Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kilaguni Lodge, unrest again in Nairobi

April 7-9, 2011

Dear Family & Friends

After our Wednesday morning well visits, we called on David Maluti, the councilman in the Chyulu Hills area, member of the Church, and one of our contractors—he does hand dug wells.  Each time we visit he has more ‘stuff’ unlike most villagers.  He has a tractor now.  My favorite addition to his home though is what I discovered on last year’s visit—his indoor toilet.  We checked out the beautiful chapel in David’s area and learned that they already have electricity.  Their mango trees in the church shamba are doing better, of course, than the chapel without water being pumped to their garden.

We finished our look-see and went to our guide Gerald’s place and met his wife, sons, daughter, and the grandmother.  They had a kitchen garden, a small home for grandma, a small home for their family, a kitchen building, and a large chicken coup.  The coup also had Guinea Hens, which we haven’t seen before at a home—only while driving in game parks.  He said they tasted good.  All the buildings looked modest, but they also had a car.  Most Kenyans don’t own cars, especially those living in the villages. 

We gave our Site Monitor’s sons Happy Factory Cars and then Jim showed them how to make a race track in the dirt.  Then they got creative and began listing names of cities in Kenya, then America and China.  These drawings grew as they played.  This was fun!

After staying two nights at the Man Eaters Lodge we heard from Sister Byrd (employment couple) who was at the Kilaguni Lodge saying that Leah wanted to talk to us.  Leah was a maid when we knew her last but now she is in charge of reservations and accounting and such.  She begged us to come and see her and said she would make a deal for us.  She is the sweetest lady, very religious, and while there the employees treated us as though we were the King and Queen of England. This was just the impetuous Jim needed to figure out a way to go to our favorite place.  So, this was his birthday gift to himself—and me too.

The Kilaguni Lodge is where we always stayed (and most couples stay) when we are working in the Chyulu Hills area.  We only went to Man Eaters as a second choice because the fee to get into the game park (Kilaguni is inside) for non-residents is very high.  Last year at this time, both we and Udall’s did not have resident cards.  We stayed for a week at Man Eaters so it would have been incredibly expensive to stay at Kilaguni since they charge each time you go in and out of the park.  The fee when you are a resident is really reasonable in comparison.  But this trip we decided the extra cost would be worth it to us—take it on the chin and enjoy!

At first Sister Tuttle didn’t want to move, especially when the Man Eaters Lodge gave her a hard time, charging her more money for bailing out one day early.  They told us that it would be highly unlikely that Jim & I would get our money back at all, for the one day.  So be it.  We packed up our things and drove to Kilaguni.  It is like a dream come true.  I can’t describe the feelings when we drove up to this incredible place.  We saw Leah immediately and gave her a big hug.  We were given damp towels to wash our hands and some passion juice.  Sister Tuttle immediately realized that this was a good idea—how could you not as you sit in awe while you eat and watch the ‘animal show’ before you.   Like players in a play, the animals seem to know when they should come on stage to take water or wallow in the ponds in back of the lodge, or come to the salt lick as the elephants do.  Sister Tuttle remarked after eating her five-course, Tilapia dinner that it had been the best meal she’d had since she’d been in Kenya. 

The ‘animal show’ at the back of Kilaguni Lodge.  Two giraffe here; we saw cape buffalo, impala, warthogs, elephants, zebra, water buck, and more, while we ate our dinner.

We settled into our newly refurbished rooms, making the stay even more enjoyable.  The bathrooms were really beautiful, and these were in all the regular rooms. The tile work was perfect.   Each room has a balcony so that you can watch the animals from your room.  We greeted many of the same employees that still work there.  I checked out the leopard pictures, still on their wall, that I gave the lodge years ago.

We went on game drives that first evening and before and after breakfast before heading back to Nairobi.  None of the pictures I took of the animals could compare with the lovely ones I took when we lived here in 2004-2006, but they will have to do.  Obviously, we were here long enough to get amazing photos then, and went to the Masai Mara where there are a whole lot more animals to look at.  Nevertheless, we saw a huge population of Dik Dik, the little animals that look like miniature deer, ostrich, three varieties of Guinea Hens, hippos, and the same animals we saw at the watering hole, except that they were up close and personal on the side of the road.

We arrived back in Nairobi by about , just in time to miss the normal jams one gets stuck in.  We are amazed at all the construction of buildings and roads that we have seen these last two years.  All the kiosks they had gotten rid of are being replaced by ones provided by the government so that previous shop keepers can still make a living.  (These were all torn down beginning around 2006 when they also cleaned up the garbage along the roads).  Amazing roads are being constructed with help from China.  They have been busy in Africa because they are building roads in Sierra Leone too.  Victor told us that they are even going to provide low-cost housing for the Kibera slum, the most notorious slum in Nairobi.  How are they going to provide housing for a couple million people?  The city is becoming more modern and it is wonderful to see their growth.

As tired as we were from our trip, we stayed up till 1 AM working on our reports, Jim going over and over the mess created over the last three years.  Today is Saturday the 9th, and he finally has decided upon a price to finish up our contracts with Pass Africa.  Now we only have two more reports to go…whoopee. 

Tonight Victor Koroso, our long-time friend, took us to dinner.  The couples went elsewhere.  We wanted to go to the place we used to eat at but couldn’t remember the name of it except that it started with a ‘P’.  Jim directed Victor around till we found it (Peppers).  Victor now owns a fairly nice van and I think a sedan too.  After it is paid for he said he owns some land and wants to take out another loan and build a house so he can stop paying rent.  His wife works in a little food kiosk, and he gives transport, provides office supplies to the people who work there, and anything else he can think of—jack of all trades.  He is always reliable and served us well and is one of the few Kenyans who never asked us for anything.  We wondered why he wanted to buy our dinner, but he said that we used to feed him sometimes and I guess he just wanted to do this.  We had a great visit.  We gave Victor a doll for his little girl and a car and soccer uniform for his little boy. Gee, we just love our Kenyan friends. 

We gave Victor a doll for his little girl, and a car and soccer uniform for his little boy.

Today through Monday there will be another rally in the streets of Nairobi, but they feel Monday will be the ‘big one’.  They are welcoming back some exiled cronies called the ‘Ocampo Six,’ who were involved in the post election violence in 2007-8.  Half are affiliated with President Kibaki and the others with Odinga of the opposing party.  You may recall that the violence caused by voter fraud on both sides ended when these two men made a deal to share political power, but Kibaki is still the president, Odinga the Prime Minister. The activists plan to disrupt travel, and any time a zillion people get together like this it ends up getting out of hand quickly. Luckily we are not flying out till Tuesday night so we hope they will be worn out by then.  The place of gathering is the Uhuru Park, close to our apartments.  The International SOS says to avoid
Mombasa Road
, which is how you get to the airport of course.  Because of this we are hiring Victor to take us there instead of the Tuttle’s.  Another couple is supposed to fly on Monday.  They are trying to get a plane ride out of here on Sunday.  Traveling is always an adventure—sometimes it’s just more exciting.

I am finally caught up on my writing.  Just three more days and we’ll be flying home, we hope.  We keep getting dump alerts from Mammoth; I hope we get to ski when we get home!

Love, Mom & Dad, E/S Greding, Jim & Karen

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