Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bush Log 2015

Day 1:

Packed and ready to head to the bush for 11 days, but with more rain overnight and into this morning it is questionable whether we will leave today or not. Spending this morning with the mechanic, having more thorns removed from my tires. 

4 pm I just received the message that they still want to leave today. I am going to protest, since it would mean driving part of the way in the dark...if the roads are even passable. One of the workers has already left on the piki (motorcycle). 


Leaving at 7 am tomorrow...thankful for another night in my nice bed.

Day 2:

7 am (saa moja- hour one- Swahili time) My truck is packed and ready. The others gradually arrive for chai. 

7:30 am on the road. The detours are numerous and frustrating as every low spot in the road has a “puddle” with unknown hazards and depths. I must slow down and drive up onto the outside of the road for a good distance and then slow and rejoin the main road. At another point we take a very large detour and I briefly get stuck in the mud as I encounter a piki who will not move and I slow down too much. At least I am driving this in the daylight!

Praise God the oil company’s new concrete bridge at Kerio has stood up to the rains this month. This is the first time I have seen it completed. We drive across slowly through ankle high running water after the people walking have all crossed. 

Finally here!
As we get closer to Nakor we see fresh piki tracks. The trip took us much longer than usual and I am happy to finally arrive at the house. We learn that the worker driving the piki had to stay at Nakor last night, because the water covering the concrete bridge was too high to cross last night. Now I’m even more thankful we waited until today to leave! Sleeping in my bed last night was much better than sleeping in the truck!  

My truck on the left.
After some rest and lunch, I am anxious to see how high the river is behind the house. This weeks work will be at the new farm on the other side of the river. The rains could make our "commute" each day interesting. 

Camels coming to get water. 
As we head down the hill to the river, my thoughts (about the difficulty I will have on the return trip up the hill) are interrupted by strange sounds. We continue on and as we look across the river a large herd of camels erupt from the trees. I am fascinated just standing and watching 5 young boys herding, guiding, and prodding theses large animals into and across the river.

Boys milking the camel. 
I learn to say many phrases in Ng'aturkana, such as: “The camels are crossing the river”, “The camels are drinking from the river”, “The children are milking the camels" "The children want me to drink the camel milk." If I had an empty bottle and some money I might have taken some back to the house to boil and try, but I politely decline their offer. 

They eventually get all the camels across and heading down river away from us. What a sight that was. As we ascend the hill back to the house I think about how far the water came up on some of those camel legs and wish I had longer legs. Tomorrow will be interesting. 

 Day 3:

Exhaustion took over and I slept well last night, although my body hurts from yesterdays drive, climbing back up the sandy hill and sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the porch. My essential items (camera, toilet paper, sunscreen and water bottles are secured in my small back pack, with the toilet paper and camera in ziplocks).  Let the next adventure begin. 

Others crossing the Kerio river. 
Walking down the hill to the river is the easiest thing I will do today, at least I don't fall or slip. Near the river edge I roll up and hike up my skirt, as much as possible to keep some of it dry. I am told I should take off my shoes and dig my toes into the mud as I walk. That's a great recommendation, but harder to do than you might think and luckily my language helper has a tight hold on my arm to help guide me across the river. While I can swim and I would really prefer to stay upright and not need to use my swimming skills in this river.
The hill I have to climb back up to the house. 
Made it across and still upright, but very muddy and wet. Many low spots and uneven places in the river made the walk very difficult. In the middle the water was up to my hips. I make a mental note that I should not cross if it is above my waist as, even with being held up/ dragged at times by my language helper, that walk across was so tiring for me, I wonder how I will get back across and up the hill. 

This woman has a baby and 3 posts!
Five minutes later I think I might never get home again, after I ask how far we must walk to reach the farm site. Generally you hear "not far" or "just over there" and I consider those places "far",  so I am very scared when I am told "it is very far". I am also told this after I put one of the posts on my head to help carry to the site. Then I feel like a total wimpy mzungu as I see the other women with babies slung on their backs taking 3 of those posts on their heads. 

Success, I manage to carry my post all the way on my head and only stopped for a brief rest once. Wow the difference water makes. Being by the river, we walked through the palms as the path twisted here and there. The post sticking out in front of me made it even more interesting as I almost got stuck in some branches at one point. 

