Friday, 12 June 2009

Living in a Sauna

My pores must be open just about as wide as they can manage. I am dripping all over the place, on the keyboard, on my lap. I have resorted to using a proper mouse instead of the touchpad, because it doesn't work when it's wet!

But I am losing weight, as I always do here. If I lose much more around the middle, I will have to buy new trousers, or a smaller belt.

I popped into the village proper at about midday (what do they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? Oh yes) on a motorbike taxi, a good way to stay cool.

As we went down the main street, a lot of people called out, "Jambo, Mr David!"

I didn't know that I had made such an impression on the only previous occasion I had been here.

Business done, I wandered up the street and was accosted by someone who knew my name and looked vaguely familiar. Oh yes, he was the owner of the Curio Shop. I had wanted to look at his goods and now was a good time.

In fact, he owns three shops, a sandal makers, a carvers and paintings (oil on canvas))

Now I have had this idea for a while, to export crafts from Kenya to Europe and the USA. I even have a website set up for Kisii soapstone, but wanted something else.

This man has it. And he is willing to open up his market to the wide world, or morespecifially, the World Wide Web. So, after a tour, we agreed that I should return with my camera and do my thing.

Mind you, he isn't cheap, by Kenyan curio standards, but his stuff is first-class, and of course, if he gets bulk orders he will offer wholesale prices.

Business done, I wandered back towards the house, passing the supermarket where I popped in to get provisions. I am well-known here and people are very friendly and helpful.

Next door is a little coffee shop, so I thought I would treat myself to a Latté. These are to dream about, creamy with loads of froth, chocolate on top, accommpanied by a little chocolate bar and a glass of water.

As I reached the road again, I expected the usual flotilla of motorbike taxis and tuk-tuks - nothing!

I was just about resigned to start walking when a lone motorbike came into view. Now, I don't know how to tell the difference between a motorbike taxi and a private vehicle, so I nodded towards him and he slammed on the brakes. It wa a motorbike taxi.

50/- got me home. That's the cheapest I have been charged yet.

But, by the time I got to the house, I was dripping wet, my hat, an old felt wide-brimmed affair, was sodden and I needed a drink.

Luckily, I had made up a glass of orange squash and put it in the freezer, and forgot it. It just slipped down my throat like a Tusker lager - beautiful.

So, I have had my daily quota of sun. I am determined to go back a lot darker than when I came, but without peeling, blistering, burning or fainting!

Update - just a little note, when approached by a plethora of taxi drivers, tuk-tuks and the like, all wanting to take me wherever I want to go, but I rathe walk, I now use the line, "My feet is my only carriage ..."

To a man, they ask, "You like Bob Marley?"

Respect, Man. Respect.

Kenya Trip June 2009 - coz I'm still here

5/6/2009 Friday

I was awakened by the noise of a downpour on the roof. Liz and the kids were already up, but I decided that I wasn’t ready to face the world.

But by about 6.30, I was awake, sort of, and decided to make an appearance, and a cuppa. By 7.30, the house was empty, apart from me.

It is now sunny and there is hardly any air movement. I think it is going to be hot.


I was right, hot it is, especially when walking along the roadside. I took myself for a little trip into “town”. We are in a village outside a larger village, so any real shopping or banking, etc. has to be done in the bigger village.

I walked down the road and found a Safaricom agent and topped my cell phone up. As luck would have it, just down the road, there was a motorcycle taxi which took me right to the bank, which is a fair old way.

From there I walked back up to the crossroads and back towards the house, when Mum phoned to wish me a happy birthday. We had quite a long chat before I arrived at the “supermarket” (their imagination, not mine) to get food and other necessities, like cigarettes. Unfortunately, the choice of meat was sausages or spare ribs, so I got both.

Again, I was lucky, as a tuk-tuk was just dropping off a fare so I hailed him. All I could remember about the house is that the lane is opposite a large hardware store. He knew where it was and even where I am staying and brought me to the door.

An uneventful adventure, you might say, but I feel quite pleased with myself as Liz tends to shepherd me around like a kid – and I’m a big boy now. I have travelled across Kenya, right to left all my myself.

My only gripe is the cost of local fares. They seem very high compared to Kisii, but then, this place is full of tourists, so I suppose I will have to accept it.


