My sisters and I try to get to “the farm” every summer to help Mom with maintenance and repairs and just hang out together.
Three of us along with Ellen spent a week there in July this year. Our week also coincided with a visit from my nephew Mark (sister Beth’s son) who has been teaching high school in Turkey for 2 years. It also marked the first year that Beth has been in the newly restored “Hargrave House”, our grandfather’s house that had fallen into disrepair. You can see the work Beth did to resurrect it on her blog “Blood, sweat and love, a journey of the restoration of my grandfathers house.”
Among other accomplishments was the installation of a swing in the big tree by her house. That project had been saved for Mark and involved getting ropes over a big limb about 25 feet up! The swing has already been enjoyed by numerous people.
I spent the month of February in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa attending two conferences, traveling, birding, and helping out at the ECHO farm in South Africa.
I left on the 30th of January from Ft. Myers. David Erickson, from ECHO, and I were on the same flights to Detroit and Amsterdam. But then he went straight to Tanzania and I went to Nairobi. Ellen and I were supposed to be on the same flights to and from Nairobi but she had been called to Cincinnati in the middle of January because of her Mother’s health and needed to stay behind to help her parents move from Cincinnati to Columbus.
I arrived in Nairobi and spent the night at Mayfield Guest House and then took the Impala Shuttle (small bus) down to Arusha and checked into the Naura Springs Hotel for the ECHO Symposium.
Arusha ECHO Symposium
The three days of the symposium were fun. I reconnected with old friends and got to better know the ECHO East Africa staff.
Back to Nairobi
I left Arusha on Friday and took the shuttle back to Nairobi. Brian and Patty Arensen had invited me to stay with them. Brian has developed a small fountain, pool and garden at the back of their house. And with a couple of feeders that really attracts the birds!
On Saturday we went out to Ngong for a housewarming for Wycliffe who has worked for the AIM office there for many years. He does a lot of the immigration paperwork for the missionaries. It was great to meet his family and celebrate with them.
On Sunday I went to Church at Ngong Road AIC with the Arensens and ran into some other old friends.
Brian and Patty took me to lunch at an Indian restaurant at a mosque and community center in Lavington. After lunch we did a couple of laps on the track around the cricket pitch!
Then Sunday afternoon Brian and I went out to the Giraffe Center near Karen but we did not feed giraffes. Instead we hiked the nature trail across the road and saw a number of really cool birds – highlight was the Hartlaub’s Turacos that followed us around for a bit.
On to Naivasha
On Monday I took a taxi out to Naivasha and had lunch at the Indian restaurant at Delamere’s with Shel and Kym Arensen. Their house is nearby in the same area east of the main road where several other expats have built houses.
Birding was great there, especially down along the Malewa River that their house borders.
Visit to Eburru Forest
On Tuesday Shel took me with him to visit some of the Ndorobo he has been working with in the hills above Naivasha. They are also helping guard the Eburru Forest there and have permission to keep their beehives in the forest and harvest honey. We drove through a good bit of the forest and then stopped to hike a bit, again seeing some cool birds.
Visit to Street Kids School
Kym Arensen has had contact with a street kids school – Naivasha Children’s Shelter. They are looking into building a biogas generator and asked me for input. They have installed a unit at Cheptebo so I put them in touch with each other.
First session of Eden Club
The other ministry Kym is involved in there is an after school program in primary schools called “Eden Clubs”. This is a program to teach environmental awareness and care of God’s creation. I went with her and her Kenyan co-worker to the introductory session at a school on the south side of Naivasha.
On Thursday I took another taxi to Eldoret. The taxis weren’t cheap but saved time and wear and tear on me! I met our great friends Joseph and Sally, Hellen, and Collins, for lunch at an Indian (!) restaurant across the street from Sizzler’s.
Then on the way down to Cheptebo late that afternoon we stopped on the outskirts of Eldoret to greet our former house worker, Mary and former volunteer, Kathryn.
Things were really busy at the project. They were having a joint meeting on Sunday and then Monday there was a meeting of county officials from three or four counties. So I spent Saturday relaxing and walking around the farm.
The Sunday joint meeting was typical but it was good to see many of my friends that are the pastors and leaders in the valley.
Monday I got a ride up to Eldoret with the farm manager for a very early flight to Nairobi.
In the meantime Ellen’s Mom had rallied and stabilized and so she came on out and had arrived in Nairobi by then. We took a bus out to Brackenhurst for a conference where she helped with the children’s program. It was terrific to meet up with even more old friends there. Two of our former interns were there as well.
I left Brackenhurst on Thursday and spent the night at Mayfield before leaving for South Africa on Friday. Tim Motis had come from the US and we met up and stayed overnight at a hotel at the airport. Saturday we rented a car and drove the 3 hours to the ECHO research location north of Johannesburg.
We helped harvesting maize, did some birding, and reconnected with folks I met during my 2 month’s stay in 2013.
Last Day in Nairobi
Saturday we did some shopping and visited with two young women who were children in the remote community in northern Kenya when we first arrived in the ’80s.Then after supper at Mayfield went to the airport and headed back to the US.
Our trip from the USA to Tanzania went very well and we arrived in Arusha Saturday night.
Yesterday (Monday) we went with two of our contacts and their staff on a visit to two sand dam projects up near the Kenya border. For more on sand dams see this link for the ECHO technical note on Sand Dams.
It was encouraging to witness the cooperative effort between the communities and the assisting NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations).
Since we were in Tanzania we decided we should see some of the countryside so on Sunday we went on a day trip to Tarangire National Park. Photos from that safari are online in this web album.
One thing I do for fun, relaxation and a little bit of exercise is to count birds once or twice a month in Caloosahatchee Creeks which is a Lee County Preserve near ECHO. This preserve is undergoing restoration from previous use as agricultural land and invasion by exotic plants, mainly Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius). More information about CCP is available online at the Lee County Conservation 20/20 site.
Today I walked around a portion of the preserve and counted 28 different species of birds in a little over 2 hours. That’s not great by birder’s standards but pretty decent for a June morning.
Some of the summer wildflowers are in bloom now which added to the overall enjoyment of the hike.