Monthly Archives: March 2012

Oh my goodness it’s a Giraffe

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The next 2 days in Kenya are going to be combined into 1 post as I didn’t ACTUALLY write them when I was in Kenya, I made brief notes and now I have little memory on how amazing this weekend was!!  Also, you guys want to know what happened in the school, not what I got up to in my time off!

Day 9

Today started with a trip to Daniels church.  I wasn’t too sure what to expect.  I go to a pretty awesome church in the UK Equippers City.  We have a band with a guitar and drums and loud music and the first week I went we were talking about sex.  I also grew up in a Methodist Church, lots of “now we stand and sing” and very VERY structured prayer.  Now, I am sure lots of people love the Methodist ways (the denomination wouldn’t still be around if people didn’t) but they really were not for me.  I was BORED!! Even though we had a pretty young minister, who tried to make it fun for the kids, it was still kinda dull!!
So, I was hoping for the kind of African Church you see in movies, lots of singing in gospel styleeee, something cool.
Instead, I was transported back to those hard wooden pews from my childhood with boring hymns (not even the good ones like He’s got the Whole World in His Hands) and exceptionally structured prayer (I am talking read out of a book, repeat after me kind of thing)  can you imagine my disappointment?!  But an experience is an experience and I can now say I have been to church in Kenya.

After this service (which despite the boringness still managed to get me thinking about stuff that brought tears to my eyes, I think it may have been the minister talking about a young child dying of AIDS) it was a rush home to the van to start the SAFARI!!!
Now, both my mum and myself have dreamt of going on safari forever!  Mum was lucky enough to have the most amazing trip earlier last year taking in the sites of Zambia, Botswana South Africa and I want to say Tanzania but I may be wrong.  So for me to be able to even TOUCH on that experience is a dream come true.  I had saved a little bit of money and my wonderful wonderful grandpa had sent me a very early birthday gift which allowed me to head with Daniel and the Spanish Mamas to Tsavo East National Park.

Obviously, being in Kenya, and being with THE most disorganised host I have ever known, this was not going to be the simplest trip in the world.  Anyone else, when given around about 2 days notice, and having had the money from us all for at least a day, would have sorted out the park passes in advance.  Not Daniel.  Instead of heading straight to the park (it is around about a 2 hour drive from Ukunda) we head into Mombasa first to stop at KWS to collect the passes to let us into the park!  Then it was back on the road…Until the girls got hungry.  We stopped at this little dingy looking food place which was so typically Kenyan and amazing.  I was really not hungry, I felt a little sick to be honest so whilst the girls and Daniel ate Ugali and Sukuma with chicken, I sat and drank a lot of water and got a little attached to the really gorgeous kittens running around.

Back on the road and we FINALLY arrive at Tsavo:

And let the animal spotting begin!!! I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves here but I have to say, I have never realised how amazing this world truly is until I saw these sights.  We rounded the corner and there was a giraffe.  All I could say was “oh my goodness it’s a giraffe”.  How silly does that sound?!  I also got a little snap happy on safari and ended up with hundreds of pictures, I wont post them all…

These are just from game drive number 1.  The elephants blew me away (and scared me a little).  And the dramatic sky colour led to such a great downpour as well as some amazing photo backdrops (even if I do say so myself).

What these pics do not show are the 2 great spots we had on this drive! Firstly, we were happily driving along and came across 2 lions chilling out under a tree, close enough to see, not close enough to photograph.  Then, our driver got a call over his little radio that a cheetah had been spotted.  Apparently, he had a decision to make – put his foot down and hope for the best or just go ‘nah, we won’t make that’ luckily for me he chose option 1!  Off we raced to catch a cheetah stalking something, creeping through the grass, popping up and lying down at what appeared to be random intervals! It was amazing! But again, too far for a picture!

Then to top off my awesome 1st day on safari, I was walking to dinner through the Voi Wildlife lodge grounds which just so happened to be built next to a water hole, when I spotted a lion…no not just 1 lion…FOUR! They were all drinking at the waterhole what looks like mama and 3 not so small cubs! AMAZING!  We then sat and watched them for hours after dinner.  Actually a dream come true!  So off to bed on a bit of a high!

Day 10

Now, I don’t do early mornings, ever, not even at Christmas but when you put the offer of an early morning game drive in front of me this changes! So the alarm goes off at 5am ready for a 6am game drive!  tt was early enough for the sunrise!

