Thursday, 29 June 2006

Good afternoon...

Hi Everyone,

I know I have been neglecting you recently, no I haven't been lounging by the pool sunbathing.....I have been so busy at SCANN and sewing in the evenings that I have been really tired and rushing around.

We are nearly ready to issue the bicycles to the older boys, what a saga that has been, I think they have decided it was my 'project' having numbered all the bikes, arranged a welder to come to the project to fix the '40ft container door' those of you in the know will appreciate that it will be an ideal storage facility, only problem was that is didn't lock as the locking system was broken. Now fixed, two huge padlocks bought, key fobs and labels for the fobs later (use as a checking in and out system for the bikes, only the boys handing the over the key fob will be issued with the corresponding bike. You would be amazed what lengths these children will go to to get a bike.

I have had to do a survey of boys as to who travels furthest to school, who has had good grades in their tests, who has show good behaviour these ones get the bikes, we are holding back 9 bikes which will be used as incentives to other boys to work hard and behave to be issued with bikes. It has been a nightmare, as well as this I have done the nurse thing, teacher, sewing lady and also community visitor!!

This afternoon I was supposed to find a lockup cupboard to store the bike keys in but got side tracked, will have to see what happens tomorrow, after all this is Kenya and everything is on Kenya time!!

I have bought some nice hand painted cards from one of the street artists and since speaking to him on every visit to town I have decided to commission him to do me two pictures, I asked him to take me to his home to show me his work, I met his wife and three year old daughter, they are a very nice family who live not too far from Mark in the Shambas, as they have no power he does all his work at night by kerosene light. It is good work and so he is doing me pictures, hope they come out well, I asked for specific designs with alterations to the colour schemes to co ordinate with my lounge and bedroom. (Hope you will see the one in the lounge, invitation only to see the one in the bedroom!!!!) Kimberley, I said you would come with me to visit when the pictures are ready, they want to meet my lovely daughter. (sorry Paul-Simon you miss out on that visit, although I will take photos next time so they can meet you)!

This weekend I am the only one at 'home' Megan has left to visit Uganda with Debbie, Kati is off to Masai Mara Saturday morning, and the two Irish boys are going home...... Billie no mates...... Oh well I am sure I have loads of sewing to do, am looking to buy a treadle sewing machine to use as my fingers are raw!

The weather has changed, the evenings and mornings are actually showing a keen chill, a cardie was a good idea, glad I have one. Mind you the cycle to the project warms me up a treat. All the SCANN boys are dressed in polo necks, fleeces and coats! Apparently July is positively COLD! um will have to see about that....... cold compared to what.... not UK standards, everyone thinks we are mad for walking round in Tee shirts and flip flops.

Planning to take 30 younger boys to Lake Nakuru National Park on the 11th July it is proving to be a bit of a project too........ no bus available, and am busy negotiating on price, apparently children cost 100 KS, resident adults pay 200 KS, non residents 2,950KS they don't have a volunteer price, so sending a letter to head office asking them to reconsider their rates......... whilst it is not alot when you add the 8000 KS for the bus and paying for 30 boys it soon mounts up! Should be a good day out if we can get it off the ground, and yes Kimberley you are included!!

OK will have to sign off, all of you that have provided things that I have asked for many many thanks, those of you sending well wishes they are gratefully received. Having a fab time, will be stir crazy when I get

Love you all,

Friday, 23 June 2006

Back.....23 July 2006 11:32:00

Hi Everyone,

well after spending Kimberley's first week at the SCANN project doing things, this week we have been travelling, managed to get to Mount Kenya for a few days of relaxation and reading, (mind you got tickets to get there on a shuttle only to find we were put on a bus instead it was manic), left there on Wednesday back to the apartment in Nakuru after a hellish matatu ride (I have decided any travel here is an adventure I prefer travelling with the locals much more interesting!! Kimberley finished packing her suitcase ready for our trip to Naivasha and then down to Nairobi.

