31 March 2011

Kakamega Rain Forest

Kakamega Rain Forest is in Western Province, northwest of Nairobi, and near to the border with Uganda. It is Kenya's last remnant of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once spanned the continent.
Including reserves, the forest encloses about 90 square miles, a little less than half of which currently remains as indigenous forest. The climate is very wet with over six feet of rain annually.

Rosie and I stayed at Rondo Retreat Center, which is just on the edge of the forest.

Job was an excellent guide for our five-and-a-half-hour hike in the forest. In the above photo, he is saving an orchid so he can re-plant it. As we hiked, we happened upon several women illegally gathering firewood in the forest. The orchid was on one of the pieces of firewood. Job spoke to them very kindly about the effects that has on the forest's eco-system. A lover of the forest, he was noticeably disturbed by what the women were doing. He understands their dilemma in needing cooking fuel in order to feed their families. However, he is also very aware that such behavior will eventually destroy the already-dwindling forest.

Job speaking to one of the women

Job and my friend, Rosie

River Yala flows through the forest

As I mentioned above, we spent five-and-a-half hours on this hike. But, it wasn't all hard work. We also stopped now and then to "smell the roses", so-to-speak.

28 March 2011

Rondo Retreat Center

"The tranquil Rondo Retreat Centre in the Kakamega Rain Forest welcomes you to make it your home for a few memorable days. You are invited to take time from the rush of your busy life to come and contemplate nature, yourself, the world, and the works of God. Originally, Rondo was owned by a sawmiller who, in 1948, built a house at his wife’s request at the base of what was thought to be the biggest tree in the Forest - an Elgon Olive - the stump of which still stands today."
(above quote taken from Rondo's website)

Nothing better than enjoying a cup or two of chai, some good books, and listening to the sounds of the forest!

Water lilies on a small pond

We made ample time for relaxing on the lovely grounds.

Veranda on the Big House

Dining Room - The food was delicious!

"Among the vast array of birds the Kakamega Rain Forest is home to the flamboyant Great Blue Turaco, gem-like Emerald Cuckoo and the cacophonous Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill. From the monkey family we have the Blue, the Red-tailed, the common Black-and-White Colobus, and the rare deBrazza’s."
(above quote taken from Rondo's website)

Below is just a sampling of the wildlife Rosie and I enjoyed during our 2-day stay. We thoroughly enjoyed the monkeys! They were not only conspicuous, they were quite noisy. We also saw a vast array of birds that Job so efficiently spotted and identified for us; I included pictures of only two of them.  

[Note: I got these five photos below from the internet.]

Blue Monkey

Red-Tailed Monkey

Black and White Colobus Monkey

Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill

Brown-Eared Woodpecker

24 March 2011

Three-hour hike to watch the sunrise

On our last morning, Rosie and I roused ourselves out of bed at 5:00am. The purpose was to join Job for another hike - this time through the forest and up the steep slope of Lirhanda Hill (the highest elevation in the forest). The view from the top was spectacular! Not only did we get to enjoy watching the sun peek over the horizon, but we also took pleasure in the sight of the forest canopy from up above it. Additionally, we could see the Nandi escarpment and Mt. Elgon off in the distance.

Right to left: Job and Rosie, plus another visitor and her guide

Looking down on the forest canopy

The grass in the foreground is the type used to thatch roofs on mud huts.

21 March 2011

Malaba, on the border with Uganda

Because Malaba is only a 20-minute walk plus a 30-minute boda boda ride from where we were at Agnes' home... and because I'd never been there... Agnes, Ronald, and I decided to do a day-trip to the border town. Malaba is the second-busiest border town between Kenya and Uganda - after Busia .

I found it all to be very interesting and was amazed when I was allowed to stroll across the border into Uganda - with no visa. We stayed for about an hour - doing a bit of shopping at the market and having a soda. I enjoyed seeing all the posters for Uganda's presidential election (which was only days away).

We took motorbike boda bodas from Acholya to Malaba (20-minute ride)

There were hundreds of lorries queuing to cross the border

I'll never cease to be amazed at what can be carried on a bike

We strolled across the bridge (over Malaba River) and into Uganda

I bought some pieces of Jack Fruit; it has a unique taste and texture

Many people were selling bananas at the small market area

17 March 2011

A visit with Agnes to Acholya

For several years, Agnes and I have planned to go to her family's home at Acholya. We finally made the trip in February. Three of her five sons went with us. It took 3 hours - on two vehicles - to reach the place. Then we had a 20-minute walk in the hot sun. It was my first time to Teso District. I enjoyed meeting her two brothers and their families.

Ladies selling bananas to the passengers of a bus, at Misikhu

We had a hot walk from the highway to Agnes' brother's house

Agnes and Ronald's mother died several years ago

Another brother - getting fresh milk for our chai



This cousin had malaria and didn't feel so well

Ronald making bricks out of mud; they will dry in the sun

His wife helping

Agnes admires their work

Ronald with their three boys

Ronald's wife, Agnes, and two ladies from the neighborhood

Breakfast - Pope, Duane, Zach, and Agnes

14 March 2011

Challenging Quotes from John Wesley (1703-1791)

"…every shilling which you needlessly spend on your apparel, is, in effect, stolen from God and the poor. And how many precious opportunities of doing good have you defrauded yourself of! How often have you disabled yourself from doing good, by purchasing what you did not [need]… I pray consider this well. Perhaps you have not seen it in this light before.
"When you are laying out that money in costly apparel, which you could have otherwise spared for the poor, you thereby deprive them of what God; the proprietor of all, had lodged in your hands for their use. If so, what you put upon yourself, you are, in effect, tearing from the back of the naked; as the costly and delicate food which you eat, you are snatching from the mouth of the hungry. For mercy, for pity, for Christ's sake, for the honor of his gospel, stay your hand. Do not throw this money away. Do not lay out on nothing, yea, worse than nothing, what may clothe your poor, naked, shivering, fellow-creature!"
(The Works of John Wesley, vol. 7, "On Dress")

"You bind your own hands. You, make it impossible for you to do that good which otherwise you might. So that you injure the poor in the same proportion as you poison your own soul. You might have clothed the naked; but what was due to them, was thrown away on your own costly apparel. You might have fed the.hungry… but the superfluities of your own table swallowed up that whereby they should have been profited. And so this wasting of thy Lord's goods is an instance of complicated wickedness; since hereby thy poor brother perisheth, for whom Christ died."

(The Works of John Wesley, vol. 8, "A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion")

"If I leave behind me ten pounds (above my debts and my books or what may happen to be due on account of them), you and all mankind bear witness against me, that I lived and died a thief and a robber."
(The Works of John Wesley, vol. 11, "An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion")