Local Time in Korr, Kenya

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To Hell in a Land Rover

Ok, well I really didn't go to Hell, but I did go to Hell's Gate National Park near Lake Naivasha down country, and it was just as exciting as the name implies! I was invited to go camping with my girlfriend Michelle and some friends from up in Northern Kenya, the Middletons. I've never actually been camping in Kenya, as the western version of camping goes (with a tent, a gas cooker, a sleeping bag and a mat that doesn't actually do much against the rocks underneath), so this was a bit of an adventure!

We loaded up two Land Rovers with provisions and drove two hours out of Nairobi towards this park known for its major geothermal activity (steam vents, energy plants and hot springs.) Once in the park, we set up camp on a bluff above a long, narrow valley that hosts herds of zebras, buffalo, warthogs (pumbas!) and even giraffe couples. I mean, literally we were feet away from the edge of a cliff!
(View from our tent)

The activities of the following two days included rock climbing lessons with the Middletons which were terrifying and addicting all at the same time. I have clinical acrophobia (I diagnosed myself) which should immediately disqualify rock climbing from any activity I would try, however, everyone else was doing it, so... The guys roped three courses, easy, medium and hard, and in the end I successfully completed the easy and medium ones with, I admit, much groaning and screaming, "Now what?!" It feels good to say, "Yah, I've rock climbed in Kenya." but I've suffered from some pretty serious aching shoulder joints since then.

(Looking like a pro - ish.)

We also hiked the volcano (extinct now, but still steaming up a storm!) and the gorge, a narrow trail carved out of soft sandstone by the random comings and goings of floods. The gorge was beautiful - stunning, really, with its rippling stone walls and hot spring waterfalls. And it provides quite a rush realizing that a flash flood could come and wipe you out at any time since there's no way out of the gorge, except the "designated trail heads." Or maybe up - if I could tap into my new found climbing skills.(Love some sandstone)

(Michelle and I)

(Graffiti in the gorge - Evan must be desperate...)

The volcano, Hobley's Volcano, is, I believe, what must have inspired Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. It's just other-worldly enough, with its steaming vents and crumbling terrain, to lend itself to science fiction, but also real enough to invite speculations of, "What if I climbed down into this cave? I wonder if it would be like that Planet Earth episode..." We didn't actually climb down into the cave, on account of the fact that that would have been supremely dangerous, but we did slip and slide around the cliffs and threw feather light pumice stones to each other. (Caleb Middleton ponders the volcano.)

Other notable events on our vacation included Caleb chasing a giraffe and Michelle and I running into a jackal on the way to the toilet one night. And so, finally getting out of Nairobi and traveling to the gate of Hell has been, ironically, quite good for my city weary soul.
(Caleb Klay vs. African wildlife)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beads and Mommas

Finally! It's only been a year and a half, but my "irrtiyo" (multi-strand bead necklace) has been completed by Momma Nareyo! Technically all the beads were put together last year, but somehow they became a sort of "min chimbirr" (bird's nest), so I asked Momma to make them look nice - and did she ever! Thanks Momma!

(I'm also wearing my "rrimirrimo" which is the beaded headress - young, unmarried ladies put lots of sparklies on theirs, which is why mine is different from Momma's.)

Hi, I'm TaMARa (Not TAmara, as I initially believed)

This is my new roommate up in Korr, Tamara or "Tammy," as I prefer to call her, to avoid any mispronunciations! I'm so happy to finally have a friend to work with. I was the only young, single, white lady up in the area for about 6 months, and while I wasn't starting to go crazy by any means (or any crazier than usual), I was, perhaps, getting lost in my own head. When you work with teenagers in any context, and especially when those teenagers are from the bush of Kenya, you really do need someone alongside you to bring you back to reality or be on your team when your dealing with a cultural conflict. While her primary job in Korr is the assist in administration of the Tirrim Project, Tamara's been a great buddy for adventures out to "goobs" and a HUGE help with all my school work (typing up exams, grading papers...). She also has a great sense of humour, which is a necessity in our lives, and also loves obsessively reading quotes out of books aloud. I think we'll do great together.

Watch Swap

Well, the desert heat does more than damage my skin and cause me to move more slowly than I did during 6 am workouts for crew in college. Evidently the plastic they make sport watch bands out of is significantly susceptible to heat. My faithful watch band of the past year and a half has finally fatigued. For the past 2 months I've been using purple masking tape to hold bits together and even had Somo Chawle sew two broken pieces back together with something like 12 guage string, but...

So, while I've been in Nairobi one of my chores has been to get my watch band replaced. The shop I went to didn't have a pretty blue, plastic, sporty-looking band, but only had a black faux-leather thing. I asked if they had anything that looked more "youthful," or even one that matched the watch face, but nothing turned up. Even the cashier turned to where I was talking to the repairman and gave her two cents about how ugly the whole project was turning out. She then proceeded to show me her fashion watch, and suggested I buy one like hers. Well, the repair was only 500 shillings and a new sport watch was minimum 1500 shillings, so decision made.

Here's my newly repaired watch, mismatched and everything...