After a better lunch that I have had for a few days, and a cup of tea, I ventured outside. Under the mango tree outside the front door, there is a wicker couch. It is in the shade of the tree and looked very inviting. I tried it out. It was slightly damp from the morning’s rain, which was very pleasant on my bare back.

As I lay there looking up through the tree, watching tiny lizards scampering around, I thought that some of the branches looked a little old and fragile.

As I sat up to take a swig of tea, a small mango fell and landed where my head had been a few seconds previously. It wasn’t big enough to do any serious damage, but it would have smarted had I not sat up when I did.

Premonition, coincidence? Or was it written that David was not to be hit on the head on his birthday?


I decided to have a little exploration of the village where I am staying. It is out of the village of Watamu, and has a strictly local population. The road goes from Gede to Watamu only, but there is quite a lot of traffic, mainly matatus, tuk-tuks and motorbikes, but also a few safari trucks and private cars.

The road is lined on both sides by commercial outlets, ranging from small stalls made of poles and corrugated steel sheets, or thatched with banana leaves, to small blocks of block built, more solid structures. It is very colourful and quite noisy, especially when a mzungu walks past out of tourist season.

I wasn’t looking for anything, rather just “window” shopping, but I bought some pencils for the kids to use at school and some cough medicine for Ian.

It was hot, I was sweating and had not taken my hat, so I decided to retreat back to the house before I fried the top of my head.

6/6/09 Saturday

Liz worked this morning until 2pm and Natasha was having her hair re-braided, which left Ian with me.

Ian is a quiet boy, for a 7 year-old, very obedient, most of the time, and is as curious as only a young child can be. He loves to play with my camera, snapping away at anything that takes his fancy. A few of his photos are rather good.

After breakfast of toast (more like burnt bread, really), he clicked away at this and that until lunchtime.

Then he started to get restless. It was not surprising. It had been raining almost non-stop since I woke up and it wasn’t about to stop, although we wanted to go into the village to meet Liz and get him some flip-flops.

So I put my waterproof jacket on him and we set off, the bare-foot little boy holding my hand.

We got a tuk-tuk into the centre of the village and did a bit of shopping in the other supermarket, Mama Lucy’s.

Outside again, we were accosted by a fish seller, who offered calamari and white fish, but I told him that decisions about fresh food were made by my wife.

Within about five minutes, there was a gathering of various traders around us and when Liz arrived, it was evident that most knew her. It wasn’t surprising as they had all been raised in the village.

We bought the calamari and fish and then went into the locals’ village to get flip-flops for the two children.

Back home, the calamari was cooking when the gas ran out. By now it was dark and still raining, and I wondered if we were going to eat, but Liz just made a quick phone-call and someone went to get us a new gas cylinder.

Dinner was lovely, calamari and chips, and Ian and I stuffed ourselves.

7/6/09 Sunday

It blew a gale and when it wasn’t, it rained – all night.

A day of rest – apparently – if you haven’t got two under-eights in the house. I didn’t get any rest. For most of the day, Liz was at her sister’s with Natasha, to have her hair done and I was left to amuse Ian.

When she came back, she had he niece, Beonce with her. She took one look at me and burst into tears. I was surprised as she has spent a lot of time with me on my previous visits. But there was no winning her round. If I got too close to her, she cried.

I took far too much sun and far too much exercise.

8/6/09 Monday

And on the 7th day, it rained. No surprise there then. It has rained every day since I have been here.

I am suffering from the effects of too much sun, or heat and presently am sitting here with a cold flannel on my head, supping tea like it is going out of fashion.

I have just spent the last 2 ½ hours lying on the couch shivering as if I were cold, which I am not. But I have had to put a thick top on and feel a little better. I am now on my 3rd cup of tea – I cannot face food at the moment.

My head and the back of my neck feel like a furnace, and just to make things worse, every fly in the village has decided to visit me today. I did contemplate getting onto the bed and using the net to keep them off, but that is just giving in.

Talking of the ‘Net, I have not been able to get a top-up for my Safaricom dongle in the village, which is very annoying as I know there are important emails waiting for action.


I was rather hoping to have shaken off this lethargy by now (12.30) but I cannot find the energy to do anything.