Today I was hoping for some Zebras, a couple of buffalo and keeping my fingers crossed for the ever elusive Leopard.  I got Zebras, a LOT of elephants (which were just as cool if not better than yesterday – today we saw them at the watering hole cooling off) and a couple of buffalo oh and a hippo or 2…no leopard 😦  Only problem was, my camera decided it didn’t want to play any more so I had to take pics from my phone…They turned out surprisingly well!

Now these pictures shows both game drives (6am and ‘morning’) and after a great lunch it was time to hit the road home and its a good job we did as the heavens opened!!!

The journey home was almost a story in itself! Instead of choosing the high road and being stuck behind lots of lorries, we chose to take the dirt roads through Shimba Hills!!  In the dry these roads are pretty bad…in the wet…we were lucky not to have to get out and push!  And so, my 1st (but not last) safari was over.

As an aside to this…it was my mummy’s birthday today and I was really worried I wasn’t going to get to speak to her.  She means the world to me and to not talk to her on her birthday would have been a big deal!!  But, I managed to get hold of her, and hopefully cheer her up a little.  She was changing her life in the most positive way ever, taking a course in order to help her establish a charity in India and just so happened to be alone for the first time ever on her birthday! NOT COOL!!!

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow I will be back at school to start my last week 😦

Gems

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The best laid plans…

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Day 8

Today’s plan was to get up, tidy up, do some laundry and head out to enjoy a weekend off.  Well the best laid plans tend to take turns for the worst!

Although we got up early ish neither one could be bothered to tidy and there was a distinct lack of buckets for laundry.  By the time we were finished and ready to head out it was very close to new arrivals time so we decided to wait.  Not sure that was the best decision I have ever made!

Daniel is typical Kenyan, runs his own schedule and doesn’t think of the implications this may have on other people and their schedules.  So with this in mind we decide to say a quick hello to the girls and head to Colobus Trust to see Juma and the Monkeys and then to the beach to chill out before Carla leaves me again!  Again, our plan did not QUITE come to pass!

By the time the women (not girls, they turned out to both be old enough to be my mum) arrived, sorted their millions of belongings (we are talking 2 suitcases and 1 hand luggage EACH) and we had lunch it was gone 2pm!  Daniel offered Carla and I a lift to Nakumat where we would pick up a Mat to the monkeys!

Well, it looks like today was a day not for plans! Yes, we did get a lift to Nakumat (delayed of course) but we got a little stuck in the shop!

We decided that a quick trip to the loo was needed before being stranded without a toilet on the beach…the trip was not so quick!  The handle to the main toilet door broke as we were in there, resulting in us being stuck in a small, windowless room which was getting increasingly more sweaty much to the amusement of the staff!  20 minutes later we were out, unharmed, hot and slightly embarrassed.

A quick trip round the store resulted in a fan for the bedroom (for which I will be forever thankful to Carla for) and off we went in a Tuk Tuk  to Colobus.  Here, I got pretty close to “Handy Joe” one of the resident monkeys, which, and anyone who knows about my slight monkey obsession will already know this, was exceptionally exciting!

Daniel then calls saying he has dropped Ana and Laura off at the beach (read pub) and will come to meet us to pick up the fan.  Expecting him within a few minutes we stay at Colobus.  40 minutes later he arrives, dramatically reducing our time at the beach to zero minutes.

So my day drew to a close in 40’s bar with 2 volunteers that are old enough to be my mum, feeling increasingly more aggravated, waiting for an unorganised host.

But, tomorrow is another day.  Tomorrow is Safari day!!!

 

Oh…just as a little aside to this post…I got an update on James today.  I now know what went on in Sudan and how come he is home.  It is pretty horrendous and it’s not my place to tell you all.  But knowing what went on makes it so much easier for me to try and relate to what he is going through.  Weekly emails still being sent, even from Kenya, and I just hope I am having an impact!

What a difference a shoe makes…

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What a difference a shoe makes…

Today I got ASKED where my next blog post was! This made me smile….so here it is!

 

Day 7

1 week gone already and I am so attached to the kids at Shikamana it is crazy!

