Tag Archives: Kenya

Airports and Poland

I officially do not like flying. It has lost all it’s charm. If you think about it, it should be charming to be in the air viewing the world spread out beneath you like a living road map. But have you ever noticed that once you look at enough road maps they all start to look the same?

Oh and just for the record I wrote a post in the Amsterdam airport and just as I was about to post it my computer shut off and when I turned it on and tried the re-post it I discovered that only four and a half words had been auto-saved.

“I am tired of fly.”

That’s all it said. I think the title was longer than the post.

Mostly, the whole trip I was tired and I felt weird.

Brothers are nice things to have around when you are tired.

We had a long flight to Amsterdam and a short flight from there to Poland. The next leg of our trip is Poland, where my Aunt and Uncle and cousins live.

Poland is quite different from Kenya.

We had one adventure in Amsterdam before we got to Poland. It was this: Jenny and I struggled to pour a giant teapot.

I got to Poland, went to my Aunt and Uncles house, ate a snack, took a bath, and went to bed about 3:00 in the afternoon. It was going to be a nap, you know.

After a while I was very confused because there was a person in the bed and someone was re-arranging my pillows and I wasn’t exactly sure where I was. Amy said, “I am going to bed now. Go back to sleep, it is okay.”

I went back to sleep.

In the morning Amy told me that she had tried to wake me up for supper. She turned on the light and I woke up but I was all confused. She had to explain to me where we were and how we had gotten here and that it was time to eat.

I said, “can I go back to sleep?”

Amy said I could and left.

This is all her story. I have absolutely no memory of it.

Now, I will tell you about Poland. Poland is special because it has cute cars.

Okay so that van isn’t really cute but it is interesting. My uncle and his family call it the pickle van.

Q. What would happen if we were all trapped in the van and the doors wouldn’t open?

A. We’d be in a pickle!

That car, however, is cute.

Another cute car.

Also, a man with a cute hat climbing into it.

Also, the picture is blurry because the lens was foggy because it was COLD.

I took that picture with my sister’s camera. Every other picture you will see in this post was taken by my sister Amy. That explains why every picture in this post is really amazing and beautiful except the one above which is blurry and not centered well.

I cannot get enough of cute cars. Why are American cars so ugly????

Behind that car you will see the market which we went to today. It was cold. You can tell it was cold because of the snow.

Look at that shirt I am checking out. Isn’t it cute? Also, how the bunnyslipper am I supposed to try it on without freezing to death?

In Kenya I would have just slipped it on over my t-shirt.

In Kenya they would have said, “it fits, it looks beautiful on you!” Even if it didn’t fit and looked ugly on me.

In Poland they have different sizes if you need a different size.

In Kenya as soon as they see my white face they treat me like I am VERY special and also willing to buy a boatload of stuff.

In Poland I’m not special, I’m just the weird-o wearing the wrong shoes.

How to fit in in Poland:

1. Wear trendy boots. NEVER tennis shoes.

2. Wear a long elegant coat.

3. Wear dark muted colors.

I love the Polish styles although I would personally add a bit more color. I was very tempted to buy out the shops except for the fact that I am not terribly rich, and also, it was way too cold to try anything on except for scarves and hats.

I did, however, buy a gray sweater.

I have wanted a gray sweater for a long time. I bought this one, braving the freezing cold in order to try it  on. It cost me $12 and is 20% cashmere. Also, brand new with no pilly stuff or rips or stains. I think that is a pretty good deal.

Mom and Aunt Laura kept saying, “Only Emily could wear that. Who else has no hips and can pull of dramatic pieces clothes?”

Not in those exact words. But you get the idea.

I am not sure what we are doing tomorrow but I am sure it will be exciting.

Stay tuned.

A few parting snaps

We are leaving

I will miss you, tea

I will miss you, little frogs

I will miss you, my elephant true love

I will miss you, random man selling ties on the street.

He was excited when I took a picture of him. Then he said, “where are you from?”

“America,” I replied.

“Show that picture to Obama!” he said.

I will miss you, Kenya.

The Dangers of Slight Miscommunications

The last agenda for the trip was to see cool animals. Enough with people and shopping.

Now before I go further, I will say that except for a short layover in Nairobi, the capital city, all our time in Kenya has been in Kisumu. That is the town where Steven grew up and also the place where we lived for three months when I was thirteen.

It is on the shores of Lake Victoria which is a very big lake.

The Monday Morning Agenda was to go on a boat on lake Victoria and see hippos. After that we were going to take off for a game park, where we would spend a couple days before heading back to the airport.

Now, I have a confession to make: I am scared of hippos.

No those are not real giraffes in the background, but those ARE real hippo heads poking out of the water.

A few facts about hippos:

  1. They can snap a crocodile in half with one bite.
  2. They can swim 30 mph.
  3. They are the second biggest killers in Kenya. (The first is mosquitoes.)
  4. If a hippo got mad at us, we would be dead.

This is what our boat looked like. Cute. Also, easy for angry hippos to tip over.

Still. I was not going to let my fear of hippos ruin my trip.

First we saw a small group of hippos. That wasn’t too bad. But then, wonder of wonders, we saw a BIG group of hippos.

Those black dots are hippos. They kept ducking under the water. And then re-appearing. I was all ready for one of them to pop up under the boat and tip it over.

And then, the engine on the boat died.

No, I am NOT KIDDING. There we were, drifting towards the scariest animals on the planet, and the engine would not start. Our boat driver pulled and pulled and pulled the cord. It would not start.

Did I mention that we were drifting TOWARDS that HUGE group of HIPPOS???

