There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Build.Create.Kenya.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Build.Create.Kenya.. Show all posts

11 February 2016

Polaroids

We've all heard the stories about how some cultures believe that a photo steals a person's soul.

Whilst traveling in and around the various slums outside Nairobi, Kenya, I found quite the opposite to be true. Taking Polaroid pictures that I could watch develop in front of the eyes of the subject and then leave the picture with them opened up a deep and profound connection.
It may not have been much, but I like to think that these Polaroids are being held tightly in little one's backpacks, under their pillow, or on their bedroom wall.

I hope that they continue to inspire hope for a brighter future, a will to continue their education and dream big for the life they want to have.
For the children of Kenya, I hope our memory board we made for you will remind you that you can achieve anything.
Never give up hope. You will always have people that believe in you.

14 October 2015

Mai Mahiu & the Great Rift

There were only four of us left on our last Sunday in Kenya, and only one that hadn't been to see the Great Rift Valley before. We call Isaac ask if he'll drive us out there.

"No problem."
We stop to have lunch at a little Indian place, Isaac's first time trying Indian food. He wasn't a fan of the curry or spice, but enjoyed the dry chicken. We continue on....
As we take in the views, I remember the smallest church in Kenya is just a few clicks down the road.

"Can we go see it please?"

Mai Mahiu is the smallest Catholic church in Kenya, and one of the smallest in the world, holding a maximum of twelve people.
Built in 1942 by Italian Prisoners of War, it is a place shrouded in mystery and a rich history. Legend has it that a clock can be heard ticking but it's existence can't be found. Supposedly the Italians hid jewelry, rings, etc...within the walls.

Christians and Hindu's are both allowed to worship here, but Muslims can only visit.
It only took a few minutes to visit. As we were walking out, a young mother with her child was outside, walking home from a day of working. We chatted for a minute as the child got used to seeing our white skin.

Another beautiful moment in my beloved Kenya.


18 September 2015

Walking with Lions

Our small group starts walking quietly down the dirt path with our Zambian guides, in nervous apprehension. The King of the jungle, several kings to be exact, are lying in wait for our arrival.

Curious heads rise as we approach, and I look into the eyes of the great lions, and the stark realization of my place in the animal kingdom is known.
We are taught the proper way to approach them so we don't startle or spook the lions. Our hands slowly touch their soft fur, feel their strong muscles, their lungs breathing, the purring of contentment as we scratch their underbellies.
It then becomes time to go for a walk. These lions need no leash, and most likely wouldn't tolerate one anyway. We are in their land, guests in their environment, and we walk beside and behind them as we venture into the Zambian bush.
 
Probably my highlight of this experience was holding the lions tail as we walked, and brushing it up against my cheek.

Even as I am typing I still can barely fathom what I did....
as I went walking with the lions of Africa.



09 May 2015

Let's plaster, Kenyan style!

The loads of sand are shoveled off the lorry into the street outside of the Vessel of Hope school in Kenya that we are working on improving.

We then bring the sand inside, bucket by bucket, where we can then mix it with water from the river and start the process of plastering classrooms so that they can be painted and become a more suitable environment for the students to learn.
Learning how to plaster "Kenyan style" is it's own unique art form. You mix then flick the wet sand up onto the walls and ceiling. You smooth and pound the mixture into the dirt to make a floor.

You endlessly pound the stone walls to break apart what has deteriorated so that a newer, better foundation can be put into place.
As one volunteer put it... "It's incredible, amazing! How the Kenyans take what little resources they have and turn it into something lasting and new. I'm so grateful to be able to help!"
I couldn't have summed it up better myself. Their is nothing quite like being covered in dirt and beaming with the joy of accomplishing something for the greater good.
*****


08 May 2015

Quad ridin' in the Zambian bush

If you find yourself in Zambia, and have had your fill of Safari's and gorgeous waterfalls, try going four wheeling through the bush. It may just be one of your favorite unexpected adventures.
Let the dust fly as you race around century old Baobab trees, keeping an eye out for animals that may just be around the corner.

Let the late afternoon African sun drench your face in warmth as you marvel at the scenic beauty.
Stop in a local village to meet the students of a school. Hang out with them and learn about their studies, family and country.
When you need a break, enjoy the best Orange Fanta you have ever tasted in your entire life, and marvel in the experience.
Yeah, if you are looking for something a little different, you should certainly try some quad ridin' in the bush.

07 May 2015

Land of the Giants

The safari jeep rolls down the dusty road, thick trees surround us as we go. All eyes are wide open searching for signs of wildlife in the Chobe, none of us really knowing what to expect.