When I walked in to the school today and was met by a round of “Jambo” everywhere I went, hand shakes from the staff and high fives from the kids (which HURT, they don’t realise its meant to be a gentle smack….full force)  It put such a smile on my face I felt I was making an impact on their day which was great.

I arrived pretty early today which meant I got to join in with a PPI lesson (don’t ask me what PPI stands for…its not Payment Protection Insurance) which was really interesting.  Seeing kids getting excited about God was cool and is something I will definitely be taking back to the UK for my kids church lessons.

KG1 were WILD today.

Running and jumping everywhere, climbing on tables, fighting and shouting.  My basic knowledge of Swahili just wasn’t enough.  There is only so many times you can say Kachini and be laughed at.  I was followed everywhere I went like the pied piper and I don’t know what ‘go back to class’ is and the kids don’t know enough English to understand me!  I was left alone quite a few times by the teacher today which was hard work but balloons helped.

One of the young boys, who comes from a very poor family stubbed his toe today.  Which, if you are wearing shoes hurts, but if like little Ruwa you can’t afford shoes it can result in a detached toe nail and lots of blood & pain.

I always carry a first aid kit in my bag due to my serious accident prone nature, so I was able to clean it up pretty nicely, put a plaster on his tiny little toe, which he sat incredibly still for surprisingly.  I then gained a friend for the rest of the day as we both got a little attached.  Well, wouldn’t you?!

My little wounded soldier!

We went outside for our ‘outdoor play’ session and one of the other children stood on his toe which caused more tears and an immediate turn for a cuddle.  I am not sure if parents just don’t have the time or it’s not something Kenyan’s do but a little bit of love has gone a long long way today.  He also fell asleep on me today which, although it is cute, I was unbearably hot as I think he may be running a fever.

I am going to buy him some shoes as soon as possible to prevent this kind of thing happening again.  And the school needs a good first aid kit, which I think I will have to get back in the UK as they just don’t have the things I want in Kenya!  Everyone should have access to basic items which prevent infection.  If anyone would like to help out with this please drop me an email or comment (or donate to the Kenya fund HERE, funds are going to help these amazing kids and the school they learn in)  I want to be able to equip this place with simple supplies that they so desperately need.  These kids run around in the dust and dirt all day, risking Jiggers and various other infections.  Antiseptic, plasters and shoes could stop this!  For just 100KSH you can buy shoes which protect against jiggers, for around 600 KSH you can get some really good, really sturdy school shoes. (remember £1 = 127 KSH)

After school Daniel and I took a trip to collect Carla from the dispensary in Msulwa, meeting a few unusual obstacles on the way:

But the dispensary is an amazing hospital in the hills near Shimba with VERY basic supplies.  Carla showed me where women would give birth.  It is currently in a corner of what looks like a storage room.  The bed does at least have stirrups and there looks like there is sanitation equipment but it is VERY basic and makes me very thankful for the NHS, however much I complain about them!

There is a German couple who are funding the building of a new maternity unit at Msulwa, with a dedicated delivery room, a shower and clean running water which will make all the difference.  But, it wont be finished until at least November.  They have issues with tiles that have been laid and won’t let the work continue until they can over see the project!

Anyway, when we finally got home Carla and I managed to escape the father figure of the house and headed to Forty’s bar in Diani.  It was great to be away from the house and back in the company of people the same age and with similar interests.  We met up with Juma and a few of the volunteers from Colobus trust.  It was meant to be a quick night out but, we got home at 3am…ready for an early start for the new arrivals tomorrow….

“Imagination rules the world.”

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In order to keep you all up to date as quickly as I can I have written up 2 days worth of excitement!! I hope you enjoy.  Please do let me know what you think as it makes me smile knowing people are reading and enjoying!

Day 5

So day 2 in school and I am yet again blown away by the children.  They are warming to me more and more and today have spent the day sitting with me (or ON me) whilst I made posters for the classroom.  They also get very excited at any chance for a photo to be takne.  They haven’t quite worked out yet that being REALLY close to the camera will not make for a good picture.

 

I spent my lunch time outside with standard 1 & 2 who were trying to teach me some Kenyan songs.  But, being a terrible pupil I failed miserably in my learning!  There is a  video which shows a snippet of the song that they were trying to teach me but I am inept at uploading videos!  Everyone in Kenya knows this song, everyone who has spent time in Kenya is taught this song (or at least there is an attempt to teach them)

After a race to the undercover play area I grabbed some chalk and made an attempt to introduce an English playground game to the playground of a small Kenyan school…Hopscotch which went down a treat!

