take the long way home

we are sitting in a crowded, slow internet cafe in nairobi listening to alternating r kelly and whitney houston... kenyans love divas, r&b and turning up their speakers waaaay louder than the manufacturers' recommendations. i think they believe that the piercing treble rasps and the distorted blaring bass are a legitimate part of the music.

anyways, we are off to zanzibar tomorrow, after a travel day yesterday and a nairobi errand day today. we (read i) were hoping to visit josh in the sudan before we left, but unfortunately were unable to swing the space on a supply plane with enough certainty to plan on it. i am quite disappointed about it, but kylie is ecstatic that 1. we are not going to the sudan and 2. it is not because she said no.

skipping the trip to the sudan shortened our time in kapsowar slightly but we are ok with this. lately the work in the hospital has been quite stressful, with various doctors gone (including me) and lots of running around for the ones still around. perhaps b/c our time there is drawing to a close, i have allowed the frustrations of poor nursing care and limited resources get to me more than they did previously.

i have also seen some really happy things recently, such as a baby that was born at 29 weeks (2 months early) leaving the hospital strong and chubby (after almost 2 months of care). another baby that i decided (after much deliberation) to deliver by c section at 31 weeks despite the risks came out screaming and vigourous and ready to take on the world.

working in kapsowar for over 8 months now i have had the pleasure of numerous followup visits. i ran our diabetic clinic last month and knew all the patients (even if only by face and blood sugar, if not by name). just before we left for the coast i saw a young boy walk into outpatients who i vaguely recognized. after opening his chart i realized that i had last seen him paralyzed from the waist down and sent him for emergency surgery to another larger mission hospital. he had about $1.50 to his name at the time, but the missionary hospital system (and his equally destitute cousin) managed to help him with expensive transport, surgery and recovery regardless. i also saw a man i didnt recognize at all who was asking me to write a letter for his work. opening his chart i was amazed to see that he was one of the most seriously injured people i had seen on that crazy matatu accident/maternity emergency/leopard attack day early in our time in kapsowar. he had suffered a broken foot, a galleazi fracture of the right arm (reduced successfully by yours truly!) and a severe head injury, but is now walking and talking and asking when he can go back to work!

so it is with mixed feelings that we prepare for our departure from kapsowar. however we are nothing but excited about our time in zanzibar. after 3 weeks of sun and seafood it is back to kapsowar for 2 more weeks of working and packing before we leave for egypt to meet josh and ty and kelsey. we truly are taking the long way home.


Water Water Watamu

We have been back in Kapsowar for about a week now and I think it is due time for a post about the lovely town of Watamu. After spending a week on Lamu island we made our way to the ocean front town of Watamu. It is a coastal town in eastern Kenya nestled between Malindi and Mombassa. (Yes I sound like a guidebook, I am at work with nothing to do but write lengthy e-mails and blog posts. Oh and play spider solitaire. Rough day!)

Marc’s parents have a time share that has resorts worldwide so we were able to book one here for a week. Both Marc and I, nor Carlynne had been on a beach vacation before and although I had my reservations about laying around all day (why I would have reservations about that I am not so sure) we loved every minute of our beach vacation. While we did do a lot of laying around, we also did a lot of swimming, walking, reading and eating.
Our hotel had 3 (yes you read that right, 3!) pools. Unfortunately we only made it to two since we also had the ocean to swim in. The ocean here is a lovely shade of aquamarine and looks like something off a postcard.
Caption: “Dear family and friends. We are having a lovely time here in Watamu relaxing on the beach. Wish you were here! Don’t get too cold in the snow. Love, Marc, Kylie and Carlynne.”

Pool #2. #1 was right in front of our room. We had a great view of the ocean from this one!
Pool #1

One of the days we tore ourselves away from the pool and the ocean and headed out to the Gedi ruins. It consists of the ruins of a fifteenth century Arab-African town that went undiscovered until the 1930's.

A crazy spider we saw on our walk through the ruins.

We also took a morning to go snorkeling. While it was extremely enjoyable I think we were all thankful that it was just a morning and not the whole day. Both Carlynne and Marc got quite sea sick in the water (Marc even puked, the fishies ate it up really fast though) and I felt a bit ill on the boat ride back. That being said the snorkeling was amazing and we saw coral, and so many amazing coloured fish.
Being the ONLY women in the resort who did not own bikini’s (well besides two old grandma’s) Carlynne and I went on a shopping trip and suited up like the rest of the Italians at the resort. Oh! I have not mentioned this yet. For some reason this area of the Kenyan coast is a vacation hot spot for Italians. We were one of maybe two or three guests that were not from Italy. All the staff spoke to us in Italian, all the signs were in Italian and even the local children said “Ciao” to us all the time. I really love the way people from Italy say “Ciao.” It sounds so much more refined than my “Chow!”.
Enjoying a fun beach drink.

