28/05/18. Impala sanctuary and the Maasai market

‎29‎ ‎May at ‎09‎:‎56
28/05/18. Impala sanctuary and the Maasai market

06:30 swim, peaceful, cocks crowing and gradually the sounds of the city waking up, no one around today to sort me out hot water. Breakfast again at 08:30, mix of breakfast goods and dinner items, sausages, boiled effort, sliced fried potatoes, stops of beef fried off with onions peppers, carrots and Chillies, pancakes, well it all just seems to work, although I’ve not worked out yet why the porridge is brown.
Car ordered and finally arrived, we’re heading for the Impala Sanctuary. As yesterday, we’re not far into our journey and the Calvin Tours vehicle pulls into a petrol station, after 20 minutes were becoming fractious and wanting to know what’s going on, the driver, Kevin, having wandered off. Eventually with just K$1000 worth of petrol pumped in we’re away. Driving across back doubles, bumping over tracks and then on what yesterday were Tarmac roads, today are construction sites with heavy equipment pushing soil around, no cones or traffic management here, may the bravest man win.
Pulling up eventually at the Impala sanctuary, the driver announces he’s coming with us. We explain that we are fine and don’t require him to accompany us, after some back and forth he returns to the car. At the pay desk we stand like lemons whilst a conversation is going on between 3 staff, eventually 1 deigns to speak to us, price for Kenyans Ksh22 any one else US$22. But we’re here and unlikely to be returning, no map very few directional signs and the man who’s just taken our money points a finger and says about the cages. I’m not sure about the others, but I’d been expecting in a sanctuary for the impala to be roaming free. The sanctuary covers around 48 ha of open grassland, dense woodland and walkways.
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We set off and sure enough came upon the enclosures, the first on with a quite moth eaten Ostrich all alone. Next door a water buffalo and a couple of warthogs, then around the corner a leopard. Following enclosures house a solitary leopard, a couple of cheetahs and then 3 lions, all the cats sunning themselves under the clear blue sky. Separate cages housed a couple of species of baboon. Tim and I had by now moved ahead of Barbara and Elaine and as we rounded the next corner came face to face with a zebra. We snapped away discussing whether he’d escaped from a compound when having got fed up with our attention he walked off. As the ladies caught us up and we were relating our encounter, back he came with two others, more photographs before leaving them grazing in piece. Still no sign of any Impala. More walking, hundreds of butterflies, beautiful vivid colours, we came across a lakeside Eco lodge. Beckoned in we walked through over a log rope bridge into the main buildings, very pleasant.  A couple of sodas and we resumed our quest for the Impala, which way to go 48 ha  is a lot of ground to cover. Tim led us left and along a roadway between the dense woodland, 5 minutes on and he sshhs us , there ahead is a long antlered deer, Impala, we’re not sure. As we walk towards it, it starts moving away, just as we seemed to be gaining it turned left and was lost in the woodland, no photos by anyone. Walking on we’ve come to the far edge of the park and up against fencing for a water treatment works.
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About turn and back to the Eco lodge, time to try another trial, a short distance on and we happen upon a giraffe at a feeding station, further still and a picnic area with more grazing zebra, but as yet the Impala are proving very elusive. Wherever there are small puddles in the pathway the butterflies are more prolific, time now for Barbara to own up and explain that she’s uncomfortable around butterflies and that her family will not believe she has been this close to so many. On we walk and then a lakeside picnic area and a small herd of Impala, an obviously dominant male and then all the hinds and young around, just how many photographs can you take? We took a goodly few and then leaving the animals in piece we followed the path to the exit, we had come full circle.

Kevin our driver was sat in the car in the car park, we loaded up up and then away, this time to the Maasai Market, the hotel reception had said this was a good area to visit to view African artefacts. We drove back towards the city and then appeared to head off at a tangent, to high rise buildings thinned and we were back into shanty town living. A sudden stop and the car reversed on the stretch of dual carriageway, we had just passed a small side track, wriggly tin shacks on both sides, but the area looked closed, tall reed matting across the front of each shopfront. We thought we had had a wasted journey, when as the car pulled forward into a side slip beside the main road, first one and then another of the mattings pulled away. Within minutes we are being beckoned into shop after shop, some so small that I couldn’t even get in alongside the displayed merchandise.