Rhino Ark have just phoned asking why I haven’t started the updates since the Rhino Charge and I had to explain that I cannot get an Internet top-card. I didn’t bother telling him that I was a sick as a dog, I am short of cash because they hadn’t paid me for two months, or that we keep getting power cuts.

Now the water has gone off. This is not a good situation when one is dehydrated.

There is nothing in the house for the kids’ tea so I am going to have to go to the shops. It is not far, but seems like the end of the Earth today.

No bread! There are two shops and neither of them has any bread. So much for the honey sandwiches for tea. A packet of biscuits will have to do.

Struggled to get back to the house and collapsed in the entrance – exhausted.

9/6/09 Tuesday

Yesterday was one bad day, I am guessing it was heat stroke. My head felt like it would explode, my neck was hot and everything was an effort. When the kids came home from school, it was an effort to get them their tea and get them to do their homework. Natasha, sensing that I was not on form, started to play up about doing her homework.

It was a relief when Liz got home and told me to lie down and rest – again.

I managed to eat a little and I drank loads of water, so much that I had to get up four times in the night. Well, at least it proved that my kidneys hadn’t failed.

I slept quite well, and woke up feeling almost human

Today, I still feel weak and to add to my misery, I have infected a mosquito bite on my leg. It has swollen up and is bright red. My legs were never the best of sights but they have been totally annihilated by those little pests, despite insect spray and a mosquito net.

Money has become a real issue and I have texted a business associate in Nairobi to send me the money he “borrowed” from me (without my permission) in September 07, £280 or about Ksh 33000 at today’s rate. Somehow I doubt that he will send it. Other than going to the law, I don’t know how I am going to get it back.


Liz and I have been trying to find a Safaricom retailer that sells 500/- top-up cards. So far we have only looked in the village, which is the commercial centre for the area, but to no avail. However, yesterday, while I was struggling to buy bread, I noticed a Safaricom agent with a big, smart shop in our village, and I am just wondering if I can hobble there and back. It is getting really serious, I need to get onto the Internet to download the Rhino Ark data and update their website.

If I do manage to walk there only to find that they don’t sell them, I will be very annoyed – and will have a very sore leg.


My leg is a mess, with red blotches from the ankle to half-way up my calf. It is painful to walk on, but I can manage a few steps if I walk on tip-toe.

When the children came home from school, it was the usual routine, change, tea, homework. But then they disappeared and I had to hobble around the compound until I found them at a neighbour’s. I was annoyed although they had done nothing wrong.


There was a noise like an industrial sewing machine, a constant staccato clank-clank. I eventually identified it as a tuk-tuk. I hadn’t realised until recently that these tiny machines are diesel powered. I don’t know what size engine they have, but they are almost all Piaggio, and I thought they were 50cc scooters. Well, the front end of a tuk-tuk is a scooter with an axle on the back and seats for tree skinny passengers.


Mum phoned this afternoon. I told her about my infected leg and she wanted to get me home – like now! I was tempted. She will phone again tomorrow to see how I am.


I love the sound of grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, chirruping away in the balmy warm evening – but not when their chirruping is as strident as a referee’s whistle and it is right outside the bedroom window when I am trying to sleep.

Just got up for a call of nature – the bloody thing isn’t outside the window, it’s in the bedroom somewhere!

It was raining and the water was splashing on my head, the bed is under a window. I reached up to close the louvre glass – there isn’t any! This is the only window in the house that cannot be closed. I shifted further down the bed.

Chirrup, chirrup, chirrup – if it doesn’t stop soon, I am mounting a one-man hunting expedition.

Chirrup, chirrup – chirrup, chirrup. I am going to kill … oh, that’s my phone! Who is sending me an SMS at this hour? I look at my watch. It is 22.30.

10/6/09 Wednesday

It may be because I have been badly affected by insect bites, it may be because I got heat stroke, it may be because money is short, it may be because I am at the house alone during the day, but as far as I am concerned, in my present frame of mind, this place is a hell-hole. It is too hot, too flat (which is a blessing with my leg as it is), too expensive, and everyone who attends church must be deaf! Why? Because all the preachers use P.A. systems turned up to distort level. I can hear them ¼ of a mile away, so the people in the churches must be deaf.

And then there are the mullahs, calling to prayer five times a day, except that they can’t count. I heard seven yesterday!


