Monday, 27 September 2010
Susan- Teacher from Ireland
Jo- From Gurnsey
Fay- From Birmingham
Sonia- Also From Birmingham
Jen- Works in Ikea in Newcastle, doesnt like it
Hollie- Cop from Cornwal
Kellie- Jr Dr from Ireland (Sister of Tina)
Louise - Teacher in Ireland
Ryan- Graduated medicine with Kellie, Jr Dr in Ireland
Rachael- Psyc grad from Scotland… someware
Fiona- From Scotland.. not entirely sure where…
Rebecca- Also Scotland
Gemma- From Gurnsey
Mona- Undergrad in medicine.
Tina- Student Nurse in Ireland- Kellie’s Sister.
Nikki- Jr Leader (2CO)
Getting ready to go
My bag packed before going!
Left Botton with Duty Driving and caught the 8- something train to Middlesbrough. then to Kings Cross, London. We then took the underground to Heathrow. Not very interesting except I nearly got pickpocketed by some random guy… weird. Arrived at the airport about 2h before check in, so chilled for a bit… fun fun fun for all the family! So I finished reading “First Light” for the 2nd time… Then spotted Alpha Team, though I didn’t know it was Alpha Team at the time. Met with my team, Bravo team, and checked in with all our stuff. After scaring Clare, a Paramedic in our team, who had never been on a plane before, we boarded the plane, a Qatar A-340, which was cool because it had switchable TV in the seats, and it even had a cool little phone on the reverse, so I spent 30 minutes calling nearly every seat on the plane, but I think I was the only one who had discovered it, so no one picked theirs up.
After 7h we landed in Doha, it was really warm for early morning. ( 38 deg) After a little wait inside Doha’s lush airport (oil money going to good use there..) we boarded the tiny A-319 to Nairobi. Pretty uneventful flight, apart from the landing, after 5 missed approaches the pilot finally slammed the poor plane onto the tarmac. Phone worked, so I texted home (50p a text!!!! what!) We then remet with Alpha team and got visas, luggage etc and loaded everything onto the waiting green safari bus thing.. Bravo team didn’t fit into the truck/bus so we got a Matatu… ( google it..) It was meant for 14 passengers, we got 25 onto it… We then drove though the Nairobi slums to the ‘campsite.
Day 2- Longest 7h in the world.
After taking down the tents we loaded up a “Mololine” coach with all our gear for the trek up to the Orphanage. We were told it would be a 7h trip…. The first section was the bumpiest 5h of my life as we went over the world’s bumpiest road. After the 5h we stopped for lunch.. half way point… good lunch of pineapple and other stuff and we continued on our trek, another 5h and we arrived at “Mega City” in Kisumu. Restocked with stuff here and continued… 1h later, 11h after we started, we arrived at the Ulamba Orphanage. This was my first experience of Kenyan time. Mathematically equivalent to:
Where T(k) is Kenyan Time, T(m) is Mazungu time, and K is a constant to the person who is telling you the time.
First impressions of the Orphanage, very little, very tired, but the kids were really friendly and welcoming. 2h after arrival food was ready. It was good, but at that time I didn’t really want food.. (1am day 3…) so Ryan (my tent mate, and Jr Dr) and I went to sleep.
After breakfast of Sausages, Kenyan Style Tea, (90%milk, 10% sugar… tea? what?!) and bread we were taken, by the Orphans to Sunday School. We didn’t realise as donation was required and all we had on us was 1000/- notes.. (£10) so 1 person donated that for all of us.
We then RTBed (returned to base) to meet our scouts. We are to be running a week long camp for a scout unit on the area.
When they arrived they wasted no time in setting up a load of tables, chairs and other assorted items from bamboo and string. Was very ingenious and very good! After this was done we chilled with the kids and played rounders on the field.
Dont leave your camera around or it'll have about 50 shots of the underside of the truck, or some kids doing jakie chan style poses. Dont leave your camera around if it had as many functions as mine, ie multi shot, or you'll get 100 plus shots each part of the bottom of the truck and a full memory card... Dinner was ready at the usual time of about 12 ish pm.. After that, flaking out was an order.
Got to go, eating time! see everyone in Mombassa!
