Little did I know how long the coastal town of Mombasa, would become my home..
I was at Mombasa Backpackers for a few days exploring the city and figuring out what I was going to do on my travels next. I arranged to go live with a Masai tribe through a volunteer company but as things happen, I met some great people including Linnea (American) and Hannah (Aussie). Linnea had recently started up her own NGO, Local Push Global, in Mombasa and Hannah had just moved in with her to help out.
Of course, after sitting down and have a good chat with them, I cancelled my plans to go to Nairobi and moved in with them the very next day. Our days consisted of writing up training manuals and meeting with various Kenya non-profit organisations to draw up their ‘needs assessments’. Myself and Hannah managed to get into a bit of a routine of a morning walk and breakfast of chapati (from our local lady) filled with scrambled eggs and an Africafe (coffee). Our flat was in the local area of Nyali which was close walking distance to a large Nakumatt (supermarket), Cinemax, bank, ATMs and a transport hub for both matatus and tuktuks, it suited me perfectly.
I met some awesome people in Mombasa and we spent our free time exploring the town and going away as a group to the surrounding coastal towns of Kilifi and Diani. Some of our mates lived at the Tamarind Hotel in Mombasa (down the street from our apartment), so we spent a lot of time in the pool/gym and our mate’s apartments cooking up some massive Braais (they were South African). We also went sailing on a dhow (local boat) up the Creek whilst the sun set after a big day of wakeboarding – bliss!
In about my sixth week in Mombasa, I got pretty ill and therefore was pretty much horizontal for a week whilst the antibiotics kicked in. I got cabin fever and felt like it was time for me to move on. I got back in contact with Daniel from Maccop Kenya to go and live with the Masai Tribe just out of Nairobi.
Had a little farewell with my mates and then boarded the overnight train to Nairobi. I had a carriage to myself and a pleasant night’s sleep before waking for breakfast whilst the train went through various national parks. It was cool to see the hustle and bustle of people getting on and off the train with their massive loads and the little towns that the train went through.
Once I arrived in Nairobi I went straight to the bus for Ngong and then the back of a boda boda (motorbike) to the village of Olasiti. There were a few other volunteers there already and we spent our days gardening, making a scarecrow, teaching English and cooking the children lunch in the school ‘kitchen’.
There was no electricity in the village and the only water came from a well which was located about a 20-minute walk away from the home where I was staying. All food was cooked in the ‘detached’ kitchens and over a wooden fire using the simple utensils which is all they needed.
Food was very basic and included ingredients such as ugali (the ‘African cake’ made from maize flour), beans, maize, potato, tomato, carrot and a lot of rice. We purchased our water from the town of Ngong (an hour motorbike ride away) before getting to Olasiti. I also made sure to pick up lots of fresh fruit and veggies from Ngong so the family could have some more variety in their foods. I also occasionally cooked some ‘western’ food for my family and made sure to purchase some meat which was rare for them to eat.
At the end of the days, I got to help round up the cows with the children and then have a go at milking them with the women for the delicious ‘chai’ which was served with every meal. There was a lot of free time in the evenings, so we would play with the children and help bead with the ladies. Myself and the children even played a few soccer games which was hard work – they were good!
My host family gave me the name of ‘Nashipae’ which translates to ‘always happy’. From then on they called me only by my Masai name as most of them did not speak English. This made it a little challenging at times (my host Dad spoke broken English) but it was all in good humour and always ended up laughing.
The Masia had various animals in their family ‘compound’ such as cattle, goats, donkeys, chickens, cats and dogs which all served their purpose. The chickens were quite entertaining when they would jump into the lounge whilst we were eating and try to pinch some food – they sometimes succeeded!
On one of the weekends all the volunteers went for a safari in the Masai Mara. We spent the night on the edge of the reserve in Sekanani and the days we were out on safari – great fun and I finally managed to see the last of the big 5, the leopard!! Managed to see many lion, zebra, water buffalo and giraffe, up close and personal too.
Back to Olasiti for another week and then to Nairobi to stay with my mates again in their apartment – a bath has never felt so good after no showers for a week or so (I even had to have a shower before I got in the bath I was that filthy!).
Now it was time for my road trip around Kenya…
** this is just a snippet of my first few months in Kenya – there is just so much to write about and I will cover it in more detail soon..