Monday, February 6, 2012

Chuka village stay and Maasai Mara safari!

Hello from Lang'ata!
We have just finished up a week with the Green Belt Movement, and are back at their center in Lang'ata, on the outskirts of Nairobi. This week we spent a few days in a Chuka community (one of nine Meru tribes) near Mt. Kenya, enjoying time in homestays and working with the women in the local Kiang'ondu network of the Green Belt Movement. In addition to learning about seed harvesting, planting, and forest restoration, we all had a chance to help with daily chores such as milking the cows, cutting up arrowroot and other vegetables for meal preparation, and even learning how to pick tea!

From the Chuka village visit, we headed southwest across the Great Rift Valley to the plains. Today we wrapped up a two-day safari in the Maasai Mara reserve in western Kenya - saw plenty of wildlife (elephants, lions, giraffes, cheetahs, warthogs, topi, gazelles, etc.) and are now resting up back at the Lang'ata GBM centre outside of Nairobi - tomorrow morning we depart early for the northern region of Samburu!

Message from Latif: Hello. We are in Kenya and having a great time. It’s been a busy week for us here. I finally get some idea about where my lineage might be from, better than having no idea. We went out to the chuka community. There we met the chuka people where they welcomed us with open arms. We helped with chores and planting trees. We also did a safari where we saw a number of animals to include lions, elephants,zebras etc.

Message from Charlene: Hey friends and family! I am healthy and happy. So, no worries; Hakuna matata! Just in the first week, this trip has been more than I ever dreamed of! …And I’ve dreamt of this for a very long time! It’s been so stimulating and so amazing. Great landscape, great food and spectacular people. : )

Message from Mayeli: Hello everyone. First let me start by telling my two boys that I love and miss them very much and a special thank you to my husband, and the rest of my family who have been a great support, and made this trip possible through their support. It’s been a very busy week, and we just finished a long safari, before that we spent a couple of days in Chuka with our host families, and have had a blast, everyone has been very welcoming. My favorite part so far has been the predation we got to witness on safari. (Brad: Don’t you realize that I’ve had….since Easters!)

Message from Brenda: Hujambo rafiki na familia! I don’t know where to start because so many amazing things have happened in this past week. I have been attempting to absorb every sight and sound, usually to the detriment of my sleep pattern. So far my most cherished moments have been in Chuka dancing and singing with the community members. They have named me Makena, meaning joyful/always laughing, and I will be forever grateful for their hospitality and warmth.

Messge from Terri: Jambo! I can’t believe I have only been here one week because I have experienced so much already. Some of the highlights have been most recently, the Maasai warriors, their village and the songs they sang with us. We each wore the lions head which was killed by the chief’s son while we danced. Of course the safari was most excellent as we saw most everything you can imagine, however only three of the big five! We were just 15 feet from both a pride of lions and a cheetah! Ok, back to the highlights: The Chuka village was probably my favorite part so far. We each stayed with a Chuka family and became part of their family. My family named me Gacieri which means a seeker – for knowledge. I milked their cow, harvested tea, and helped cook meals. We each planted a tree and harvested seedlings as the Chuka community is part and parcel of the Green Belt Movement – the focus of this first part of our journey. We have been treated very well, are drinking lots of water and learning a ton. I can’t wait to share all my photos. Thank you Blake for all your love and support, and my family and friends for checking in on me. I am very blessed.

Message from Taya: I’ve been constantly thinking about the plausibility of me doing research on lions in Kenya. Challenges are great and many in every single aspect and as soon as I’ve stepped off the plane I’ve been trying to assess them and work them out. So my guilty pleasure here is keeping a wishlist of things I want to buy from here and constantly updating it.

Message from Mwalimu Jim: We had a great stay in Chuka! The women running the shamba (farm) were wonderful, and the men (Kiriungi and Njoka) taught Latif and me how to cut fodder for the cattle, how to pick tea, how to make arrows, how to chop wood and how to carve. I tried to offer help in cooking but the women just giggled and sent me away. We ate like kings although it was their own simple fresh food (cabbage, potatoes, rice, ugali, githeri, fruit, millet porridge, chai, etc.) and Kiriungi gave us lessons in the Chuka language and culture. I felt like part of the family and very welcomed!!! We also learned the dance of love!!!

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