Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kilaguni Lodge

A Dik Dik, a tiny, quick to disappear little animal that looks like a miniature deer.  There were so many this trip that I wondered which animal was missing that made these his dinner.  They are always in twos, never without their mate.

Gazelles look cute even from the back.
It was hard to see the animals in the high grasses, trees and bushes, but it was incredibly beautiful.
It is hard to take a picture of any buck as they run like crazy.  This was taken from far away so I was able to get a good shot of this beautiful animal.
Another Dik Dik, an unusual picture to get one holding still.
Jim and I at Mzima Springs, which has a staggering amount of water flowing out of the ground, all clean.  But we saw no crocks today; more surprisingly we didn't see any hippos.  They said that they were 'hiding' in another pond away from where we were able to view them; in 2009 there was a tremendous drought where they lost many animals in the park.
A beautiful buck hiding in the dense foliage.
I was able to capture this shot at dusk because the water proved to be a good background.  He is wiggling his head and thus the fuzzy-looking antlers.
A silver backed jackal at the watering hole at dusk.
Larger gazelles at the watering hole at dusk.
King Tut.
One of the larger monkeys.  He and his friends were having a good time 'monkeying around' at the water hole.
This is a terrible picture of a giraffe--I didn't even get his head in the shot, but it was far away and could never get a clear view of them as they foraged in the bushes and trees.
This was a very old buffalo and he was all alone; I wonder if the old ones, like elephants, separate from the herd.
Dik Diks are always running away and always in twos.  
Above and below, an ostrich male and female, mates, at the watering hole.

A small herd of gazelles.

This is a very old elephant.  They get separated from their herd, their tusks eventually get shorter and then they can't forage for food and die.  A sad life for an old elephant.

Above and below, a Lesser Kudu; they are far away from us and hiding in the bushes; they are very skittish and hard to get a good picture.

Even dead trees look magnificent in Africa.
Monday, May 25, 2015

Early this morning on his way to the office, Elder Christensen said that the water was shut off.  What he didn’t know is that they don’t shut it off, it just runs low in the tanks.  If they don’t fill them up you run out.  Because they are a couple of floors up from us, they will run out first, and the water lasts longer on the lower floors and we are on one of the bottom floors.  Nevertheless, I hurriedly showered and started a small wash.  We were lucky and didn’t run out of water.  I told Christensen’s that if they run out, next time come down to one of the lower open flats and use their water.  When we left our mission years ago we had no water for 3 weeks and are experts on how it works.  Either way, running out of water is the worst thing that can happen.  Electricity also is difficult but not nearly as bad as water.  It helps one understand just a wee little bit how important water is.

Sarah picked us up so that we could run a couple of errands; one was to visit Mumbles’ shop.  Mumbles is not his name but he mumbles when he talks and even he knows we call him that.  We purchased some asked-for souvenirs after which we went into the office to speak to one of the men there about the meeting we had the other day and ask them some more questions.  Today the traffic was like it used to be.  Sarah said it was because at the end of the month people run out of money for gas so not as many cars are on the road!  Another interesting thing is that people do not put in more gas than they can use on any given day for two reasons: one, so that it doesn’t get siphoned, and two so that if someone wants to steal your car it is better if you barely have any gas in it for them to escape.  The other day when leaving here a Matatu put a large dent in Sarah’s right, rear side panel, then yelled at her to make sure she knew it was not their fault, and then left.  One only rarely gets recourse when they dent your car.  They take advantage of each other on a regular basis and especially women.  This dent matches the one in the front left panel…

We took Christensen’s out to lunch for taking care of us when we first arrived, came back to the flat to write reports and prepare for our trip tomorrow.  Sarah will be picking us up early and we are taking two days to ourselves to go to our old and favorite haunt, Kilaguni Lodge in Tsavo West, just for one night because of the high game park fee for a non-residents.  They have hiked up their park fees so much and you cannot be there for one minute more than 24 hours or they charge you again.  Everyone complains as it ruins the tourism business, but they don’t seem to care if anyone can make a living or not.  Hardly anyone is touring these days because of hiked prices, Ebola (which isn’t even near Kenya), and the Somali’s coming into the country shooting the place up, even though most of it is far away from Nairobi and security here is tighter than ever.

We departed early Tuesday and arrived at the Tsavo West game park entrance at noon.  Sarah, being a part-time travel agent has booked people here but never gone herself, so it was a real treat for her.  As giddy as she got, I always also feel giddy as if I didn’t know what it is like there.  They had refurbished the regular rooms and they are lovely, and from our balcony we can see the watering hole that the animals come to throughout the day and night.  Since it is the rainy season and there are many watering holes in the park, it is not as busy as it usually is.  We didn’t see the animals we expected to see, but saw some I don’t remember seeing in this game park.  But I must say that each time we come here I sit there in wonder and awe and the people are the very best at making you feel like you must be he King and Queen of England.

We’re back home again, and so glad we took this trip even though it is on our dime—it was worth it as it always is.

Love, from my favorite place in all of Kenya, the Kilaguni Lodge.

Jim on the way to the pool.  It was very refreshing so only Jim and I used the pool.  Sarah, like most Africans we've met, get cold easily and don't like cold water and don't know how to swim.

Sarah getting a kick out of the carved wood warthogs at Kilaguni Lodge.

This is Leah, whom we met years ago.  She has a small safari business.  She is such a fine and spiritual lady.  We knew years ago that she ran into the leopard and thought she would be dinner for him; she told us today that she has seen him 3 times. He even came into the lodge, perhaps to register to stay for a night!  Finally they removed him to another park.

I think these are called Oryx.  I got a camera with a very excellent zoom because these were far away.  We never expected to see these here at Tsavo as we never remember seeing them except perhaps at the Masai Mara.

