The Christmas Holiday Break and Ringing in the New Year 2013
With the New Year well on its way, we hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as much as we did. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas dinner of turkey and all the fixings at home with our good friend Josephine and brought in the New Year sound asleep in our room at Brackenhurst Inn while many others enjoyed a bonfire and fireworks through the light rain.
Our break to the Missionary Bible Conference in Brackenhurst was everything we had been promised and more. The venue was beautiful with lush green grasses that we hadn’t seen for a while, beautifully manicured hedges and flowers, wonderful accommodations, a great guest speaker and incredibly good food. We were well nourished, spiritually and physically. Although it rained off and on for the four days we were there, it didn’t spoil our experience and the opportunity of meeting other missionaries from all over East Africa and many from the new South Sudan. It was great meeting so many different people and hearing their stories. The MC of the event was Paul, an Australian pastor working in Kenya and our guest
Brackenhurst Conference Centre
Beautiful grounds at Brackenhurst
speaker was Ken Mbugwa, a tall young handsome Kenyan of 31 years of age who spoke with a unique style (without any notes and straight from the bible) and with passion for his ministry. We heard him twice each day for about 45 minutes and never tired of hearing his inspirational messages. We also had the option of going to a number of different seminars on various topics including crafts, and books were available for sale in the main chapel used for the conference. After a spectacular New Year’s Day lunch on the last day, everyone got together for a group photo, said our goodbyes and then departed to either continue on their holiday break or return to their work throughout eastern Africa.
After the conference, we and Jo headed off to Nairobi. On arrival in this big modern city, we needed to go first to buy a bus ticket for Jo who was travelling the next day to meet a friend in Mwanza, Tanzania, and going from there with her to her home in Bukoba on the western shore of Lake Victoria. As it was the New Year’s holiday and the bus depot was just off the main
drag we found it easily, with Jeannie’s expert navigation skills. We stayed at the Methodist Guest House in Nairobi and after browsing a nearby mall, stopped for a bite of fish and vegetable appetizers in a cute little bar/lounge we came upon.
The following morning Jo left early to catch her bus and we stayed one more day to do some touring of the very modern upscale city of Nairobi. We first went, with some difficulty, to the Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) museum (her second home in Kenya) where we took a tour of the beautiful house and grounds and then had a delicious coffee in her coffee garden down the street. We tried to do some more investigating of Nairobi but got so frustrated with the traffic, the unorganized street layout and lack of street signs that we eventually decided to try and find our way back to the guesthouse. However on our way back we got pulled over by a local policeman for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Oops! Jeannie, being the navigator and cause of the problem, pleaded our case of being new to the city and using 3 maps to try
Tea at Brackenhurst
and maneuver through the scarcely signed maze of winding and interconnected streets. After much groveling, he finally decided to let us go with a stern warning. That was enough of beautiful Nairobi for us.
That night we were forced to go out again but went to a very nice local mall (close by) where Rob had a wonderful fish and chip dinner and Jeannie had salmon. Well, the next morning Rob had the white-fish-two-step so bad he thought he was going to die….. and we had to leave for Tanzania, as our 7-day visa was expiring that day. So after waiting a few hours for Rob to settle down, Jeannie had to drive and navigate out of the city, which was quite a challenge with the only other possible navigator moaning on the seat beside her.
Before we actually got out of the city, we decided to stop for gas and washrooms, because who knows where the next one will be. The good thing about washrooms in Nairobi, is that they are western style, however this ladies washroom had a broken lock, and Jeannie was unable to extricate herself from the tiny cell. After many attempts to make
Great food at conference
the lock open from the inside with the rusty old key, she began to yell and holler to whoever could hear. By this time Rob was back in the car lying down well around the corner and oblivious to the fact that his driver was imprisoned in the ladies room. Eventually she heard voices in Kiswahili yelling back, and figured out they wanted her to push the key under the door. This was not easy as the space was small and the key ring large, but she managed to push it through at the corner and voila, her rescuers were able to make the key work from the outside - just in time too, panic was beginning to set in.
After Jeannie settled down, we got back on the road and while Rob recuperated, sleeping most of the way we continued our sojourn south to the border and onto Moshi. It was about an eight hour drive and Jeannie drove straight through without a break, except at the border. Rob was impressed (Jeannie doesn’t know why) and he got better in a couple days thanks to some good drugs Jeannie always carries on these trips. And so we were
Ken Paul Josephine
Preacher leader friend
able to continue our holiday.
