Shaun's Kenya Blog

Back in Mombasa

May 29, 2010
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It feels good to be home (away from home). Although I had I had a very good time in Nairobi, Mombasa is where I feel more at iome – it is more relaxed, with bluer skies and the people are generally friendlier. I surprised the kids at the school yesterday with an unannounced visit, and received a bruised elbow for my troubles as they all leaped on me at once, sending me into the wall! It was great to see them, and I also found out the good news that there are two new teachers working there on a voluntary basis. It comes as a great relief that Emily now has some help there.

I will spend the next few days relaxing and hopefully enjoying some nightlife, before heading to Lamu at the end of the week. My time here is almost at an end!

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Safari over, Mombasa here I come!

May 26, 2010
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Unfortunately safari is over. That was without doubt one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. The last day was spent in Nakuru National Park, Kenya’s smallest national park, but one that is also teeming with wildlife. We saw rhinos there, which meant we could tick off all the animals we had hoped to see – the only thing missing really was an adult leopard. The centrepiece of Nakuru park is Lake Nakuru, which many of you will have seen on TV – it is home to thousands of flamingoes, and they are a spectacular sight all along the shore. We even managed to get out of the van to get a closer look at them, although they scared very easily and scattered as soon as we started walking towards them. After leaving there, we headed home, tired but exhilirated by what we had seen.

I should also say a word about the campsite we stayed in. The ‘tents’ were tradtional-style huts. surrounded on all sides by beautiful hills and forests. It really was as close to nature as you are going to get without being in danger of getting eaten by lions! The campsite was looked after by really friendly Masai tribesmen – one of them even took me into the village in the pitch darkness so that I could watch the Champions League final on the village’s only TV, then took me back again after the game was over. That is definitely the most interesting place I have watched football!

Tomorrow I am heading back to Mombasa to see everyone, which I am really getting excited about, then Maggie and I are going to Lamu, which is an island off the coast that still has traditional Swahili architecture and customs. When I come back, it will only be one day before I fly home.

Shaun


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Amazing safari!

May 23, 2010
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I am in an internet cafe in Nakuru, a couple of days into my safari. So far, it has been everything I could hope for an more. In the past two days, I have seen lions, zebras, giraffes, hippo, a leopard, and so many other animals. We spent a total of over fifteen hours in the safari van and got extremely close to most of the animals. The highlight was probably getting within two metres of a pride of lions with about eight cubs. They were not scared at all, and the cubs played with each other and took milk from their mother as we watched. Also, there was a part where we got out and had a walk, accompanied by a ranger. During this, we came across a crocodile – this took my breath away, as I have always been fascinated by crocodiles and to be standing only metres away from one in the wild was both unbelievably exciting and a little frightening!

This morning, we went to visit a traditional Masai village. For those who don’t know, the Masai are a very big tribe who still live in a very traditional way, and they invited us to see their village and performed songs and dances for us ( I joined in the men’s dance, I can’t wait to see the photos of that!) I also got a necklace consisting of a single lion’s tooth, which I will always treasure. Visiting that village, and especially going for a cup of tea in a family’s hut, was also something that will always stay with me.

Anyway, back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep, ready for flamingoes and hopefully more close encounters with crocodiles tomorrow.

Bye for now!


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Volunteer time over

May 20, 2010
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Today was my last day working as a volunteer. Another group of kids and a teacher to say goodbye to, although these ones were not as sad. After all, I have only been here two weeks, and at this school they are used to white people coming and going. Nevertheless, they are nice kids and I will miss them, and also Elizabeth, the teacher I work with who is really great.

It is a strange feeling to have finished working here – the time has gone extremely fast, but it has been so full of challenges and new experiences. It has opened my eyes to the challenges these kids face, and how cheerfully they face them. One girl’s Dad last Thursday. She didn’t even miss a day of school. Kids in Europe would have made more of a fuss than she did if they had lost a toy. The ones in Mombasa were so poor they couldn’t even afford shoes, but they never stopped smiling. My respect for these kids and their teachers is enormous, and I am so happy to have shared my time with them.

The slight sadness at finishing my placement is mixed with excitement, because tomorrow I am going on a four day safari! I look forward to writing about it when I get back, and I promise not to get eaten by a lion.

All the best,

Shaun


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Adventure!

May 17, 2010
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Yesterday was a brilliant day – I went to Hell’s Gate, about two hours from Nairobi, with eight other volunteers and our Kenyan friends and guides, Jackson and Izzo. The first part of the trip was a 7km bike ride through beautiful countryside, and best of all, there is spectacular wildlife all around you in its natural habitat. We saw loads of zebra, a family of giraffes, baboons, gazelles, antelope, warthogs and water buffalo. We got very close to some of the animals, and seeing them in that setting was just amazing.

