Sunday, November 30, 2008

View From the Pilot's Seat.

My camel... shortly after he ate a flower from a cactus plant.

The Solution to Breakdowns


Here is Amanda trying to slow her camel down from ramming mine. Luckily a Samburu fella stepped in to help.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last Night

This is where we camped last night...nice place except for the donkey that kept us up.

I Love Africa Travel

Yesterday - 16 hours of driving, 4 minor vehicle issues, 1 trip to a service station, 4 vomit incidents (i got my arm splashed during one of them).

Today - 45 minutes of driving and 1 vehicle issue that has taken us to a missionary workshop in the middle of a very poor and arid area to get our ride fixed. After this...maybe 10 more hours of driving till we reach lake Turkana. Always an adventure!

Almost there...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Off to Lake Turkana!

Sorry, but we've been so busy lately we haven't had much time to post. Here is a quick update; bosses arrived and spent 6 days traveling over 1600 km with us that included 7 breakdowns in two African countries, 4 days sampling in the Masai Mara that included getting stuck in the mud for 3 hours, 4 days in dubai for visa renewal and vacation, 5 baby chickens hatched (2 died within hours, 1 hurt her leg so we removed her from the coop and we are nursing her), and now we are off to Lake Turkana for 6 days to see the giant crocs with 5 of our neighbors (4 of the 6 days are to get there and back). Wish us luck!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Worm-Composting Gecko

This guy was hanging out with our worms in our composting enclosure.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Obama Campfire

A few nights ago, we had a campfire in celebration of the election of the US President with Kenyan roots.  A bunch of our friends and neighbors came over and were treated to Nyama Choma (roasted goat) and s'mores.  

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Dry Land of Kenya

We live in Narok.  It is extremely dry.  The town itself has primarily dirt roads and it is extremely dusty at all times of the year except for the long rains and the short rains.  I've heard it referred to as a "frontier town".  

We've received so much rain the last couple days...this little critter somehow got through our front door last night...

Keep in mind, we live approximately 400 meters uphill from a small river.  I've got no clue how this guy got into our house. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where Were You When Obama Won the Election?

We were in the Masai Mara National Reserve.  Here we are, listening to his speech on our cell the middle of the reserve.  Thankfully, a friend of ours in Nairobi called us as Obama began to speak to the world and he put his cell phone up to the television in Nairobi so we could listen in the Masai Mara.  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Mamba Nursery

The Swahili word for Crocodile is "Mamba".  

We visited one of our sites this last week.  We have renamed it "The Mamba Nursery" after our last visit.  

We had always noticed large, female Nile Crocodiles laying on a sandy bank near our site.  This day, we confirmed that they were nesting when we saw that one of the females had moved and there were broken egg shells in the spot she used to be laying.

Shortly after we noticed the broken shells, we saw a huge Nile Monitor run out of the water and up the bank.  We figured that the Nile Monitor must have been munching on the Nile Crocodile eggs.  

Then we crawled down the bank and began observing and watching the area before we began our business.  Of course, our armed Ranger was with us.  All of the sudden, Amanda saw something small pop up out of the water and look at her then go back under.  She figured it was probably a frog or maybe a small Nile Crocodile.  Then I looked down the bank approximately 10 meters from where we were and noticed these little fellas.

There were approximately 30 baby Nile Crocodiles all over the bank!  We packed up our gear, climbed back up the bank and moved downstream so that we wouldn't disturb them.  We were a bit worried how protective the large mother would be if we were near her offspring.  We ended up working downstream of the babies for about two hours and never saw the mother.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

3:30 EST and Chris is anxiously checking the internet on his cell phone, eager for any news of the election back home, as he sits by a campfire in the Masai Mara. Even though we're far away, our votes are in, thanks to DHL and mom back home, and we're so excited to contribute to this process. In a country that was torn apart in January by post-election violence that fell along tribal lines, I feel so proud watching Americans head to the polls in record numbers to declare their hopes in peaceful, democratic means. I hope the spirit of this historic election stays with us long after the polls close.

Mara Serena

This is the view from the Mara Serena lodge. No, unfortunately, we did not stay there. We stopped by today and they were kind enough to loan us a needle and thread so we could sew our net back together and get back to work kick net sampling in the Mara. Thanks, Serena.

Autism in the Maasai Community

I don't know if you all remember but I posted about a friend ours, Lillian, and her son with Autism a few months ago. They are both Maasai.  They recently began an intensive program in India to learn more about Autism.  Here is a mass email that she had sent out as well as some the pictures she sent.  

Of note...She was able to raise all the funds to attend this mother-child program through holding a Harambee.  A Harambee is basically where the village comes together to donate funds or time or encouragement in order to tackle an issue that one member of the village is having because they would never have been able to raise these funds alone.


I hope this email finds you well, its Diwali festive season so Happy Diwali to the Hindu guys.I must have email a few of you on arrival to India. Babu and i arrived safely, we were received well at the airport, Thanks to Pummy who organised for my accommodation here in Delhi, Pummy you are a wonderful man and i must Thank you so much for all your support. The apartment is Great! at least i can cook our Kenyan food!

I miss ketepa tea and Roiko though, please rescue me!