We stayed in Moshi for two days, one for Rob to recover and one to tour some coffee plantations, eat at some coffee-plantation restaurants and take a trip to the national park at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Rob would love to climb Kili, but for the thought of sleeping in a cold tent at the snow-covered top. After touring Moshi and Rob fully recovered, we departed for more R&R in Karatu, a town near Lake Manyara. Here we stayed at the Country Lodge; a lovely enclave of white semi-detached bungalows nestled near the foot of the Ngorongor Crater and filled with a smorgasbord of colourful flowering trees and hedges and arbors surrounding the cool blue swimming pool. One of the owners is a professional chef who serves fabulous food in a formal/informal setting. It was a great place to relax before returning to MTC and preparing for our last term of school.
On the first day there we visited Lake Manyara National Park. This park was a thick jungle of tall trees and bushes, so different from the other parks we’ve visited. Here we would have the possibility of seeing lions in
Group photo from Brackenhurst
trees (unique to this park with so many trees) – but alas, none were seen (by us anyway). Our chef Reggie had us excited at this prospect as he and his daughter had seen five of them in trees just two days before we arrived. Lake Manyara is very big and one of the few lakes that is home to thousands of migrating flamingos, which we couldn’t get very close to and so not very good photos. Near the lake there was a small hippo pool filled with dozens of very large hippos – some sleeping, while others were fighting over territory. While driving through the last part of the park in our little Rav 4, hoping to get to the hot springs and the tree top lodge, the road was getting narrower and the trees were getting thicker and the other safari vehicles had disappeared. We drove quite slowly until we came across a huge rogue bull elephant in the middle of the road facing us and flapping his ears, and so we made a good choice to stop about 50 yards away and wait for him to move on. After waiting a few minutes and getting more anxious,
we decided we didn’t want to go any further and possibly run into more of his kind. We weren’t sure how he felt about ownership of the road and we were in no position to argue. So as the road was too narrow to turn around, even for our tight turn Rav4, we began driving backward looking for a place to do that. When we got turned around, however, and headed back, we ran into three more rogue bulls, one at a time, that weren’t there when we came. We had no choice but to carry on back to the main gate. So each time, we waited patiently for the elephant to disappear into the jungle, and after a minute or so, when we felt it was safe, slowly forged ahead. This was so unsettling that Jeannie with our tablet on her lap ready to take pictures never got one shot. We did get out safely though.
On our second day at Karatu we visited Gibbs Farm, a working 40 acre coffee plantation with an amazing 10 acre vegetable garden they use for their guests. When we asked to see the farm, a young friendly gentleman said he would
Karen Blixen Coffee
Coffee at restaurant
give us the 10 cent tour (no charge). We were very pleased to get more than our money’s worth. Our first stop was one of the luxurious cabins. This lovely cottage had two double beds, twin counter-bowl sinks, indoor and an outdoor shower, and private patio overlooking the plantation below. Our guide said all cabins are the same – accommodation only for the rich and famous. He then took us around the coffee plantation and explained how the coffee is grown and processed on site – very interesting. He also took us round the whole ten acres of vegetable gardens where they grow everything from herbs, to strawberries to artichokes. They also have tomato trees and he picked three for us to eat – delicious. We concluded the tour with an excellent cup of coffee on a decorative private patio overlook the plantation below. One of the problems they encounter with their gardens is the migration of elephants and buffalo from Ngorongoro Crater to Lake Manyara. The buffaloes are okay as they follow the fence line and pass by the gardens, but the fence is only a minor deterent for the elephants. If they remember the sweet taste in these
gardens from past migrations, the fence is a mere stepping stone. The only way they can deter them is by lighting fires, if they catch them in time. It’s a little different from our problems of rabbits and deer eh!
From Karatu, we took our time driving back in two easy days. Upon our return, we found a very different Msalato. Everything is green and lush with the December and January rains. However as nice as it is to see everything so green, everything is also overgrown, without our students to keep it in shape. So we have hired a nice young local fellow we know to hoe away the grasses around our house, and though it is really hard work, he is doing an amazing job. He has a hair-cutting shop not far from us that we pass on our walks and which is not doing as well as he would like, so he is happy to have some extra work to supplement his income, at least while the students are away.
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