Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kenya/Uganda Pictures

Sorry it took us so long to get this post out. Things have been a bit crazy around here since we got back. We broke the pictures up into , hopefully, manageable chunks so you don't get too overwhelmed. Just to recap, we spent three weeks in Kenya/Uganda over Christmas and New Years. It was Jesse and Rowan's first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa and I hadn't been to Kenya for 10 years. Uganda was a first for all of us. We were visiting Jesse's cousin Josh and his wife Audra (and kids Raeleigh and Gabriel) in Nairobi. They work with Wycliffe Associates. In Uganda we were with Jesse's Aunt and Uncle (Josh's Mom and Dad) who live in Kampala and work with Mission Aviation Fellowship.

This first set of pictures is of the Giraffe Center in Nairobi. The first week we were in Kenya, we just stayed around Nairobi as Raeleigh was still in school and Josh was still working. But as soon as Saturday rolled around . . .

We drove to Uganda! What fun! No really, it was pretty fun. This first pic is of Rowan and Raeleigh at the boarder crossing. The drive there was about 13 hours, but the roads were not too bad. We only hit a few patches of rough road so we were pleased. We also had a portable movie player so that helped the kids out a lot. It was so great to be with Jon and Cher for Christmas and see where they live . The house is beautiful! Rowan has started calling Cher "his" grandma. Why not?

Jon took us on a plane ride! We flew over Lake Victoria and all the kids got a turn at pilot. So did Jesse. What an experience for a little kid (or an adult) to fly an airplane. We are so spoiled.

Another day we went on a canoe trip through the marshlands on the edge of Lake Victoria. It is mainly a birdwatching expedition and it was so breathtakingly beautiful. The main attraction is the Shoebill. A bizarre looking bird that can only be found in tropical East Africa. There are only about 5-8,000 individuals left. Did we see one? Nope, we saw TWO! There was a group in another boat that had come just to see the shoebill and paid through the nose to do it, and here we were. Again, we are so spoiled.

The telling of our time at Jon and Cher's would not be complete without monkey stories. Jon brought home a little baby monkey one day last spring and now it is running the house. His name is Sheeda, which means "trouble" and he is very well named. Having a monkey in your midst sure does keep things interesting. He was hard to photograph because he moved so fast. It was funny how the kids we all over him at first trying to hold him and catch him. A few days later they were shooing him away. Every now and then you would hear an exasperated child yell and you knew that Sheeda had just stolen something. I have never seen anything move as fast as this guy. You could be sitting down with something IN YOUR HAND and he could snatch it from you and be in the next room before you realized it was gone. The funniest had to be when he would swing by and take a handful of your drink (yes, dip his tiny monkey hand into you glass) and be off before you knew what happened. He is adorable , sweet, and a ton of fun, but now I know for sure that I do NOT want a monkey for a pet. You can never really be sure until you try it out, so I'm grateful to have had the chance to try it out.

We stayed in Uganda for one week and then drove back to Kenya. The way back only took about 10 hours and we were thrilled. We had a few days to unwind and then we all headed to Tsavo National Park for some animal watching. It was about 4 hours drive on a mixed bag of roads (some good some bad). Josh and Audra rented this great guesthouse with a watering hole just out front. So all we had to do was sit around and let the animals come to us. It was fantastic! We did do some driving around and a few of the pictures are from Mzima Springs where we saw hippos and a crocodile, but he was too far to get a photo of. We didn't get to see any cats (lions, leopards, cheetahs), but I think we did pretty good for just sitting out on the porch. The great part about that was having a chance to really observe the behaviors and antics of the animals instead of just driving by and taking pictures. I really enjoyed Tsavo!

We came back for our last few days in Nairobi. We went out to a tea farm where a lady does a presentation about tea and you get a tour of the area and a really nice lunch. It was a beautiful place. Tea fields are amazingly green. They almost looked fake. The lady has this wonderful garden and the kids could just run around and play. The weather was perfect. I really could have just moved in and stayed forever. I have decided that I want to retire on a tea plantation. With someone else doing all the work, of course. Jesse says that's fine as long as there's good internet.

Here is where we finally found chameleons. We had been looking the whole time. One of them was just a tiny baby and so cute.

The last place we went was a place where they make glass by hand out of recycled bottles. It is a really funky, artsy place that is decorated with all kinds of glass objects and art (check out the toilets). The stuff they make is fantastic.

We had such a wonderful trip. We can't thank Josh and Audra and Jon and Cher enough for everything they did for us.