Bravo team’s first trip in the Safari truck! Before this only Alpha team had ridden in it. It was brilliant fun, and not long before everyone, including the Mazungus (Mazungu meaning White Person) were singing away at the top of our lungs with the scouts.
We stopped for the loo at a little town called Luanda, my first experience of a Long Drop. a typical Kenyan toilet. Imagine a small garden hut, dig a 200ft hole under it, drill a hole in the floor of the shed, then fill the 200ft hole with 50 years of excrement…. Nice!…
The loo at the back of the dale is an absolute palace compared with this…
After the loo break we were off on the road again, till we got stopped by police with an interesting assortment of guns.. (FNC, Kilashnikovs, MP5s, Uzis, G-3s,you name it….) After spotting the Mazungus in the back we were allowed to pass, and the rest of the journey was uneventful. We stopped at the shores of Lake Victoria, in a town named Kisumu, at the shores we took a boat and went out in search of hippos.
We did find a couple, but our boat broke down on the way back… After this we took the safari bus to OT’s (our bus driver/AA staff) mother’s restaurant.
Never ask for fish.. it is just that.. a fish, nothing added, nothing taken away…The fruit salad after was amazing! Fruit here tastes so good!
Didn’t really remember much else of that day.. I’m writing this up from my diary, which I wrote at McKinder’s Camp, Mt Kenya, 4600m above sea level.. That’s 4.6KM!!!! Day 4 seems a long way away..
Heat, Mortar, cement, dust. Started work on the building project. We’re building a nursery for the Kayaya School. Sampled the Kenyan Staple diet.. Ugali… imagine… no there is nothing that quite compares.. but I can still feel it in my stomach 2 weeks later..
Day 6, games with the kids,
was good fun
Mona and one of the scouts:
Day 7 Building.. see Day 5..
Day 8 Ditto..
Olympic games with the scouts and orphans. Went into Siaya for the afternoon, had real western food!!!!! CHIPS! could die for them now on Mt Kenya…Siaya is a pretty cool little town. Its a typical Kenyan farming town, no tourists at all.
The main street.
The market place. Selling all sorts of things, from second hand clothes to pots and chickens... and designer coffins
Day 10- Very sad. The scouts returned top their homes and everyone was sad, we’d made great friends with the kids in the time they were there, it was sad to see them go…
Day 11- a bit of a non day. Don’t really remember what happened to be honest..
Day 12- Shopping-got mountain food and things..
Day 13- Mololine coach!!!! great fun!Moving to the Blueline hotel. I use the term hotel very loosely! We went via Thompson’s falls, massive water fall! Was very cool!
Found a brilliant tactic to stop the peddlers selling you stuff,…. speak French! It’s very funny!
Finished our trip to the hotel, food, tents, bed.
Day 14-Going on Safari!
We packed our bags and got the green safari truck, going to the Samburu National Park. Long journey, but a good game drive when we arrived. On the road there we passed though a very Muslim town, all the women were wearing head shalls and there was a big mosque. We stopped at some traffic lights and all the pedlers came up to us as usual, however the one that came to my window was selling an RPG-7 Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher. Just the launcher, not the warhead, but still! Though out the rest of the town all the kids at the side of the road yelled "Give me sweet!" as we drove past... evidently some people before us had given them some sweets and given mzungu's a good reputation for giving away sweets. On the game drive we saw zebra, elephant
But the monkeys stole my bottle of Fanta…and 5 paintings… still bitter about that…They are still cute though:
Day 15-Safari again
Morning game drive, saw a male lion! But didnt get any good pictures...
5 star hotel after lunch for a swim, aww lovely! Monkey stole Ryan’s glass of coke!
In the evening we returned to watch some crocs being baited.. felt very sorry for them relying on humans for their food. N.B., I do not count myself as a real tourist, since our work at Ulamba we’ve all considered ourselves as members of the community. We were all slightly envious of the meat the crocs were fed, it was better than the meat we got at Ulamba... stupid 5 star hotel fed crocodiles!
After watching the crocs we were escorted back to the camp site, this time without man with gun, we had man with stick…. bah.. We lived though!