After some major relaxing we headed to Mombassa for a day. Carlynne and I got a marathon manicure and pedicure (4 hours long!!) and Marc got an extended massage. (3 hours long. I am not sure how we are going to afford to fuel Marc’s new habit when we get home but I’m sure he will find a way.)

We stopped at an amazing antique shop where Carlynne bought quite a few souvenirs.

At Fort Jesus, a strong hold built to defend Kenyan from a variety of invaders.
I'm sure the defenders of Mombassa were as relaxed as we were when watching for enemies.

Last Thursday we saw Carlynne off and now are back in Kapsowar until next week. Then we head to Zanzibar, back here for two weeks then away for good. For those of you who we haven’t told already, our plans include meeting Joshua in Egypt in December, then to Israel, Turkey, back to Holland, Norway to visit the ever elusive Fraser, London and finally home in March. We are excited about our upcoming adventure!!!


lamenting leaving lamu

as i mentioned before, we loved lamu island. if we had more time we would go back there again for longer, but alas it is not to be. however, i can take solace in the fact that we still plan on a trip to zanzibar, which boasts the same swahili culture as lamu as well as the old stone houses and tiny streets (the capital is called stone town) as well as beautiful beaches. spending time on lamu has made us very excited about zanzibar. the above picture was taken on a dhow, the arab sailboat that has been circumnavigating africa for centuries.

this was our house on lamu... the whole building, for a third the price of a travel lodge room in canada.
this is a view from our roof. we also had some ocean views, but this is what i saw when i looked up from my favourite reading chair.
this is my favourite reading chair... custom made from our abundance of cushions.

here is our kitchen. after experimenting with the kikoi i eventually settled on a much shorter version, but this picture is more suited to our missionary status.

this is shella beach on lamu, complete with roaming camels. the next pics are all on manda island, a short dhow trip from lamu.

our house was one block from the market in the city square.

typical lamu streets near our house. i am not sure if vehicles are illegal on lamu or just completely useless. you still had to look both ways for donkeys though.

like this one, which had a crazy driver.

and finally, my new hat. you can never be too careful regarding sun protection eh dad? lamu we miss you!


back from the coast

unfortunately our coastal holiday is over and we are seeing carlynne off in nairobi tonight before heading back to kapsowar. hopefully you will hear more about our time soon, but for now i will just put up a few pics and tell a few stories.

first off, let me say that lamu island is my new favourite place in the world. if you ever find yourself in kenya you need to make your way there. it is a small island and lamu town is small as well, but it was very rich from 1600-1900 as it served as a major trading island for the many goods (and slaves) that were entering and leaving africa from europe, asia and the middle east. thus the town is made up of 200-400 year old tall stone buildings and the people and the culture are an intriguing mix of african/arabic/asian called the swahili. the roads in town are 4-10 feet wide and there are no motorized vehicles on the island (actually we saw one truck - the district commisioners vehicle, but he could only drive it up and down the harbour - and a three wheeled ambulance/rickshaw). the streets are crammed with smiling friendly kids, amiable merchants, beautiful veiled women and donkeys... lots and lots of donkeys.

at one point kylie and carlynne were wandering around the maze of stone streets. they were completely lost and looking up at the nearest building. noticing their bemused exressions, a random passerby looked at them, looked at the building and said succintly, "it is your house". they were standing 15 feet from our front door.

i know i mentioned in a previous post that lamu has many budget guesthouses, but we were seduced by the offer of an entire house all to ourselves and rented the same place for our entire time there at a very reasonable rate. it was a huge old house with an open air terrace on the roof and second floor and a full kitchen and 2 bathrooms. fantastic.

unfortunately the kenyan internet is not allowing me to post any pictures, so that will have to wait until we get home. in addition to wandering the streets, kylie, carlynne and i went sailing on a dhow, played on the beach, ate tasty swahili food (spicy fresh seafood with liberal use of coconut), and lazed around on our roof. while kylie and carlynne were otherwise occupied i went windsurfing and rode a donkey around town (to the amusement of the locals). i also fully embraced the swahili traditional male dress of a loose shirt and a kikoi, basically a loose sarong. the freedom of a skirt combined with the open air movement where it counts were a perfect antidote to the wet heat of the coast. i have declared that i will continue this new practical fashion when we return to a chilliwack summer; kylie is not so sure. luckily, as a modern male, i am completely in charge of my own wardrobe, and any power that kylie appears to wield in this area is illusory at best.

well, tomorrow we head back to kapsowar so hopefully you can see some pictures soon.