Lots of African pictures, carved wood, soapstone, jewellery, fabrics, all manner of things, each stall holder declaring they could offer better prices. We moved independently between the stalls bantering as we went, between us we’d purchased shirts, fabrics, jewellery and many articles various, all conscious that whatever we purchased was going to have to fit in our luggage. 30 – 40 minutes later, suffering from shopping fatigue we made it back to the car, sizeable sums expended. It was only as we were driving away that we came to the conclusion, not one of us had thought to take a picture of that amazing spectacle.
Back to the hotel, time for a drink and a snack, 3 plates of chips, Barbara had a Spanish omelette, I opted for the club sandwich, and hour before the food arrived, this is the one area that lets down the hotel, the lack of attention by the bar staff. We had to say goodbye to Barbara who was flying out a day earlier than the rest of us. Her car booked for 17:00, luggage in reception, she pace around waiting. The reception chased the driver, he was just 5 minutes away, 5, 10, now quarter past five, flight leaves at 17:55, gate closes 17:40, repeated calls to the driver who is just 5 minutes away. Then the front office manager approaches a man sat with a small group in the bar area, turns out he owns the hotel. A couple of minutes later, Barbara and her luggage are loaded into his land cruiser, his driver instructed not to slow down and they were off. Thankfully a text received to say that she’d made the flight. We advanced the arrival time for our car tomorrow by 30 minutes, we might not be as lucky.
Just the four of us now, down to dinner at 19:30, after our late snack with Barbara that was plenty early enough. A couple of bottles of red, some water and a selection of dishes from the menu. Finish our drinks outside and just before 22:00 it’s time for me to give up.
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27/05/18. Hippo point

27/05/18. Hippo point

Great nights sleep and into the pool for 06:45, special dispensation, strictly not open until 09:00. Wonderful, cool and refreshing plus a delightful young man had placed a cup and flask of hot water at the table for when I was finished. Obviously a church nearby as each time I turned the sound of gospel singing was ringing out. Dried off I sat with my water just enjoying the music and the tranquility of the situation. Changed and into breakfast for 08:30. Same chafing dishes, but this time loaded with breakfast goodies, there was even a toaster on the side table which Barbara and Elaine took delight in making use of.

Limo was returning this morning to accompany us to Hippo Point, he took Les, Adam and Tim in his car. Barbara, Elaine and I followed in a taxi, just around the corner and our taxi pulls into a petrol station and puts  in K$480 (less than £4) why does no one fill a tank over here? Back on the road and we cruise slowly through the back streets of Kisumu. We are then in a much more affluent area, high walls barber wire and ornate gates. Returning back to shanty town living before we turn into Kiboko Bay Resort.

 

Kiboko, it is explained to us is the Swahili for hippo. We are welcomed to the resort and shown around whilst negotiations are underway for a local boat to take us out on the lake for an hour. We sit and have a soda beside the pool while we wait (I’ve drunk more sugary drinks during this trip than I have in a lifetime) our timber boat arrives and walking down to the jetty we scramble aboard. The guide explains that Lake Victoria shoreline is shared by 3 nations, Kenya 6%, Uganda 44% and Tanzania 50%. We cruise slowly around the lake edge, observing the wildlife, fishermen sat on rocks seemingly way from shore and families bathing, the girls and women washing kitchen utensils and clothing, the boys and men swimming in the lake, no crocodiles this far up the lake apparently. There are a lot of problems with water lilies on the lake clogging up the shore line, places like the hotel are constantly removing them to keep their jetty clear. There is always an upside if you look, the dried tubers are used for weaving the seating in some very smart looking furniture.

Various landmarks are pointed out to us including the Radio Kisumu mast, at this point I’m looking at the water and notice a ‘log’ in the distance that appears to be moving up and down in the water. Mentioning it to the others, there are now two similar boats closer than us that are converging on the ‘log’, neither getting too close, about 5m away. As we get closer it is easy to make out two hippo with a baby, the other boats having taken their pictures are moving off allowing us to move in. There is something so incredible about seeing animals in their natural habitat, a very special moment. After 10 minutes or so of being entertained by these huge animals we pulled away and continued our drift around the coastline. Some indiscriminate development appears to be taking place apparently without planning consents, hopefully the regional authorities will take action or the natural beauty of the lake edge and its wetlands will be lost forever.