Last game drive. Not sure if it just me, but we've kind of lost interest now, we've seen everything there is and now when the call comes "Elephant! 2 o' clock!" Everyone just sort of sits there... first day it was WOA! where! CAMERAS! We went to a tourist village, never felt so uncomfortable before. Glad I left my camera in the safari bus, so I was less touristy.. They made us do a local dance, with the 'locals' and then we had a look in a typical house around there, only it wasn't really typical anymore since everyone else had discovered rocks and cement. The house was quite interesting though, it was made from cow dung covered with general litter, like plastic bags and things. All this was formed over a wooden pattern inside. There was 1 room for sleeping the entire family, and 1 room for cooking and keeping the goats in. All in all the house was about 6m x 6m and about 1-2m high.
We drive back to Blueline and prepare for the Mountain. Dont give us much of a gap eh?
Day 17- Mountain trek Day 1.
Big Breakfast, its designed to last us till met station.
Start on our ascent to the summit. We are going from the bottom to Met Station, at 3000m. Got filmed for a Kenyan TV show on tourism, they did have an actor who would get out of her air conditioned jeep, walk 20m, get back in and drive on a bit.. bah! The vegetation was lush, it was semi-jungle. There were large clumps of bamboo with old man's beard moss attached to it, and huge trees with the same attached, this picture sort of shows what it was like in the open sections:
Though my resizer seems to have got the bug since its made my pictures go wierd... hmm..
We arrived at camp 4h later.. easy as pie....
Me, Alan and Clair at Met Station.
Supper was a tasty morsel of some pasta..
over the course of the mountain i learned to hate pasta. If we have it now it gives me the shivers just thinking back to those days on the mountain, in the cold, wearing gloves and eating some pasta out of a cooking pot with a broken plastic spoon, with some sort of pasta sauce on top which has a wierd taste to it because we carried it up in a 7-up bottle to cut down on weight, with some joker wearing pink lobster shorts sat next to me talking in swedish or something... urgh!
I gotta go eat again, c ya later folks! (Nairobi- Nakumatt)
Day 18- The longest day in my life! (so far)
We begin our ascent to McKinders Camp Mt Kenya, passing though the Vertical Bog, very boggy, very vertical. Nice! Stop off for lunch at picnic rocks, which gives a nice impression of like some rocks and a pagoda or something with a barbicue or something.. haha in your dreams, i was lighting the stove with some wet matches, trying to cover the stove with my jacket to stop the rain putting it out, hiding in a crevice from the howling wind which threatened to dislodge anyone who was not kept low and had stable footing.
(this picture is digitally enhanced, before you struggled to see the people since it was really quite dark, and i point blank refuse to use my flash, ever. )
After lunch I am physically drained and don’t seem to be able to talk, let alone think, Engage Zombie Mode- Mind Blank to Camp. Arrive disorientated and confused, didn’t know where I was… 5 mins and I was back to normal. So far I’m not affected by altitude, and just really tired!
Day 19- Rest Day.
A rest day… relax… go for a 2h strenuous hike… After lunch relax for real this time, in tent relaxing, writing this… Summit day tomorrow, need to be fit for that. Bring on one 18h day….
On our 2h climb/altitude acclimatisation trip we walked along base of the valley (still at 4000m!) Ended up in a corrie/tarn for a bit, nice and relaxing! ’ Looking back from McKinder’s campsite on Mt Kenya, 4000m+ above sea level it was absolute bliss… its cold here, and there are rock Hyrax eating our tent… Rock Hyrax: Oversized guinea pigs, eat everything, loads of them here… cute, but a bit weird.
Day 20- Summit Day. (The longest day in my life #2.. probably longer though)
Kellie on Summit day:
Woke up at 11.45 on Day 19. Had tea and biscuits at McKinders Camp, In the dark… bags packed, and all systems check we started walking at 1am. Had to switch off my head torch to save batteries, so walking up a 500m scree slope is a little hard… We took our first break at a glacial melt river, had a drink there, then moved onto yet more scree.. nearly vertical this time.. well 45 deg at least.. We “lost” 1 of bravo team on this section.- she was not feeling well.