Chickened out of getting the shuttle to Naivasha and sweet talked my friendly Taxi driver NICK into driving us there........ couldn't face lugging ruck sacs and Kimberley's suitcase on two shuttles that don't have room for baggage. We had a great ride to Naivasha stopped for lunch and then arrived at Fisherman's camp. This time we had a Banda instead of a tent (way back you may remember the trip with Megan and her new friend Mark, he had no money so we had to share a tent, it was very very cold.) A banda is a wooden structure which had a double and a single bed, cooking facilities on a jiko stove (like a small charcoal cooking stove) shower, toilet, sheer luxury..... although couldn't get the shower to run hot, maybe the wrong timing for that.

We bought wood and built ourselves a huge roaring campfire outside the Banda after we had dinner in the clubhouse where we sat by the huge fire. Must admit the campfire took a whole box of matches and the match box to get it started, I think we need more practice at the campfire thing.......even managed to boil the kettle on the fire for a lovely fruit tea.

Slept so well compared to Nakuru, all that we heard were the birds, fabulous! I got up at 5am to see if I was going to see the hippo who usually appears early and also in case I was going to get a repeat of the sunrise...... disappointedly I got neither, but Kimberley did eventually join me at about 6 / 6.30am for a mother and daughter sitting and contemplating session. She went back to bed and I then attempted to relight the fire, having scrounged the neighbours matches. I failed bitterly, unfortunately he had been watching my attempts which was the 'Kiss of death'. When he and his family had finished with their jiko stove he carried it over to me still lit and blazing, I managed toasted rolls and a cuppa, it was great. I actually managed to keep it well stocked until Kimberley woke up about two hours later and had her own toast.

We managed a trip to Hells Gate, by car this time, didn't think Kimberley would survive the bike ride. Walked the gorge, it was just as great the second time, although Kimberley got a soaking whilst trying to avoid the hot waterfall......! Oh well it made up for the lack of morning shower. As we left the gorge the heavens opened and there was flash floods across the roads, I am glad we weren't still in the gorge as the whole gorge apparently fills very quickly!!

We got the Matatu (not the locals bus this time) in Naivasha town to Nairobi, I think I have got the Matatu hawkers sorted...... I wrote a post it with a little message saying that 'we're Ok and didn't need anything, thank you'. This caused quite a commotion as there was a gathering of hawkers reading the sign and laughing, don't think they get alot of interaction from the tourists, they thought it was great, I even started offering them things in my bag for them to buy to show them how we felt (needless to say they didn't want anything (well not to buy anyway).

By the time we got to Nairobi and had dinner in the Java House, (and pudding) Kimberley and I were shattered, we lounged around until the taxi picked us up for the trip to the airport. Unbeknown to me the airport isn't one that you can sit and wait with the travellers, I know Kimberley was really pleased that I suggested she get there early as I had to leave her at the door to the airport!! The Taxi driver Jenga also wasn't pleased as he was ready to drop her off but i told him to park not realising, it took us about 45 mins to get out of the car park, there was almost fistycuffs.

Got back to Nakuru after spending the night at the Parkside hotel, quite a good nights sleep, surprisingly. Spent the rest of the day at Hotel Merica chilling by the pool, was chatted to by a guy who asked me if I minded if he talked to me as he has no interaction with white people at all. I said fine, BIG BIG BIG mistake 2.5 hours later and he is still picking my brain, invited me to his rural town to visit him at his house, a traditional round hut with straw roof, made of cow dung, and beds of animal rugs, he said it would be very good for me to try to sleep in one for experience, ummmmmmmmm not sure what he was suggesting!!!!!!! Talked my way round to I will be in touch if I get any free time in the next two busy weeks!!!

Was out last night for a drink with another local that I met at Hotel Mercia, very interesting indeed The evening went from a drink and a chat to, God sent him to me for a purpose and he loved me....... boy do they work fast out here. Needless to say I am very cautious of going to the pool today, I sent Ailsa ahead of me and she said there is no one fitting his description...... this is why I am sat at the internet and she is sat by the pool. Must admit may have to wander over there to top up the tan, very interesting tan lines, mainly brown arms, face, neck and feet, the rest is white (how attractive).