I have finally found out why I can’t get top-up cards for my modem. They don’t exist. I should be using phone top-ups. They are – apparently – the same. So I am going to hobble down the street to get me some credit and finally do some work – and maybe post this blog up, rather than let it simmer and stew on my hard disk.

If I am not back within the hour, it is because my leg has given out and I am slowly frying on the side of the road.


I hobbled into the street and to the shops. Once there, I could not remember what I went for, other than cigarettes.

I went to a Safaricom agent for a 500/- top-up, but she didn’t have any top-up cards at all. The next agent only had 20/-. I bought one for my phone, but it is no good for the modem, it won’t accept less than 250/- and that makes for expensive use.

I couldn’t go any further down the street without the risk of my leg giving out before I got home, and I am guessing that I will only find 500/- cards in the tourist area, which this certainly isn’t. People around here, the locals, real Kenyans, only buy 20/- at the time. Then they flash their friends (ring once and hang up), hoping that the friend has enough credit to phone back. It is the Kenyan way – don’t pay for anything unless you have to.

So now, having rested my leg, I am debating whether to go into the village. That’s another 200/- wasted if I don’t find a card.


The flies are driving me mad. I cannot stop them coming in as the windows are louvred and do not close completely, and in any case, I would suffocate. It is heavy and humid. I hope it rains soon.

It is nearly 5pm and the kids haven’t got back from school – and I am starting to worry, but I will not panic and phone Liz until 5.15.

I phoned at 5.10. She told me that the school bus had been in an accident but the kids were OK.

So I walked up the lane to the street and waited … and waited. I wandered back to the house as my phone battery was reading empty. I stuck it on charge for 10 minutes then wandered back up the lane. Still no sign of the kids.

I saw tuk-tuks with 10 or 12 kids in them going past, but not my kids. Matatus were spewing out kids, but not mine.

Eventually I gave up and wandered back home. No sooner had I arrived than a tuk-tuk pulled into the compound with the kids in it, and Liz was not far behind.

So we are all safe and well. A motorbike taxi had hit the side of the bus, disabling it and the school could not get a replacement.

Kenya Trip May 2009 - next bit

29/5/09 Friday

We had had no rain for over 24 hours although there were a few threats, but yesterday evening, the “drought” ended with a vengeance. We were dashing around looking for buckets and bowls to catch the rain, when there was a flash of a nearby lightning strike and the lights went out. The thunder was so loud that I was startled and dropped a bucket of precious water.

I need not have worried; more than enough fell to fill everything we could find and replace that which I had dropped. So the porch floor got a good wash.

It was not the most violent storm I have ever seen, but it was spectacular, with lightning on three sides, lighting up the valley and beyond.

At the height of the storm and blackout, the water for my shower was ready. It was the first time I have washed in total darkness interrupted by blinding flashes. Luckily I have had my body for a fair number of years and know where all the parts are.

However, I was washing in a wet room with a squat toilet and was aware that I could fall in if I put a foot wrong.

In the event, I survived. The storm abated after a long while, but there was still lightning in the distance, well into the evening.


I learned a lesson yesterday evening. Do not let kids with sticky or sugary fingers use my laptop. When the power came on, I eventually got around to switching on the computer and dozens of tiny ants popped out from under the keyboard keys. They had obviously been attracted by the sugary deposits left by little fingers. I really don’t fancy stripping down the keyboard to remove loads of squashed ant carcasses so I hope that they are agile enough to get out of the way when I press a key!

30/5/09 Saturday

We got up to the plot to find about 12 kids waiting for us. The rest, who have to walk quite a distance were worried about getting caught in the rain.

First things first, we examined the seed bed and were delighted to see a lot of seedlings looking for light.

So, with this resounding success, we set about making a fence to keep out chickens and any other stray animals. Believe me, when the kids had finished, an elephant would have found it hard to eat our crops. As we had had a butternut squash the previous evening, we took the seed to the plot to plant as see if anything happens.

It was a lot of hard work, mainly for the boys, who finished off with a thorn barrier, so we returned to the hut and had a few games, giant hoopla using hoola hoops seemed to be the most popular.

We broke up just before 6pm, after our new flag lowering ceremony. I started this as a laugh, but the kids take it very seriously – well, most do.

There are one or two who make merry of just about anything, and also like to tease the mzungu, but it is all very good natured. I couldn’t imagine anything else from any of them.