The second part was a hike through a gorge that was challenging to say the least, but offered some spectaular scenery. I’ll upload the photos once i get home, as it takes ages here 🙂

I am now into my last week of volunteering, and I am having mixed feelings. It will be sad to finish, but I feel a sense of accomplishment and I am looking forward to going on safari on Friday!

Bye for now,

Shaun


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Sooo much meat….

May 15, 2010
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Last night I had one of the best meals I have ever had – we went to the famous and aforementioned Carnivore, and it lived up to all expectations. After a starter of carrot and mint soup, they brought out an array of salads and sauces – then came the meat. Waiter after waiter came up with huge hunks of meat on skewers, everything from pork spare ribs to turkey breast to the more exotic meats like ostrich, crocodile and camel. Ostrich was my favourite, it tasted very nice indeed. The camel was tough but also tasty. The crocodile was strange, like chicken but with a fishy taste. I don’t think I could eat a lot of it.

After becoming so full we could hardly move, we then had dessert and left. The atmosphere there was wonderful, and it while not cheap, it was good value for the amount of food you get. I’d love to go there again one day!

Yesterday was very chaotic as so many new volunteers arrived that there weren’t even enough beds, but it was fun to meet them all and we stayed up late having a drink and a chat. It is odd to think that two months ago I was the new one asking for help and advice, now it’s the other way around. How time flies! I hope the new volunteers have as good a time as I have 🙂

Best,

Shaun


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Eating exotic animals

May 12, 2010
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Finally some sun! I have got very tired of torrential rain and extremely muddy roads, hopefully the rain will now hold off for a while. I am working hard at school with a class of 29 nine year olds this week, but it should be a fun weekend coming up. We are going to a restaurant called Carnivore, which serves all sorts of different meets, including crocodile, buffalo and antelope. It was twice voted in the top 50 restaurants in the world, so it should be good!

On Sunday, I am going to a place called Hell’s Gate (not as unwelcoming as it sounds), which is a place where you can do tours among the animals, so you get to walk around with giraffes, monkeys and so on. If it doesn’t rain, that is going to be a really great experience. Let’s just hope I don’t get lost or eaten by a lion 😉

All the best,

Shaun


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First days in Nairobi

May 8, 2010
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I have had my first two days in the school in Nairobi, and it is like night and day comparing it to the school in Mombasa. This school (with an orphanage attached) is well established and has had volunteers coming for a while, so it is well equipped and well structured, with full time teachers, a curriculum and decent resources. The kids themselves are poor though, and about a third are orphans. The first two days have been great, I have been made to feel very welcome and the children, though more used to white people than at the other school, are very sweet and unbelievably respectful compared to what we are used to at home. I look forward to working with them for the next two weeks.

For my first weekend in Nairobi, I will go and see the town centre today, as I haven’t seen it yet, and tomorrow I intend to look at some animal sanctuaries – they have sanctuaries for monkeys, giraffes and baby elephants in Nairobi. That will be a good warm-up for my safari, which I intend to go on starting May 21st.

On an unrelated note, yesterday I wore a jumper in Kenya for the first time. The temperatures are much lower here than in Mombasa! Nevertheless, I have enjoyed my first few days in Nairobi, although I still miss everyone in Mombasa.

Best,

Shaun


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Arrived in Nairobi

May 5, 2010
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Here I am, back where it all started what seems like ages ago. Unlike in Mombasa, I am sharing a house with other volunteers as well as a Kenyan family, and space is a lot more cramped, but the house is very nice and again, very conveniently located about five minutes from the school. I haven’t been to the school yet as I arrived this morning on the overnight bus, and needed to sleep! Now I am in an internet cafe (that serves great coffee – something I didn’t find in Mombasa) and about to take a walk with Maggie around the neighbourhood.

Hopefully working here will be as fulfilling as my time in Mombasa – saying goodbye to my host family last night was very hard, as they have been so good to me. Their four year old granddaughter cried her eyes out when I left. I miss them already.

Shaun


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Last day in Mombasa…

May 3, 2010
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Tomorrow I will leave Mombasa and head to Nairobi, where I will work in a school for the remaining three weeks of my placement. I am on my lunch break now, and have just gone to buy a cake for my class to say goodbye. I hope to take plenty of photos this afternoon! I am very sad to be leaving them, but am comforted by the fact that I am staying involved with the school after I leave. The main concern at the moment is that no other volunteer is coming to take my place. I hope one will come very soon, because poor Emily really needs the help.

The last couple of days have been a constant rush around saying goodbye to the people I have met here, which is not easy as there are quite a lot of them. I can’t overstate how friendly people have been to me here – nothing is too much trouble for them, and my host family in particular have really treated me like part of their family. I will miss them very much and wish there was some way I could repay them.

Will write again soon from Nairobi!

Shaun


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About author

I am going to Kenya for nearly three months to volunteer as a teacher for underprivileged children. This blog will be about my experiences and thoughts while I am there. Happy reading!

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