• ashirk@gmail.com
  • Kijabe, Kenya
The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

This has been a quiet week for us.  The girls were off school on Monday and Tuesday, so we went camping with some new friends.  The Davis’s have been in Kijabe for 7 years, and their youngest has quickly become a wonderful friend for Madeline and Annabelle (as they have been to us).  We sight-unseen-yard-sale-purchased a bunch of camping gear, so we were pretty well equipped to spend a weekend outside under the stars.  The kids swam in the river, we grilled some wonderful burgers, roasted marshmallows, played guitar, and relaxed.

When we came to Kijabe a year ago, I realized that if I wanted to have friends I better get in shape.  I spent the year running, biking, and swimming, and even ran a marathon in April.  So this week, extra wheels for the Kijabe “guest-bike” arrived from America and I tagged along on my first ride.  26.2 miles, which was spectacularly beautiful, but certainly the hardest physical activity I have ever undertaken.  We rode through forests and tea fields, burned through descents and I made it home in one piece!
Another outdoor pursuit this week was installing a rain barrel for watering.  We moved into a home with a massive garden.  The 120 litre tank may not even make a dent as far as our water needs go, but it’s a start.  The girls used it to make a few shillings cleaning the bike this afternoon!
I also made my first solo drive to Nairobi to pick up some groceries and on the way home stopped to meet up with a visitor from the states who brought a few supplies for Arianna (a Mophie phone charger and Magic Erasers!).  I took a bit of a wrong turn and wound up in the middle of a beautiful tea plantation.Kenya is spectacularly beautiful, if you know where to look.  The roads are treacherous and full of potholes and police roadblocks. . .everything is perpetually covered by a layer or dust, or this weekend, mud.  There is no adopt-a-highway program to pick up litter from trash-fires.  Buildings are created for function, not aesthetics. . .at least the buildings that are not hidden behind cement fences topped with barbed wire.

But just off the main road, off the beaten path, are places of extreme beauty.  Where children laugh and smile as you ride by on your baicikeli.  Where Kenyans are working the fields, walking the roads, and genuinely happy to see a new face.  Where kids run alongside you and cheer like the tour-de-france as you climb a hill.  Where vistas are spectacular, secret, and each overlook feels like a private discovery.

I know our pictures are not yet showing the whole of Kenya. . .that we are slanting things toward the beautiful and away from the messy.  That will change over time, but right now I need pictures to be a pep-talk and a reminder of what is amazing here.  To be an escape from what I haven’t figured out and don’t understand.  To be a record that I am learning. . .slowly. . .where to look.

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