I was called by Mark, the cook at SCANN who said they had missed having the nesquick this week, so I promised to make it tomorrow, will have to pass on my knowledge to the new volunteers or stay here longer, ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm .

Ok time for the pool, maybe if I put my headphones on I wont get chatted to!! My bikini is in a plastic bag having washed it last night, it isn't dry......... don't you just hate that, putting on a wet swimsuit!

Hugs all round,


Wednesday, 21 June 2006


Hi there, getting confused with the travel emails so decided better to date them!! How are you all. Well so much for my leisurely weekend last weekend.... The Saturday was great had a whole day at the pool, lunched and drank cold drinks, swam..... boy was the pool cold!! The temperature out of the water was hot hot hot!!! When I left the pool I went back to SCANN to collect my bike, while there the boys gave me a few items of clothing that needed 'the breath of life' breathed into them, they didn't need repairing they needed throwing out.... but as requested I spent Saturday night watching 'Memoires of a Geisha' and something else, everyone else went out to watch football and drink....... Home alone was very pleasant after constantly having people around who want to watch whatever football match is on, two of the guys coach football and insist on watching everything!!

Sunday morning I got up and went to SCANN early firstly to catch some of the older boys before they left the premises for activities (I needed photos for their sponsor profiles) and also to make sure that the boys had been given their medication for ringworm which is spreading like fire at the moment! Guess who is in charge of medication!! I am now chief nurse!! Whilst I was there I hung around for a bit.... bad move.... I sat and finished some of the sewing off, when I next looked round the boys had done a mad runaround and piled clothes at my feet that needed 'mending' I sat for two hours and only managed to get through three pairs of school shorts, I had a huge bag full left to do. I decided that I would pack up my things and head back to the hotel with pool. Needless to say I was a sad sight sat on my lounger by the pool in my bikini (YES BIKINI) sewing boys clothes, many of which had not been washed before I received them and were in a very sorry state. I, in the process lost my thimble in the grating by the pool side, my fingers were raw and still not made a hole in the pile of repairs that need to be done although I worked on them all day, I was to say the least stared at!! I dropped back to SCANN again to drop off the boys school shorts as they needed them for school on Monday!!! Got home at about 7 greeted by cold dinner. Slept well. ANYONE GOT A COUPLE OF SPARE THIMBLES THEY COULD SEND ME, everyone looks at me as if I am mad when I ask for them in shops!!

The week has been spent finishing off the sign writing on the bikes, they decided they wanted the word SCANN and the number repeated on the crossbar of the bikes too, I am now proficient in the art and going blind, have a crook back and knees!!

Today was Megan's last day at SCANN she is off to climb Mount Kenya tomorrow back for a flying visit next week and then she is off to Uganda with Debbie our other volunteer. I am holding out on trips until Kimberley gets out here. so working hard in the meantime and will be well deserved of a break when she arrives! We had a send off for Megan I got the boys to sing songs to her, we used the other penyata that we had made and also produced a huge vat of hot chocolate for the boys. The other volunteers have gone off to the baby clinic, but I was rather tired and in need of time out, so came here instead to catch up and then back to SCANN.

I am busily buying medication for coughs, boils, and fevers at the moment together with a huge box of medical gloves for the ringworm ointment, I look like a pharmacist!

I have been told that Zippy has started her treatment and is having a hard time of it, she was so weak from the TB anyway, I am hoping to maybe go to the baby orphanage at the weekend to say hi. Will update you then.

Ok got to go now as too much time spent on here today.
Love and miss you all,


Saturday, 17 June 2006

Sorry it's been so long.......17 June 2006 09:27:12

Hi Everyone, Roger and Ugoh welcome, sorry whilst I did put your addresses in the list I didn't hit the save button, so Karibu!

Where to start, the internet has been a real pain and each time I have been here this week hotmail has been down, so frustrating, so today I am here before I head off to the hotel with pool!! I have done some work first though, went into SCANN already this morning and its only 11am!

