At the top of the lookout point at the Kakamega Rain Forest
Amos telling a story
Amos being silly
By APNWLNS payday loans
Amos telling a story
Amos being silly
This week included a hike in the Kakamega Rain Forest (our first trip to a national park), we hosted our first dinner party (4 people plus us), attended a fancy banquet with the Pope’s representative (aka free food and drinking alcohol with priests and nuns), bought malaria preventative drugs, gave computer lessons to a coworker, gave literacy lessons to another coworker, read a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine, and made a trip to Eldoret for an emergency trip to the hospital. To read immediately about the hospital trip, skip the care package ideas and go to the next blog post. Or, if you’re one of the people who’ve asked about care packages (Andy, Caroline S, Adria, and Mary), read on!
Care packages – People have generously asked if it’s safe to send a care package and assume it will arrive. The answer is absolutely! In five months we’ve been honored and tickled to get little things from Seattle, Tacoma, Houston, Austin, and Hartford with no problems. One package a month is a pretty great average! We’ve gotten chocolate, photos, a magazine, harmonica, tapes, plastic ninja, t-shirts, etc. You people rock my world! For recent folks who’ve asked, we’ve brainstormed and came up with some ideas. And remember, envelopes seem to mean we don’t have to pay customs, so save money if you want to send something, mark a low value, and send in any sized envelope of your choice. If you want to surprise us, feel encouraged. Or, if you want suggestions, we’ve deliberated and come up with a list of seven or eight suggestions to pick from for those who asked what we’re missing:
Traveling Cat / Box 323 / Malava 50103 KENYA / AIRMAIL
Background: Cindy’s Mom sent us some pages of a recent issue of Rolling Stone which was super exciting! It was our first portion of a magazine to read in five months as news of the outside world is in short supply. (You can only learn so much from a half hour BBC news report each morning). The issue of Rolling Stone was great, great, great, but an unintended side effect left me wanting more. Instead of satiating my need for music and news, it introduced me to ideas of new music coming out that I’ll have no possible way of hearing. Case and point: it had an interview with Eddie Vedder and then had a review of Pearl Jam’s newest studio record. It’s not only their first album in four years, it’s supposed to be the best thing they’ve made since Ten came out way back when. In Seattle I could walk down to Sonic Boom to get the CD, pick up a copy at Easy Street or Tower Records, or order from Amazon or i-Tunes with the click of a mouse. However, I’m pretty sure it’d be impossible for me to find the new Pearl Jam anywhere near here which is rather heart breaking.
Cindy also encourages me to ask for burned DVD movies and I’m happy to oblige. We went to Nairobi last month, spent the money to buy two DVDs, but got home to our village and found neither worked in my computer. We’ve watched the five movies I brought with from home (approximately one movie per month), but otherwise nightlife here is non-existant. Cindy thinks the request for tapes went so well in March with multiple responses from generous friends that we might as well try with a request for burned copies of movies too. Can’t blame a girl for trying.
So, if you think you may want to send something in the coming months, you now have many suggestions for free or cheap things, or more specialized things like burned CDs, movies, or PJ. Or, if you are content to leave comments or send an occasional email, I’m totally great with those too. Just knowing you’re alive and well really does keep me quite content. (Erin or Ann – you two still alive?)
And now, if you’re not tired of reading yet, I’ll babble a little about my trip to the hospital this week. It was a bit scary but was over in a day and thankfully had a happy ending!
We had a newborn baby brought to the Centre this week that had a plethora of problems. He was born with two club feet, one giant swollen leg, a foot with toes grown together in one clumped mass, and had multiple fingers and toes that were missing digits. The leg was the scariest part and made me fear amputation or something more immediate like death. (Perhaps after baby Pavin’s death I’m more fearful for little babies I’m trying to help, but really, if you’d seen the leg, you might have feared the worst too). While many baby legs are the approximate width and shape of a broom handle, this baby had one leg that was the shape of a football and was almost as big as the baby’s head. Instead of a normal 1 inch diameter, it was closer to 5-6 inches across. When the therapists and programme director saw the baby, everyone agreed we needed to get him immediately to a major hospital. So, I was nominated to take the baby and his parents to Eldoret since I was quite familiar with the hospital, orthopedic clinic, pediatrics, and casualty.
We’ll share the two scary or sad moments first:
1. Scary: It was an emergency trip without planning time. I jumped into the car without my water bottle or my international drivers license. I debated going home for them as Kenya is hot and fond of police checks, but decided I shouldn’t take time to go home when we needed to get on the road pronto. So, it was a risk driving without a license but I was willing when there’s a little baby at stake. However, like I said, Kenya is fond of police checks where armed soldiers and police stand along side the road with rifles inspecting you and your vehicle. The first 8 police checks I drove past in the first hour and a half were a-okay. The 9th police check brought the dreaded moment where a man with a giant rifle stops the car and says “Please assist me with your driver’s license.” Of course it was the first time in five months in Kenya that anyone asked for my license, which of course meant I didn’t have it with me. I didn’t even have my passport. All I had was a photocopy of my inside page of passport so I handed that to him silently. He looks at it, not knowing any better, and says “Oh, a Minnesota license.” (My passport accurately lists Minnesota as my birthplace, though I never lived there when I was old enough to drive). Maybe he knew better, but didn’t care? Maybe he didn’t know any better? Either way, he was content with my “Minnesota license,” found my insurance to be in good form, saluted me, and waved us on our way. Thank goodness for small miracles.
2. Sad: Because of so many trips to the hospital assisting previous children, some of the nurses remembered me. I was a bit surprised since it’s such a big hospital, but it gave me a warm fuzzy when they’d walk up, remembered me, asked me how Malava was, how I was doing, etc. The fact they remembered my village was quite impressive. And it seems they remembered Pavin too. It was sad when they inevitably asked about her and I had to admit she died after surgery while still in the hospital. I accepted their soft “pole sanas” and updated them on the tiny new client I’d brought in today.
