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Students. Universities. Life… in Kenya

24 Sep

Travelling can open ones eyes. I love seeing new places. It can be beautiful, stretching, humbling, heartbreaking.

Travelling from Nai through riftvalley to Eldoret:

Drought her, cutting trees there. desperate traders here, street building there. Bright sun, this special kenyan green, blue sky.

5 days at moi university:

Hospitality, live wires, lights off, shower, rain, muddy, hygiene, bathrooms, 800 beds missing, internet, humiliating, no power sockets, sharing beds, friendship, strike, authority, business in rooms, village, 10to10 rule, students life…

Thanks a lot to the moi eb! Chep and main, i know both will rock and we have a fantastic year ahead. stano, perris, dun, mac, kuks, julie, siro, abraham and100 more… i definitely had fun:-) and remember, i am walking behind you!

Update:

The strikes about the matatu prices have found one victim. So the senate of Moi University decided to close down Main Campus until further notice. The students were told to leave yesterday, most of them left their things in the hostels though. My friends are physically ok, some of them left town. Others are still around and trying to see what the next steps will be.

Leaving town? Another three months break after having returned to campus only some weeks ago?

This is the third public university who closed down due to riots this year!

Is this really about Matatu Prices?

Another nice article about students in Kenya

Coool videos

20 Jul

Valentina from Italy made two videos after her stay in Kenya…

Nice 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk-qqtOkXrY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kIdjtPmKa4

A wonderful start in Kenya

12 May

After only eight hours of flight (7 of them sleeping on three seats) I arrived in Mombasa. Getting out of the plane I was hit by the heat already: 30 Degrees at 5am! 5 visa counters were open (Note: In Mombasa arriving foreigners are treated better than in Nairobi?), the customs officer was still sleepy and therefore only ten minutes later I left the airport. Short negotiations with the taxi driver and I arrived in town before sunrise.

Zazu, a romanian intern working at the coast, picked me up in town and we went to his place. He was able to get a day off and after Chapati Mayai and Passion Juice as breakfast we left to Diani Beach.

As it is the rainy season (it was pretty dry for that name) the beach was deserted (even more than in October) and we just enjoyed ourselves with a cold Tusker, fruits and jokes on the beach for the whole day. When the tide came in in the evening we were swimming and floating in the really warm water for at least an hour watching the sunset behind the palm trees.

Wow, what a start!

Finally and hesitatingly we went back to Mombasa, where I was invited for dinner by Zazu’s colleagues.

Then after a more bumpy than nice bus trip (will they never tarmac the last piece of the road?) to Nairobi I was invited for breakfast at a friend’s place (cooking inside a dorm room in the student hostel…). Then I did some errands in town and finally was able to get my old number back!

Next steps: Saying hello to moooore people, an agenda dryrun for the conference in the evening, moving in at my hostfamily, last preparations for the conference that starts on Thursday.

And then I am out of town for 4 days with all the responsible students from local and national level. Around 80 of us preparing and planning for our year! One year and seven weeks to be precise.

Gotta go, lunch is waiting for me! (“Lazima ninaenda, lunch ananingoja”, at least I think so…)

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Last week – Coast

31 Oct

Of course I couldn´t leave Kenya without travelling to the coast!

So we took a night bus on Friday to Mombasa, then Matatus to the South Coast and found a nice place to stay in Diani Beach. We relaxed some days, it was amazing: Chapati & fruits at the beach, chilling at the beach, walks around the beach. The unemployment in the area is rampant. There are more beachboys (locals who want to offer services or sell goods) than tourists. Because of the post-election violence in January and February a lot of travelling agencies from Europe took Kenya out of the programme for 2008.

You can order clothes, jewellery or food and within hours it will be specially manufactured for you and delivered on the beach. I even had my private kiswahili teacher over there 😉

When I say beach, i mean BEACH. The warm blue and green water, white sands, shells… wow!

We met two travellers from France which whom we spend some time. Visiting Mombasa itself was interesting: The town is soooo different from the westernised Nairobi! Strong Arabic and Indian influence in the old town, beautiful scenery at the coast. It was my first time to the Indian Ocean and definitely not the last one. So much to see there

And now please enjoy the pics, as promised!

Last week but 2 – Mt. Kenya

18 Oct

On Saturday Benjamin arrived for my last three weeks. Three weeks only… And sooo much to see and to do. So many people to meet… Wow.