Ok last week was a bit of a mad week with the Lake Navaisha trip Tuesday,Wednesday and Thursday (stayed an extra day as it was lovely) on getting back on the Thursday tea time I discovered that the Masai Mara trip was still on (Debbie who was arranging it was unwell so it might have been postponed) I had enough time to unpack and pack again, I was picked up at 6.30am on Friday morning!! (Yawn yawn!) Needless to say I wasn't too much of a party person on Friday. It took us about 7 hours before we arrived at the campsite, the journey as per any other we have had was long, dirty and very very uncomfortable, pothole city!

As soon as we arrived at the campsite we 'dropped off' (literally) our bags and went on an evening drive round the Mara (yet again bumpy and we were by now desperate to get out of the vehicle and stretch our legs) not permissible in the Mara you have to stay in the vehicle. It was a fab weekend, although the sleeping arrangements were three girls to a two man tent..... yes was in the middle again..... the two boys shared a one man tent, cosy! We had our own cook who we had as part of our party, a driver and Joseph from Mount Kenya who we had booked the trip with. (He gets about a bit). We saw loads of animals which eventually became a bit boring as it wasn't what attracted me to Kenya!! We went out on an early morning drive and saw three lions kill a buffalo, nasty but compulsive watching how the animals worked together to catch the animal, got a bit nasty when we were so close you could hear the tearing of flesh and crack of bone....... Yuck. We visited a Masai village that was interesting, colourful and smelly they use cow dung smeared on the house as 'plaster' and they live with all the animals at night in the compound. Lots and lots of photos and movie clips.

The whole weekend was spent trying to sleep, the German family who gave us a lift at Hells Gate I saw at the Mara and they appeared at the campsite on the Sunday night that was a weird coincidence and we all laughed at the chance of that happening.

When I got back to Nakuru very very tired, numb bottom and in need of a soak in the non existent bath........I had to work very hard on Tuesday as there was the annual Trustees meeting at Scann and they had wanted lots of bright things done with the children to show what they have been doing, Tuesday was a mad frenzy trying to get stuff finished. We attended the meeting it was three hours long, interesting but also hard work. I got invited to be a guest at the Nakuru Round Table meeting on Tuesday, everyone wants to be seen with us, its mad. we were asked at the Scann meeting if we wanted to speak, needless to say we declined!! (no speech prepared).

Talking of speeches, I got a call from the old retired lecturer who was sitting next to me on the bus to Navaisha, not sure if I mentioned him but he asked me be available before I leave Nakuru as he wanted to gather together the Church Elders as he wants me to talk to them. I didn't think I would hear from him but he called last night to say he would be in Nakuru on Wednesday and wants to meet me to discuss the 'talk' not sure I am the right man for the job!

Yesterday I spent all day painting large numbers on the 26 bikes that were donated three years ago and have been in storage ever since, i bought a pot of paint a brush and started work, did the last 6 this morning, and even if I say so myself not a bad job...... the manager asked if I was a sign writer before I started and I told him that as I was all he had, then he would have to accept whatever I managed to produce!! They now want me to paint on the bikes the word SCANN so now back to work tomorrow..... more painting, these bikes will be allocated to the boys before I leave even if I have to do it myself. The older boys walk an hour to get to school, come back for lunch and then go back in the afternoon, they are exhausted............

Ok I am off now to the pool, think I have earned it............ I have been treating the boys for ring worm which has spread round like nobodies business, they have accepted me as person with many hats, seamstress, I have a whole pile of sewing the boys bring me daily, nurse, artist, crafts person, 'mother' and teacher, so many hats!!

Ok take care all of you.


Thursday, 15 June 2006

A Quickie...

Hi there,
sorry been so busy since Kimberley got here trying to cram into two weeks the experiences I have and want..... um.

All Aboard!
We took the boys to Lake Nakuru, that was fun, we only took the boys that are at school at SCANN as the older boys have been, so 33 boys, two teachers and three volunteers later, and two hours of checking they were in uniform to get 50 shillings discount, checking papers, and getting passes, later we were in, we had hired another schools bus which had room for 24 passenger's, bit of a tight squeeze, but we had a great time.

