Tuesday, July 27, 2010
We are finally all in the same place at the same time again. After Mike's 10 day trip to Kenya, I took a 17 day trip to Burkina. It will be good to spend some time at home now.
I had a great time in Burkina learning more about the people we've prayed for now for so long and whose language I've learned. Of course we have Mossi people here in Abidjan, thus the reason for my language choice. It is just a different thing to see and understand and know where someone is coming from and what has shaped who they are. I also benefited from a couple of weeks of all Moore all of the time. I also got to spend some time with my Mossi friend that went back to Burkina to live. All in all, it was a wonderful time.
Because of the expense of airfare, Benjamin and I hopped on a train for the journey. We could have gone all of the way to the capital city, where we would be staying, but decided to break the trip up by stopping at friends' house on the way. So instead of a 42 hour train ride, we stopped after 32 hours. Let me just say that 32 hours is a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG time to sit in a seat with a baby on your lap! You do get to know your neighbors, though. We got to the Abidjan train station at 8 AM Thursday morning to leave and when I saw the lights for my friends city at 8:30 PM on Friday night, I was ever so grateful!! After a little sleep, good food and a quick visit, we continued on to the capital city by bus. It was only another 5 and a half hours by bus, but after the train ride from the days before, we thought we'd never get there. Benjamin was a pretty good sport for this leg of the trip, but he was getting tired of being held. He wanted to be FREE!
After settling in at our temporary home away from home in the capital, my good friend came to greet us. I was so happy to see her and although Benjamin seemed to remember her, he was a little leery. After another decent meal, he was feeling more friendly. On the train and on the bus, we were limited to what you could purchase from a tray that women carry on their heads at the stations. You never knew what you'd find. There were bananas, boiled eggs, and a local dish called attieke (not my favorite) at most stops. Other local delicacies were at some stops like kidney sandwiches. Benjamin and I opted for a mystery meat sandwich the first night and fruit and bread to fill out the rest of the days. Fortunately I had packed baby food and water so that Benjamin wouldn't be dependent on what we found. We were glad to have eaten at our friends' house the night before and to finally be starting our all African diet with some tame rice and sauce this night.
The next day we started life full speed ahead. We went out to visit a family for the day. This meant a 30 minute taxi ride and then a 45 minute walk to their house. They were so glad to see us again as this is a family that I had visited last year in August. Benjamin was a hit every where we went. They served up a local dish, please don't ask me to tell you what is in it as I can't even pronounce it. All I could recognize were leaves. As usual, one meal wasn't enough so I was soon served another meal that I can only describe as black-eyed pea jello with mayo to dip it in! Oddly enough, that was the one I liked! Benjamin loves to be outside, so for the whole two weeks he enjoyed all of the visiting, just not the long car rides. He also did not appreciate the idea that the baby shouldn't play in the dirt with the rest of the kids and made his opinion about that loud and clear. There were many biting ants and so we tried to restrict him to a mat thrown out for him. That worked some and later in the week, Benjamin began to get excited when he'd see a mat come out as that meant he could get down and play.
Most of the families we visited, we would just sit and talk for several hours. We always got fed well and many times we were even given gifts by these that had so little. I was glad to have my friend with me everywhere as she was able to pick up the slack when we were served things I didn't care for as much. I always tried carry my weight, though.
Some of my favorite visits were to the villages. We are currently living and working in a BIG city, but I am a country girl at heart. So seeing kilometers of land with fields and small houses and animals, was so much fun! Because it was rainy season, there was even beautiful green grass waving across the pastureland. We were quite the amusement in the village as well as westerners are not often seen there and not only were we westerners, but we were westerners learning to speak Moore. It never grew old to hear what those sitting around would say about us and then have my friend turn and say "She understands you!" They might have been horrified to know that if they weren't so amused and determined to see just exactly what the white lady did understand. What was nice and difficult all at once was that we never walked away with nothing. We were given everything from local food and fruits to a live chicken! In other homes we were given peanuts, okra, onions and tomatoes. In the market, Benjamin was given baskets, hats, and many other gifts. The Mossi are so generous and hospitable. Thanks to some shirts my mom brought last year when she visited, Benjamin had a little something to give to most of those we came in contact with as well.
Benjamin did end up having an encounter with one of those biting ants. He was on his mat, so I didn't get in trouble for having allowed him to be bit. Fortunately he handled it well. I hear that many cry for a long time afterward, but Benjamin just cried a little bit and it was over. I also had some stupid moments of my own. I locked my keys in the car along with all of our water, food, diapers when we were in the village one day! Benjamin and I wound up with a stomach virus or a bad reaction to food one miserable night and day. One morning we went out to find the truck dead as a door nail for no apparent reason and had to wait for the mechanic. Fortunately, my dear friend was with me the whole time, so I never lacked for moral support or somebody to speak Moore with!
