I’ve barely been in my kayak this summer so I’m really looking forward to this event put on this weekend (August 8-10) by the California Chapter of SheJumps!
Join other females for a weekend of whitewater instruction and progression on the South Fork of the American River! We will camp along the river at the Coloma Resort Lotus for two nights and do runs varying from Class 2 to Class 3. Open to women of all experience levels.
Women’s Whitewater 101 Clinic ($229), Saturday & Sunday. This class is for total beginners to the sport of whitewater kayaking. Students will learn how to exit the kayak safely, how to maneuver the kayak, and how to engage currents correctly in a Class 2 section of the South Fork American river. Sign up here! Sign up here.
Women’s Whitewater 201 Clinic ($229), Saturday & Sunday. This class is for women that have taken a introductory whitewater class before and are ready to get back on the river and work on skills. The class will run a section of the South Fork American River from Marshall Gold State Park to Camp Lotus. Sign up here.
Step Up Your Kayaking with Playboating Concepts with pro Jessica Yurtinus ($75+Eventbrite fee; open to Class III paddlers with a reliable roll), Saturday, Chile Bar play run! Sign up here!
Get it on the Gorge, a guided paddle on the Gorge with professional kayaker Sara James (donation to SheJumps, open to Class III paddlers with a reliable roll), Sunday, Gorge. Sign up here.
Other Scheduled Events: Friday Social Hour at Marco’s, Friday at 7pm: to get aquainted and talk about the weekend.
Group paddle on Chili Bar, Saturday, 9 AM @Coloma Resort, 9:30 at CCK (free; open to Class III paddlers with a reliable roll)
Saturday Dinner: eat well, drink heartily and make some new paddling friends! Slideshow by Sara James. Bring a dish to share or cook at camp!
Group paddle on the Gorge, Sunday, 10:15 AM at Coloma Resort or 10:30 at CCK (free; open to Class III paddlers with a reliable roll)
Camping at a SheJumps group camp at Coloma Resort both Friday and Saturday nights. $15/night.
Here is the complete schedule for the weekend:
Any time after 1pm on Friday: show up at Coloma Resort and check in under Meghan Kelly (Reservation # G102271). Coloma Resort is located at 6921 Mt. Murphy Road in Coloma. Please pay Meghan $15 for each night you plan to stay if you didn’t pre-pay.
6:00 PM: Meghan will be at camp to greet people.
7:00 – 9:00 PM: Informal social dinner at Marcos in Coloma.
9:00 AM: Meet at CCK for 101, 201, and Step up your Kayaking with Playboating Concepts clinics if you’re signed up.
9:30 AM: Meet at Coloma Resort to Shuttle up to Chili Bar for open Chili Bar Run. Self shuttle and take out at Coloma Resort or join some less advanced paddlers for a trip from Coloma Resort to Lotus or Greenwood.
12:30 PM: C to G run for Class 2 boaters! meet at Coloma Resort. Scout Sorcic will be the point person for this and some paddlers from the Chili Bar run will likely join to help too.
4:00 PM: Roll Session by Scout Sorcic and co. Meet at Coloma Resort and we’ll find a spot near there!
7:00 PM: Potluck at Coloma Resort. Bring your favorite camping dish to make or share. SheJumps will have a few main vegetarian courses available.
8:00 PM: Slide show by Sara James and others!
9:00 AM: Meet at CCK for 101 and 201 clinics if you’re signed up.
10:00 AM: Meet at Sierra Rising Bakery for Sara James’ “Get it on the Gorge” run and the open Gorge Run. We’ll set shuttle from there. (we’ll need to break down camp prior to this!)
2 or 3pm, let’s all meet for a beer at CCK!
What to Bring
Boat, paddle, pfd, skirt, and helmet – all of these things are available for rent from CCK but call ahead!
A dish to share on Saturday night
We are excited to recognize California Canoe & Kayak as a partner for this event!
Despite support from our sponsors. partners and awarded grants we are still a short of fully funding our expedition. Instead of giving up, we decided to launch an independent crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, which allows the online public to fund projects that they are interested in.
We believe that our expedition is worth funding- We want to showcase that with hard work and determination,a team of women can pursue a dream toward success. We want to encourage everyone else to do this! We want to grow our knowledge base about the climate, oceans, and glaciers and share our experiences with the public. We don’t have one sponsor that unites us, just a single mission, and we hope you will help us by giving what you can.
Last night we tipped our online fundraiser for $20,000 over the halfway mark. We have $10,000 left to raise and we need your help! Watch our campaign movie, donate if you can and most importantly, please help us share this project online!
Thanks for your support from the whole Shifting Ice team!
When we won the Polartec Challenge Grant last year for our All-Female Sail and Ski from Iceland to Greenland, we thought the rest of the funding would fall in line with some hard work. We’ve applied for 10 grants, sent sponsorship proposals to a lot of companies, and experienced about a 15% success rate. Getting told “No” that often can be discouraging, but we really had no choice but to keep on asking and plugging along. After all, we were dedicated to doing the trip. We already had some great partners on board and we already put our deposit on the boat!
