Sorry laptop is still not working so using Julians whilst in Mombassa to type this....
6th July arranged to meet our old friend Veronica who runs Garden Villa a restaurant and bar (Ailsa and I both stayed with her when we first went out to Kenya in 2006) We decided to go to have nyama Choma (roast meat) This process usually from ordering to eating takes a couple of hours as it is not a quick process - which goes with many things here in Kenya. We caught up with Veronica between her doing disappearing acts, but as always it was lovely to see what little of her we could manage. We had a nice meal and then headed back home to get ready for a crazy night at salsa. Julian actually managed to show then how to do a bit of rueda dancing, we laughed so much we didnt know what to do with ourselves, it was such a fun night, the two teachers were eager to spend more time with Julian so that he could share his salsa knowledge but we were off the following day to meet friends in Naro Moro near Mount Kenya.
7th July Ailsa wanted to make the trip to Naro Moro and I decided it was a good opportunity for Julian to see other areas of Kenya. We had an event ful trip, Ailsa and I sat on the back seat of the matatu (it had a low roof) and we got Julian to sit in the next row which had more head room. Needless to say they crammed our bags in, including one with donations of cold weather clothes for our friends (Jayne - it included your white fur fleece!) We had banked on the fact that it would be alot cooler near Mount Kenya but nothing prepared us for how cold the nights would be, it was so so so cold I ended up wearing the fur fleece as I was freezing. Ailsa wore a big warm parker that she was taking up for one of the men at the re forestation projects! Julian just managed with what he had he didnt quite feel the cold like we did. We visited the re forestation project which had grown since we last visited a number of years ago. Everyone was so happy to see us it made us feel bad for it having been so long since our last visit. We slept early after a rushed hi to our friends
The 8th July we rather cold headed to the project to help with some of the work of potting up plastic bags with soil for seedling planting, we chatted about the project and its work and Julian actually took a video of Robert talking about the project to add to their web site, we were taken for a walk to one of the slopes that had been stripped of trees to see where in 2007 Ailsa had planted seedlings with a group of volunteers, the seedlings were now about 3 ft tall, considering that they had been very short of rain they had survived well and were looking strong. The work wasnt just to add trees, it was to help restore the whole balance of water harnessing that had been destroyed by stripping of the forests. The trees help stop the rains from evapourating and create a natural water harnessing system which helps keep the water in the soil, this feeds down to the streams and rivers helping the lowland areas. No trees means lack of water.
That evening a group of about 20 business people from Nairobi in their expensive and big 4x4 vehicles, we were told they were doing a team building exercise and climbing to the first rangers station at Mt Kenya. Team building they definately did making so much noise playing 'team' games that we got little sleep, they then got up at 5am to prepare for their day's walk, making so much noise clicking on and off the car alarms, slamming car doors and talking loudly, it was so nice of them to appreciate that we were also staying there and we had had no sleep due to them the night before.
9th July We were cold and so tired - not a good combination. Julian thought we were kidding about the fact that we could normally see Mt Kenya as it was so foggy and cloudy that you could see NO mountain at all. We went and spent the day with our friends Scholar and John and their two children, we had a lovely time, played some salsa music and did a bit of dancing - Scholar loves to dance and was glad for the opportunity as Julian as her instructor. We had lunch with them and Julian made another video of John talking about his life as a smallholding farmer. It was an amazing time and we were upset to leave them. Ailsa was heading to Nairobi to get her flight the next day, Julian and I were returning to Nakuru. It was an emotional day with lots of hugs as we left Ailsa in Nyahururu, little did Julian and I know just how long it would take us to get home, it was so dark and I found it impossible to see where we were to get land marks, luckily we eventually got back exhausted, we ate at Bota Sola as it was too late to start cooking when I got home, chicken and chipati was all they could rustle up as the kitchen had already closed, (it is good to know the manager he fed us). We got home and flopped into bed exhausted only to be awoken by the cockerel!
I had also previously made arrangements to join my friend Cheryl on a walk round Menengai Crater to show Julian what an amazing place it was. Cheryl came and collected us at 8.30am - we sat and had a cup of tea at Cheryls whilst talking to her family and waiting for other friends to join us. We clambered into the friends old green landrover together with provisions for breakfast in the crater. Cheryl and her daughter followed in the estate car with the 7 dogs in the back. We had a lovely walk and then met up with Paddy who was driving the landrover who had taken it down into the crater with the provisions for us to make a picnic breakfast, all very 'famous five' on a trip, it was almost surreal. We had drop pancakes, cookies, flap jacks tea and coffee, by the time we left we were stuffed. We all headed back to Cheryl's, Paddy and her friends left. Julian and I joined Cheryl's family for a proper cooked breakfast which then turned into a long story telling session and then extended into an impromptu lunch which was whatever we found it the fridge. We laughed and chatted loads and rather alot of alcoholic fruit punch was consumed - excepting Cheryl as she doesnt drink! By the time Cheryl was ready to drive us home we were a little giggly and even more so when we disclosed that we needed to go via the supermarket for provisions, Cheryl did a quick list of her own and we set off. I dont think the supermarket was quite ready for us decending on them, but we managed to pick bits up that were useful when we got home. In return for the lift and great friendship I let Cheryl take cuttings of two of my bouganvilliers which she has been admiring for some time.
10th July we had arranged to visit Paddy at her farm where she runs a womans project called the Kenana Knitters. As it is some distance from me, Julian and I arranged to meet one of the workers in town to get a lift. Now the story here is that Paddy and her husband own 800 acres of land on which they breed horses, have a dairy and wheat farm, an overland vehicle camp site, and various properties that they rent out to families, also they run the project which started out as being an acquired project left to them which involved women preparing fleeces to be spun into wool, which was sold. Well the project grew and the wool is now bought from sheep farmers in various regions, the wool is then sent out to be spun and washed, it is returned to the project ready to be dyed and knitted into garments and toys. These items are shipped out to outlets round the world, many places giving specific orders for items that they want individualised. The project has grown from strength to strength. The ladies who work for the project are supported by earning for the piece work they produce either at the project or in their own homes. In return Paddy also provides health care for the women, HIV advisors come and take to the women together with providing anti viral meds and a clinic on the premises for family planning and other health issues. A savings plan is in place to help the woman keep their money as their own instead of going into the hands of their husbands who often abuse them and spend the money on booze or drugs. The woman are also encouraged to do basic literacy classes on the premises enabling them to be able to write their names and basic reading, as many of them have had no schooling. There is now even a computer class available to those that are able to progress further. The project has 240 woman workers who are helped by the business many of whom are HIV positive and now able to receive medication without the need for treking to the nearest VCT clinic to get them, which in some cases can be a trek of many hours to get to it. The smaller children of the workers also come and are helped by the clinic and are found sitting on the grass under the shade of the trees playing with the creche toys whilst their mothers are busy knitting and finding the comfort of like minded women to spend time with who know their situations are similar. To many woman this has become their life line to a 'normal' life, they have gained freedom from husbands who abuse and beat them to be able to rent somewhere for them to live with their children in a safe environment. They have found a community of people who understand their plight. A number of them have progressed so well that they have found employment outside with the help of additional support from the project. I am possibly going to look at spending a few days a week helping at his project if I can sort out the transport issues.
Ok well that is enough catch up for now will send more maybe tomorrow.... so much to tell and so much is happening I just cant keep up.
Love to you all,