31/5/09 Sunday

My last day at Twiga, for a while at least, and it had rained before we got there. This limited our activities as I didn’t want the kids rolling around on wet grass, although I am sure they would not have minded.

But first, we checked the “stockade”, which was still intact.

We had stopped on the way to Twiga to pick up cream for one of the children who has a severe ringworm problem. This was given to her older brother to administer, with strict and detailed instructions. I am sure he will manage. He may be only 13, but he is a very responsible kid.

After a few games we sat in the hut and Vincent and I told the kids in detail our plans for Twiga, the extended building to house them, admin block, washing, cooking and leisure facilities and asked for ideas from the children. The discussion was lively. After all, we were discussing the kids’ futures.

Then came the time to leave. It was long and drawn out with much hand-shaking and high fives being repeated over and over.

The kids started to walk to the road with us although most live in the opposite direction.

Fortunately, in a way, we were offered a lift in a car, which meant that we did not have to go through all the handshakes and high fives again. For me, it was painful enough the first time around.

Tomorrow will be packing and getting ready for a 14 hour coach trip across the country for the Coast.

Fourteen hours – I am really looking forward to that.

1/6/09 Monday

A morning of gathering my belongings and packing. As I had come with a load of donated clothes, which of course I no longer had, I found myself with two bags where one would do, so I put my computer and other delicates in the back-pack and put that inside my suitcase.

Proceedings were interrupted when two local kids decided to have a closer look at this weird beast called a mzungu. One child was deaf and the other, who could sign, translated for him, although his English was not too good.

I showed them a couple of “tricks” and took their photographs, which delighted them, then got back to packing, washing and eating.

I had to get to the bus stage by 14:15, which meant leaving the house at 13:45. At 13:40, the heavens opened. This was no shower, it was a downpour, making the tracks that we were about to use as slippery as melting ice. I was not looking forward to my last trek up the hill. But the ever-resourceful Vincent took me by a different route, longer but less steep and I managed to get to the road without falling over – not even once.

As we reached the road, we were flashed by a taxi and we took it to the stage.
Naturally, although we were on time, the coach wasn’t. I deposited my luggage and we set off for Tuskys, a local supermarket, and bought a few things to munch on during the journey.

A quick cup of tea and a samosa each and I was boarding the bus.

It was smaller than the others I have travelled on and I found that I was wider than my seat! Legroom was not overly generous either and I wondered just how my various failing limbs would put up with these cramped conditions.

Luckily, the person in the next seat was slim.

We set off only 15 minutes late, which is not bad, but I had not reckoned on the Pastor.

This little lady boarded the bus and as soon as we were out of the stage, she started praying in a loud, strident, passionate voice – in Swahili. I know she was praying for us because I heard the words Mungu (God) and Amen from time to time.

Her prayers went on for 30 minutes, non-stop, her voice not faltering once. Then she went up and down the aisles for donations. I thought that was the end of it, but no.
Her companion then started offering Bibles for sale. As most Christian Kenyans have at least one Bible, he did not have many takers.

At last, they got off the coach and I settled down to some quiet sight-seeing. How deluded can you get?

A man boarded the bus and started to extol the virtues of various creams and potions he had for sale.

“It has aloe vera, avocado and cucumber. It is so good for the skin.”

My skin is beyond redemption, so I tried to block him out of my hearing.

Our first scheduled stop was at Narok. We had passed through scorching heat and torrential rain, but thankfully, although it was dark, the weather was kind to us during the stop and I was able to fill my lungs with much-needed tobacco smoke.

Up to now, I had not been wearing a jacket of any sort, but took advantage of this stop to put on a lightweight waterproof. When I re-boarded the bus, the woman in the next seat spoke for the first time.

“I thought you did not have a jacket. I wondered how you would survive the night.”
I assured her that I was nice and warm, even without the jacket but thanked her for her concern. That ended the conversation.

Our next stop, at about 11pm was on the outskirts of Nairobi, for petrol and natural bodily functions. I smoked another cigarette.

We also stopped in Nairobi town to drop off and pick up passengers. This procedure is very noisy, especially when chickens are being transported.