One last pass of the hippo as we make our way back to Tiboko point where , more sodas and light lunches are enjoyed. Then it’s back to the hotel, Les and Adam are due to leave with Limo and will fly home in a weeks time. Les is due to deliver a lecture at the university tomorrow and has a meeting with the deputy minister for the environment later in the week. Farewells made and it’s now gone 15:00, a drink in the cabana by the pool and then I’m up to the room. I was going to get changed for a swim when I heard raucous noise from the pool, half a dozen young Americans are enjoying themselves down there. Discretion being the better part of valour I put my feet up for a while, finally waking up at 18:20, we’d arranged to meet for dinner at 18:30.

No buffet on tonight, choosing from the a la carte, between us pasta, lamb chops and a t bone, steak was mine, poor choice. I’d hoped that being in Kenya’s 3rd largest city the meat quality may have improved. Never mind Tim and I had another great bottle of red whilst the others doubled up on G&T’s. Following dinner back out into the cabana, cooler here now and another couple of rounds of drinks. Enough for me, I’ll attempt a little blogging before sleeping.

16/05/18 Kisumu airport collection

16/05/18 Kisumu airport collection

Rain stopped around 02:00, intermittent sleep and up for 05:30, pass on the swim this morning, still dark outside and a lot of uneven surfaces between my room and the pool. This had been the first night under the new mozzarella net, great improvement. Trusting now that the funshi (tradesman) turns up whilst we’re at the airport and installs the other five.

Breakfast at 06:00, cereal, Spanish omelette and sausage, hot and fresh. Tom and I are ready for 07:00. Sam and the minivan arrive just before 08:00, after some ribbing around the lateness of the hour we head off. We stop briefly in Ndhiwa to pick up a teacher who needs a lift to Kisumu. All the teachers are government employees and it seems that they are moved positions on a whim. This gentleman had been informed that he would be transferred to a town west of Kisumu from the 21st, just two weeks notice. He was a grabbing a lift to save money , leaving his wife and family in Ndhiwa and hopefully finding accommodation near to his new school. The van is old,rattles, stuffing long gone from the seats, but hopefully it will get us there and back, plus currently only me and the driver in the front of the vehicle. We are regularly waved at from the roadside, but we ignore all comers

No real issues on the journey and we arrive around 40 mins after the group have cleared customs. We get a wave as we drive around the drop off lane to pick them all up. Well there was a lot of luggage! The rear six seats were lost to towers of cases, rucksacks, bags and the water filter cases. I now shared the front seat with Elaine and the driver, everyone else shoehorned into the back. We head for HomaBay and the replacement pipes, roads not too bad and takes a couple of hours. Their journey out had been uneventful other than security needing the filter boxes opened, obviously packed full of the filters and the space creamed with the gifts that we had all brought out.

A fruitless journey around the backstreets of HomaBay, no 2.5 pipe available anywhere. I did pick up a 5m Tape and a 13amp plugin the rounds. The extension bar in the reception area has been operating with just a couple of leads poked into the outlet sine Tom and I arrived. Discussions on the missing pipes and decide to call the original supplier in Nairobi and have them shipped on the overnight bus to save any more hassle. Tom now needs access to a bank to arrange money transfer. We drop him at Barclays, driving around the corner to the supermarket to allow everyone the opportunity to stretch their legs and grab any snacks they may wish. I opted for another bottle of Legend Brandy and a couple of cartons of fruit juice. The others seemed to prefer the crisps and biscuit ranges. Still time to kill some walk around some of the adjoining market, a lot more stalls than on or visit last Sunday.

Tom is back with us so time to finish this trip, everyone squeezed back into the van and we’re away. We pull into a petrol station as we note a Coca Cola wagon delivering, we just need to squeeze in cases of bottled water for the new arrivals, we should each be drinking an absolute minimum of 1lt of water a day, ideally 2 or more. Whilst Tom and Sam dealt with the water, I noticed a lad selling sliced pineapple from a wheelbarrow on the forecourt. From my privilege position in the front I wandered over and purchased 16 slices for 200 K$, all the same denomination money I had with me. Certainly more thirst quenching than the sodas and gratefully received in the rear of the mini bus. The approach to the hotel is a real eye opener for our new colleagues, the impact of the heavy rains on the local infrastructure is clearly visible. Back at base and everything unloaded and people allocated to rooms and time to just wander. All the new mozzarella nerds have been fitted (300K$ for the nets each 250K$ for each installation). We’ll meet up in a cabana in 20 minutes or so for a discussion and then a Pastor Stephen is going to join us. The Pastor is part of a project that delivers, as part of their remit, hand wash and sexual education to 19 schools, Rakoro and Sangwe we will be working at and want to ensure that we do not provide contradictory advice to the children.