Setting the posts. 
The farm work today consists of driving the posts into the ground for the outer fence. I am no help for that job even on a day when I'm not so tired from the river crossing and trek through the jungle. I am given a good job, sit and hold a baby whose mama goes to carry more posts.  Babies do not know to be scared of me yet and I am not even upset when she pees on me, since my skirt is already filthy, muddy and wet. However, now she is hungry, I am not going to be able to fix that problem. One of the older ladies is able to quiet her some until her mama comes back to feed her. 

Beginning teaching about development.
Sitting under the trees learning. 
Men sitting on their ekicholong's

Work is done for today, so now we all join together under the trees for some rest and shade while the training and teaching is happening (Farming God's Way and a CHE lesson about development versus relief). Praying that the people here will truly understand the blessing God has giving them and will glorify him through their ownership of this farm and all it produces. 

Trekking back to the river. Now the walk seems "very, very far" and I am not carrying anything. 

Fresh spinach!
The water has risen and now is up to my waist, what an adventure. 

I do not even know how I made it back up the hill, but I am showered and in dry clothes and excited to see fresh crisp spinach (swiss chard) that has grown from seeds I helped plant with the team that was here in February. Yum!

Day 4:

Today I stay at the house to study. I know physically I will not be able to get across the river twice and up the hill. I could barely roll off my mattress and rise to a standing position to make it to the bathroom this morning. Thank goodness it is a western toilet with a seat and not a squatty potty!

Onions I bought for 20 bob (about 30 cents)
Watermelon from one of the farms. 
We do head out briefly to see the market. It had more limited supplies than I had hoped and I only bought a few onions, but I was very happy to learn that those onions were from one of the churches gardens and so was this watermelon. 

Isaac, John, Kevin and another John. 

It is good to spend more time with the house help Nawoyarot and her boys, Isaac, John and Kevin. I work on pronunciation with my note cards and have them repeat the English pronunciation with me to help me learn the words. The boys are so cute and love this game, however, I realized that they will not always correct my poor Turkana pronunciations like their mom will, so I listen closely for her voice nearby to correct me. 

Kevin and his "visor" fan.
Next project with Nawoyarot is to figure out how to make a fan like the one I purchased many years ago in Brazil. It looks like it would be simple, but the first version turned into a visor. Kevin loved it, we were a little baffled. The next two prototype were better, but not great. Tomorrow we may try greener leaves. At this point I do not think it can get worse! 
Ours on the left and middle, Brazilian version on the right. 

Day 5:

Since Monday, even before we left Lodwar we were told about a wedding that was to take place this week. Five days later and I keep asking "What is the hold up?" Apparently, the "bull" has not yet arrived. I have seen very few cows or bulls in Turkana and I ask where it is coming from. I am told near Kerio. That's where the new concrete bridge is. Holy cow! That's a long way for a bull to walk. All I can think is: that meat will taste terrible once it gets here! 

Day 6:

Apetet near the Apetet tree!
Still no bull! Spending today in a language lessons under the trees, helping at the demonstration farm and visiting friends at another farm near there. While out I finally got my picture taken near an "Apetet" tree.  

Moringa tree with seed pods. 
Moringa leaves and goat dung! Who doesn't love spending time collecting these things. The Moringa leaves will be washed, dried and crushed for me to use as a supplement. I will then use my experience to help when I teach others here about growing, collecting and preparing the Moringa for use. Click here to learn more about Moringa. The goat dung will be taken back to Lodwar and used as fertilizer for the plants and trees at my house. I was happy to be able to bring back many medicinal plant seeds and cuttings from my March training class and now I am ready to start working on growing them. 
Collected Moringa leaves and seed pods.

Seed pod and seeds
Collected seeds that will be planted. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Bush Log to learn if:

- the bull ever arrives and the wedding takes place
- the water goes down and I go back across the river
- the new bridge at Kerio is still functional
- I see a rainbow in the desert
- the Moringa trees are growing at my house


  1. Thanks for sharingđŸ˜„

  2. The adventures of Shannon! I love it!

  3. We are living very different lives...I love reading about all your adventures!