We emerge from the thicket of trees close to the mighty river. For a moment I think I'm seeing a mirage through the leaves.
I'll never forget the sound of the mighty and graceful elephants walking along the river's edge. Witnessing the family dynamics of the herd ; Father's showing dominance through size and strength, Mother's protecting their young. You can see into their eyes and know they are thinking about you, just as curious about us as we are them. It's an epic feeling.
Giraffes here bend in the most curious of ways to forage for food. I've never seen this type of flexibility before. It shows just how nimble and amazing these creatures are, and how adaptable to their environment. Nature surely is a wonder to behold.
You can say it a million times and it never gets old or untrue, the skies of Africa are unlike anywhere else on the planet. Everything is bigger, more open and wild.
As this may have been my last African safari for quite awhile, I treasure the people I shared the experience with even deeper. True bonds of friendship that were formed, unbreakable memories I hold dear.
My love for the Motherland will never fade.

26 April 2015

The Chobe river safari

Early in the morning we pile into the van in Zambia, but there isn't a tired eye among us. For today we are driving to the Chobe National Park in Botswana. The anticipation in the faces of those about to embark on their first African safari is high. For me too, as this will be my first time in Botswana, and my first time experiencing a safari from the water.
The Chobe river divides Zambia from Botswana. Passport control is a little building on the side of the river, and we are quickly and happily stamped into a new country. We put away our passports and board a small skiff to transport us across the river as the sun begins to rise.
Just like that, we are in Botswana. We laugh at the huge family of monkeys that are frolicking among the great semi trucks waiting at the border crossing to go back to Zambia. Soon our Safari jeeps arrive and take us to the drop off point. We board our boats and start down the river, the great blue sky above us and nature's jungle all around.
After a short while, we come close to the shore, tall marsh reeds hiding what may be beyond. Our guide lets us know that we are on the shores of Namibia, home to some of Africa's biggest elephants. As if on queue as we slowly make our way through the reeds to the shore, the sun is blocked out by an enormous shadow....
Our first glimpse of the mighty African elephant is an epic one, and everyone's adrenaline is pumped. Moving on down the river, incredibly we come across a python. It is hard for me to spot at first, as the natural color of the snake blends so well into the environment, but once spotted, I can't take my eyes off of it.
Herds of hippo are active this morning. Toted as one of Africa's most dangerous animals, I've usually only enjoyed watching these great creatures in the water, thus only seeing their eyes, ears, and backs. Today though they were on all fours on the shoreline, giving us all a full view.

Marks are covering the sides of many of them, and our guide lets us know that this is from the males fighting for breeding rights.
Crocodiles, so still that they seem to be placed there for our enjoyment, and not real creatures that can crush out our life existence with one ferocious bite of their mighty jaws.

It's been a few hours by now, and between my morning coffee and the water on the boat to keep me hydrated, the urge to relieve myself is strong. It was even stronger for those with me that were enjoying morning beers. After a few requests for a bathroom break, our guide surveys the shores and seems to find a spot that doesn't have crocodiles, hippos, or any other animals that are too close to enjoy us as a snack.

It was a surreal rush taking a leak in the Chobe!

It's almost noon, so we head back to have lunch before embarking on our land safari in the afternoon. I wonder....

can it get any better than this morning? Yet I know that in Africa, one is always constantly amazed and surprised with the wild beauty that presents itself.


15 March 2015

My butterflies

You are the most beautiful thing 
I've ever seen 
You shine just like sunlight rays 
On a winter snow 
I just had to tell you so 
Your eyes sparkle as the stars 
Like the moon they glow 
Your smile could light the world on fire 
Or did you know ? 






Your mind's full of everything 
That I want to know 
I just had to let you know 
I just had to tell you so 
You're my butterfly 
Fly high 
Fly fly fly













I'm so proud of my girl Jane that will be graduating this year, and for my boy Joseph that is continuing to study hard. My thoughts are always with you.

20 December 2014

a moment to myself in Zambia

All the hard work in Nairobi...

Running an expedition team, building a school, unconditionally giving every last piece of myself for what I hope to be the greater good.

Exhausting.

All of the adventures in Zambia..

I needed a moment to myself. I find a path beyond the Chrismar hotel rooms that leads to unfinished construction on the edge of the Zambezi jungle. I climb the wooden planks to the highest point and sit on a concrete slab.

The sun is wrestling with the clouds to let rays of it's light reach the earth. A lake glistens between the tall grasses.
I take a moment to myself in Zambia...