A round of sodas to quench thirsts and discussions around the forthcoming programme. Tom explains what we have achieved so far at Ndhiwa hospital primary and Otange, and that we will concentrate on getting those two projects completed before we move on. There will be issues in getting to Rakoro and Songwe because of the road conditions. It is currently impossible to get a car up to them, even the tractor and trailer had struggled. It is likely therefore that we will all need to ride pillion and potentially still walk for the last half mile or so.

Pastor Stephen now joined us and following introductions started to detail his groups work, it appeared that they worked primarily with children from 10 explaining the importance of hand washing, in fact there were hand washing clubs in both schools. He went on then to describe the sexual health messages for the different age children and started to talk about a counselling programme. At this stage, although this information was interesting we would in no way be conflicting with these parts of their project and I was very aware that the new volunteers were asleep on their feet. Thanking Pastor Stephen for his time and very interesting information, it was suggested that when we came to deliver our hand was message, that someone from the Pastors team be present at the two schools. He was very happy to accept this offer and our meeting came to an end around 16:00. Everyone was reminded that dinner would be served at 18:00.

I headed for the pool, the others I think to attempt a short nap. Dinner service had moved to what the hotel described as buffet service. Placed on the table were trays of braised beef, chicken pieces in a sauce, pan fried diced potatoes with chopped peppers and coriander, shredded cabbage and a mung bean Dahl. Even Elaine , our vegetarian (Elaine does eat fish) had her fill at the table. Arrangements had been made for a crate (25) of Tuskers lights to deliver to the hotel (boda boda) for consumption in the evenings. There was general chatter in the lounge for a short time, the newer members of our team disappearing off to their rooms to catch up on sleep. The inevitable issues with power and wifi access having been an interesting set of topics

No rain

26/05/18 journey to Kisumu

26/05/18 journey to Kisumu

No swimming, time to pack. Generator on at 07:00.  All the tshirts, spare towel, some of the toiletries and even the stationery kit left to one side for Sam. Breakfast at 08:15, generator had gone off just before 08:00, had to ask Maliki to sort out the power so we could actually see in the dining room, boiled eggs and the fried maize dumplings, this time shaped like a ring doughnut (did nothing for the flavour)

Bags out to the minibus, much hand shaking with Maliki and Gilbert, requests from staff to sponsor children’s education or some church activity. Discussion with Gilbert about the two varieties of Mango growing in the car park border, one of which I’d assumed were almost ripe, apparently not, they would double in size yet before harvest. Minibus loaded including a huge sack of surplus clothing heading to Sam’s house, he’d already sent on the couple of cases of empties and the foam pads Tom and I had been using in the dining room. The previous evening he’d  loaded a couple of bikes with all the surplus pipes, guttering , fittings and all the tools we’d brought out to do the job. A final bumpy ride down into Ndhiwa then turn onto the HomaBay road. A couple of hundred metres and there are two young lads stood roadside, we pull up and Sam passes out the large sack of clothing that the older boy pos up unto his head and off we go.

Through police checkpoints, around potholes and looking out for Malcolm who is responsible for water and sanitation across the Otange region schools, he had hoped to meet with us at the hotel prior to our departure, Tom’s in touch by phone. For the first time I’m seeing tractor trailer unit transport loads of sugar cane heading for the Otange factory, regretfully our driver is managing to bowl along and I’m unable to get a photograph. On through Rodi and then we’re aware of a commotion roadside, a car is down at field level having left the road, something like 3-4 m drop. We’d slowed but people were pushing the car about and it sounded as if the motor was still running and the driver appeared to be ok, still in control in the drivers seat. We get 50m up the road and Tom gets a call, Malcolm has had an accident and won’t be able to join us. We reverse up and sure enough, his car now back up on the road, but apparently dead is Malcolm.

