I have now been in Kenya a week. Except for a day in Nairobi, I have spent most of it in the Central Province about 150 km north. I live and work in a village called Endarasha and i am helping the Endarasha Farmers' Dairy Cooperative Society create a business plan that will help them grow in the future. From Nairobi, there a good road up until Nyeri, the administrative headquarters for the Central Province but from Nyeri, there is another 40 minute ride on a road that is full of ruts and stones and it makes for a super hard ride. When I need to get out of Endarasha or go to Nyeri, I ride a small van call a "Menuta" which seats a dozen riders and the bus will not go until it is full so we may have to wait 30 minutes while it waits for more riders... but it is the typical mode of transportation here and almost no one has a car... Nyeri is the trading center for the area which is mostly agricultural. there is extraordinary density of cultivations here in the tightly space farms that grow maize, beans, potatoes, cassava, bananas, sugar cane, millet, squash and melons, tomatoes, citrus fruit, cabbages, and carrots as well as tea, coffee, and macademia nuts... it makes for an extraordinary and beautiful landscape around Endarasha and Nyeri.
I am back in Nyeri today after having spent the night with Mary and a couple of her Peace Corp colleagues. They have been here for more than a year already. Mary is my partner in my project as she has a business degree and has been working at the Cooperative since coming to Kenya. They know their way around the Central Highlands and know many of the residents here. This morning, we caught a ride into Nyeri on the back of a milk truck from the coop where Mary and I are working. We had dust all over us but this didn't phase Mary and her PCV friends, Scott and Stacy, whose dark clothes are now dusty brown and they are on their way to a wedding reception in a town two hours away... and they also have a live goat with them -- Goats or small live animals are normal wedding present to the bride and groom here. As for me, I am shortly going to take a taxi into the big Aberdares National Park, where I will spend the night at the Ark a "tree-hotel" (see firstname.lastname@example.org) located inside the park and high above the forest canope. Aberdares National Park is near Mt. Kenya. There, I will have a chance of seeing some local animals, perhaps elephants, rinos, etc... This will be the only activity of this sort I will have a chance to do while here as time is short but here's hoping. It will also be nice to treat myself to a bath and shampoo and a dip in the swimming pool before returning to Nyeri and meeting up with Mary and friends for the 40 minute ride back to Endeshara.
Next time, I write on this blog, I will add pictures of this amazing trip to Kenya and of the fabulous landscapes and people I am getting to know.
So long for now..