First we visited Mukuru together and gave some presents from Germany to the kids. (Picture 1, the rest is from Mt. Kenya)
The last four days we spent in the mountains in Central Kenya.  A friend at university had recommended us a guide to take us to the third highest peak of Mt. Kenya, the Point Lenana. We had our hiking shoes and some warm clothes and left Nairobi Tuesday morning. In Nanyuki we met our guide, the cook and the porter. Because the air gets pretty thin up there it is not a good idea for unsportive europeans to carry the luggage on their own 😉 The first day we hiked for 4 hours then arrived at Old Moses Camp (3300m) were we spend the night. On the second day we walked up to Shiptons Camp (4200m). Our guide told us a lot about the changing vegetation and the birds around. Always a good excuse to stop for some minutes to breath a bit 😉
On Thursday morning we left the camp at 3am (yes, AM) to reach the summit at sunrise. We had torches, but we were very lucky. It was full moon and it was a very clear night, so we didn´t need them at all. We climbed the last 700 meters (through snow and ice) and reached the Kenyan flag on the top (4985m) just around 6pm. An amazing experience and a wonderful view!!
I am sure you want to see pics… Later, we haven´t transferred them from the (second) camera yet.

Then we walked back to Old Moses (21 km in a day, 700 m up and 1700 down…) where we just fell asleep immediately 🙂

Friday we arrived back in the dusty and loud Nairobi and had nearly a culture shock in the traffic jam on Thika Road 😉

Short rains ;)

8 Oct

Did I mention the good weather?? tsts… Didn´t last long. The so-called short rains started. Meaning that it will rain for a month now and it cooled down to 17-20°C again… This Climate is just interesting.

I just wanted to say that my last week (at least of working) has come. There are still a lot of things to do, we will see how the week works out. After that I will travel to central Kenya and the coast for a week each and say good bye to everyone.

I just upload you some of the pics of the last weeks… invited for lunch in the slum, meeting friends at the uni, teaching in the secondary school, eating sugarcane, swimming at a semi-sunny but hot day, hiking at Ngong Hills and at a Hip-Hop concert…

East African Leadership Development Conference 2008

19 Aug

Yes, I am still alive. Just returned from an amazing AIESEC conference, it was LIKE NO OTHER! 😉

It took place in Nanyuki, so we crossed the equator, which was fun. Had some trouble with the cold climate in the mountains, but hope to recover soon. Find some pictures below and look on facebook for more.

Map of Kenya

31 Jul

Ich hab da mal was vorbereitet… yes, I had a little spare time 😉

3-day camping safari to Masai Mara

21 Jul

The Masai Mara is the Kenyan part of the Serengeti (Tansania). In Juli and August a huge amount of animals migrates from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, which is really spectacular when the zebras and wildebeest cross the river (crocodiles are always hungry…) and just walk in kilometer long lines through the steppe.

In Nairobi you can book the typical 3-day Masai Mara safari for around 200 Euros per person. That includes
– transfer from Nairobi (350 km = 6 hours) and vice versa (you can upgrade to a flight for around 150 Euros per way)
– 2 nights in 2-bed-tents in a camp that sustained by original (??) Masai (upgrade to 5-star-lodge for 70 Euros per day)
– 3 meals a day
– guide and driver on approx. 14 hours Safaris (including early morning and evening drive which is when most animals can be spotted)
– entrance fees to the National Park.

Three of us were interested in going and we talked to Jimmie, a local, who had organized safaris for other trainees before. After some phone calls he had booked his driver and cook and we were able to go on tour with him. The usual group sizes when booking with a tour operator are 5-9. So we had lots of space in the safari car.
The advantage when going with a big tour operator is that all their cars are connected through radio and they tell each other which places to come to. Otherwise it can be really hard to spot all the interesting animals in a Park that is around 70 x 25 km big.

In the end we saw wildebeest, zebras, lots of birds (incl. Geier and Strauß), antilopes, gazelles, monkeys, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, bocks, buffaloes elephants, lions and a hyane. And the usual amount of cows and goets that are looked after by small masai kids.
So we were satisfied 😉

As we were three germans we couldn´t help thinking about the impact safaris have on the environment. Our book recommended low-impact-safaris which work with solar energy. Lots of trees are burnt for heating water and cooking in that area which adds to the erosion of the soil. Our guide had promised us solar energy but the camp was totally based on fire and burning coal. So we were a bit unhappy.
When driving through the National Park we asked our driver 3 or 4 times to stay on the bigger roads and not to go through the nature. “But the other cars also do it” didn´t impress us. But I can tell you that its really tempting to leave the paths after spotting a lion, becase obviously they don´t take their siesta in the middle of the road. And some of the other safari cars even followed the lions around bushes. We couldn´t believe it… what tourists ask their drivers to do just for the best picture. Most of the tourists didn´t even bring binoculars for watching the animals but they just took pictures (standard zoom cameras…) and went again to the next scene.