Introductions, expressions of concern, thanks for all the work that we had done and after 20 minutes conversation we leave Malcolm who is now attempting to locate a Fundi who can get him mobile again. Into HomaBay and we’re calling into the Barclays, Tom and I both unlucky with the Coop in Ndhiwa. Funds replenished we push on, we’re headed now for Kisii, the village where the soapstone carvings are produced. The minibus is hot and the roads bumpy and then we turn off the Tarmac. We come across a diversion, the main road is blocked foe what look like like term roadworks. We bump and swerve on for kl after kl, pausing now and again to check how much further to the soapstone village. Each time it’s a couple of kl over the hill. We turn into a small village with doors open and soapstone products displayed, but no this not what we’re looking for. On we go,  about 30 minutes more of uphill, dusty, bumpy, twisting and turning and we enter the production village. What we can’t find now is the cooperative workshops and sales room, another couple of kl over the hill we’re told. So on we go until we reach a T junction, we’re told now that the cooperative has closed.

Mumbling, grumbling, do we give up or head back to the last village. Back we go, everyone out and go their separate ways. I watch men and women, sat with vats of water and emery paper polishing the pieces. Two men sat with a two handed saw cutting the soapstone into blocks, each little shack with doors hanging off was a showroom. You wander around in the gloom, looking a hundreds of pieces. I would have loved to brought back a couple of large pieces, picking up just a 50cm giraffe dissuaded me, they are so heavy, beautiful maybe, but not something to take on the plane.

I’d wandered from shack to shack, shaking hands, having people feel my beard and my skin, but all the time so impressed by the artistry of these people who start off the pieces with machetes. My choices made from three producers, bantering completed, purchase wrapped in newsprint and back to the minibus. I’m last aboard, but no problem, everyone has managed to locate something they like. Tom had set out to get a chess set including the board and had succeeded in his quest. Heading out of the village in the direction of the missing cooperative, turning right at the T junction and within 10 minutes we were back on the Tarmac road to HomaBay.  We retraced our steps for several miles until we turned off for Kisumu.

Reasonable roads, but well trafficked and still a couple of hours driving. Approaching Kisumu and Tim is now attempting to check on his phone for the hotel location. We have the address and the phone number to hand.some exchange of Kiswahili between Sam, the driver and his accomplice and w plough through the Kisumu suburbs. Making one right turn and the whole road is a vehicle repair shop, roadside in the open. I’ve never seen so many oxyacetylene sets aid out and about as in that 300 m or so. Motorbikes, cars, lorries, arctics, all types of vehicle were being worked on. On we drove, Tom and I piped up that we’d just passed a road on the right that was on the address, by the time the driver had located a space to turn, Barbara and Elaine are shouting they’ve seen a sign for the hotel off to the left. Off the Tarmac and through an industrial estate and there right at the bottom of a rutted, potholed dusty track is our hotel. Like an oasis, we piled out of the minibus, the hotel staff taking care of our cases and bags. We settled up with the driver, some emotional handshaking with Sam (he was now setting off to get the bits to fix his motorcycle) plus of course they still had to turn around and get back to Ndhiwa.

For us, check in, bags carried up to our rooms and then back downstairs to meet up with Limo, previously an environmental health field officer responsible for communicable disease outbreaks across the country, and now very involved with the EH course at the university as well as education and public health.

Gathered poolside, cold drinks and chatting all seemed well with the world. A table booked for 19:00 for dinner and I had a chance of trying out the pool. Buffet style in the restaurant, but not as we had known it latterly. A row of chafing dishes with parra fin lamps keeping everything hot. A smooth creamy pumpkin soup to start, ogali, rice, roast potatoes, shredded kale, diced lamb, spare ribs, grilled pork, salads, dips and then, cakes, fresh fruit salad and watermelon. We were spoilt by choice and all the main course food hot.

I even shared bottle of red South African Merlot Shiraz, smooth warm and a really pleasant change. Sat around after dinner poolside and our numbers are dwindling fast, Tim and I left, decision made, it’s time to call it a day, tomorrow we think we’re headed for Hippo point and possible the Impala sanctuary.

