31 October 2011

Another visit with Agnes and family, plus Mary Alu and family

Zach, Duane, Owen

While visiting Agnes and her boys recently, we went for a nice hour-long stroll. Along the way, Owen joined up with us... regardless of the fact that he'd never met any of us. I love such simplicity and instant friendships like that in Kenya!

Thunder rumbled the whole time we were out and the sky was beautiful and dramatic, with rolling thunderhead clouds. We saw rain in the distance, but fortunately it didn't come our way.

As we neared the market area and Agnes' house, we stopped for a soda and mandazi at a tiny cafĂ©. The walk and the snack were a wonderful interlude in our time together!

I also made a point to visit Mary Alu and her family again. For so many years, I have enjoyed going to her house. She always greets me with a warm hug and a warm smile. The food is delicious and the conversation with everyone is enjoyable. I also love her compound with so many trees.

Brian is engrossed in an atlas I bought for him.

Cedric is such a sweet boy!

Mary is having a new kitchen built.

24 October 2011

A walk in the woods

"I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least - 
and it is commonly more than that - sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, 
absolutely free from all worldly engagements."  
~Henry David Thoreau

Ngong Hills

Kim and I recently took a really fun and leisurely five-hour stroll through Ololua Forest. We had a very enjoyable time and discovered some interesting things.

For instance, before we entered the forest, we stumbled onto a small factory that produces charcoal briquettes and chicken-feed pellets, the latter apparently made out of omena (sardines)... judging by the strong fish odor.

Charcoal factory

As we strolled through the forest, we found ourselves speaking often of Wangari Maathai, who recently passed away. In fact, her funeral was conducted on the same day as our hike. In case you're not familiar with her, she was quite a champion for the environment and especially trees. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, in recognition of her untiring efforts to save the environment.

"Anybody can dig a hole and plant a tree. But make sure it survives. 
You have to nurture it, you have to water it, you have to keep at it until it becomes rooted 
so it can take care or itself. There are so many enemies of trees." 
~Wangari Maathai

We took our hike on a Saturday, which was apparently washing day for many people in the area.

"Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow."  
~Henry David Thoreau

09 October 2011

A newborn kid (of the goat variety)

One of the most memorable things Kim and I got to witness on our hike was a young Maasai goat-herder and his interaction with a doe (female goat) and her newborn kid. 

After two and a half hours of walking, we decided to find a spot to eat our sandwiches. While doing so, a herd of goats wandered by.

Take a close look at the herder. Do you see the newborn kid dangling from one leg?

I've actually seen this fairly often. I think I always had the idea in my head that a shepherd/goatherd would gently carry a newborn in the crook of his arm. Not here in Kenya :)

My guess is that this kid had been born that morning... AS the goats moved around and grazed. Still guessing... I think that because the Maasai lad has no real way to corral the rest of the herd (numbering 30-40) to allow the kid to suckle... he just grabs it by the leg and the normal routine of meandering and grazing continues.

What I hadn't seen before, is what the following photos show.

The herder placed the kid on the ground. After locating the mother, he grabbed her by a foreleg and pulled it over to the kid. He gently forced her head down to the kid, until it was touching (or almost touching).

He patiently held it in this position for 5-10 minutes. Kim and I think that he was forcing the mother to get the scent of her offspring... and possibly forcing the kid to get the scent of its mother. The doe didn't seem to me to so excited about this task. Maybe she would rather be grazing like the other goats.

At one point, she wrestled away went to join the rest of the herd. In the photo above, you can see her coming back to her kid. Apparently her instinct kicked in and she realized this was her responsibility.

The children in the photo apparently lived nearby. They seemed to be as fascinated as Kim and I, watching this process unfold.

Soon, the mother came back to the kid, and sniffed it on her own volition. She then bleated a few times. My guess is she was communicating to the kid, "I'm your mother. I'm here to care for you. You belong to me."

And so... mission accomplished... the herd continued to lazily move along and graze... and the kid was once more dangled from the hand of the herder. I guess that's where it spent the remainder of the day... until they reached the manyatta (home) at dusk.

Kim and I marveled at what we were privileged to witness.

Such an elemental fact of life... the way God created it to be.

Kim, enjoying the unfolding scene