18 July 2018

GeoCaching #3 - We were called 'fearless' by the owner of the legendary virtual cache on the equator, "Rift Valley" GC53

At long last, we got some motorbike taxi guys!

Hans-Georg Michner, CO
"GC53, Rift Valley is the earliest virtual GeoCaches and is perhaps the first on the equator. Located on a large sisal plantation, it's relatively easy to reach with an off-road vehicle when it's dry. Plan at least 1½ hours altogether from the main road."

"Because Africa can be tricky and because the place is somewhat remote I will describe the access here in more detail than I would normally provide for a geocache. The idea is that, if somebody has flown thousands of kilometers to reach Kenya and then driven for a day to get close, it would be needlessly frustrating to miss the cache or even to get stuck with the car."

That's how the cache owner, Hans-Georg Michner, described the cache on the app.

However... ignoring his advice about not going during one of Kenya's rainy seasons, my friend, Meidimi (GeoCache name: Nawesmake), and I went during an unusually crazy wet rainy season. We were forced to go by foot early on, as the entire area was saturated with water and there was a lot of flooding.

But we were up the challenge and were 100% determined to accomplish our task!

When we reached this water-logged area on the road, Meidimi parked his car and we went by foot in the hot sun!

The sisal plantation is over 3,000 acres in size and owned by a Greek man.

We walked a long ways in the hot sun!

We were unable to go any further due to the depth of the water and slippery mud below. Too risky to lose our phones!

According to two GPS sources, we were basically on the exact spot! Yippee!

We got permission from this AP police to enter the sisal plantation, in our quest to find the virtual cache.
And... finally! We had some motorbike taxi guys to take us to the area... and not have to walk all the way!

Here I am, standing on the equator, at the spot of the legendary first-ever virtual cache.

Hans-Georg Michner's comments about us on the GeoCache app:
"I'd like to congratulate the last finders, who fearlessly entered the area and got to the virtual cache despite the strongest rains the place has seen in many years. I wouldn't even have tried to get to the cache under these conditions. Particular thanks for the interesting descriptions and the equally interesting photos. I've never seen the place with so much water."

Michner's comments on his website:
The cache owner (CO) also keeps a personal record of people who have found and logged this cache. I must say - - I am rather proud to be called a 'fearless GeoCacher' by Michner!



Enjoying a cup of chai and the view of Lake Baringo, on another great day of GeoCaching

Excerpts from Meidimi's log:
Wow, this was quite the geocache. I went with my friend Deb who introduced me to this awesome activity. She came up to visit me and suggested we find it; I was very excited to go looking for it since it's the closest geocache in my area. Now we went in the rainy season and its been raining like never before in Kenya but we hoped the weather will be favorable for us to get there.... I tried to see if we could pass through barefoot but the water got deep and very slippery. If you go in the rainy season, please give yourself more than 2 hours. It took us close to 4 hours to reach the cache including traveling to it from 30 minutes away.

Excerpts from my log:
I'm very excited to log this one as my first virtual cache! It will be very memorable for me, as it was quite a fun challenge. It's likely I wouldn't have succeeded on my own, but luckily I was with my friend Meidimi.... After walking along the canal, we got as close as we could to ground zero. However, the entire area was flooded and we simply could go no further. Kenya's 'long rains' this year have been extremely heavy, with some saying it's the most rain in 100 years for all of East Africa. Meidimi (Nawesmake) removed his shoes and tried to wade through the water, but it was simply too slippery. I was wearing gum boots but even they wouldn't have helped the situation. We both feared we could drop our phones in the water... not a good thing!.... On the satellite view of the app, our blue location dot was smack-dab right on top of the cache location. 

Excerpts from Der and Die Holzmichelin (folks who found it just before us)
Achieving a milestone in geocaching has always been something special for us. A few months before our 20,000th find, we thought very carefully about which spectacular cache should be chosen for this jubilee. After extensive research we came across the legendary virtual cache "Rift Valley" listed as the world's first virtual Cache.

First we checked the risks behind this travel adventure on the African continent to Kenya. After an initial contact with the extremely helpful owner, Michna, all existing doubts were dispelled and our idea of a possible visit to the GC53 became a clear YES! We went to Africa!!!.... I am fascinated by our fantastic tour to the spectacular final coordinate 00°00.000 / E036°00.000 and very grateful for this very impressive geocaching experience.

17 July 2018

GeoCaching #2 - A 'multi-cache' and fascinating sculptures at Nairobi National Museum, plus looking up some history

'Mother and Child' - by Francis Nnaggenda - is a landmark piece at the entrance to the Nairobi National Museum

Francis Xavier Nnaggenda, is recognized as one of the most important artists of his generation in East Africa. His expressionistic work, especially sculptures, have drawn considerable acclaim. Nnaggenda (b. 1936) was raised in rural Buganda, in central Uganda, where he became intimately connected with traditional life. He grieved over the way modernization was undermining the stability of African communities.

From an early age Nnaggenda knew he wanted to become an artist. He felt it was the best and most practical way of raising his voice against a skewed development process that he was witnessing. During the era of Idi Amin, Nnaggenda went into exile and studied art in Germany and France. He attended Freibourg University (Switzerland) and Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts (Germany).

When Nnaggenda moved to Kenya in 1968 to teach art at the University of Nairobi, he met Joseph Murumbi (see picture). Murumbi was Africa’s greatest cultural collector and an ardent supporter of the pioneer artists of East Africa - - those artists who started their careers against all odds, shortly after independence.