That said, the good news came three-fold:
1. On the way there and back, I listened to REO Speedwagon’s Greatest Hits on a tape that was generously air-mailed last month. (Yay care packages and generous friends!) After the first full REO listening was complete, I put in Phil Collins who I do like but it just wasn’t as satisfying. I also tried Nat King Cole thinking a different genre would be good, but I ended up listening to REO Speedwagon again and again. The tape was oh so fantastic for the trip and it eased my way into another scary baby situation that could possibly mean death for a tiny week old child. I’m not kidding. I should be ashamed to admit it, but the tape really was that fantastic. What a great album! (Brandon, if you’re reading this, I know you like Journey, and I do too, but if you haven’t listened to REO Speedwagon in a while, it’s high time you rectify the situation).
2. More exciting than even REO Speedwagon, the doctors said the baby was going to be okay. They said his foot is still alive, despite the football shaped lump of a leg between the hips and the club foot. They need to schedule him with a few more doctors before anything can happen, but they hope to soon after schedule him for surgery so they can operate and save the leg. There’s nothing they can do about the missing pieces of fingers or toes, but they can try to correct the club feet over time so he can hope to walk someday. Imagine my immense relief! After Pavin’s death I was so scared of losing another little baby, and was so relieved yesterday to hear it’s not life threatening yet and that they can save the leg before it gets worse.
3. And the icing on the cake: there’s a nonprofit called “Clubfoot Care for Kenya” that partners with Moi Hospital and provides free assistance to club feet children age infant to 2 years. As a 10-day-old baby he qualifies and that means while his parents will struggle to find a way to afford doctors visits and surgery on the leg, he’ll at least get the club feet treated for free!
Work continues to be good, I’m now an aunt, the afternoon rains continue falling during the current rainy season, I’m exercising regularly again, and a little baby in our village will have a promising life ahead. All in all, life is good.
This has nothing to do with Kenya, but everything to do with what’s important in life: my brother and sister-in-law just had their first child!! This means I’m now an aunt, my parents are now grandparents, and it means we’re all terribly proud and excited to welcome little Gus to the world!
Charlie and son
Feliz anniversario a Cindy y yo! Y Happy Cinco de Mayo tambien!!
Yesterday we took a “staff bonding” road trip, the first of its kind, all the way to Kisumu to eat lunch and visit the Kisumu Museum. We ate lunch at the gorgeous Kiboko Bay Resort, right on Lake Victoria. Quite a nice place, with a swimming pool and cabins you can rent. Back in Kakamega today to do internet. It feels like there’s always so much to tell, and so little all at once, that yet again I’m avoiding it all together by posting pictures. So, here’s the April recap based primarily on photo recollections. Enjoy!
And that was about it for exploring and excitement in Nairobi. We were able to stay with generous, terrific women in both Langata and Race Course, and even got to visit a real hospital too where we both saw doctors and both got drugs. It wasn’t quite the trip we’d planned, but it wasn’t too bad overall. I guess we’re meant to slowly get to know Nairobi, and will continue to do some in some future month.
PS Mail is always funny… sometimes we’ll go a few weeks without either of us getting mail, and then one day we each get multiple pieces. MANY thanks this week go to Rod (hope FL was fun), Jerry (congrats on the baby boy!), Maggie (Thailand? I’m jealous!), and Mikey (thanks for the care package!).
Elwin, my new Dutch friend, says Nairobi is “brilliant!” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I must say that life in the big city is pretty exciting after four months in Malava. This is our third time here, but the first we were confined to the house to recover from jetlag, and the second we were confined to the house for our 24 hr visit. This time we were hoping for some wild and crazy adventures, but sadly malaria got in the way. Yep, my lovely partner in crime got malaria last week, and it pretty much sucked the fun out of her. She’s been resting lots and so there were no wild and crazy adventures to be had.
We did visit an elephant orphanage (awww…) and ate lunch out one day at the Nairobi Coffee House. It served things like burritos and ice cream sundaes and salads, which was pretty great after eating sukuma and ugali for four months. Don’t get me wrong… I actually really do like sukuma and ugali… it was just a nice change of pace. While Cindy was home resting, I went out wandering a little. In Langata, I visited the Karen Coffee House, named for Baroness Karen Blixen of “Out of Africa” fame. She owned her 4,000 acre coffee plantation on the land that is now the suburbs of Langata and Karen. I also went out on my own in downtown which was pretty cool. The books say Nairobi has the worst crime in Africa, recently beating out Jo-berg, South Africa. I was a bit hesitant to go alone at first, but am glad to report I felt totally safe and at ease the whole time. I actually get more harassment in both Kakamega and Kisumu than in Nairobi. It was a welcome break, and fun to see things like fast food and tall buildings and DVDs for sale. (I bought 2 DVDs that we’re going to try on my laptop… let’s hope the quality isn’t too awful).
Update: The DVDs don’t actually work on my laptop, even though I tested them on the TV at the shops… lame! Maybe it’s a regional thing, or maybe my Dell isn’t capable of doing what a normal DVD player can? Either way, it wasn’t a ton of money lost, but was still very sad.
I really love visiting new cities and love learning the lay of the land, learning how to navigate new public transit, seeing the energy, etc. I’m glad to say I can now get anywhere in the City Centre, and can get to and from the houses in Langata and Race Course where we stayed. Oh, and I went to the hospital (a real hospital!) and I got three prescriptions. Hopefully what’s been ailing me will go away shortly. It’s late here and I’ve got to run and pack before getting the early bus back to Malava tomorrow. Wish me luck, wish Cindy’s malaria goodbye, and keep in touch!