Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hell's Gate

We woke up early and drove to Hell's Gate yesterday. At the entrance to the park, there are bikes for rent for 500 shillings... we tested out a few, and started out through the gate and along the road. We wanted to see as many animals as we could, and luckily we were there early enough to see tons! Zebra, giraffe, warthogs, gazelle, ostrich, crazy birds... dozens to hundreds of all of them.

After biking down the road a few km, we came to this huge canyon... we walked around the top of it, rather than climbing down through it.

These are some of the zebra and a giraffe that we rode by on our way. After this, we encountered a herd of buffalo! That turned our day into more of an adventure than I had expected. We quickly retreated, regrouped, then darted past... the buffalo didn't seem to care at all, so we were just fine.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some Pix

We went to the elephant orphanage in Nairobi earlier this week. There were about a dozen elephants under the age of 3 there. One of the keepers gave a thorough presentation, informing us of how they care for the babies and their methods for re-incorporating them into the wild. Elephants are especially fragile animals, they are so emotionally sensitive that if a baby loses his mother, he will often die of sadness within a few days... like a little heart attack.
We also visited the giraffe center to get an up-close look at this lady. Her name is Laura and she is very pretty. We walked up some stairs to this balcony, where we bribed her to come near to us by holding out little pellets of food. I loved getting to touch her tongue, feel her hair, and see her coat so close up.

A couple of days ago, my mom, Morgan and I went down into Kijabe Town with John. John is an awesome guy. He's coordinating all kinds of projects in and around Kijabe, working with the local people and trying to help out in any way he can. He's a Kenyan, lives up in Maingi (a town just up the road from where we live), and he's got a lot of energy for helping people. One of the many things he does is deliver bags of food (produce, flour, sugar) to widows in Kijabe town and in the IDP camps each month. We just went along for the ride and met some of the ladies. It is very encouraging and inspiring to see a Kenyan helping Kenyans.

This is our friend Abraham. He comes over each morning to have some chai and a muffin. He has the greatest laugh I've ever heard... and is the dirtiest man I've ever touched. It occurred to me yesterday while I was having my morning chat with him that I hadn't taken a picture of him yet. So I got the camera out and told him he was a just like a model. He responded with a strong, hearty, toothless outburst of laughter. Great man. Seriously, one of the things I'll miss most about Africa: Abraham.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Morgy's Here

Morgan flew in Saturday night for a two week visit. It's nice and sort of strange for me to see one of my friends. I'm realizing how little time I have left here, and am starting to think more about going home and what that will be like. I haven't seen my friends in months... going on almost a year for some of them. I haven't driven a car since, been to school, worn a coat, or done loads of other things since December or January. I miss Americans and I miss Seattle.

But there is plenty here in Kenya that I will miss too. The weather, the sky, the slower pace of life, the chapati and chai, the acacia trees, the pikis, the exotic animals, the sky, cheap things... lots! Africa is so different than home, which makes it both lonely and exciting. With the time ticking so steadily, there's a whole list of things I want to be sure and do before I fly out.

John has a few volleyball games left. It's been fun for him to have the opportunity to play, and I've really enjoyed watching. He and I have had some great times together here, lots of sibling bonding in our small little apartment in Kijabe. I'm glad he's coming home so soon after I do.

My dad's been out of the country for almost a week now, lecturing at a medical school and working in a clinic. When he returns, we have plans to go on safari in Nakuru and hopefully visit Kembu Farm (this really neat knitting project in Nakuru). Tomorrow, my mom and I are taking Morgan to the Masai Market to try out some of her bargaining skills.

Ali and Myles are still on their big trip, which is so strange to think! It feels like forever ago that they were here with us. They have checked in a couple of times to let us know they are fine. After a couple of days in Paris, they'll be flying back home. I think we're all excited to be back together again in Seattle.

That's the short little summary of what's happening around here...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Masai Mara

I was pretty excited about this safari. We spent a few days in the Masai Mara a few weeks ago and got to see all kinds of animals. It was great. Normally this type of trip would be really expensive, but we did it for cheap which made it even better. We camped in a missionary family's backyard, less than a mile from one of the park entrances. They were super nice and had a great spot to pitch a tent, a fire pit, a toilet, a shower- all for free! Our driver Benson and our Masai guide Jon were expert animal spotters. We saw four of the BIG 5 (all but the elusive leopard). Benson's van was way more legit than we were anticipating.. off-roading, driving through deep mud, up and down steep, narrow crevices... and only got stuck one time. I was repeatedly shocked and amazed with her performance. It was a fun weekend for us kids, out on our own without the parents. And I feel much better about my time in Africa now that I've spent a few days just staring at crazy animals and taking pictures of them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mt. Kilimanjaro (not a long walk)

We had a great adventure last week. The five Fisher's and Myles ascended Mt. Kilimanjaro... along with a team of support. Literally 19 Tanzanians went up the mountain with us, a compilation of guides, porters, and cooks. There are multiple routes up the mountain- ours was the Nalemuru route. It took five days round trip. We walked very slowly the entire way to the top, which seemed silly at first.. but as we reached higher and higher altitudes it began to make more sense. Living at above 7,000 feet in Kijabe for the past few months definitely helped with handling the thin air at 19,000+ feet. Alison and Myles had a little more trouble with the elevation... some sickness, dizziness... but we all made it to the top!

Day 1
Heavy fog, torrential downpours the entire day of hiking. Once we reached our campsite the sun came out and the mountain appeared for the first time. It was a huge relief.

Day 2
Much less rainy. We had a really pretty campsite called "Third Caves". It was sunny and clear by the time we reached camp... and the mountain was right above us!

Day 3

We made our way to School Hut, which was the last campsite before the summit. We slept for a few hours at 15,000 feet, then woke up at 11:30 pm to start the long, hard climb up the steep switchbacks to the top of the crater.

Day 4

I didn't even know that Kili was a crater until I got to the top and saw the "real summit" on the other side of the massive thing. Two hours after reaching Gilman's point, which is the first summit, we reached Uhuru point... at around 8:15am. We were so relieved to finally be done with the UP and to start going DOWN.

Day 5

Our last day on the mountain... I was the only one who woke up sore from the day before, which was strange. This is our team of helpers. It was really cool walking down the mountain, we passed through all kinds of different "environments" as we got lower and lower. All of that downhill was hard on the knees.

We got to stay at a really nice, comfortable hotel in Moshi the night we finished the hike. We had a few rounds of Tusker, Kilimanjaro, and Safari beers before collapsing into bed.

We are all thankful that the weather held up and that everyone made it to the top. I speak for all of us when I say that we were caught a bit off guard by the difficulty of that last day up to the summit. It was HARD. If anyone ever tells you that Kili is just a "long walk" they are lying. My mom claims she was debating whether she would rather give birth or continue climbing up the switchbacks... she decided she'd rather give birth.
But it was fun! And we're happy to be back in Kijabe, preparing ourselves for a nice long week at the beach in Mombasa in just a couple of days...