Murumbi became an admirer of Nnaggenda's artwork and was one of his first collectors, eventually buying five of his monumental sculptures. Nnaggenda's sculpture ‘Mother and Child’ was commissioned by Murumbi.



Struggling to survive in Africa, Nnaggenda moved to Texas where he lived for 25 years before returning to be Chairman of Fine Arts at Uganda’s Makerere University. Francis Nnaggenda is recognised as one of the most important artists of his generation in East Africa. His expressionistic work, especially sculptures, have drawn considerable acclaim. [Sadly, I was unable to find a photo of Nnaggenda.]


Perhaps (?) this is another one of Nnaggenda's pieces? It's sad nothing is marked outside in the garden areas.

Carved from wood, perhaps directly from a tree

 Pendo la Mama (Mama's Love), appears to be made of scrap iron

It was a bit of a challenge, but I eventually succeeded in finding the multi-cache!

Multi-caches require more time and can be more difficult to locate than are traditional caches, as there are many steps along the way. For this one - named 'Sculptures and Stuff' - I had to first find various numbers located on signs throughout the museum garden. These numbers are then used to complete the GPS coordinates that were only partially given on the app. Once I had the coordinates, then came the task of finding the actual physical cache, all-the-while trying to avoid being seen by other people.

As always, I enjoyed the flowers, 'stopping to smell the roses' so-to-speak.

16 July 2018

GeoCaching, #1 - An inch worm and fragrant flowers at Arboretum, plus Safari Park Hotel with Linet

Linet, Derrick, Jeremy, and I had a fun day GeoCaching at Arboretum near downtown Nairobi.





After enjoying our sack lunch, we became interested in this flowery bush growing nearby and its lovely aroma. Upon googling what its name might be, I discovered the following:

The "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" shrub (Brunfelsia) is native to Brazilian rainforests, but can also be seen in Kenya. Its fragrant two-inch flowers last for three days, changing color with each day. The first day they are purple (yesterday), the second day they change to pastel lavender (today), and on the third day they change to white (tomorrow).

Jesus doesn’t change - - yesterday, today, and tomorrow, he’s always the same. 
~ Hebrews 13:8

- - - - - 
On a different day, Linet and I enjoyed GeoCaching at the beautiful grounds of Safari Park Hotel (on Thika Road). Although fascinating, we were unsuccessful discovering anything about this sculpture or the name of the magnificent palm with the orange flowers.



In front of a beautiful stand of bamboo

I love doing fun activities while also hanging out with my friends!

Fun is one of the most important and underrated ingredients in any successful venture. 
If you're not having fun, then it's probably time to call it quits and try something else. 
~ Richard Branson (b.1950), British entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author

15 July 2018

Suswa, Kenya where the earth recently split in two!


Last March, a large crack stretching a few miles, suddenly appeared in Kenya. The tear caused part of the highway between Mai-Mahiu and Narok to collapse near a small market called Suswa. The phenomenon wreaked havoc, cutting off feeder roads and prompting families to flee due to the widening fault line.

I was fascinated by the news reports broadcast around the world and followed the updates for a few days. Eventually I was able to see it with my own eyes two weeks later when I went to visit missionary friends in Narok. These girls, on a school field trip by bus, also had a chance to see it with their own eyes when they passed by the area.

[Photos immediately above and below are my pictures. The others are from the internet. The water in these first two photos is from the ongoing rains.] 



I think you'll find this video informative.



Definition of rift:
Form fissures, cracks, or breaks, especially through large-scale faulting; move apart.

Definition of a rift valley: 
a lowland region that forms where Earth’s tectonic plates move apart, or rift.


Great Rift Valley:
The Great Rift Valley is the continuous geographic trench, approximately 3,700 miles long, running from Lebanon's Beqaa Valley in Asia to Mozambique in Southeastern Africa. Today, the term mostly refers to the valley of the East African Rift, which is in the process of splitting the African Plate into two new separate plates.

Red indicates the Great Rift Valley

The Earth is an ever-changing planet.
But every now and then something dramatic happens and leads to renewed questions about the African continent splitting in two.
Dramatic events, such as a highway suddenly breaking apart due to a fault can give continental rifting a sense of urgency.
However, rifting is a very slow process that, most of the time, goes about splitting Africa without anybody even noticing.

Geologists predict part of Africa will break off in thousands or millions of years.


Yes, the highway was repaired allowing vehicles to use it once more... but who knows how long until it again collapses!

A bit further down the road are the beautiful wheat fields near Narok

13 July 2018

Random shots of friends, a video from downtown Nairobi, a 'Jerrycan party', and c-r-a-z-y fog

Two cool dudes - - Fredrick and his son, Blessed Jason

I had Fredrick, his wife Betty, and their son Jason over for a second time. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows outside.

One day when I called Fredrick to pick me up, he had just gotten his son from school... so we all squeezed on the motorbike.

Willi is a struggling artist; his small studio is just down the road from where I live.




While Linet and I were on our way to visit Masudi and his family, I took this video as we waited for our bus to fill with passengers. It was 8am on a Saturday, so the activity was quite sedate. One of these days, I should film from the same spot on a weekday evening when things are more chaotic.

Proud Baba Masudi with his son, Jason Mwakidudu Masudi

My neighbors and I went 6 days without water in our taps! Fortunately the construction crew next door filled up our jerrycans!

Kim and I hiked up at Ngong Hills again. It never disappoints, and is always stunning!


Throughout the day, the fog was absolutely crazy! This is just one example.