After this section it was “bouldering” for 10 or so minutes. We were down 1 porter on this section,- he had fallen in a hole and sprained his ankle. We then arrived at Austrian Hut. Here we had a rest for half an hour then scrambled the last hour in growing light. We reached the summit just as day was breaking. It was a beautiful sight to see the sun rising over the whole of Africa. It was really wonderful- but cold. I’ve got to go now as I need to take down my tent…. bye.
Back in Mombassa now. Its warm, and I’m sitting in a bookshop eating a “You and Me” bar, its like a twix, but with different chocolate.. mm lovely.. anyway, back on with the write up! Here is a picture of me, Alan and Steve, at the summit, Alan and Steve are Kenyans working for AA.
After 10 minutes of stomping around to keep warm we started the decent. A few km of scree slope at 45 degrees going up is bad enough, going down is another story! I managed to sun burn my nose, not badly, but still, and I was walking away from the sun! not sure how that happened.
When we arrived at McKinders camp we had 1h of rest… then we had to do the longest day in reverse… hell on earth.. 18h on the go. I was in the “Advanced Scout Party” ie the group at the front, which was basically running.. that’s running, down the vertical bog.. running… down the vertical bog…… yea…. :sigh:
We made it alive, then had to put everyone’s tents up as they might be tired when they came down.,… THEY MIGHT BE TIRED! bah…
Then we came under assault from monkeys.. woo…
Tango bearing 120, vector 80 climb to FL 3 to intercept!
Yea! we are returning to base! 2yh walk down from the camp, with “Super Steve” Advance Scout party again… waited 1h for the main group to come down- but it was a good break.We had a cover story that we saw an elephant, which then grew to be an entire herd of elephant, and then to the entire herd being followed by 2 lions... Though it never did get used. Then we got matatus back to Blueline.Hotel
Back at blueline hotel, lovely lunch of pure junk food! so glad not to be eating pasta again! Spending afternoon… doing nothing really…. relaxing!
Evening, we slaughtered a goat named Bradley. Wasn’t pleasant since the knives they used were, well, blunter than spoons. Finally the goat was dead and so it was cooked for supper. It's head got stuck in a tree after, and someone put a cigarette in its mouth, was very funny. Not many people ate it actually. Apparently it was a Kikuyu Tradition. They believe their god lives in the mountain, so us climbing it was a great honour.
Christina arrived back from working in a hospital in Nairobi in a massive rainstorm. Kellie, Rach and I were putting the tent up at the time the storm started. We'd only got the main part up when the storm struck so we all evaced to the tent, which promptly started to leak profusely. I was brave and ventured out, getting soaking wet in doing so, and put all the pegs in and guy ropes so the tent was secure and didnt leak. Perfect.. now what do i do with these clothes that would've been dryer if i'd fallen into a river?
Day 22- Into Nairobi
After a Brunch of eggs, sausage and bread we got 4 matatus into Nairobi. Long, dusty and slightly dull journey followed.. We stopped off at the equator and ran a little experiment with a jug and a match, apparantlone side of the equator the vortex of escaping water goes one way, and on the other side the vortex goes the otherw. In the end we sucessfully managed to get the little experiment to work. Then we came under fire from the shop sellers, so i hid behind Andy the tour leader, well not literally, i claimed to be a member of staff and so i'd been here before, and thankfully Andy backed up my claim. :-) In the end i went to look for someone and got intercepted by a shopkeeper to look at their shop.I used a cunning technique to escape, say i had no money and needed to borrow some from my friends, then ran. Moving on from there passed a sign that said AAA Growers, which i found hilarious, but couldnt quite explain that AAA for me means Anti-Aircraft Artillery. Then we moved on down the highway for about 2h till we got to Nairobi. Massive hold up in Nairobi due to a graduation there…
We arrived at the campsite at around 4ish, put up tents for a bit and then played pool till suppertime. Which was burgers and chips!!! After food we had another pool game and went to bed. My tent mate for the mountain, a Jr. Dr. called Kelly from N Ireland and her sister Christina were my tent mates for this leg as well. Kelly had to get up at 4 am to get a plane back home- which was delayed and so she missed her connection in London…
Day 23- Nairobi Trip
After breakfast we journeyed into Nairobi centre and went to look at the projects we would’ve been working on if it were not for the riots. We visited the biggest slum in Africa called… nah the names gone… but it was a huge contrast to.. well.. pretty much anything in the west.