In return they attempted to teach me one of their games, and again, being a bad pupil I couldn’t grasp it!  It was such a simple concept, a jumping game using the squares on the floor.  I can’t even explain what you are meant to do as I simply couldn’t follow!!  But it truly highlighted to me the imagination of the children.  They use the materials they have, to have what appears to be, a lot of fun!  I don’t know if I have been in ‘adult world’ for too long and lost all my imagination but I don’t really remember doing that as a kid.  Do any of you?

I actually stayed with KG1 all afternoon today which was great.  I spent my time when the children were sleeping

(possibly the cutest thing ever) with Madame Mariam, drawing in their homework books and looking into ways to decorate the classroom.

The teachers are so stretched here, at every spare second they are marking books or writing up homework.  In KG1 she has around 35 kids who a lot of the time, have to entertain themselves somehow whilst Mariam prepares homework or even classwork for them.  What they need is dedicated homework/classwork books so their work can be prepared in advance and not take up valuable class time hand drawing colouring pages.  With a lack of photocopiers or printers to allow the children to take home printed pages, the school rely on the artistic talents of the teachers (or currently, me)

Once my day ends, I usually walk back to the house through the village with Kazungu.  Today however I fancied a change, I also needed to grab some stuff from Nakumat (like cereal; bread and butter does not a breakfast make)  So Kazungu took me along the beach today.  And boy is it beautiful, and SO much cooler than the village route!

Anyway, another early start at school tomorrow so bed time for me!

 

Day 6

I can’t believe it is Thursday already!

Last night was quite eventful.  Edith, Daniels sister-in-law was admitted to hospital with malaria.  She is fine, they caught it early and they have given her drugs but it was pretty scary.

Today I did my first real bit of teaching.  The kids sing songs all the time and most of them are in English.  Shakey Shakey the Mango Tree for example (which is just brilliant, especially in a Kenyan accent.)  So, I decided that along with the 2nd verse to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” (which went fantastically with my body parts poster I made yesterday) I would attempt to teach my class “Wheels on the Bus”.  Verse one for now but hopefully by the end of my trip I will know Jambo Bwana and they will know at least part of “Wheels on the Bus”

I don’t think there is anything more exciting to tell you all from today…

No…wait…2 of the children have bonded with me enough to come to me when upset.  Macdonald (yes, that is his name, I am assuming he is named after an influential on his parent’s lives) and Saidi both came straight to me and not their regular teacher (or in Saidi’s case, his mum) and both fell asleep on my knee which was super cute but super-hot at the same time!  Think about it…its 35°, 80% humidity, with a small child sat on your lap…sweaty!!

And also, and this is kind of just for my Wirral friends…Look what I came across in Kenya…

Right enough now…BED TIME!!

Gems

‘Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon’

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I finally made a decision… The school, and I am so pleased I did!

Today was my 1st full day there, and after about a half hour walk (with a short stop due to a tropical downpour)

Not sure if you can see the rain but it was a little insane!!!

I arrived to meet Pastor Jackson, the schools director.  After discussing yesterday where I would be most useful, I was sent straight to the smiling faces of KG1 class.  These kids range from about 2 1/2 years to around 5.  They all started school at the same time (apart from those who have been held back a year) but as there is no compulsory education system, school starts when parents decide!  KG1 have the education level of our pre school class I would say, and as they speak Swahili and I speak English….this could be an interesting couple of weeks.

I walked in to huge excitement yet a slight unease by a new white face or Mzungu (which when said by children is kind of harmless but when said by an adult is a bit of a different story)

The morning started with language where we were looking at A-H (now, G in my eyes should be for Girl….in Kenya its G for Gun), followed by a quick lesson on how to brush your teeth (where we were able to give out toothbrushes to all the children), how to write the number 4 and then outside games,

I then pulled out a bit of a treat from my bag.  Carla had suggested I bring some balloons with me, I did and, as you will see from the photos, they got the kids a little excited!

I have never seen children rush over to someone holding something so simple as a balloon!  The excitement on their faces was priceless and it almost brought a tear to my eye.  And whereas most children would cry at the burst of a balloon (I know some adults that would do the same…) when a balloon went bang they were beyond excited, started jumping around and shouting what sounded like Hero!