On the Bus
At the Lake
I wasn't quite sure how I ended up with the boy who vomited the whole trip, must be something to do with that mother instinct... I was the only one with none holey plastic bags and wet wipes..... you know me ...... in case ofs are always packed!! As there was no room for me to deal with him at his seat he sat on my lap at the front of the bus where Kimberley was also sitting with a smaller boy already on her lap, safety does not come first out here!! The driver tried very hard to make it a smooth ride so that he didn't vomit too much but it was no use, the roads were like most in Kenya, pitted, potholed, and rough. The animals on the other hand were great, giraffe, white rhino, antelope, gazelle, ostrich (still only got two legs, Nathalie), flamingos by the thousands, what a fab time we had until we stopped at a deserted picnic site for lunch. We got everyone safely out of the bus, some feat in itself......... managed to get the food and drink out too, noticed some baboons lurking round and were aware we needed to be careful, they circled us and one shot forward at Debbie who was holding the huge bag of bread rolls, a tussle ensued as she was determined the boys needed feeding more than the baboons, unfortunately the baboon won and ran off with half our rolls. We speedily piled back onto the bus, shut the windows and divided up what we had left, needless to say it was hot hot hot, and we were boiling. Managed lunch all except of Julius of course. We then hurried back to SCANN, as the bus had to be back to do the school run............ we were exhausted but had a great day.

Strawberry Nesquik
Since then have been at SCANN with Kimberley we have made a vat of strawberry Nesquik for the boys, we have chopped skumaweeki (no idea how you spell it)!! it is kale chopped into thin slivers and boiled. I stepped in one day in the kitchen when the cook was detained in town I cooked a huge vat of Ugali, it ends up like cement but thicker, it was so hard to mix and stir that I pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder doing it, apparently it was well received as no one has taken the initiative before and helped out so much in the kitchen..... I now know why, it nearly killed me, got photos to prove it, not cooking like we know it.

Kimberley and I are off next week so wont be much news from us as we are heading to Mount Kenya for a few days, I am taking her to Lake Naivasha and then to Nairobi to fly home on Friday, busy busy, and little chance of getting to internet connection.

Love to you all,
Susannah and Kimberley,

Thursday, 8 June 2006

I'm back for a flying visit....08 June 2006 13:22:02

Hi there,

well what a few days I have had a Navasha Lake and Hells Gate...... Megan, Marc (a friend of Megans) and I shot off for a few days away, actually it was supposed to be on Tuesday back Wednesday night...... we just got back (Thursday). The trip there was horrible, the bus was packed, as usual it wont leave unless all seats are full. I had an elderly gentleman beside me who talked for Kenya, he was a retired teacher now lecturing at the university two days a week. He wanted to know my views on Families, children, wedlock, polygamy, same sex marriage, same sex marriage and the couple having children....etc etc. It was quite interesting and his views were still very stickly governed by his religion, although polygamy is allowed out here!! I said in the Uk who would want more than one wife, apparently they all live together in a community here, and the first wife is the one the others have to look to as the one in charge. He wanted my mobile number as he said he wants to phone me so that before I return to England he wants me to attend a meeting of the Church elders and talk to them......... such the wrong person for that job. None the less he wouldn't take no for an answer, just waiting for the call!!!

The Fisherman's Campsite was fab, got up early and have fabulous sunrise photos, yes I said sunRISE!! Got up at 5am hoping to see hippos but they didn't arrive instead the most spectacular sunrise. We had hoped to stay in dorms at the site but they apparently had only recently sold off that bit of land so we ended up camping, three in a tent, snug!!

Went to Hellsgate yesterday. hired bikes for the long trek, um... bad idea. The roads were about a foot deep in lose dust in places and we had to walk a lot of the way. Unfortunately, this devil on wheels also took a flying fall when I was cycling and the bike got wedged in a rivet of dust. Megan and Marc had cycled some great distance ahead and I was left alone, I flew head long off the bike, landing on my chin and chest, I lay with a mouth of dust unable to breath for a while. When I got up I was black, my face, my whole front was covered in black dust. My chain had come off the bike in the fall and I ended up walking for about 10 mins until I caught up with the others who by this time had decided something was not right. My yelling 'Man down' hadn't worked. The chain back on the bike, my mouth washed out with water, a nice graze on my chin with embedded black dust and dust burns on my knees, to top this I had a lovely dust impression on the front of my tee shirt of my breasts where they landed in the must sell that design when I get home, I will call it the 'splat'!