Even homeless people in the UK have better living conditions (in terms of general health and cleanliness. After this we went to Nakumatt, which is a super market.. another huge contrast, to stock up for our overnight trip to Mombassa. I popped into the internet cafe to write up to ay 20 on the blog, checked my e-mails (210 new… thats gonna take a long time! apparently Tomo is coming back! nice!) We then had lunch of pizza and chips and headed home for the night bus.
The overnight bus was pretty uneventful. We were driving though bandit territory, so we weren’t allowed to stop, or we would’ve been shot…. so if you needed a wee.. you just had to wait, or do it in a bag! We arrived at the Mombassa campsite at 5 am on day 24. Kibera! thats the name of the slum!
After arriving in Mombassa we slept for a while. it was a pretty leisurely day, spent most of the time in the sea, and along the beach. We are the only mazungus at the hotel/campsite, and it is a little off putting… but never mind. Spent most of the day in the sea, drinking mango juice in the bar, and figuring out why my camera had deleted 3/4 of the pictures on the card.... VERY annoying! Had a shower and put on a nice clean shirt and felt very swarve...got hassled by some drunk guy who dribbled on my shirt… so I had a shower, wearing the said shirt… feel clean again now…The drunk guy was telling me about him being a Utopian (Swahili for Illigal Imigrant basically.) and how he was part of some UN program. He was also telling me how how Princess Diana was a great person and how she loved Africa.
Day 25- Snorkelling
We went out in a glass-bottomed boat to a coral reef.
There we snorkelled a bit and then looked for interesting sea creatures. It was really good fun! Alan found a sea cucumber and poked a piece of coral in what we thought was its mouth.. till it pooed all over the boat... I managed to cut my hand on a clam, trying to dig it out and it promptly shut, slicing my hand with its razor sharp shell edge. After lunch we went to Nakumat again, and this is where I am now. It’s so nice just to be camping right on the beach.
Its day 26 in the big AA tent, Clare, Holly, Gemma, and Skipper are sitting around the table doing very little. Today we went into Mombassa City. We were going to go shopping but there weren’t that many shops worth looking at. In the end we went to a curio market and I got a painting and some wooden, hand carved animals. Everyone also bought “Tusker” t-shirts. Tusker is a Kenyan beer, and we’re gonna try and get everyone to wear them on the way back, on the plane. I also managed to fall into the gutter 3 times. That is the LAST time i'm wearing flipflops shopping......
Huge metal tusks in Mombasa.
On the way back Tina and I got off at Nakumatt and went for an ice cream milk shake, life is good!
When we got back it was suppertime and after supper we went to the bar for a bit and played pool. Jo and I were winning by a mile till Jo missed potting the 8-ball and then Niki potted it and so won.. Never mind, it’s only a game…
Day 27- Chillin’ at the beach
About it really…
Huge number of people in the sea:
There were especially big breakers there, and there were about 100 people body surfing them.. or trying. Managed to get a good few runs in.
We chilled, went to Nakumatt, used computers, went swimming.. etc….
That is basically it…rubbish weather though, it was cloudy, but warm.. wierd..
Had a territorial tickling contest with Tina, although she denies it I won over the entire tent, including her mat, and banished her to a small corner of the tent, however I was feeling nice so I gave her the mat back. The rest of that night was spent sporadically fighting for space, but mostly just back to back, defending our hard won bed space.
Day 28- RTB!!
After a camp tidy up, all bags packed etc. Was pretty good since the sun came out and it was warm. Took a final swim in the sea, at 6 ish pm we got 2 matatus to Mombassa train station. We boarded our train and at 7pm we started off. No sooner than we’d started off but some Masai man came into our bunk room and started talking to us. Seemed okay to start with, till he started telling us about his mazungu sister. We thought that was a little odd since he was definitely not the slightest bit mazungu. Then he started saying he didn’t have any money for the journey and could we give him some. Everyone in the bunk yelled, in unison, “ALAN!!!!” (who is one of the Kenyans.) The Masi man apologised for disturbing us and ran off. Alan finally came running down the corridor and was in our bunkroom looking for this guy. He seemed to think we were hiding him, bless! After this we chatted for a bit and went to sleep…Pretty bumpy night, but the best bed i'd had the whole month.