2/6/09 Tuesday

At last we set off down the Mombasa road. There is a section which must be the worst of the whole journey. It is rutted, rocky and generally uncomfortable. The coach thought so too and blew the near-side front tyre. All due credit to the driver, we did not even deviate from our course. The driver and his crew piled out and so did some of the passengers, to watch the proceedings.

Realising that I had a torch that may be useful, I eventually got out – and had a cigarette whilst lighting the work area with my small but powerful gadget.

It wasn’t until I had re-boarded and we were on the way again, that I realised that we were in the Tsavo National Park, which is home to all the big cats, rhinos, snakes …

Our next scheduled stop was at the usual service area halfway between Nairobi and Mombasa. Like the stop at Narok, this place is very familiar to me.

Then we were on the last leg. We were late of course, due to the puncture, but as no one was meeting me, it did not matter to me.

After many stops to let people off, we arrived at the coach depot and I recovered my luggage from the hold.

Then every tout in Mombasa descended upon me, offering to carry my luggage, a tuk-tuk, a taxi, or just to relieve me of the price of a cup of coffee (or Tusker).
I declined all offers. I needed time to think. I had to get a matatu to Gede, where Liz would meet me – not a difficult task as long as I could get to wherever the matatus were parked up.

I asked a tuk-tuk driver and he offered to take me for 300/-. As the fare to Malindi is only 250/-, I considered this a bit much.

I was approached by another driver and we got chatting. He was not pushy and very pleasant. It turned out that he was Gusii and I told him that I have just spent two weeks in his homeland. That did it. He said he would take me to Braxton, the matatu stage, for 100/-. I accepted and we set off.

Of course, at Braxton, I was immediately set upon by more touts. I was in a fix as I only had 1000/- notes and the tuk-tuk driver did not have change. One tout, a bit smarter than the rest, paid the fare and said he would add it to the ticket. I was stuck with going on his matatu, which was a good thing as it was the express and he didn’t even try to raise the price of 250/-.

I was quite pleased with myself and climbed aboard. We had to wait until it was full, but it did not take long.

I arrived at Gede about an hour later. By now it was hot, and I found some shade to stand in while I waited for Liz. I didn’t have to wait long, and we set off on the short journey to the house, hot, tired but happy, and quite pleased with myself for travelling the breadth of Kenya with very little help or guidance.

The kids, of course, were at school, so we lazed around and caught up with each other’s news until it was time for them to come home.

Ian has grown – and lost his front teeth with his new ones pushing through. Natasha has lost her “puppy fat” but is as pretty as ever.

Ian can speak and understand English. Natasha has improved a lot and has vowed to speak only English to me. Both kids now call me Uncle David, which, as far as Natasha is concerned is an improvement on “My Mzungu”.

3/6/09 Wednesday

Liz sent the kids to school and went to work. I lazed around for a while before working on the KCIS website, which has a lot of things to be added, and children’s details to be updated – new ones added and old ones deleted.

There is an ant colony under the front step of the house. These are big ants. No, I mean it – BIG!

During the day I noticed that my right knee had swelled up with a series of blisters, which were weeping a nasty yellow liquid. It was getting painful as well. I bathed it and put a dressing on it, but it persisted, so I left it open to the air.

This carried on all day. Liz reckons it is a series of mosquito bites on my knee. I have to believe her, but I have never seen anything like it before.

The ants are scurrying around all day but never seem to come into the house. I watched as a 6 inch worm strayed too close. It was set upon with enthusiasm by the ants and 20 minutes later, there was nothing to show that it had ever existed.

The kids came home at about 4.30pm and I acted the strict parent, change of clothes, tea, homework. It worked pretty well and when Liz arrived home, homework was almost complete.

Ian likes taking photos. He has adopted my digital camera and taken a few good shots, but he gets excited and forgets that there is a delay between pressing the shutter release and the picture being taken, so some are a bit of a blur. Still, he is only seven and has a lot to learn, but if he is interested, I will be happy to show him.

As I was locking up for the night, I came across a millipede, or maybe a centipede. Either way, it was bigger than anything I have seen in this variety of animal. I would guess that it was about 4 inches long and a good ¼ inch diameter. Ian chased it out with a shoe!

4/6/09 Thursday

My knees are still swollen and sore, but not painful. Liz and the kids prepared themselves for the day and I am home alone. At 7am, it was still, calm and cloudy, but already warm – by my standards. At least.