The grounds at the hotel are exquisite because Kenyan trees and flowering bushes are just magnificent.  This is next to the pool, which we actually had time to use.       

The eating area; to the left is the open-air viewing of the watering hole.    

The watering hole at Kilaguni Lodge, at the moment empty of animals.  The park is very green and there are many watering holes remaining in the Park, and much food to eat for the animals.


Sunday, May 24, 2015


Saturday & Sunday, May 23-24, 2015

While driving back to Nairobi from Mtito Andei we saw about 8-12 giraffe right next to the highway feeding on some trees.  This is not totally unusual, but also not all that common.  Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the car to take a picture and we were traveling too fast.

It has rained almost every night in Nairobi since we’ve been here.  It convinces one never to venture out in the evening because when it rains the traffic gets to be ridiculous.  So when we travel the last time to the airport, even though our flight doesn’t leave till very late at night, we will be driving there in the afternoon so as to miss the rain and the traffic that would probably make us miss our flight.  All I know is that the evening we tried to retrieve our luggage we heard that   many people missed their evening flights—not surprising since we couldn’t even get out of the city in 5 hours.

It feels good to relax for a few days and finally get to go to church.

Each day seems to bring new ‘glitches’ to our schedule, caused by traffic.  E/S Shakespeare were to be picked up and taken to the airport by one of the drivers that the mission office uses.  He was supposed to pick them up at 9 AM.  By 9:30 they decided that they would never make it to the airport if they waited for him so enlisted Jim.  Mind you, this is English style driving and all the landmarks and many roads have changed since we’ve driven here.  Jim has no idea where we are going when Elder Shakespeare is driving and is usually lost.  So he saw Sampson, the young man that used to wash our truck, and had him jump in the car so that he could find his way back again. 

Sampson: we saw him briefly when we first arrived last weekend in Nairobi after our trip to Tanzania.  Sampson has since married and has two children.  His father was an alcoholic and now, so is he.  He is also smoking and the people here wonder if he is on drugs.  It has spoiled his chances for making money, and they had trained him in a nice vocation several years ago, installing drapes.  He also is involved in some projects in the slums.  His alcoholism has begun to erode his relationship with the couples and those the church is working with, so that they are pushing him out of that also.  When we lived here we became quite close to Sampson.  So when he saw us and Jim gave him a hug, told him we knew of his problems, he bawled like a baby.  Africans rarely show this much emotion.  I told him that the only way he could get rid of his addictions is to go to church and start reading his scriptures.  The church has no addiction recovery programs here.  They need one for the Chyulu Hills area also, and probably a few other areas.  But of course, the person has to have the desire to change and they usually need a lot of help.

On the way home from church I was finally able to take a few pictures.  This is the lightest traffic day of the week.  Who would have believed that Nairobi would have freeway signs, that they would have signals, that they would have signs marking their roads?  This part of road construction was done by the Chinese and under the former President Kibaki.  There are walking bridges, road bridges, tunnels, and lots of building going on all over the place—tall buildings, apartments, all kinds of businesses, Athi River has grown tremendously.

While Jim was at the airport I waited for Sarah who was going to accompany us on our errands so we wouldn’t get lost.  She was to arrive at 10, but again, was much later because of the awful traffic.  Give me the 405 ‘parking lot’ (freeway) any day—nothing is as bad as trying to get around in Nairobi and in Tanzania these days.  She showed up close to 11 but I was surprised that Jim didn’t take all day to get back from the airport.  He decided to have her drive again because he already had a headache from driving from the airport, but he made it okay.  We got more groceries, had lunch, and returned back to the flat in a reasonable amount of time. 
Pictures below: overpass, walking overpass, driving into a tunnel. 

Sunday Sarah picked us up for church and we went to the Kasarani Ward, which has been split, but we still saw Victor and his wife and also David, who used to make furniture for the schools we worked in.  Last time Victor was in the Bishopric but after the change David is now in the Bishopric—both good men.  We saw others that we knew.  We wanted to talk with David about building a sign board for Sarah’s nursery school; he gave her a better price than she was given by others and also told her she needed a permit to put it up and the way it needed to be made.  We had a great meeting.  These people give wonderful talks without the aid of a single note…they quote scriptures and know where they are.  This is always impressive.  The friendliness of the Ward was also exceptional.

With all of these changes you’d think that one could get around better.  It seems that along with road progress, many more people can afford cars.  They continue to work on sections of roads to widen them, but nothing seems to help the congestion.
This should continue to be a relaxing week—obviously, without the Shakespeare’s here we don’t have quite as much to do as we would have. 

Love, mom & dad, E/S Greding, Jim and Karen

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pictures from Kibera Slum, Nairobi

Sights in Kibera Slum, Nairobi above and below.

No wonder they have a cholera problem here.

At the school, new latrines, isn't this an interesting urinal?  It is made from an upside down heavy duty plastic bottle!

I have always felt sorry for the dogs in Africa.  They all look a bit like they are starving.  The new mom is lying down and the pups want to be fed.  They all like like their daddy.

Most dwellings in the slums are made of the iron sheets, mud and sticks.

A view of the tops of the houses in Kibera.

The river running through Kibera.

This is a pathway in between the school buildings, but is typical of the walkways in the slum.

An Asian concern is developing composting toilets.  This is one in Kibera.  The building on the left is where they collect the money to use the toilet on the right.

The toilet building.

It looks as bad as it smells.

They use plastic bags for their starter plants.

The waste ends up in buckets below the latrine.  Leaves and such are added to the sludge.

These are the composting bins used to make the sludge into fertilizer.

They use the fertilizer to grow their vegetables in this greenhouse.

It takes 6 months to turn the sludge into fertilizer.  They say that this is a successful project.