Monday, December 14, 2009

Team Kenya: From busy storefronts to burned out buildings

So the trip began with 5 of our Kenya team and 3 others in Business on the Frontlines cramming into a Yukon XL, and surprisingly us and all of our luggage fit. We then began our long trip at 5pm Chicago time and touched down in Nairobi 22 hours later (Chrissy Vaughn had a 56 hour trip in total having come from Chile all the way back to Chicago and then flying with us here).

At 12:30am, our driver finally found our lodging for the night called the Precious Blood Guest House, which is run by a convent in Nairobi. When we got there the security guard was the only one awake, but he didn't have keys to open the elderly German nun was the only person with keys and we later found out she had fallen asleep while waiting for us to arrive. We waited about a half hour while our driver, security guards and other guests (whom they had woken) proceeded to yell and knock on windows trying to locate the Sister (since the security guard didn't know where her room was). We eventually got her up and got to sleep around 1:30am (it was the first time most of us had slept under a mosquito net!).

We had an early wake up at 8:00 am considering our long trip, but we were very excited to start the day and see the country. We met at Catholic Relief Services' headquarters in Kenya and were briefed about what they do in Kenya and such. We met all of the CRS personnel and they were the nicest and most gracious people. We were very grateful they came to meet us, especially considering it was a Saturday and also Kenya's independence day. It was a great start to the trip and it really got us all excited. Then we had our first experience with Kenya food: CRS was so thoughtful, and they had lunch catered for us which was made up of various types of popular local Kenyan cuisine.

That afternoon we were off to traveling again as we departed to take a short flight to the beautiful city of Kisumu, which lies on the shore of Lake Victoria. Attached is a picture of Eric Clark, Mirjam Wit and our CRS guide and new friend Mwende after we got off the plane in Kisumu. We then drove through the city of Kisumu on the way to our hotel. On the way we saw great contrast from busy business fronts to burned buildings left over from the post election violence in 2007 that have still not been rebuilt. That night we went to a local restaurant Mwende recommended called the Green Garden. At first we drove up and all were thinking, "where the heck is she taking us" as it was a true hole in the wall from the outside and looked like it was in disrepair. Then we walked inside and discovered a beautiful open air restaurant (it is in the 80s here, much preferred to the 10 degree weather we left behind in South Bend) and it was decorated like a safari. The restaurant was great and had a huge menu with a wide variety of cuisines from German to Italian to Kenyan to Indian. Everyone had something a little different and the food was fantastic! Even better was the fact that 9 of us had a fabulous meal and drinks and all together it was only $70!!!

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