A mixture of photos from our work with WFK

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25/05/18. Politics, our work here is done

25/05/18. Politics, our work here is done

Slept in so no swimming, breakfast, fresh orange and banana, followed by sausage, Spanish omelette, fried sweet potato, potato mixed with peppers and tomatoes, brown bread and spreads. Tim appears to have gained his mastery of the coffee beans, so he is the group barista.
We’re due to meet with chief Cypriani at 10:00, and then move on to speak with education and public health officers. Group assembled we walk down into Ndhiwa arriving at the Chiefs office at 10:05 to find the door locked. Just a few minutes later and the chief walks into the compound, surprisingly in a military style complete with eppelets  embroidered, Kenyan Administration. Unlocking his office, we all follow, greetings and introductions made, we sit. Tim starts by describing how our work at the four schools was now complete, but that we had concerns about how the system would no looked after in one location. He asked that the chief try to maintain a watch to see that all the equipment was being correctly used and stored safely. He went on to add that our main concern was at Ndhiwa hospital primary, but softening this with the information that the head, having been spoken to sternly by us after our horror at the uncontrolled use of the tank water. That on our return the following day, there was a great improvement. We just wanted to ensure that the higher standards were maintained.
I pointed out that even with our concerns at this school, we had provided bench seating to the veranda of the new classroom outside of the remit of the project. Other points were raised in discussion with the chief agreeing to keep an eye on the infrastructure we had installed. Our conversation ranged from public health to politics and the unnecessary demise of the Kenyan Acorn Project (KAP), whose nursery and hospital buildings now sat empty and deteriorating. He agreed with our concerns and said he was in the process of appropriating the buildings back for community use and initially at least to reopen the nursery that at one point had an attendance of 100 children. Tom then spoke saying that he had a shopping list from Lucas, a Kenyan who has attempted to keep the nursery going in a church property. Muriel, one of the co founders of KAP had sent across the last £200 from the funds to be spent on equipment to better the education of the children. She had asked that the money be given to the chief (formerly a KAP board member) to ensure it was wisely spent, and asked for a photograph of the handover of the cash. The chief went to his cupboard, emerging with a beret and military swagger stick. Suitably attired he then accepted the cash and had his photograph taken.FD4F6E10-42D0-40CE-BEF1-204625B24AE6
We went outside and had a group photograph with the chief, moving then across to the local authority buildings to speak with the public health and education departments, ideally together.  The directors were away from the office and we ended up speaking with an asst. public health officer and a clerk from the education team. Barbara spoke of WfK wanting to develop a better working relationship with the two departments as they had in Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda, the officers nodded.she described how this current project, funded by the five volunteers present was completed and that she hoped their departments would work to ensure that the equipment was maintained. The public health officer described how they had extensive hand washing programmes across all 150 schools in the district. A shame that we had found no evidence of this in any of the four schools we had worked with.
He went on to say that his department were well aware of the poorer schools who could benefit from similar interactions. Correspondence address were exchanged as we said we would be interested in a list of the poorest schools, not promising to do anything, but just so if any funding became available in the future, we would know which schools to survey. Our discussion went on to include sanitation and the need particularly to improve the provision for older girls. This something that WfK have had experience of in other countries.
