary. I had to leave Kenya because I was running through money too quickly. It's not expensive for locals but it is for foreigners who want to stay alive.
So I had to buy a ticket to get me to London and back to Nairobi for my original departure date. They wouldn't let me pick up the flight in Frankfurt, so I will have to fly from London to Rome to Abu Dhabi and finally to Nairobi, then wait for 6 hours and fly from Nairobi to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt to Vancouver. That's going to be a really long flight. On my way there there was 52 hours between arriving at the first Airport and clearing customs in Nairobi. I expect to be tired.
Planning to visit France and Portugal and maybe some other places. I've learnt from my daughter that it's important to only go with carry on. The price of European flights can more than double if you have luggage.
Checked out lots of farms in Kenya but mostly just from the road. Many things are well guarded. Large farmers use fertilizer and pesticides. Most small farmers can't afford that stuff.
Grass fed beef is one of the least expensive things to eat. Anything foreign that comes in a package is much more expensive than if I bought it in Canada. I bought a pound of butter for the equivalent of 9 American dollars. I asked the check out girl if this was something she could buy. It cost more than her full day's wages. But just about everyone can eat beef and tropical fruit of all sorts is very inexpensive.
Women and girls stand by the roadside with bananas, mangoes, avocado, guava and other garden produce. It's almost always sold in qualities that are worth 100 shillings or 1 American dollar. $1 will buy 8 large avocados, 10 bananas, about $25 guava or 6 eggs.
I had some really good and some really terrible restaurant meals. Even if the place is completely empty and you're the only customer, the wait can be 45 minutes or an hour. This even happened when we all ordered fried tilapia. I've fried fish like this before. It never takes more than 10 minutes. If you don't like gooey sauce on your food you must make that clear in advance. Almost every restaurant dish comes with some sort of slop covering the thing you ordered.
Very cool! Thank you for sharing! I spent 14 years working on a (horse)farm that a Kenyan man and his American wife owned and ran. I developed an interest in Kenyan culture while there... Hard working and very efficient. Like... He said typically when he was small everyone had to get by on 1-2 gal water a day. Drink, wash, cook, clean/laundry... Adults got 2gal/day and youngsters got 1... I spent some time trying and could only go a few weeks on 2 gal/day... It was an eye opener.
Not in the area I was in. Kenya is the home of the 15 gallon flush. For some reason they haven't quite figured out toilets except in the fancy hotels. Most toilets have a giant tank yet they must be flushed multiple times. Some people bathe 2 and 3 times a day when it's hot. I think some poor people do it much less often.
For part of my visit I was staying in the most upscale area of Kisumu. Even there there are multiple day interruptions in water supply. Good houses use big storage tanks. Others use jerry cans.
I saw a combination of extremely efficient work and people working at things that were so foolishly backward that I couldn't call it work at all.
I created a fun new stereotype while I was there. Because I didn't want to drink any of the local water, I had to buy bottled water. Roadside watermelons are cheap and readily available. Some days I would eat a whole watermelon and not drink much water. My driver Caleb started making fun of how much watermelon white people eat. He told several other drivers and other people about it. He said he was worried that I was going to turn bright red, from over indulgence.
Poisonous snakes. I was very conscious of poisonous snakes. People graze cattle and sheep around the houses regularly to keep the grass golf course short in that area. Snakes and other creepy crawlies are afraid to cross that barrier because chickens, turkeys and people will attack them.
I only saw one snake while I was there. A sizable grey black specimen. I was going to hand some wood to the carpenter working at the big house and decided that I should hit the area with a broom first. The snake immediately fled. I pulled the wood to a paved area with the broom before picking it up.
A different driver showed me his leg that had permanent scarring from a childhood snakebite. He was bitten on the calf but the scarring goes right up past the knee. A cane worker showed up shortly after he was bitten. He washed the wound over and over and sucked out blood. He constricted the boy's leg and then cut two small incisions and made it bleed some more. Another cane worker ran and got someone with a car and they took him to the hospital. The doctor said that he would have died without this immediate help.
The cow with the rope around her horns is one that knows how to graze while tied on the roadside, without getting tangled. Rope trained cows enjoy a more varied diet and they get to stay out when the others are put in the barn. Lots of small tree browse and other things available in public areas.