Yes I was scared. Yes I was pretty certain that I might die. But I didn’t. Because the guy at the front of the boat grabbed a pole from the top and began, very slowly, taking us back.

When we were a safe distance from the hippos I mentioned how scared I had been. That was a bad idea. Jenny and Steven found it beyond hilarious to say “look there’s a hippo!” and try to scare me.


We got back an hour later than planned, packed up our stuff, and headed off on the bumpy Kenyan roads. We stopped and bought soda in glass bottles to drink on the way.

Here is where the slight miscommunication came in: Mom had told Dad that she had brought plastic cups along. She was planning to use the cups when we were at our little cabin in the game park. Instead, Dad thought they were for using on the road when we ate our lunch.

Therefore, he bought big huge bottles of pop instead of little individual soda bottles.

Let me just say that I was the one holding the cups while Dad tried to pour orange soda into them.

Also, the roads were VERY bad and we bounced all over the place.

So did the soda.

That evening we arrived at the game park and saw lots of animals before it got dark.

We stayed in a very cute cabin thing with animals outside our windows and cool stuff like that. There was one problem. We were informed by the lady who worked there that there was a big mouse problem.

I saw a mouse. I screamed.

The bedroom that the girls stayed in had one enormous bed and one normal sized bed. Jenny and I stayed in the big bed, and Amy got the normal bed.

In the middle of the night I heard a very annoyed Amy say, “go away and leave me alone!”

I asked if she was okay. She said, “Is there room in your bed for me to crawl in with you?”

Jenny and I scooted over and the three of us kept each other safe from the mice.

A mouse, by the way, had bit her finger. Or it could have been a rat. Because in the morning we found a dead rat on the floor, which Ben apparently stepped on and killed in the night without even realizing it.


Yes, I screamed when I saw that.

The pen in the picture is for size comparison.

Before you feel too sorry for me I will add that in the morning Mom and I sat on the huge bed and drank tea and watched zebras and monkeys and impalas and cape buffalo out of the bedroom window. That, in my humble opinion, is the ideal way  to observe Kenyan wildlife. It sure beats bouncing around in a van while dust gets up your nose and in your eyes.

Kenya is such an odd mix of classy and crude. I will never tire of being called a lady and drinking tea all the time and having someone help me put my life jacket on.

The Days Wind Down



Nice things to have

Even if you are leaving soon

Like, tomorrow morning

(I don’t know why I look upset in all of those pictures. In reality I am a very happy person.)

All photo credits go to Sammy Ihaji. He is the guy on the far right in the first picture, wearing the red shirt.

He put the pictures on facebook. I don’t have mom’s camera with me, so facebook is all I’ve got for pictures at this point.

The nice thing about leaving friends so often is that there is still facebook.

And email.

My blog has been going really….I don’t know what the word is. Crazy perhaps? I was getting over 1000 hits a day and blogging regularly about Kenya and feeling sort of on top of the world. But I think the high may end soon, as I only got 700 or so hits yesterday.

Today I went to church, saw cute kids, and….slept! I haven’t been able to nap since I’ve gotten here. Today was the day.

Tomorrow we will see cool Kenyan animals. Real ones. Not carved ones with people begging you to buy them.

What Kenya Looks Like

The difference between Kenya and America is that in Kenya there is not so much distinction between indoors and outdoors.

You walk right into the mall from the street, without opening any doors.

(They don’t call it a mall. They call it a Nakumatt complex. But it is basically a mall.)

I was so amazed by this “indoors is outdoors” thing that I had to take pictures for my blog. Soon a security guard came up to me, and started explaining that I was not supposed to take pictures there.

“When you take a pictcha, it is like you are breaking the law,” he said.

“Oh. Well, should I delete these pictures that I took?” I began fiddling with my camera.

“No, no, do not delete them! Take a pictcha of me!”

“You want me to take a picture of you?”

“Ya, ya,take a pictcha of me!”

I took a picture of him.

We walked along looking at the street vendors. They are all lined up along the sidewalks. You can’t miss them.

I bought myself some shoes. I thought they were beautiful, all fairy spun and cobwebby looking. And they fit me perfectly.

They cost me 250 shillings. Later, one of the Into Africa boys told me that they were only worth 100 shillings, but they had cheated me because I was white.


(Btw, 80 shillings = 1 dollar.)

Still, they told me they were REAL KENYAN SHOES so that cheered me up somewhat.

This is a big chic looking building.

This is a butcher shop across the street from the big chic looking building.

This is a brightly painted truck.

I could entertain myself all day by walking around and reading the signs.

That is what I did this morning. I ran around snapping pictures, trying to create a picture of what Kenya looks like.

Really I was mostly taking pictures of signs.

Kenya has amazing signs.

That is not a sign. That is pure Kenyan beauty and also old cars.

That is how I spent the morning. Shopping with my mom and sisters, buying shoes, and taking lots of snaps, trying to create a picture of what Kenya is like.

In the afternoon we went out to lunch with all the Into Africa boys.

When we went to Kenya the first time, Into Africa was a somewhat-thriving organization, taking street boys and giving them clothes, food, and a place to stay.

That is where we found Steven.

Now there are fewer boys. Some of them we remembered, some of them were new. They were all so friendly and we had a jolly old time.

I felt strange. In one afternoon I had become better friends with the Into Africa boys than I had during the entire three months I lived in Kenya when I was thirteen.

When I was thirteen.

I am glad I am no longer thirteen. Being thirteen is tough. It is harder to make friends.

I have no pictures of the Into Africa boys because by that time of the day I was sick of taking pictures and my mom’s camera battery was almost dead.