I learnt today that a lot of the children at the school who come from families who are too poor to pay school fees and afford to feed their children at home.  They survive on food provided by the school, porridge around 10am and quite a substantial lunch, which today consisted of rice, beans and cabbage (it was really lovely).

Lunch Time

They wont then eat at home until the next day when they get their 10am porridge.  It was heartbreaking knowing how much we take food for granted in the UK.  Even as a student, eating 7p cans of beans or 20p noodles when we had no money (probably after spending it all on nights out) and thought we were hard done by is NOTHING compared to these beautiful children.

After lunch I was back in class but, as KG1 were all asleep I was moved to standard Grade 2.  These kids are all a lot older, from around 7 years old, some are a bit older, some are a bit younger but all pretty smart.  They were learning about what was needed for a good lesson in school which was enlightening.  Ask kids in the UK that question and I bet the response would be something like “computers”  or “better teachers'” possibly even “DVD’s”  (I remember in school we LOVED video lessons, it meant you didn’t have to answer questions).  But, the children of Shikamana answered “pencils”, “chalk”, “desks”, “books”, “teachers” and even “classrooms” which shocked me a little.  These kids are pretty lucky in Kenyan terms, they have classrooms, with electric fans, blackboards, desks (although some of them are falling apart) running water that is safe to drink (although it tastes kinda funky), good teachers who care about what they are teaching.  I know some places in Kenya have none of this!

Where I am staying has a TV, and one particular advert that I have seen every night, between episodes of a really random, dubbed Spanish soap (which is SO bad it is BRILLIANT!!)  It is for a development being built just south of Nairobi that is set to be Kenya’s answer to The Silicone Valley.  I raised a question to Daniel about the money being used and surely that it could be used to improve education in rural areas of Kenya.  He agreed and said that a lot of people are unhappy about it but there is nothing that could be done. This is terrible, surely it needs to be raised that kids need a good education to be able to fill jobs created by this new ‘super city’.

Kenya, address the poverty and corruption in your country before ploughing money into a development project you are not ready for as your youth are not yet equipped to run it in the future.

OK rant over, I have also realised I have written tonnes.

Oh and disaster of the day to link to the bag, coral issue and then yesterdays dehydration….heat rash all over my feet!!!

Gems

PS.  If you want to help these children in anyway.  The money I am raising via this blog is being donated to buying the school items it needs and hopefully paying for a couple of children’s school fees. There is a link to the donation page on the right hand side.  go take a look you could help give a child an education, and win some prizes!!

Indecision becomes decision with time.

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Day 3 and Project day!

The plan was set, we were up and ready to go.  Matatu to Msambweni hospital for Carla to start her placement and then Matatu back to Ukunda and a nice little wander in the African sun for me!

Well plans go wrong!  We arrived at the hospital and no-one appears to be expecting Carla.  so, around an hour and a few letters later we are no closer to a decision.  Whilst all this is happening Nanis, Daniels partner is waiting for an ultrasound.  This is an opportunity I didn’t want to miss!  Luckily enough Nanis invited both Carla and myself into the room to see the scan with her.  The scan picture was so clear but so very different to a UK hospital.  The room was just bare, with a blackboard (that had recently been used for a lesson on a detached placenta), the scan equipment and an x-ray machine.  The doctor doing the scan said the equipment had been donated.  The whole thing made me almost wish I had followed my mum into midwifery.

Scan over (the baby is a boy!) and Carla’s placement still unconfirmed, we all jump back on a matatu to Ukunda to visit my placement, which from all information from Travellers was at one location.  It wasn’t.  In fact they are both very different to the info given!

Well, a 20 minute walk from the main Ukunda-Diani road lies Shikamana school.

Run by Jackson Gitonga M’bund it has around 300 pupils aged 2 1/2 years upwards with 11 classes (KG1-3, Standard 1-8).  Now I was pretty hesitant about the school, firstly, I didn’t sign up to teach (although I am open to it) and secondly, it didn’t really look like it needed my help!  But as soon as I got inside and started walking around the classrooms this all changed.  The children were so welcoming and the staff seemed genuinely excited to see me.  I was introduced as a ‘volunteer teacher’ which was strange but it felt like they were really grateful for my help.  But I had another site to go and visit before deciding where my time was going to be spent.