We arrived at the Guide centre and had our packed lunch, dust an additional freebie! We took a guide and were walked down into a gorge it was fab but very hard going especially with heavy rucksac, bad knees and bruised bones...... It was so hot, we walked and leaped like gazelle across the gorge bottom, at points we were straddled from one rock face to the other with water below, spider walking so ensure we didn't get wet. We were shown hot springs that burnt our fingers. The next bit was hard we then had to climb to the top of the gorge to see the spectacular views, it nearly killed me, the guide felt sorry for me and offered to take my back pack but I said it was OK, wasn't going to let a bit of weight get the better of me. Wow what a lovely view. Walked back to the rangers station to the amusement of the rangers, they thought my T shirt looked lovely!! ummmmm. Got a lift back to the road as my bike had kinked the back wheel in the fall also and was so hard to ride, besides which it was such a long way back, I really couldn't face another 'angel in the dirt'!! Some German tourists gave us a lift, thank goodness. The bike man wasn't happy that we had left our bikes with the rangers although they said it was fine and happened all the time, he said they would play on the bikes and wreck them. Oops, no way I was going back for it!

Had dinner at the lodge steak medallions in a cream and mushroom sauce, nice, saw lots of monkeys, zebras, but sadly no hippos.... The ride back today was hellish.... the last two mornings I have had terrible nausea, bit like the morning sickness again, couldn't sit with the others while they had their breakfast so popped the amazing airport pills, they helped but took a while to take effect. The bus ride back, yes I said bus, we thought we had paid for a Matatu until we were ushered onto an old bus, we were packed like sardines, the ride was less than pleasant as they squeezed three of us on to a seat that should only have had the capacity for two, nice. It took over two hours of total bone rattling pain, just outside Nakuru the bus knocked someone off their bike, the bus eventually pulled over, we sat for about 3/4 hour, deciding to join everyone else and get off the bus as it looked as though it could have been a long wait. We walked into Nakuru, much to the amusement of the locals, I am wearing what was left of my clothes, from two days ago, needless to say my ensemble was not in a fit state to wear again from yesterday, I did was my trousers but they didn't dry in time, so I have on a strappy top, covered with a sleeveless shirt,and a Kanga ( like a sarong) that Megan bought yesterday, we are filthy and weighed down with our packed to the top rucksacs, {{ THANKS LES IT IS REALLY HANDY, ALTHOUGH A BIT BIG, I SEEM TO BE ABLE TO FILL IT WHERE EVER I GO, IT IS GETTING WELL USED}}

I didn't mention that as we thought we were sleeping in dorms we had taken out sleeping bag liners but nothing else, we hired a tent, mattress and blanket (thin as I was later to find out!) The first night, i put on all my clothes, it was freezing, I couldn't sleep at all, I kept trying to roll up in a ball on my side to keep warm, but my hips were so numb on the thin mattress and cold ground that it ended up painful, I eventually ended up putting the pillow bit of the sleeping bag liner over my head so that my breath would warm me up. I got no sleep and eventually got up at 6 and watched the end of a nice sun rise, I saw a neighbour had built a fire and sat with him, having a nice cup of tea, he is from California, (a nice man) the next evening he appeared with very very thick blankets for Megan and I, I nearly cried, I had a fabulous nights sleep last night, warm as toast....... I joined him again for a cup of tea this morning and then we left.

Megan and I decided that as we were in town we would do our emails, so smelling, dusty, sweaty and looking as though I have had a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson, we are here. I have to go back unpack and pack again, Debbie and a couple of other volunteers have booked us on a Masai trip this weekend, we leave tomorrow. Busy week only got to the project on Monday, but it appears they are pleased for us to take time off and see their lovely country, says it helps us tell stories and relate better to the projects.

I will be away for the weekend and come back on Monday evening ready for the boys fresh and early on Tuesday, I have missed them, how crazy is that....... especially Mwangi, he is a tiny character who is bonding well with me even though he is shy.