And I have an upset stomach. It has nothing to do with Liz’s cooking, but is more a reaction to the change in climate, altitude and general environment, probably.

Now, the wind has got up and is blowing through the open windows and doors.

We have had two short power cuts this morning, which is forcing me to remember to press Ctrl-S frequently, but I have to be careful as the left Ctrl key doesn’t work.
9.15am. It has started to rain. I had seen people running and wondered why. It is a fine rain and I stood outside in it for a while – bliss. But it is getting heavier, enough to make a noise on the steel roof.

Most of the ants have scurried underground. The rest, if they are not careful will be washed into their nest, like it or not!


I had forgotten about the rent for Liz’s house. I meant to send a message home asking to send me some money yesterday. Oh well, deadline is tomorrow, so I guess I still have time.

It is extortionate. OK, so it has electricity (sometimes) and piped water, which has to be boiled for drinking, one bedroom and a wet room with a shower head and a kitchen with running water.

The rain has stopped and there is a cool but intermittent breeze, nice while it is there. The dust has settled for the time being and everything outside looks fresh. But I doubt that it will last. When it heats up, it will be back to the usual hot, dusty environment. I do not much like Malindi. In fact the only good thing about it is that Liz and the children live here, otherwise I would not come at all – too hot.

Kisii, on the other hand, although closer to the Equator, is more temperate, due to its altitude at about 5,700 feet. But during the rainy season, it rains. Oh, how it rains.

I’m on a bit of a downer at the moment. I am stuck at the house because of my knees hurting when I walk. I am alone here as Liz is at work and the kids are at school. There is very little food. We had a spend-up on Tuesday, but we seem to have used everything in one go.

Eric from Rhino Ark phoned earlier, saying that he had a load of updates for the website and was I on-line. I had to tell him that I had a Safaricom dongle, but that I had run out of credit and could not get any just at the moment.

I texted my friend in the UK, Allan to ask him to ask Mum to send me £150. He said that she would not be very happy about it. I can imagine, but I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need it. Anyway, he will sort it out for me. I think that Mum doesn’t like going to the post office and that will be the reason for her being upset.

My next trip to Kenya will be shorter. This is too long, I want to go home. Or I want to go back to Kisii. I was fine until I got here. I find this place depressing. The house is lovely for Liz and the kids, sitting in a large secure, grassy compound with lots of trees, but there is no life here during the day. At least in Kisii, there were people passing along somewhere. There were wild birds to photograph as well. Here, there are just an assortment of insects, chickens and goats!


I have come to the conclusion that if it flies, it bites, if it crawls, it stings.

I noticed earlier that the back on my leg is covered in blood. Well, not covered, but certainly I have bled from something.

Oh for a kettle, a teapot, a fridge, a cooker. Liz has a freezer that she switches on and off to keep the temperature cold without freezing everything to death.

As it is, Liz has a gas burner which is very efficient, but has only one ring. I have to boil water in pots. I have put some boiled water in the freezer for drinking, but it tastes, well, boiled!

I am disillusioned with the Safaricom dongle. It seems to eat credit, but maybe that was Vincent. I will have to keep a firm check on how much I use it.


The kids got home at about usual, changed, had a cup of tea and started their homework.

Natasha just dashes into hers, just wanting to get it finished in the shortest possible time.

Ian takes a more measured approach, reading the questions and giving the answers verbally for me to give my approval. Then he sets about writing them in his book, fairly confident that he has the right answers.

We went into the “garden”, a communal plot with grass and coconut palms and mango trees. Ian was riding his bike and Natasha was just running around. She threw herself at me and I swung her round. That started a whole new game for the two of them and before too long, I was out of breath. That didn’t stop them wanting more, so I threw Ian over my shoulder, let him slide down my back and caught his ankles. This was great fun – apparently – and of course, Natasha had to have a go, several goes, in fact.

Liz came home and set about getting dinner. I was relieved as I had had little to eat today.

The kids were bathed and bedded and we followed soon after, as usual. Bed time for all of us is early as Liz and the kids get up at 5.45.

I slept for a while, but woke up at 1 o’clock, hot, sweaty and not sleepy, so I got up.

I stood on the porch letting the minimal cool breeze wash over me, then had a cold drink.

Then I felt more like sleeping again.