Our discussions ended, visitors books for both departments signed, we headed for the bank. Sam had arranged for a bike for me, so I disappeared off whilst the others started the walk. At the bank, the ATM rejected my card, moving next door to try a teller, I was intercepted by a staff member, who when I explained my problem looked at my Metro Bank card and said it was MasterCard and that they could not deal with this, only Visa. He suggested that I go to HomaBay.
Instead I walked across the road to the dressmakers where I had ordered two African shirts the day before. I recognised the fabric on the machine as the girl looked up and said she was not quite ready. I said no problem and sat down. One of the assistants came out and discarded old charcoal from the iron, replacing with fresh, then stood swinging the iron for 10 minutes waiting for the new charcoal to catch. A few minutes later , with a plastic water bottle, small holes made in the cap squeezes onto a blanket on the counter, she started to iron my 1st shirt. At this point I noticed the remainder of the group emerging from the bank, I said I’d be back and crossed the road to speak with the team. Everyone else had managed to obtain cash, albeit having tried several cards without success first I said I was collecting my shirts and would probably be another 15 minutes, if they wanted to go on I’d catch up.
Decision made to wait, I was followed over the road by Elaine who was looking to purchase some fabric. My first shirt now pressed I tried it on, just taking my existing shirt off, the girls trying to encourage me to the rear of the shop, where a curtain served as a changing area. By now the others had strolled over and commended me on the subtlety of my choice of fabric! Elaine found a length of fabric to suit and made her purchase. My 2nd shirt pressed and tried on, I settled my account K$3600, thanked the young ladies and joined the others roadside where a platoon of bikes were waiting for us.
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We were headed up to look at the abandoned KAP project site, part way up to Sangore. No rain for two days now, the streams are no longer running beside the track. Water still lays in the ditches, the deepest ruts in the road still have water, but for the most part, the track surface is baked hard, no longer the sliding around on the mud. The ride now was firm and decidedly bumpy. The project when we arrived was a sorry site, three excellent nursery buildings, now empty and neglected. The facia boards rotting and guttering falling away, cow oats on the floors inside. These were some of the best constructed buildings we had been in in our time in Kenya. Down then to the original community hospital property, this had suffered from neglect far more. It had started as a large family house until KAP took it over and converted it into a hospital, so much older than the nursery buildings and constructed in traditional Kenyan style, nothing like the dare of the later buildings.
The boys had waited for us and now took us back to the Resort Hotel. This is probably our last pillion ride, certainly in Ndhiwa, we settle our accounts, shake hands and off they go. For me, retire to my room, catch up on the blog, then surely it must be time for a swim. As I’ve been typing this page I’ve been listening to the rumble of thunder, this seems to have passed, so I’m off to the pool. 20 minutes of skimming the surface before I considered it suitable.  Just the hum of the generator, the chatter of the birds and the rumble of thunder disturbing the afternoon. Adam, still unwell had retired to his room, Tom back from his travels, off the the pub with Tim, the others just sitting reading on the reception veranda.
Dinner, diced beef, fried chicken, mashed potato, shredded cabbage and onion, rice, no power, no lights so difficult to determine the chicken pieces. Dinner completed we took control of missing laundry, settled accounts and returned into the reception. I had a couple of takers for Kenyan rum, the others settling for Tuskers. Rum nor as good as the Belizean, but I’ve certainly experienced worse. Sitting chatting, conversations at tangents, I’m sat tapping out the last of today’s blog and finally I’ve caught up.

