Saturday, April 29, 2006


Many in Nairobi live in highrise apartment buildings. (With interest rates for mortgages hovering around 16%, it's hard for most people to buy a home. Whoever owns the buildings obviously has a lot of money to invest.)

This complex is behind our church, across a field with a few large puddles (during rainy season).

If you look closely, you can see that the climate is very favorable to drying clothes on a clothesline.

Friday, April 28, 2006


You may have noticed that I rarely put links within my posts. Reasons? 1. Laziness 2. The slow connection here.


Thursday, April 27, 2006


I don't normally write about political stuff here, but this one was too amazing to pass up.

Yesterday, the Kenyan Parliament voted themselves a pay raise: they now will receive about $5,000 a month in mileage allowance!

This bill made a "secret" passage through the halls of law-making. I'm not sure how it was so secret - if it appeared on the front page of Kenya's largest newspaper. (Perhaps "secret" referred to it not being made known till after it became law.)

Pray for Kenya. And the country you're in.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


At the Horseman, there is indeed the theme of Horses and the men who ride them. A series of stained glass windows along one wall feature various scenes like this.

The scenes are another one of those throwbacks to Kenya's English colonial days. (Today, however, I'd guess that enough Kenyans have taken up the sport that a polo match may have few old Englishmen taking part. I wouldn't know, since I have not been to a polo match, here, in England or in the States.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Out of context

Karen is a suburb of Nairobi, named after Karen Blixen of "Out of Africa" fame. There's a restaurant called "The Horseman." They have several sections, including an outdoor coffee bar that serves ice cream, a middle eastern-themed bar, and the section we visited, which serves pizza.

Outside the restaurant is a double-decker bus that was shipped from London. It was last driven there in 1992. I'm not sure if it was ever driven in Kenya. But as you can see (through the rough repainting job), it did indeed take many a passenger through the streets of London.

The surreal magenta color is not the same color you'd see in London. I guess the re-painters couldn't find that shade in Nairobi.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Early morning hike

As we headed up from our base cabin, this was all our group but me. Well, someone had to take the photos! (Part of January's Mt. Kenya climb.)

What it is

Actually, I don't know what this says, but it is a reflector on the back of one of the used Japanese imported SUVs that grace the roads of Kenya.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What is it?

Answers tomorrow.

Not in Kansas anymore

Back in January we climbed Mt. Kenya. I wanted to share this photo of the big glacier near the top.

It is hard to believe that such a place is in Africa. Heather and I felt like we were back in Colorado.

By the way, Mt. Kilimanjaro is significantly higher, but it is much more of a single peak compared to Mt. Kenya's multiple peaks. (Yes, I can hear the technical people out there object that Mt. Kili has Mawenzi Peak, a separate peak than the famous Mt. Fuji-like volcanic dome.) And Mt. Kenya looks much more like the Alps or the Rockies.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hearse wisdom

This hearse was next to us in a traffic jam. I loved the phrase on the back window ("For Last Respect"). We all need respect.

Don't let giving that person the respect they are due wait till it's too late.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tanzania miracle

I lost my wallet in Tanzania, and it turned up with NOTHING missing! There were $230 US, about the equivalent to $70 in Kenyan shillings, 2 credit cards, my Kenyan ID card & a local supermarket loyalty card.

This was a huge miracle and answer to prayer.

So I got it back today. Some kind American missionary friends delivered it from where it was found in Tanzania.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pre-historic bamboo

When a place never has freezes, things grow beyond belief.

We saw a gigantic bamboo grove where the stalks (trunks?) were about 10-14" in diameter. The grove was about 60 feet high. The cover was so dense overhead that my camera's flash had to kick in, even though it was in the middle of the day.

Jay's shield is one of the peelings of the "bark."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Water project update

Last week Heather and I drove out to see the progress on the water project. It was so exciting that tears literally came to our eyes.

We originally began thinking we'd just do water collection (from rainwater coming off a roof) and storage. That was a very weak solution to the need for water. Then Heather learned of a drilling method whereby expensive drilling equipment didn't have to be rented. It uses all human power. (I was one of the humans, for a short time.)

A tripod is the pivot point for a rope that goes down into the hole. At the end of the rope is a heavy bit that drills through rock or whatever, using gravity. After a significant amount of soil or rock is loosened, a bailer is put down the hole to pull up the muck.

The team has been making about 10-20 feet of progress a day.

If you're interesting in giving to the project, here's the link. (Thanks!) Currently there are enough funds to pay the salaries but not pay for the actual pump. Again, the fresh water will benefit the widows and orphans of that area. (Those are people who lost family members to AIDS.)

You may be wondering, didn't we count the costs before we began the project? The answer is how the project changed from just water collection into digging a real well.

p.s. If you look in the left-middle of this photo, you can see a grass-roof hut. There are still some traditional homes in the area. (Grass roofs are actually cooler during the hot months. Also they are quieter during rainstorms.)

p.s.s. The photos don't work with the text very well. I'm too lazy to play around with this post to get it right. But you get the idea.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter weekend

In Kenya, Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays. So it's a four-day weekend. That's nice in anyone's book. We took advantage of the holidays by leaving the city for about 24 hours.

We stayed near Limuru, about an hour from Nairobi. It's in the middle of rolling hills covered with tea and coffee plants. In the photo, the tea plants are the lighter green color. (They are also in the foreground.) We went for a family hike among the tea bushes. It was very soothing to get away from the hustle and bustle. Our walk was just what the doctor ordered.