Whatever… Although sitting in the car for hours and hours was really difficult and we had spend on our whole 6-day-tour as much money as on these three days, we enjoyed the tour a lot. Seeing all the animals you know from films and also the beautiful landscape in the south west of Kenya was just amazing.
Especially watching hippos, lions and elephants (which we hadn´t seen in other parks) in their natural surroundings was impressive.

Below you find some pictures (again the great zoom of mums camera was really helpful). I also have some videos, but with the internet speed here its really not possible to upload all of them. I will maybe add some later.

Enjoy!

6 Days of intense travelling…

15 Jul

I just returned to Nairobi from six days of intense travelling… Its hard to believe how much I experienced in the last week!

Wednesday

Arrival at 5am at the airport in Nairobi and some hours of sleep I saw the university and met some AIESECers. The other interns were really friendly and we went to dinner together. My first Matatu ride (14seater buses that are more roling discos than public transport) was simply great fun. The roads are full of bumps and holes… incredibly… just imagine yourself in a Toyota bus (size of a VW bus) with 16 people on 14 seats, reggae music from the speakers jumping along the “road”.

After an afternoon wandering around the city (talking to a lot of people who know german and have some kids at home who need food… or friends who are ill… or just would like to be invited on a beer by their new white friends) and more talking to Interns I heard to magic sentence “It is easy to spend and actually waste time hanging around Nairobi.” So I decided to just pack the backpack and start travelling through the country right away.


Thursday

So we took a Matatu (they dont only cover the cities but also connect them) to Naivasha. The city mainly consists of a matatu station and a lot of street shops. We checked in to a “hotel” (5 Euro per double room). Rented bikes near the lake (those wouldnt be stolen even without a lock in the Gallus in Frankfurt) and went to the gates of the national park.

We were cycling through an incredible scenic national park called Hells Gate. There are rocks, steppe and finally the first animals!! We were so excited to spot the first zebra through the binoculars and take pictures with the 10zoom camera (thanks, mum!). Later we were cycling through big zebra herds on the gras, spotted antilopes and even buffalos near water places.

It was a perfect safari experience, cycling instead of sitting in a jeep.

Friday

On the next morning we decided to climbing Mt. Longonot, an old vulcano near Naivasha, the so called “damn, man!”-mountain. But well get back to that later.

That part of Kenya (The great riftvalley) is really dusty and so is the vulcano. The ranger at the park gate told us that depending on our speed we would reach the rim of the vulcano after 45-60 minutes and we felt really bad when two hours later we were still climbing. Busloads of school kids ran past us (I guess they even made it in 30 minutes…) and left us coughing in dust clouds. A boy was already on his way down again and literally ran down the mountain and nearly fell over creating a dust cloud which made him shout out “damn, man!”… and his teacher “dont run!”. There is nothing to add 🙂 I will post a video of that later and you will understand.

The more we climbed the view became more amazing.

On the way down we were alone in the national park, as all the kids had run down to their busses again. We werent really expecting it but the spotted a giraffe eating from the tasty trees just 50 meters away from us. More and more of them appeared and again cameras clicked 🙂

Back in Naivasha we found out that the next bus to Kitale were we would meet other AIESECers would leave around 8pm meaning we would arrive there at 2am. So we had dinner in the same (and only) restaurant again. Power failure again but no candles this time.

Then we waited for the bus to Kitale. and waited… and talked to some drunkards at the waiting place (funny thing when you dont understand Suahili and they make fun of you in front of around 20 people) Guess when the bus arrived… no, not 10pm… 10.45! And it was actually not a bus to Kitale, which meant they told us to change at 3am at some city somewhere where they would be another bus… somehow appearing out of the blue…

Our guidebook called the street to Kitale “the highway of horror” which should NEVER be used at night because of the traffic and the bad road conditions. We fully agree to this statement!