Ok must go as just saw the price of this session, thanks for the emails.

Saturday, 3 June 2006

Part 2 from yesterday...

Hi there,

Well as I am here means my leg didn't fall off, it is still a bit swollen from the bites but I am sure now that i will survive. I didn't mention sleeping under a mosi net is a weird experience a bit like being in a net womb, whatever you didn't take inside with you you have to fiddle about trying to reach when the net is up, its a nightmare, must admit always wake up knowing where I am which was something I was worried about, waking and finding myself tangled in the net!

Ok so where did I leave you, ah the famous bike thing....... well, it would appear that when you buy a bike in Kenya you don't get it roadworthy, that is an extra that you have to ask for (as I have found out to my peril), they supply the bike from the manufacturers without any checks, so nothing tightened or oiled. That explains why mine started falling apart on the second day of use. I spoke to the cook at the project and he said I was mad to have ridden it without a service, I proceeded to tell him that no one had said it needed one it was a new bike after all. He took me to see his friend who is a bike mechanic who laughed himself silly along with the other 6 people who were waiting around, apparently I am a very funny mazungu (white person). Who would try to ride a bike without tightening the bits first. We negotiated heavily with the price and I think I got a good deal as I made them laugh and they appeared to like me. Mark cycled back to SCANN and I got one of the guys from the repair place who was a boda man to give me a ride. I have never heard a man with such a laugh, he laughed all the way back to the apartment, i am not sure how he managed to cycle with me on the back and laugh so much. It was a bit embarrassing as his laugh was like someone in a looney bin!! He said I had made him laugh so much it was good for the soul.

Last night we went out as my roomies left today, we had a few beers and when we arrived at the club i had my camera with me, I was told that they didn't like cameras, so I said that was ok, he asked me not to take pictures of anyone other than my group - I confirmed that if I took any photos it would be of the 'mazungu' only, he seemed to appreciate this as I got a funny hip hand shake!!

Today I got up early and went to collect my bike with Mark from Scann, he cycled and I grabbed a passing boda man, he seemed pleased for the early customer. We arrived at the cycle place with a great welcome from the man himself, he told me that I now had a 'fine bike' and he would guarantee the work for 24 hours, (generous!!) I said if anything went wrong now I knew where to find him.............. My bike is now a great bike, it feels so much better, I think Megan will be back next week with hers for a service.

When we left the cycle place Mark said it would be an honour if i would go back to where he lived and meet his family, he said that the area he lived in was very poor and the people had not seen a mazungu before. The trip was a test for my bike alright, what a distance we covered on roads that were just dirt tracks. The area that he lived in he called the Shambas, there was no water or power to the dwellings, I cant call them houses as they are barely dwellings. They live in basic mud and wood huts that are divided inside to form rooms with hanging newspapers stuck together to form a screen.

I felt very humble that he invited me to visit his neighbourhood, the children whilst they greeted me from afar were not keen to come up close. They were so poor that they had only one item of clothing each so either a top or bottom and in the small community of dwellings that Mark lived in there must have been about 8 families, all the children gathered at the commotion of our arrival. I ended up approaching the children who ranged from about 1 to 7 years old, the older girls (7 yrs) were looking after the younger ones.

I was left playing with the children, they had got me a stool to sit on, they all eventually came up shook my hand and introduced themselves, not that I can remember their names there were about 20 of them in total. I played 'round and round the garden' with them, and tickled them they found this very very funny and kept coming back for more. Mark (25years) introduced me to his younger brother who is working very hard at school and is top in his class, Mark supports his family as he is lucky enough to work at Scann. Marks brother made us some hot tea and provided some mendazi, (a type of donut), we all talked for a while about life, Kenya etc, I felt so moved that someone who has so little goes out of his way to make sure that he provides something for his 'guest'.

I said I would visit the children again, I would take Mark shopping and buy some flour, fruit and basics for his community, it was the least I could do, I don't believe giving money is the way to go. The children were so made up with just having me there playing, one little guy cried when I left, he had been especially clingy, not leaving my side. The ride back to my apartment with Mark made me reflect how lucky we all are to live the lives we do, although these people seem to be happy and they have nothing.

