Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Looking for water projects in Chyulu Hills, Kenya

5:30 AM Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The hotel in Mtito Andei where we are staying is one we’ve been to before but not stayed at.  E/S Shakespeare have been paying about $65 a night and we thought that was a bit overpriced.  Jim called Sarah to ask what a legitimate price would be—she thought about $30 a night to a local Kenyan, but she was wrong--they pay about $55. The grounds of the hotel are really beautiful with lots of flowering plants.  They have a safe parking lot because they can lock a large gate, which is important to keep our vehicle safe and they even guard it at night.  They also have a nice swimming pool, and even though I forgot my suit, after our second day I improvised and borrowed Jim’s trunks and a T-shirt; no matter how odd it felt to swim with clothes on, it was worth it. 

The beautiful grounds around the hotel; the swimming pool that we actually got to use—so refreshing!

The room is not so great but tolerable and they are ‘trying’.  There are two beds, one twin and the other a double with a soft mattress that sags in the middle.  This is not a problem because it doesn’t hurt me until I wake up in the morning and my back complains loudly.  There is one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. There is one other light in the room and one in the bathroom.  The room is large, but there are no chairs to sit on so we use the bed.  After the first night we just took some chairs off the veranda from the room next to us—we have only seen one other couple at the hotel besides us so we knew it wasn’t a problem.  We were very surprised that they left us with enough towels—we usually have to ask for more than one when there are two of us, but they had them there without the asking, and they were decent towels.  They do have hot water, but you have to wait till 7 PM.  I waited, it was not there.  Jim exclaimed that they just didn’t have it, but I decided that I was going to ask for it.  Sure enough, someone came to the door and said that I would have hot water in 5 minutes and I did.  This made everything a lot better.  The shower does not drain well, so you stand in 3 inches of water while showering.  The concrete floor in the shower is a bit ugly so they provide rubber thongs to wear.  There is no air conditioning or even a fan so we brought fans with us.  There is only one outlet so Shakespeare’s told us to bring a power strip from the flat—good idea.  After it became dark we had a real bug problem—they came marching in by the droves and I was squishing them with Jim’s tennis shoe, so we asked for help.  They came in and swept them all out.  They turned the outside light out, sprayed around the door and put a towel down under it so that they could not come in—problem solved! 

Breakfast comes with the room and you can order what you want and tell them when we will be eating it; we order our dinner in the morning and tell them when we want it to be ready, which works pretty well.  This is not luxury, but we have stayed in worse.  So, our only real complaint is we think we got a bit of price gouging because we are not Kenyans.  Nairobi is in ‘winter’ now so it is pleasant, but in this area, it is just not as hot as it can be.  They hope for 2 good rains in 5 years.  Sister Shakespeare really thought it would be as cool here as it is in Nairobi but we knew better—obviously they have not been down here very much.  We finished a day early so we only have two nights here.

We left about 8:30 or so this morning and it was so pleasantly cool at first.  We drove to meet the members of a group that had organized themselves a while back.  They have quite the nice water program where they are bringing water closer to their homes—it was so nice to see here in Chyulu Hills where it is rather rural.  Because the demand is growing, they want another borehole and large cement tank for storage.  We will turn in this project.

Just one of the tanks that we saw on this project.  They need another tank and borehole to accommodate their growing population.

This project aims to eliminate this scenario played out in every 3rd world country—women hauling water twice a day.

Tomorrow we will meet David Maluti to check on some wells we did years ago with him as partner.  After that we head back to Nairobi.  We have lots yet left to do, checking on old and new projects.

At about 7 PM the power went off and we were in total darkness.  They came by with gas lanterns, which were great except for the fact that they generated so much heat.  They had a generator but it wasn’t working. They claimed it would not be long—15-20 minutes and the power would be back on.  In my panic I hurriedly got ready for bed, dismissing my shower, and hurrying to turn off the lantern.  Then it came back on.  I can’t tell you the feeling of relief I had!  We are so very lucky in the USA to have power most of the time.  In Sierra Leone they go months without it during the dry season…ah, luxury, a shower, more work gotten done on the computer…life is good again!

Love, from Mtito Andei,  Chyulu Hills, Kenya

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