The crowd moves like a living
creature. I push back against the sea of jumpsuits and strain to get a look at
the market center. This is taking too long. We should be next to the stalls by
now and I don’t have time for this. It’s always crowded at the market, but this
is ridiculous. Ahead there is the hum and rustle of voices but for some reason
we’re not moving forward. I stretch my legs to see what’s happening. We all get
the same foodstuffs and products anyway. What’s the point in fighting over it?
I can’t see past Dad— he has a good six inches on me, and I’m tall at six feet—
so I watch his face as he turns to the direction of the sounds. Maybe the
foodstuffs haven’t reached the market.
eyes get wide and he takes a step back, treading on the foot of a Builder. The
Builder holds Dad by the elbow to steady him. Dad leans over as if he’s going
to tell me something, but he’s quiet. I get the feeling he is ducking out of
sight. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He squeezes me on the
shoulder and I wince.
my arm out of his grasp. “We need to go home,” he whispers next to my ear and looks in the other direction.
“What is it Dad?” I ask. I elbow him and expect him to laugh because this doesn’t make any sense, but he’s
not laughing. “We just got here.” He crouches a little more, making his height
I let him pull me from the market onto a side lane, not
paying attention to my surroundings. We are weaving through paths hemmed in by
adobe buildings, back toward our place, when I stop him. “Tell me what this is
stops and turns toward me, motioning down the lane. “Not now, Nile. We should
squeezes his eyes closed for a split second, and then looks over at me. “Do you
my eyes away before nodding, my voice monotone, matching his. Always matching
his. “Yes.” I want to add barely.
because you’re going to have to. I’ll try to explain as we go, but we need to
Camp, after lights out, it is so black that when you close and open your eyes,
the view is the same. There is no sound but Dad’s voice and the soft whistle of
my twin Nile’s breathing.
“It was when they killed all the dogs that we
knew.” Dad lets the words hover in the blackness.
I know what dogs and cats are from our
training manuals, but I’m not sure why Dad’s voice sounds as if it is being
pressed down by a heavy weight.
“What did you know?” I ask.
“We knew that the reports and speeches
saying things were fine… we knew they were lies.” Dad’s voice is scratchy like
granite. He whispers but it fills the room.
“It may be hard for you to understand.”
His voice breaks a little. “It’s a luxury that doesn’t exist anymore. But for
some, it was like losing a family member.”
you have to kill your dog?” Nile asks. He asks like he’s filing a report. I
wish he was close enough to punch.
No matter what happens, Dad reacts as
if he is waiting for it to happen. This is no different. “I did. There was no
choice. She was killed with all the others. We thought it would save us, or buy
us time. It didn’t.”
“But how is this different from what we
already know?” I ask. Sleepiness starts to cover me like a blanket.
“You know a lot about the Rising and
Demics, and about what came after, but you don’t know everything. You learn the
what, but not the why. People will put up with a lot when
they’re scared, and people weren’t always this scared.” He starts over. “It was
when the dogs were killed that everyone knew it was serious; that things would
never be the same. That’s when people got desperate.” Dad pulls the door open.
“What I tell you is our true history, but you can never speak a word of this to
I met so many people in Kenya-- so many kind and open people, who were generous with their time. I'm interspersing some of those photos with more general shots of "life" in Kenya for the average person.
A small fishing village on Lake Victoria.
I don't have a photo of our AMAZING guide Titus-- but if you're ever in Kisumu, Kenya-- go to Hippo Point and ask for Titus. He was so knowledgeable, so entertaining, just a fantastic guide.
Patrick, our guide at Kakamega Forest. He was EXCELLENT.
A man biking with grasses to be used for roofing.
Elia, our driver to Kakamega. He took the hike with us, and kindly waited for me when all the others climbed much faster up the hill.
Meeting with one of our farmer groups.
Our daily driver Peter. I have never seen anything like the roads and traffic in the area surrounding Kisumu (and I've been on the roads in a developing country before). Peter was so skilled that I never felt anything but safe when he was driving.
Here is the team, speaking to one of our farmer groups under the mango trees.
This little guy was one of the kids at the orphanage.
This is blurry because it was taken with my ipad at dusk, but it's the only photo I have of the whole group. What an amazing team.
A street in Nairobi.
The cola stand behind our hotel in Nairobi. I did not see a single Pepsi while in Kenya. Not a one. It is Coca Cola territory, for sure.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, really. There were so many moments, so many interactions, so many interesting people...
Where have you traveled that has made an impression on you?
We did get to see a bit of nature in Kenya, too. We were there for such a short period and had so much to do that a safari wasn't possible. To be honest, everything was so unique and amazing that I didn't even miss a safari experience. Plus, I know I'll go back. So now I have something to look forward to for a return trip.
Here is a little of what I did see, in terms of nature.
This is Lake Victoria at sunset. It was gorgeous, but the mosquitos were in full effect. It's a little nerve wracking to be bitten continuously while in a malarial zone. Even if your on the anti-malarial meds.
Weaver bird nests on Lake Victoria.
Dhow boat on the Lake.
This is one of the world's largest beetles, and a resident of Kakamega national forest... but I missed it by a few months. I know! Again, I must return, if only to hold one of these gentle giants for a while. This is a mural on a information center at Kakamega Forest.
When I told the kids at the Polytechnic that I "loved bugs", a young girl IMMEDIATELY went to a nearby tree and knocked this bad boy down. It was about ten inches long, and covered in stinging hairs. Aw. Yeah.
Here are more shots from our visit to Kakamega Forest.
See why I wasn't pining for giraffes and elephants?
Have you visited nature areas here or abroad that you can recommend? What was your favorite siting of an animal, plant, or geologic feature?
Why is it that we can be least kind to the people we love most?
I can usually manage to be friendly to strangers, but sometimes my nearest and dearest have to suffer from the fall-out of my stress and frustration.
I spend more time with them, I deal with more stuff with them-- I mean, I get why it happens-- but I'd still like to change this pattern.
On some days I do well-- I can be patient and kind, but other days I fuss at my husband about something or other, and lose patience with my sons for failing to do that thing I've asked them to do twenty times already.
So tell me, suppliers of sympathy, brokers of benevolence, wholesalers of humanity-- do you have any strategies for being kind to the people who share your lives most closely?
Can you share them with me?
Also-- thanks to everyone who has contacted me about helping the people in Kenya that I met--- things move slowly over there, and I am working on getting information to share with you. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, my posts on Kenya are here, and here.