24/05/18 Otange tank repair

24/05/18 Otange tank repair

Slept in this morning, put the mask on when the generator started up and didn’t wake until 07:45. No time for a swim today, shame on me, get dressed and walk down for breakfast. Sat on the veranda for just a couple of minutes with Tim and Elaine when Malaki announced that breakfast was ready. Calls to the others and we trooped into the dining room. Malaki comes out with a tray of plates, banana, avocado and mango on each one (this 1st day my phones not been in my pocket to take a picture). He follows this up a few minutes later with a plate full of sausages, another of boiled eggs and a platter of white sliced bread. Tim is in chemistry mode still attempting to produce the perfect coffee brew in one of our hand wash demonstration jugs. Much banter, swapping of fruits, Les and Adam who thoroughly dislike avocado looking for exchanges. For me avocados this ripe take me back to Mexican breakfasts at some old hut on a beach, the avocado plucked from the tree and sliced over a piece of tough beef.
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Breakfast over, arrangements have been made for Gilbert to drive us to Otange at 09:30, so back to the room to prepare for another day in a remote area of Kenya. Ominous start with Gilbert bump starting the minibus down the hotel car park slope. Tools loaded and we set off, we need some more backnuts, these apparently we can pick up in Ndhiwa. Market day in Ndhiwa, the place is packed, Sam hops out, no luck at the first hardware store. He and Tom then head off down a street filled with street traders, we’re not getting down there, arrangements made to meet up by the Coop bank. We swing around and head off, only a couple of minutes away. We’re parked up with no sight of the boys. I get out, I’ve noticed a tailors down off the roadside and head off to take a look, Gilbert in tow. Some great fabrics so I negotiate a couple being made into shirts African style.
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They’ll be ready tomorrow, deposit handed over we head back to the minibus.Tom and Sam back with us after a successful shop. Gilbert can’t now get the minibus started. We push, no luck, next thing Gilbert’s on a boda boda heading back into town, apparently for another battery. 10 minutes later and Gilbert hives into sight with a battery in his lap, another bike behind with a Fundi (professional) and his assistant . Battery swapped out ( no cable clamps, just a few strands of copper wound around the terminals) still no joy.
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The Fundi tinkers and tweaks, the assistant disappears off returning with a couple of pints of oil, some more tweaking and it almost starts. We get behind and start pushing, 100m down the road and the minibus lives. Everyone back on board and we’re off. Gilbert trying to make up for our last hour or so drives like the clappers along the Tarmac, slowing only slightly as we turn onto the dirt track. We bounce along, the track in poorer condition than our 1st journey up it, amazing how the rains and traffic transform a reasonable way into a series of potholes. Otange and Gilbert turns to drive across the ditch, no way this time, everyone out. We push Gilbert out of the mud and he drove off and we walk up the drive.
Warmly welcomed when we reach the top, Gilbert decides to stay, tools unloaded, we look at the task ahead. The tank we’ll connect to is over half full and will need to be emptied. A few words to the head and a system is in place, the smaller lads, filling our drinking water butts, larger boys caring them up the school where the larger boys hoisted them up and into the other tank. It’s good to see that there are several water butts on classroom window sills and on enquiringly the senior pupils had managed the filtration without incident.
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Patches cut for the damaged tank, Tim again headed inside the the tank having prepped it with Doom earlier. Inside and outside surfaces roughened with glass paper, patches of Tom’s magic sealing tape placed inside, the first of the postbox sized patches inserted into the hole. Bondo rubbed around the edges, Tim’s taking the pressure inside the tank, the 2nd patch is inserted, filled around with Bondo, great level finish. The support patches for inside and out are now offered back up and then six fixing holes for the bolts drilled in both. Outside patch held in position, Tim’s managed to escape from inside the tank for a few minutes, and holes drilled through the tank. Back into the tank for Tim, he’s handed his patch, washers, nuts and a pair of grips. More magic tape applied outside, nicked in line with the holes , patch put in place and the 1st bolt inserted. Tim manages to get washer and nut on and we’re away.  Trial and error, some longer bolts needed, had to cut down some that we had in the tool box, eventually the patch is secure, Bondo squeezing out with the compression.
Tim had his head out of the tank catching a breath, we relieved him of his tools and handed in the Bondo. He needed to work a seal around the edge of the patch and cover the nuts and bolts to deter rust for as long as possible. Once completed he was extricated from the tank and Tom started the same process on the outside. That done, tools moved aside the tank was rolled over and Tom drilled a 25mm hole in for the linking pipe work. Time to send Tim back in with the grips and backnuts. Sorted, he was passed the Bondo to protect the steel.
Tank repaired it was stood up and placed on the new base. Throughout this time the boys had kept going with the water transfer.. The staff had rustled up a host of 20 lt containers and the majority of the water was saved. Tom having marked up the connection point drilled another hole. It still took 20 minutes before the flow stopped, even at that stage we struggled to move the tank reckoning there were still around 300lt in there. Determination and gentle coaxing and the tank succumbed laying down onto its side, easy now to tip and allow the majority of the remaining water to flow out. Pipe prepared, Tim inserted into the tank and away we go, as a team we’re becoming quite good at this and Tim is a star as our ‘Tank Man’. Pipe tightened into place and the tank righted and lined up, a short length of hosing connects the two pipes. Job done, the school have sent out for sodas, gratefully received. Much hand shaking, thanks and requests to return again.
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Gilbert has a group of children push him down the drive, minibus started he reverses back up. Tools and people loaded we head off to Ndhiwa hospital primary to fix the last bench. It was as if we were visiting a different school, there were locks on the tank taps, water butts to each classroom and all children in lessons. The head teacher came out to welcome us as we unloaded the tools. We got the last bench out and Tom started drilling the bracket holes. No time at all and the beach was secured in position, Tom, Sam and Tim having managed without the rest of us who had been testing out the benches.
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Tools gathered, hands shook and we walk back across to the hotel. I’m changed and down into the pool, a wonderful 30 minutes. The others are around the reception, generator and wifi running.
Dinner, 18:30 chicken in a spicy sauce, diced beef, chips, rice and a hot slaw. The chicken continues to arrive in unrecognisable cuts, but non the less with a lot of bone gnawing it is consumed. Move out onto the reception veranda and later into the reception area, a few Tuskers, chat and we look for accommodation in Kisumu from Saturday night. We thought we should try and get back in the habit of readily available power, water, hot water (haven’t seen any in a bathroom for 3 weeks), wifi and recognisable cuts of meat. Opted for Pinecones Hotel, rooms booked, just need now to sort transport. Time for bed I think