My first week here was basically to know the place, New Delhi is a huge city,very few people speak and understand English, (if you do not know sign language and you are planning to travel to India, you better know the language or else you are in trouble)

With the help of Pummy i settled within the first two days of arrival and i just felt like i am home! the weather is very friendly, i am told that its gonna be cold soon but currently we are having a great time. Babu and i started the mother and child program at Action for Autism(AFA) on the 20th of October 2008. we were received by none other than Merry Barua the president and founder of AFA. the first day was just introduction and familiarization, the second day we got into business. we are 15 mothers and 15 children in a class. the center is huge, it is a school, a therapy hospital, training center for mothers and children with Autism. this particular center is beyond my own expectations,if you go through their website they have not exhausted what they offer.
Have you ever carried 1000 tons of maize or wheat on your hands? that's how i felt before i got to the gate of AFA, the moment i got inn, the reception i received, the mothers and children i met at the center, the caring and friendly staff members of AFA made me feel like i have just dropped the 1000 ton of Maize from my hand!!!!!!!! you know the feeling!!!
It is so comforting to finally meet people who understand your situation and  instead of asking you questions like what is wrong with your child, they are so eager and exited to share their experiences with their Autistic children!!!!! at the end of the first week in school i just said wow!!!!!!!!! finally!!!!! this is what i have been looking for!! an environment that provides opportunities to Autistic children to explore their inner talents, an environment where everyone is appreciated, an environment where there is hope for children with Autism. I want to Thank you all for giving me all the support i required to get to this point. from the planning phase to the implementation stage.
Mheshimiwa, we need this kind of center in Kenya please!!!!!!!!! did you get an opportunity to watch the last debate? the two US presidential hopefuls had to talk about Autism, this will take you far please speak to Hon Naomi Shaban!!!!!!!
during Diwali festival Babu felt ill,he was admitted in hospital for 3 days, the hospitals here are also very nice. within three days he was fine and back to his normal jovial moods. we actually got out of hospital yesterday and this morning we went to school!!!!!!!!!!
I have to go now, i will keep in touch just wanted to break the silence. attached are a few pictures.
I have a family taking care of me here, i have a mum, an uncle, sisters and a brother and a few nieces, will tell you about this in my next email.
Best regards to all
Lilian Seenoi

Thanks for nothing, Coleman.

I will never buy Coleman again. Since mid-September, we have been attempting to order replacement poles for our Coleman tent. Over 40 days later and they still cannot tell me how. More on this later...we are currently in the Masai Mara using it and it continues to frustrate me...the complete lack of customer care from their customer service department.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Introductions...these are the Ladies

Ok....I think it is now time to introduce everybody to our little chickens.  We acquired these ladies a few weeks ago.  These ladies represent our second attempt at raising chickens.  Our first attempt ended over a month ago when all five of our birds were wiped out by New Castle Disease.  Turns out we acquired our chickens shortly after they had contracted the they spent their last days with us.  

These ladies are all fit as a fiddle.  Our chicken doctor raises chickens so he provided us with a few healthy birds from his flock in order to get started properly.  

Here they are:

This is J-Lo.  She is the bossy one.  She'll run and around and peck at the other ladies whenever she wants.  You can see that she is roosting right now.  All four of our ladies went broody at the same time...which the chicken doctor says is normal since they are all age-mates (sisters).  We made the decision that we wanted to have little chickens eventually and since they all went broody, we decided to get some fertilized eggs for them to sit on.  We only wanted one broody one though and we had to make the tough decision to which one would get to be a mama this time.  We consulted with our chicken doctor and he said J-Lo should be the one since she is the bossiest and she would be more likely to pick on the little chicks if somebody else was the mama. she is sitting on 10 fertilized eggs we got from the market (our ladies don't have a rooster so we aren't getting fertilized eggs....although we are still looking for that special rooster for them...just haven't found him yet).  

The side story is that since we only wanted one broody hen, we were told to dunk the other three in water...and that will snap them out of it where they will go back to laying eggs.  We tried that a few days ago...only to return home yesterday from Nairobi and discover that J-Lo is no longer sitting on the eggs....our other hen Goldie is!  So we may just let them all stay broody and figure things out as we go.  

This is Cleopatra.  She goes by "Cleo".  She seems the youngest and J-Lo picks on her the most.  

This is Ruby.  She looks a lot like J-Lo but J-Lo's tail feathers are much bigger.  

This is Goldie.  Goldie is the sweetest my opinion.  She is the one sitting on the eggs now.

This is their home.  We made this chicken coop almost completely out of recycled materials that we scavenged.  So has kept the hyenas out so we are quite happy with it although we have plans for an expansions when the new chicks come.  Our neighbors weren't sure how well the chicken coop would fare because it doesn't look great...but funcitonally it is tough.  The birds were laying 4 eggs a day for several weeks until they went broody....all within this coop.  The rumor is that if the bird is not happy in their home, they won't lay we have over 40 eggs to testify to their comfort.  

If all goes well, the chicks will come 21 days from October 29th....around November 19th!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Critter Encounter

So....the kids next door came over to our place the other day to tell us their dogs killed a critter the night before.  I went to check it out....take a look....then I went home.  Amanda went to check it out....take a look....then she brought it home.  She thought it had a cool here she is skinning it.  

Here she is in one last ditch effort to save the critter....12 hours after it performing CPR....just before she skins it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


This giraffe was not happy that we were driving down the road that he just happened to be using.