Queue walk in the midday African sun across open countryside (or airstrip) to the Born Again orphanage.  This walk would not have been an issue in the UK, yes it was kinda far (think Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square at a push).  But at midday, in Kenya, with no water….it was gruelling.

We arrived and apart from a bit of dehydration, I was ready to see the orphanage which I thought would be the outright winner in my decision-making process.  I was wrong.

I didn’t get the same vibe from the orphanage as I did from the School.  I am not sure if it was the dehydration (which got much worse and resulted in me sleeping and downing half a litre of Oral Rehydration Salts) or just the reception I received.  The director of the orphanage didn’t bother to show up to show me round or even greet me (he was in the salon apparently) and none of the staff seemed too bothered by my presence. The kids were amazing though.  So happy despite the obvious poverty (and Ugali for lunch) but something still felt wrong.  The orphanage looked like it NEEDED help.  with 46 children living on site and more from the local community attending classes, the staff were stretched.  I could possibly be a great help here.

I have come here to help for sure but I want my help to be in a place that appreciates it and having seen both options I have a huge decision to make.

With about 35 children in a class with just one teacher, the school could use the assistance just as much.  There I feel I will have a real impact on the kids lives whereas at the orphanage I think it would be an impact on the running of the place.

I think I am going to leave this one in the hands of Gad.  he has brought me to Kenya and he knows where I will be best utilised.  So over to you!

I will give you my decision tomorrow!

Gems

P.S.  If you want to continue donating to this trip and helping the children at the project I chose (which, I will be giving more info about over the next few days in massive blog posts) the visit HERE and follow the steps to donate!!

Danish, Swedish and Fish…

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Day 2 and time to experience some more of Kenya’s crazy driving.

This is the one thing I wasn’t warned about, Mosquitos, spiders, snakes, malaria and even the dodgy squat toilets, these things I was warned about.  Taking your life in your hands each time you get in a car…not so much!  The roads are more potholed than ones deemed inadmissible in the UK.  There doesnt appear to be a ‘correct side; to the road, only the one where the least holes (and goats/cows) are. I also don’t think there is a speed limit in Kenya, and if there is no-one appears to stick to it!  All this put together tends to lead to an interesting journey

My host Daniel from Travellers arranged for me to spend my 1st proper day in Kenya on a boat!  So, today I was picked up by a random man at 7am, and going against everything my mummy ever taught me I got in his car!  I was then driven to pick up a Dutch family 9 who were all very lovely but spoke in Dutch) and then on to Shimoni, a little village built around the slave caves (I didn’t actually read anything about these and now I feel bad – but here is the info you may or may not want!!)  When we reached Shimoni we joined the package holidaying Swedish group and boarder a little boat headed for the island of Wasini.

The boat trip was pretty cool, nothing too interesting to report (well apart from being told by my phone that I was in Tanzania) oh and seeing this little fishing boat battling the waves:

but when we stopped to go snorkeling, that’s when things got real interesting!

Having never snorkelled before (not though lack of want), I didn’t really know what to expect and with my distinct run of poor luck anything could have happened!  So continuing with the ‘what happens to Gemma today?’ theme that I may make a running point thoughout this blog…I managed to cut myself on coral as soon as I jumped in, nothing serious but still kinda dumb!  The fish were totally worth the pain of a coral cut though!  I couldn’t tell you what any of them were and have no pictures as my camera is definitely not waterproof but the colours were amazing and the sheer volume of fish was insane!  I was lucky enough to be near the guide (who took a bit of a shine to me I think) and he took me to find loads of tiny fish hiding in the coral which was great.

Eventually, we ended up on a sand platform which was just beautiful.  The picture I have of it really does it no justice and I am pretty sad about this!

My camera was on the boat so no pics of the view or how perfectly white the sand was but definitely worth a look if you are ever on the south east coast of Kenya!  The company I went with (I can’t for the life of me remember their names) were great on the boat and on the snorklling session but as soon as we got onto the island we were shepherded around the ‘gift shops’ and other ‘attractions’ including the coral garden whch at certain times of the year is under water and at others is simply dry like I saw and is run by the Wasini Womens Group:

It was a shame that it felt so ‘organised’ as Wasini is genuinely beautiful and it just seemed that we were constantly being asked for money by the island inhabitants, which I know is normal but it all felt a little forced and wrong!

