Wednesday, 16 April 2008

I'm in Kenya - Part 2 - Coast

Having travelled west to east across virtually the width of Kenya on public transport, I arrived in Malindi at 6:30 am, filthy dirty, tired, shaken and relieved.
My girlfriend, Liz, was supposed to be meeting me, but she was late, so I booked my ticket back for ten days time, saving me the bother of returning at a later stage.

I sat outside the office and smoked covertly. The town was awake. People were bustling about. There were a lot of Moslems, people of Arabic origin, and in my sleepy state, I did not want to offend anyone with my smoke. Then I saw the coach station manager with a cigarette between his lips and I was relieved.

Liz arrived and we took a taxi to her village, a 25km run. We went straight to a school which my organisation supports, as I had been loaned the apartment in the school grounds for as long as I wanted it. This was great. It is light and airy, with a good kitchen (by Kenyan standards) and a "European" bathroom, which meant it had a proper toilet rather than a hole in the ground.

Liz had to shoot off to work, so I was left to unpack and have a long, cold shower before trying out the bed for a couple of hours.

I went shopping at the local supermarket. In the UK, it would be classed as a corner shop, but it had everything I wanted, or a substitute, and I bought "proper meat", fresh vegetables, fruit, and the usual provisions. I was determined to have at least a couple of English meals while I had the chance.

I spent the afternoon with the founders of the school, talking about the progress, and the orphans that they had taken in, 17 in all.

I wandered over to the baby class to pick up Natasha, who showed little emotion either way to my being there.

Ian, on the other hand, threw himself at me and gave me a big, long hug before settling on my lap. Ian was five and 364 days and looking forward to his birthday, hoping that my presence would make it somehow different.

We went up to the apartment, and were soon joined by various children who lived at the school, the orphans.

I started preparing a meal and when Liz came home, all was ready. This was nice. It is the first time the four of us have spent time alone as a family. Liz usually lives with her extended family and on my last visit, I felt overwhelmed.

After school on Ian's birthday, I took both kids to Malindi. Natasha had told me that she needed a new teddy, and I know that Ian wanted a helicopter. In the end, both kids got what they wanted and Ian also got a set of cars for his birthday.

Back at the apartment, he was the envy of all the little boys, and some of the bigger ones. He took his battery-powered, very noisy helicopter downstairs and I could hear a lot of gasps of astonishment as it moved across the patio, making all sorts of aggressive noises.

The week passed too quickly. I held a photo shoot with the orphans as well as taking many candid shots of them doing their chores. They wash their own clothes, do the housework and even help with the cooking.

Liz and I looked at a little house on the outskirts of the village. It is very pretty and very safe for the kids, being in a large grassy compound. I agreed to rent it.

The it was time to go and I caught the overnight coach back to Nairobi.

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