This past weekend was a roller coaster of experiences, ranging from awe-inspiring nature-scapes to foreign dogpile-style transportation. Our Outreach Weekend started with an unremarkable BBQ that included loud, Irish frat boys and quadruple-shot drinks. You do the math. The next morning we departed for a KCC Project, which is a school setup by volunteers to educate a sorely under-served area in Kenya. And with yet another game of (real) football, we departed for our next adventure, Hell's Gate.
This excursion began with a leisurely bike ride along gravel and dirt roads, riding through a massive valley filled with amazing wildlife. Though there wasn't much wildlife on the ride there, we did pass by Pride Rock, the famous rock modeled in the Lion King. It was there that we wept for Mufasa.
The wind quickly dried our tears as we pedaled the rest of the way to Hell's Gate. There we grabbed our water and cameras and set off on foot on the single track trails. The rock formations were absolutely gorgeous! With the canyon walls dropping deeply and narrowly into the ground, it isn't hard to imagine how quickly and dangerously flash floods occur. After maybe an hour of meandering, we approached a 15-20 foot wall we were to scale. The nostalgia of my climbing days quickly overcame me, and upon reaching the top I realized why I miss climbing so much - because I freakin' love it!
The ride back from Hell's Gate was the prize of the day. Because we were nearing sundown, temperatures had cooled, and wildlife was emerging...like really emerging. As in, we had to stop our bikes to wait for crossing zebras, warthogs & impalas. We also saw giraffes and watched baboons climb the face of an enormous cliff. What an amazing experience it was to be within 30 feet of these animals, in their native habitats! The feeling was indescribable.
After a celebratory meal (and finishing the meals of those around me), we hit the hay in the Naivasha Hotel. On Saturday morning we awoke to a full breakfast of bread (which they call toast), sausages, and (of course) chai. It seems that here in Kenya, chai comes after oxygen in the list of basic human needs. But I digress...
From our full bellies came a sense of irony as we packed food to distribute to starving families. Our next destination would be an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camp. After the 2007 elections in Kenya, violence erupted due to the opposition of the two main tribes of Kenya. Six hundred thousand families were displaced, tearing families apart and leaving them homeless. The U.N. responded by providing tents, and the Red Cross helped channel food and other resources across the country. However, their support has dwindled. Therefore, the organization Marafiki recruits volunteers from our organization to purchase and distribute food.
This experience was both heart wrenching and uplifting. The former is obvious - starving families of 12 living in a single tent. Nuff said. The latter, though, came through in the children's attitudes despite their harsh living conditions. They exhibited a form of resilience that I've never seen before. It was enough for me to forget about the fact that my stomach was grumbling for a late lunch. Some of these kids haven't eaten since yesterday.
We were ealso able to help paint a new school in the IDP camp and sand the desks that would seat those very children, so eager and appreciative. I don't think I truly understood the word "perspective" until Saturday.
Now we're back in school and things are looking up there as well. Instead of reviewing a recent mid-term exam, I've been able to teach new material and it's going very well. There are still the issues of about 90-95 kids per classroom and 35-minute class periods, but I'm trying to roll with the punches.
Our next excursion will be to the Indian Ocean in Mombasa where we hope to relax and check out some chill night life. Until then, kwaheri!