19 December 2014

New Beginnings

I precariously step from rock to rock, trying to avoid the flow of raw sewage seemingly everywhere. A place most wouldn't dream of going, but amongst the horrid smells and visually painful sights around you is a hidden gem.
The New Beginnings Education Centre.

Build.Create.Kenya's In-country director, Justus Munyoki, is a powerhouse figure in the slum communities of Nairobi. He tirelessly is working to improve the lives of his fellow Kenyans. One such effort was in starting this school, by himself, in an area that was in desperate need of hope.

As BCK took our 2014 expedition team inside the school to see Justus's challenges, we are bombarded with smiles, singing and dancing. In fact, the students and teachers are rejoicing in the fact that we have come.

It's as though they are glad that someone recognizes them as people, and not just more discarded litter.
The songs the children sing sound more like church hymns from a joyous choir, sung with such infectious enthusiasm. Music truly has the power to uplift the downtrodden soul. BCK recognizes the power of music ourselves, and one of our goals is to incorporate music programs into the schools we try to support.

After the children were finished, Pauline and I decide, very impromptu, to give back to New Beginnings with our own song. I pull out a couple of harmonica's that I brought for the school, and we start to play. I'm not sure how it sounded, but it felt fantastic.

From the laughter of the children, the tears of joy on the team members, and the gratitude on the faces of the teachers, I'd say it went well.

We left some harmonica's and educational supplies with the school, said our goodbyes, and headed back to our rooms for the evening.

Just another day in Nairobi with Build.Create.Kenya.

30 November 2014

Victoria Falls (part 3 - The Boiling Pot)

After drying out in the sun and sitting down for a moment to let the adrenaline wear off, four of us decide to do the final hike at Victoria Falls, the Boiling Pot trail.
A little over a mile down to the Zambezi river, we each take solace in the lush jungle and stirring creatures within as we make our way down.
Slow moving streams from the Falls mighty mist run underfoot as baboons carrying their young scamper past us. Sunlight shines through forest vines, illuminating the spirit within.
One by one, we find our own rock to sit on, gazing up to our left at the bridge we bungee jumped off earlier, with the mist coming in from the right like steam rolling off a sauna and into the air. It covers our skin, cooling us off.

A perfectly peaceful ending to our day.
******

27 November 2014

Victoria Falls (part 2- the smoke that thunders)

"Dr. Livingstone I presume?"
As we make our way past the iconic statue of the first European that discovered this area of the Dark Continent and to the small stand that is renting rain ponchos, I succumb to the Spiritual presence as I slip the rain slicker over my head.

"God is washing away my past wrongs...."
The perfectly blue sky disappears from overhead as the "smoke that thunders" envelops us. Torrential rain pours down from the heavens, washing away all inhibitions, sins, misgivings and wrongdoings.

To coin a religious phrase, you become baptized by the rains of Victoria Falls.
I scream with the new found freedom of a fresh start, yet the deafening roar allows none to hear my shout. None except the creator of this place. I kneel and touch the mighty Earth in the river that is flowing down the walking path.
A bridge appears in the mist, connecting you across the might gorge. The rain is heavier here and the bridge sways with the force of the Falls. Death can sweep me over the side willingly, I am more alive in this very spot than in all my prior moments of living.
A double rainbow appears as I make my way to the other side. A confirmation from Nature that she is always looking out for us mere humans as we witness her grand splendor.
I write this story on our American Day of Thanks, and that seems appropriate to me. I am so very thankful to have shared this amazing experience with five incredible people, creating a lasting bond that will stay with me always. I found a cleansing power in Nature unlike any previous encounter, and one that will be hard pressed to surpass.

I found a new start under the rains of Victoria Falls.

19 November 2014

Victoria Falls ( part 1 - our arrival)

As we got closer to our destination, the electricity in the air was causing goosebumps to form and tiny hair to stand on end. The mist from the Falls was mesmerizing in the blue Zambian sky.

We exit our taxi and walk up to the sign greeting those visitors to the Falls. One by one, baboons come out of the bushes and trees to meet the newcomers.
Only in Africa.....but the baboons are for another story. It was time to explore "the smoke that thunders..."

We started by walking along a trail head that would give one a broad view of the Falls, the canyon and the bridge connecting Zambia to Zimbabwe. The deep canyon walls, covered in rainforest growth, are spectacular.
We can hear the water pounding more than we can see it from our current vantage point. This soon will change though as we make our way back to the heart of Victoria Falls for one unbelievably spiritual and uplifting experience......