Lunch on the island was delicious (which shocked me as I am not the biggest seafood fan).  Crab to start, fresh out of the sea, smash the shell yourself and squeeze a bit of lime on!  Followed by Red Snapper, again straight out of the sea, eyes and all (which made me feel a little sick) served with potatoes, rice, sea grass curry sauce and a coconut sauce.  Just beautiful.  I think I may have been converted to sea food!

Back to the boat and I was lucky enough to get to see one of my favourite animals (well, sea animals, the list is extensive of land animals)  I was like a small child when I saw their fins raise out of the water.  But again it all felt a little cruel.  6 boats were all trying to get the best shot and it felt like we were hearding them.  Luckily our boat was pretty kind and didnt really join in too much.  I was able to capture these though:

There is a video which I will post a link to as soon as I have managed to upload it.

After such a great yet long day, I am ready for my bed.  It is placement day tomorrow so must get a good rest!

Gemma

As the adventure began…

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As my internet access was limited to say the least in Kenya, I wrote everything in a diary ready to update you all when I got home! This will be over a few posts as there is A LOT of writing So here goes…

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As you know I packed my bag pretty late and felt super disorganised all morning on Friday.  Well, I made it to the airport with a bit of time to spare.  What I didn’t account for was ‘Kenya Time’.  I planned on grabbing something to eat, a magazine and having a few phone calls to people in my couple of hours…

I arrived at the airport at 4:45pm, flight was at 7pm…thats LOADS of time I hear you say.  Well, that’s what I thought.  NO…I got called to board my flight at 5:30 giving me barely enough time to grab some food a bottle of water and a copy of Rugby World and quickly talk to Naomi before being ushered onto my flight whilst still on the phone to mumma!

The flight itself was quite pleasant despite the grumpy staff.  They did not give me a great 1st impression of Kenyan’s (luckily Kenyan’s are actually really lovely)  I was lucky enough to have an entire row to myself which meant I got to lie down and sleep! woo hoo!

Things changed a little when I got to Nairobi.  Firstly, the President of Kenya happened to be on my flight from Heathrow which meant that we were delayed disembarking.  I had a grand total of 40 minutes to get through the visa queue and customs in time to make my next flight.  Secondly the queue for a visa was extreme! about 4 flights landed at a similar time which meant that everyone needed a visa at the same time! Last but by no means least, I had vaguely heard on the plane about having to collect and recheck luggage for connecting domestic flights but, I was half asleep and listening to music so didn’t pay attention (more fool me) I rush through customs and into baggage reclaim (which was confusing and not well sign posted) where I asked a lady in a uniform where my bag would be, apparently my luggage was checked to Mombasa and I didn’t need to worry.  So off I head to my domestic flight thinking no more of it!

I arrive in Mombasa, my bag does not!!!!  It is still on the luggage belt in Nairobi.  Turns out the lady in uniform did not know what she was talking about – tip for anyone connecting to a domestic flight in Kenya – collect your luggage, clear customs and recheck it even if told otherwise!

Ignoring the bag incident (I got it back within a few hours at a small cost) I have had a wonderful 1st day in this beautiful country.  Oh and for those of you who know about tube guy – I went one better – I picked up a guys number (and email address) on the flight.  I won’t contact him but its still funny!

I have spent the day with the wonderful Carla, a Kenya whizz having spent more time here than her Aussie home over the past 2 years! As well as a few members of the family I was staying with and we hit the beach.  I am however wiped out after the flights etc so have gone to bed instead of going out with Carla 😦

My sight seeing so far includes Mount Kilimanjaro from the plane,

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Slightly wonky but still....

the President of Kenya’s entourage, wild baboons (anyone who knows me well enough will know this was a highlight), camels on the beach and a really strange mix of wealth and poverty.

More updates to come shortly but right now I am TIRED and need to sleep ready for my trip to Wasini tomorrow!

Gems

Kenya Adventure…still to come

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Hi all,

I am back from Kenya, really really tired but wanted to let you all know that my travel blog that I wrote whilst away will be posted online soon.  I just need to find the time and energy to type them up and post them!!!

Kenya was amazing and I am already planning on going back next year but you will hear it all soon!