I moved all my belongings today into the apartment two floors up from mine. As my roomies have left I am now going to be sharing with Megan and Lorna, (my room with Jo and Mad was enormous compared to the one I have now to share. We have three junior beds in a room that is smaller than Kimberley's box room (those that don't know...... its tiny and wouldn't take a double bed if you tried) I have one shelf at the bottom of a two shelf cupboard, so most of my things have gone under the bed in bags. So much for travelling light. The apartment I was in was on the first floor this is now on the third floor. When water is short, the first floor apt gets water but the pressure isn't sufficient to reach the third floor so we have to carry it up in bowls, nice for the toilet!!!!!!! There is a big agricultural event in a months time and they use the water to provide for the event ground, this reduces the pressure so for the next month we have limited use, something to look forward to, wish i could have stayed in the other apt!!

All of you take care, I am regarded as a heathen as i don't go to Church, I keep being told that i should consider going back to the flock as its not too late....... um not sure about that!!

Big kiss all round, sorry it was another long one, that is why i broke it in to two parts!!
Love you all

Friday, 2 June 2006

Oh what a week .......02 June 2006 13:29:43

Hi Everyone, and welcome to Ugoh and Roger, (my circle is getting ever bigger)

I know you have all been waiting for news of Michael, I am sorry it has taken so long, he came out of hospital on Tuesday having had a scan and they found nothing to show any sort of clot or bleed. He is slowly getting stronger and they feel that it was a virus that affected him so badly, his memory will hopefully come back now he is back with his 'family' at Scann.

On Sunday I spent the day indulging myself by the only pool that I know of at a hotel called Merica (we all call it America) We had a lovely buffet lunch there and then back for dinner in the evening Plantain stew! Unfortunately, I woke in the night with stomach cramps and spent the whole night in the loo!! OOps hope none of you are eating! Monday I staying in bed all day, I also did some preparation work for school and planned the party. (So it wasnt wasted)!

Tuesday Megan and I went and bought bikes, that was a scream, the bikes we bought were a bit big (mine especially) however as we were donating them for the school boys who are very tall I thought I would manage!!!!! Unfortunately, when the salesmen got our bikes out on to the road, we loaded up with our supplies, I found that the cross bar was actually three inches too high for my inside leg!!!!! It was too painful to explain, I walked the bike back into the shop and bought what looks like a kiddie bike in proportions....... it was also alot more expensive! We left the shop having drawn a crowd, as women, other than in very rural areas dont ride bikes and we were white to boot! We managed to cycle off with a barrage of laughs and mutterings from a large group of boda boda men who had gathered to see us off!!

Half way to the apartment Megans chain came off, we turned the bike upside down (as you do) and tried to fix it, it was home time for the local schools and we were surrounded by kids all laughing, one boy offered to help and put the chain back on. Two minutes later it had come off again, bits of my bike were coming apart and the handle bars came loose, so with tail between legs (so to speak) we walked the rest of the way with many many comments, nice new bikes and we were walking. Opposite the apartement is a guy who fixes boda boda bikes and we got him to sort out the chain and mine two, he offered a service but we declined as we said these are new bikes why would they need a service......... (you will find out later....)

All week we have spent doing craft things for the party, masks, penyatas (Mexican thing that you fill with sweets and get the boys to hit with a bat until it breaks, not sure how you spell it) we did two covered with crepe paper flowers, looked great. We also did some paper mache creatures for the penyata but it was taking too long!!

The party was yesterday and it went very well, all 150 boys and helpers had a great time, I will give you more infor tomorrow as now I have to go as I have reached 100 shillings on the internet and need to go get my bike FIXED!!!!!

I am still alive although I have two huge bites on my leg which are causing concern, only received them last night, but they are swelling badly!! Thanks for the emails, they make me smile, a bit of home, its great here, very manic and very very very different, so hard to convey.

Love to you all,
Next installment to follow tomorrow hopefully if leg doesnt drop off!!