Not one minute we were able to close our eyes: The window next to me opened with every bump and as the handle was broken I had to close it every 20 seconds to avoid the cold (and dusty!) air to come in. And the bumps and holes… but what can I tell you. The other approx. 60 people in the bus also survived…

We arrived in 5 am in Kitale, ready to go on a hiking trip with the others at 7am. We just wanted a shower! Finding a hotel was not so easy, as everything was booked (weekend…) or the warm water didnt work (i am not kidding). After wandering around the city between 5 and 6 am we found a room and negotiated really well and just paid for two showers. Left the hotel at 7am, had breakfast at a cafe and waited for the others (who arrived at 9.30) which gave us the chance to go shopping and talk to locals.

Saturday

Western Kenya is very green, there are actually rainforests there!

With 3 other interns and Halima, a local AIESEC girl we went hiking at Mt. Elgon. This is the second largest mountain in Kenya, so we werent able to climb to the top. So we had a hike to some caves, saw beautiful waterfalls and creeks. Walking around the rain forest was really crazy… big trees, lianes, birds and simply the sound of jungle… amazing!!

Just when we reached a point called Elephants Viewpoint where we could actually see Uganda, Sudan and Etiopian grounds it started to rain. We were only 2.5 kms away from the park gate (said the sign) so we decided to just go there before it would get worse. But of course it got worse before we reached the gate (mainly because it was 5 kms and not 2.5… ) and any jacket gives up when its raining cats and dogs like that. All the paths got muddy and we were more gliding through the mud than really walking down the hill. We were totally drenched with rain when we finally heard cars. We hoped it would be the rangers picking us up. Although it was the rangers we had no chance of help from them because their cars were stuck in the mud. We tried to help them but without success, so we continued our gliding and slipping down to the car. In 13 years of camp experience in germany (Viele Gruesse ans Maedchenzeltlager!!) i have never experienced such heavy rains or mud!)

Finally at the car the rain had stopped and it was sunny again. We went to town to get some food and finally arriving at Halimas house I simply fell asleep after 36 hours awake and two long hikes.

Sunday

We were relaxing at the farm of Halimas mother. Well… we couldnt leave because our clothes were still dripping wet 🙂 Our hosting family organized a barbecue for their guests and our egyptian Habiba took part in the actual “preparation” of the food. Don’t wanna go into details, but it included a long knife and some palm leaves that were between the sheeps throat and the gras.

From Kitale we went to Kakamega by Matatu (no interest in busses anymore after that horror trip).. After just 15 minutes we had a punctuation. The extra tyre which was put on was flat just 1 km later… What now… There is only one extra tyre on the usual Kenyan matatu and thus we were waiting for another matatu to come by and lend us a tyre. All right. Tyre fixed, looked alright (all the passengers inspected it seriously!).. I sat down on the last bench in the car and just another 3kms later the rear door opened and the extra tyre fell out. Us three sitting in the last row of the vehicle shouted out loud and finally the driver (remember the loud hip hop music…) heard us and stopped. The conductor jumped out, ran back, collected the tyre and the next two hours I couldnt help but smiling and laughing about this comedy which actually didnt have a script. (I was searching the hidden camera though.)

We arrived at Kakamega where a friendly waitress at a bar even called the director of the guesthouse to asure that there were free beds there. After a free lift by the local police we arrived in the hotel before dark (sun sets at 6.30 and its completely dark at 7 down here. remember that the equator crosses Kenya!)

Monday

Then we went to the Kakamega Forest reserve. This is another rain forest, actually a very special one for geological and biological reasons.. Whatever 🙂 I will remember the national park for its extremely friendly people. Again it started to rain out of the blue and we were sheltering in one of the huts of a family. Now I know why they call it the rain forest!! There was even hail. Yes,ice coming down from the sky in Africa!

There are actually people living inside the rain forest and there is a school with around 400 students where we talked to students and teachers. I will post an extra article about the school later!

In the evening we took a matatu to Kisumu. We even saw the Lake Viktoria when coming down to the city. Due to some stops to fuel up or simply to talk to people passing by, we were running late (what is “late” actually…) and arrived after dark in Kisumu. Found our hostel and after a (surely) needed shower (just dont look at the ants road in the bathroom…) I had a wonderful Pizza and finally slept well under the mosquito net.

Tuesday

We left Kisumu at 11 by bus and after 6 hours arrived in Nairobi. On the journey I had a nice kenyan sitting next to me who explained me a lot about politics and the history of Kenya and was really iterested in the german Laenderfinanzausgleich.

And here I am, thirsty for more. Tired and happy. Met incredibly friendly and curious and hospitable people. Sat in a lot of Matatus between chicken (and people). Got through around 30 police controls on the way and hit my head on the roof countless times…

What can I say: Thanks Sean for your magic sentence!