Here is Tina testing out the on board safety systems- a weird thing to stop you rolling out of bed at night:
Day 29-RTB day 2.
Woke up at 6am ish, the train was not moving, and on further inspection we were in the middle of nowhere. Someone said we were in Embu, which was a little strange since all that could be seen was a field, a mud hut… and.. some sky… and that was it. At 9am the train was fixed and we continued to Kiboko station. At this station we were told that we would be disembarking at the next stop. And be ready to jump off, as they don’t stop for very long.
At the next station we all managed to get off whilst the train was not moving and waited around while Stevo went and tried to find a matatu, a little tricky when the nearest road is about a mile away…. finally we got a matatu…. 5h later… a long time after the train got to Nairobi… we arrived at Magadi road campsite. Put up tents, chilled in the bar for a bit…. We then went out to the Carnivore restaurant. Amazing place, here are some pictures:
< Me outside the Carnivore.
< Tina, Halima and Janice at Carnivor
< Halima, Janice and me at the Carnivore.
< Some kinda pizza thing
There is a massive charcoal pit with all sorts of meat cooking over it, its like stepping into hell or something its so hot in there…
That night it rained…. our tent wasn’t put up properly, it leaked. I slept the entire night in a wet sleeping bag. Thankfully Tina lent me her liner. Love you Tina, thanks so much! (N.B.-: that’s a sisterly love type thing.)
I’m writing this on a Qatar A-320 somewhere over the Indian Ocean. There is a very smelly man in front of me, I don’t think he’s discovered deodorant, and there
is a screaming baby behind me… I’m near breaking point…….
Day 30- Over and Out!
I realise that doesn’t make sense…Last day… damn it! After packing bags:
we went out to the Nairobi Hilton, there is a shop there that sells loads of cool stuff really cheap. I got loads of batiks. Brill place! Then got a lot of U & Me bars from Nakumatt.. mmmmm! Got a very wierd look from both the casheer and the person behind me when i put all the U&Me bars on the counter (all 10 of them!) Im guessing they were wondering why i wasnt fat.After this we visited another school supported by moving mountains:
And then we went into the nearby slum to look around one of the Kenyan’s houses:
Another part of Kibera
The walk way to one of their houses.
After this we headed back for lunch and then got a mini bus to the airport for our flight. We were stopped at the airport for being over loaded, we had 5 people on a 4 person seat, but 500 /- back hand to the cops was plenty to let us off this time… Only in Kenya!
We got our flight successfully and so began a really long night!
5 hours on the A-320 then we landed at Doha. Really warm again! Managed to sleep for a bit on an Anti-tramp bench. as in a bench with arm rests so you cant sleep on it. And then we caught the A-340 to Heathrow. How is it that I always manage to sit behind or in front of a screaming baby… BOTH FLIGHTS! There should be a minimum age of at least 5 on planes!….
Day-31 The UK!
At 2 in the morning I boarded a Airbus A-340 to London Heathrow.
7h flight…. Pretty uneventful really… screaming babies driving me to distraction though…. almost enough to take up heavy drinking… well… kinda…
Touched down in Heathrow 8 somat am GMT. Collected bags then said a sad goodbye to all the team. It was so strange to be leaving them, after all this time we’re all like one big family. There are some of them I know better than others of course, like my new big sisters Tina and Kellie, and some I’ll miss more than others, but I will miss them all so much.
Got a lift to Victoria Coach Station for a long coach trip back home more screaming kids on the coach... stay calm... read new scientist magazine... concentrate on the Nutrinos! … and there ends my Kenya Adventure.
To Africamp July 5th Bravo Team. Miss you.
click for larger size-with names
Monday, 6 September 2010
Hoka, this is the 2nd installment of my themes. This one is of the theme “Oceans.” Well, primarily coral and plants of the Red Sea
Anyways: sample as always:
Spare a thought for me, I uploaded that whilst on the train over my tethered mobile phone… I dont want to look at this months bill…its gonna be a mile long…..