I think I have a million more stories, but I better get on with life in the here and now. Our love to you all.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
These pictures are in black and white, but I think you will be able to see enough to want to go here if you ever visit Kenya. Welcome to the Carnivore. It is a world famous restaurant that serves exotic meats. Hence the name Carnivore. They use to serve Zebra and Giraffe and meat like that before Kenya outlawed those meats. The Carnivore is an all you can eat meat buffet. The exotic meat of the day was Ostrich, which comes from an Ostrich Farm, that is why they can serve this meat. We also had some Crocodile because it was not outlawed. The best meat in my opinion was the lamb. It was the best meat I have ever tasted.
This is the 6 of us who ventured out to the Carnivore. The one you don't see is taking the picture. We had a great time.
As I said this is an all you can eat restaurant. They bring a flag to your table and then start bringing you the meat. They tell you when you have finished eating you MUST surrender and lower your flag, or they will keep bringing out the meat. They bring the meat to your table on skewers and cut it off onto your plate.
This is the meat preparation area. It is hard to tell, but there are around 15 to 20 different meats being cooked in this area. Yes it smells great!!!
This little tray is the tray of sauces they bring to your table. There are 6 sauces and when they bring the meat to your table they will tell you which sauce to put on your meat. For instance the lamb goes with a mint sauce. Also in this picture you can see that we have surrendered and lowered our flag. The cost per person is a little high. It is about 2800 Kenya shillings. About $30 to $35 dollars per person. But you can eat all you want. I skipped lunch because I knew we were going to the Carnivore!!!! After I had finished, I asked my self if I brought my father and father-in-law to this place, how much they would eat and how long would we be sitting there. I dare say I might still be there!!!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The elephant nursery has about 20 little elephants that have lost their mother in some way. Some the mother has died from old age and the little elephant got separated from his heard. Others have lost their mothers to other types of death. Some of these little guys just got separated from the heards by getting swept away by flooding. This organization has adopted these guys and will raise them and then release them as a heard into the wild in about 5 years. This little guy is the youngest of the heard.
This is the elephant version of "kill the man with the ball". Ok not really, but they do like to pill up on each other. It is a way of showing affection and also they get to play in the red dirt.
These little guys are so small they still need milk. They are feed from a bottle several times a day.
The elephant nursery is in the wild and we had a few visitors. This giraffe came by to say hi and to show us her young one. We did not get good pictures of the little giraffe.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
We celebrated our nation's birthday from the beautiful shores of West Africa. Being out of the country makes you appreciate even more the freedoms and advantages we have as Americans.
As for all holidays, being out here means that we can't just go participate in the festivities some where or pop over to Mom's to hang out with the family. All festivities have to be thought up and created and we have to be friends and family for each other. Fortunately our wonderful teammates were doing the thinking this year and the kids had a great time with all of the games and activities they planned. They even managed to lay out some great grilled food and we enjoyed the day of celebration.
We'll be celebrating Mike's birthday today again from afar, but for a different reason. He is still in Kenya and we are here in Abidjan. We are looking forward to his return tomorrow and wishing him the best today on his special day.
Just some more pictures from Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Here are some Hippos. We saw around 30 to 40 Hippos. None of them would get out of the water more than this one. We were charged by a hippo that came to 15 feet away. Our tour guide said he was teasing us. I didn't think it was very funny. The Hippo was about 50 feet away and he went under water and the next thing we know he pops up around 15 feet away snorting and huffing at us. I don't think he was teasing.
This is a Cormorant drying his wings. A Cormorant doesn't have the oil on his body that ducks have which means they cannot float. They also cannot fly when they are wet and they have to dry their wings before they take off.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Lake Naivasha, Kenya. This is the highest fresh water lake in Kenya. The name Naivasha is Massi for "bubbling water". This lake sits next to a volcano. The volcano has not erupted in a long time so it is relatively safe. One of the main features of this lake is the animal life that surrounds the lake. This Fish Eagle is one of the main attractions. There are also hippos, zebras and other wildlife.
We took a boat out on the lake to view the Eagles and Hippos. We also, got a glimpse of some Zebras. Hippo and Zebra pictures will be posted later. Our tour guides carried dead fish with them and when they saw the Eagles in the trees they threw the fish in the water and the Eagles took off and came for the food. The Eagle were so far away you could barely tell they were animals, but they were able to see the small fish thrown into the water.