Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas lunch

Christmas morning

New beaded tunic for me. Maddie's new baobab tree. Werther's caramels from Santa Nairobi.
Gift opening. Oliver's new gun. Andrew's 'best dad ever' trophy.
Lauren's paint by number. Maasai necklace for me. Oliver's new board game.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Arusha street scenes

The short rains still continue with sudden downpours and the roads become rivers.

 Above: wet, soggy lounge chairs... still for sale

Above and below: there were some dodgy vehicles out and about today
 Below: waiting in traffic at the impala roundabout
 Below: a dining setting sitting on the side of the road (??)

Trucks are a great way to travel with at view.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nairobi to Arusha

We caught a shuttle bus back to Arusha yesterday. Below are some photos taken whilst driving out of Nairobi.

Above: heading towards Namunga on the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
Below: colours of the Maasai wares for sale near the border.

Below: our bus being repacked after stopping at the border.

Crossing the border is a fascinating, if not long, process. There is a lot of lining up at windows with passports and paperwork on either side of course, and then the walk across no-man's land in between, and a lot of  Maasai women aggressively selling jewellery.
And photography is forbidden. There are signs saying so. I was surprised to see some very brash tourists with large cameras out snapping away outside the official buildings (on the Tanzanian side, I don't think they would have been silly enough to do so on the Kenyan side as there is a large police presence). I was waiting for some sort of trouble to come, but it didn't appear to. I snuck a couple from my iPhone, but of none of the buildings.
An upsetting side of the border is the number of beggars. It is always quandary of whether to give money or not. We do give money sometimes to people in need where we live, but the whole begging in public places has so many issues - pros and (mainly) cons.

Nairobi - Day 5

Unfortunately I don't have many photos for Friday. I had a killer of a headache all day, and just wanted to get the job of Christmas shopping done.
We spent the morning at a shopping centre, trying to dodge each other at the cash registers, and then spent a long time in taxis or waiting for the one we had booked (horrible traffic at fault there).
The kids did spend an enjoyable afternoon at the water slides we discovered on day 2, which made up for the morning of torture shopping.

I did try to capture the vibe of the area of where we were staying in Nairobi. As Andrew said, we could have been in the North Shore area of Sydney - minus the razor wire or electric fencing along the walls, and the guards.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Nairobi - Day 4

We travelled out to visit the elephant and rhino orphanage that is located in part of Nairobi's National Park. It is open from 11am - 12 noon for the public to meet the baby elephants, and watch them be fed enormous quantities of milk.
The elephants are found in the national parks around Kenya abandoned due to poaching, or because their mother has died in some other way. In the wild they are fed milk by their mothers for 2 years, and so will die if she is not present. At the orphanage they are given milk for 3 years - it is a human formula. The elephants also need a 'family' contact to survive, and the other elephants and the keepers are this at the orphanage. We looked into their pens and saw that the keepers also sleep with the elephants at night, each having a bed in the enclosures.
The elephants are integrated back into the wild when they are old enough, or the keepers think they will cope.

There are a few rhinos at the orphanage too. These are not social animals like the elephants, but have their own pens and routines too.
The rhino sleeping below is Maxwell. He was born blind, and so will never be returned to the wild but will live out his life at the orphanage.

Our next stop was the giraffe centre in Langata where we got to feed and touch some of these beautiful animals (one of my favourites!). The giraffe centre is involved in the breeding program to increase the numbers of the endangered Rothschild giraffe, and these in turn are then released into the wild when the time is right.
The giraffe below is Helen.

And Oliver and I had the pleasure of 'kissing' Lyn, one of the oldest giraffes at the centre.

We then visited the Bomas of Kenya. We sat in a very large auditorium and watched some traditional dances and an acrobatic performance.
Below is just a taste of some of the performances we saw.

There was also some villages set up to show how the different tribes live.
Below are some photos from the Maasai village.

On the way home I tried to capture the view we had of Kibera - one of the largest slums in the world. 
There are many organisations working in Kibera to improve the living conditions, and the Kenyan government has a plan (as of 2009) to rehouse and provide infrastructure for all the people living there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nairobi - Day 3

Today we caught a local bus into the city to have a look around.
Catching a local bus is all part of the cultural experience in Africa. We did find that it was all a bit more organised than Arusha, and that people weren't crammed in even though there is ABSOLUTELY NO ROOM- apparently in the last couple of weeks new fines have been introduced discouraging any overcrowding of vehicles.
However, the music was booming and it was airless enough as to not let us forget where we were.

We walked down Kenyatta Ave, and around near the International Conference Centre and parliament and tried to recognise places we had visited in the early 90s (and 80s for me), but the city has grown so much it was hard to see any similarities.
The Thorn Tree cafe was unrecognisable (below, middle photo).

After we had wandered the streets, and the kids began to complain, we headed into Uhuru Park and made use of the paddle boats there. Although is was a fun activity for the kids, I was disappointed to see the amount of drunk people lying around, and there was certainly a few unsavoury types about.

Tonight we had dinner with Sharon and Peter Crean, and their daughter Liz. The Creans have recently arrived back in Nairobi (from Australia) and are working with Afri-Lift.
We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant and it was delicious.

We had never eaten Ethiopian food before. Large platters arrived with different types of meats and vegetables which we ate with some spongy fermented bread. Oliver even tackled the egg sitting in the middle of the platter.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nairobi - Day 2

When we woke today it was raining. Really raining. Which meant we had to think of something indoorsy to do.
We caught a taxi to The Village Market - the photo below was not taken by me. I thought about getting one but was more interested in trying to stay dry.
Friends in Arusha had told us about Planet Yogurt and it was high on the list of things to try.

There were all sort of strange combinations of flavours put together by the younger members of the family.
I felt my choice was far more sophisticated. However next time I would just stick to two flavours.
The salted caramel was divine.

The kids went crazy with the toppings.

Even though it was bucketing down, Oliver spent about an hour (by himself) on the water slides at the shopping centre.

As we arrived home in the afternoon the rain cleared for a while and the playground in the guest house grounds was found.

We quite like the number of the unit in which we are staying.
Above is a view from the taxi on our way home. Down this stretch of road there were sellers of all sorts of things walking in and out of the traffic - flowers, newspapers, crafts and food. Andrew engaged one in conversation and ended up buying an 80cm high wire Christmas tree which was passed through the window, much to the amusement of the taxi driver. It is rather nice, but who is going to carry it on the bus back to Arusha??