Limuru provides ideal conditions for both tea and coffee growing. It's warm enough for no freezes and yet high enough altitude (cool) so that both plants grow slowly. Thus the tea leaves and coffee beans are infused with rich flavor.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mecca Cola?

I bought this bottle at a local supermarket. It was even bottled under license in Kenya. I don't know how they can make a business out of that; maybe it's subsidized for the few people of Arab extraction in Kenya. (I have only seen it at one supermarket.)

Taste? Pretty bad. It was flat. Maybe it moves so slowly off the shelves that the fizz left a year or so ago.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another shoe store

This is actually the third shoe store I've featured, which the most faithful readers out there may remember.

This one is really close to my office. As I was taking the photo, the male shop keeper wanted to be portrayed at work. He does shoe shining too. I'll have to give him a try someday.

Sometimes when I take a picture I "pay" the subject(s) by giving them a print of the photo. In this case, the next day when I came back to deliver the print, the lady was the only one tending shop. She was delighted when I gave her the print!

Heather wanted you to know that she buys shoes from a similar shop.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The chin game

When I was a kid, my brother and sisters and I used to play a game where one of us would put their head upside-down over the edge of a bed. Then they'd put a towel over the rest of their neck and shoulders. We'd put glasses on the chin, and the chin would be transformed into a large nose.

This little picture from an African Colgate package reminded me of that game. (The model's mouth is upside-down.)

To give credit where credit's due, the mouth was oriented correctly on the package. And my apologies for the lack of focus; it was a quick shot where I didn't take the needed time to make sure it was in correct focus.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Final post from that Tanzania trip

This is the last of the Tanzania photos and stories. When I saw this trailer, I couldn't help thinking of the mudflaps in the USA with their annoying chrome silhouettes.

Sometimes you get used to it, and sometimes you don't

Part of living in a country that is not your own is dealing with things that are different than what you're used to.

Today I went to one of the major shopping centers in Nairobi to post an ad on their ad board - the closest you can get to eBay here.

So I'm trying to sell my beloved PowerBook. Like the rest of Mac laptop people, I want to replace it with an IntelBook. I took the ad to the mall office. They told me that my ad might present a conflict of interest with the mall's computer shop. They requested that I get an official stamp from the computer seller to say it was OK with them for me to run the ad. I went to that shop. They said it was OK but that I needed to go to the head office of the computer shop, which was on a different floor. After waiting 10 minutes for the right person at the office to say it was OK, I then took the officially-approved ad to the mall office, paid my money and was on my way.

The fact that I was frustrated by all those steps indicates that I am not yet at the point of total serenity in Kenya.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Tanga Yacht Club

Mike and his family are members of the Tanga Yacht Club. No, it's not the aristocratic place you are picturing. Yachts do indeed moor in the nearby cove, but it's a bit more humble than what you are picturing.

There's not many familiar "western" forms of leisure in Tanga. The yacht club offers decent meals and a very tiny beach.

And yes, the commodores (club directors) go back to 1941.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Tanganyika, Tanzania, is a little village on that we passed through on our journey to Tanga. Tanganyika is also the old name of the country of Tanzania. I wasn't sure which came first - the village or the country.

Don't worry, I'm almost done with my Tanzania posts.

By the way, for those of you who were concerned, Nairobi has been getting a lot of rain within the last week. It's starting to look as green as Tanganyika.

Not much for $300

Dunno if any of you Mac fans out there noticed, but Apple quietly added another option to their top of the line laptop.

For my money (that I don't have, that is), $300 buys a
lot of double mochachino extra latte supremes.

If you're willing to get a refurb, the difference narrows to $200 (between the two refurb models). But that's still too much, in my book.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The concrete torch

For some strange reason, I was amused by this concrete torch at the top of a pillar outside some government offices in Tanga, Tanzania.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Another post on my Tanzania trip. I hope you're not getting bored with them!

As Mike was taking us to several rural locations to see wells, we stopped for lunch in one village. We all ate rice with cooked tomatoes and small fish on the side. (You bite off the heads & tails and eat what's left.) The photo here is the restaurant's proprietor next to the menu. He asked me if I could fly him to Europe, through an interpreter. I told him that I'd fly there myself, if I could afford it.

Here's one of the successful wells... a beautiful sight. Again, if you wish to give a US-tax-deductible gift to the project (bringing fresh water to AIDS widows and orphans in rural Kenya), here is the link.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Steers is a South African fast-food burger chain. They have outlets in Kenya and Tanzania. In Arusha, Tanzania, the delivery motorcycle was parked inside the restaurant... a great place to keep it safe!

In Nairobi, motorcycle delivery is vital for so many things, as the traffic is extremely slow moving. (Motorcycles can zip between traffic and arrive in 1/4 the time.)

We enjoyed lunch at the Arusha Steers on the journey down and back. In Nairobi, my picky kids don't like their burgers, so it's not a regular option for us.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dunno who they are

I really like these sculptures. There are in a roundabout (traffic circle) in the center of Arusha, Tanzania.

I was in too much of a hurry to return to Nairobi to stop and even see if there was a sign describing the sculptures. And if there was, it would have been in Swahili, and my companions were off on their own, exploring, so I couldn't have asked them for a translation.

Where you can find Paul Merrill

If you are looking for Paul Merrill, go over to  Shiny Bits of Life , which is my main blog - or  Greener Grass Media , which is my somewhat...