Now we are asking you! Our friends, family, supporters, blog readers, etc, to help us fund the remainder of the trip cost. If we can reach our goal of $20,000, we can actually pay our photographer and produce an amazing final product! We can also pay off the credit card we took out to pay for the sailboat charter! So help us! Even if 85% of you say no, we can reach our goal! But say yes, and I’ll be this happy!
Today is the last day of the super successful Kickstarter campaign for Pretty Faces, the movie about skier girls! I encourage you to donate, even though they have already reached their “goal.” Not only will it feel great when you see the film come to fruition, you’ll get a rad prize like heli-skiing, a “mind-blowing” sweatshirt, a trucker hat, and many more! So, don’t miss this opportunity!
We’re pretty excited about reaching our goal! Will you help us jump even higher?
Please take a moment and consider a donation to Pretty Faces – an all female ski and snowsports adventure film! I had the incredible opportunity to be an athlete on a film trip for Pretty Faces last winter and I can attest to how much the collective efforts of a few people have put into the making of this film.
Pretty Faces athletes on the “top of the world” in Alaska
So check out the kickstarter and donate what you can. There are some great prizes in the mix! I went for the $50 level to get a DVD and trucker hat!
So it was Tuesday morning, and the final leg of the Kenya trip was upon us. We’d depart for Naro Moru, a town at the base of Mt. Kenya, at 11 AM to meet with the Mt. Kenya Guide and Porter Association and hatch a plan for our trip up Mt. Kenya. Kelvin gave us a lift in a car he borrowed for the occasion to fit our skis and snowboards. He’d never seen skis and snowboards in person and he’d never been to Naro Moru, so it was fun for all of us.
Kelvin, our fearless driver!
En route in Kelvin’s ski carrying machine!
We met with the head guide Matthew and decided to ascend via the Naro Moru route since the weather this time of year is unpredictable and usually not great. We were here during the “light rainy” season and the rains had come a few weeks late and basically showed up for the start of our trip. The association put us up in super nice “bandas” complete with a fire place and we were to depart the next morning.
Really nice accommodations at the Mt. Kenya Guides Association.
The next morning we met our guide Simon and some of our porters and loaded into a private matatu to the gate of Mt. Kenya National Park. We picked up porters and sometimes just their backpacks along the way. It was pouring rain. Dropped at the entrance, we paid our park fees and did some last minute gear rearrangements and were off.
Bags and skis ready to be loaded into the matatu.
The first 10 km were up a rough dirt road to the Met (meteorological) station were we’d camp at 10,000 feet for the night. The high clay content combined with constant rain made the road slick. We were in a bamboo forest and spotted monkeys and water buck from time to time. There was evidence of elephants, but we didn’t see any. Half way through, the rain subsided and we were able to enjoy the last few kilometers. Day one was in the books the only thing left to do was to set up camp and watch monkeys scarf down flowers.
A rainy start to the hike.
Starting to clear up and the views are getting better!
My pants and shoes would remain this way the rest of the trip. My shoes would remain in Kenya.
Sykes monkeys take over the Met Station
It rained all night and I dreamt that I was sleeping in water. Luckily, the Black Diamond Mega Mid held up and we emerged dry the next morning. After assessing the state of our tent and talking to the caretakers at Met Station about the weather up higher, we decided to leave our tent behind and utilize the hut accommodations the rest of the trip. Our next destination was McKinders, 10 km away and 4000 ft higher. Part of the hike would be through a section called “the vertical bog” which would live up to its name – spongy, wet, green, steep, and rain from above continually adding to the moisture. I was in great spirits the first 3 hrs of the hike, but as the constant rain started to seep through my Gore-tex jacket, I started to unravel mentally and asked the guide if we could pick up the pace. He declined and so for self-preservation, I charged ahead and made it to McKinders within the hour.
Just past “the vertical bog” – just a bog at this point!
One of the 3 types of riberia on Mt. Kenya collecting water like it’s designed to do.
I was trying to smile for this selfie. Behind me is the first glimpse of snow on Mt. Kenya.
When I saw this sign, I just said out loud “happy” even though no one was around.
Looking out the window at Mt. Kenya’s peaks from McKinders Hut. It wants to clear up!
We spent the afternoon drying off the best we could, drinking tea, chatting with some French guys, and resting at McKinders. Around 3 in the afternoon, the clouds broke and I had my first real glimpse of Mt. Kenya. I could finally see why I was here. I’d been questioning it before.
Yeah, it’s pretty beautiful here when the sun is out.
The next morning we headed up to the Austrian Hut and on the way, I crossed the 14,505 ft elevation mark, so I was now officially as high as I’d ever been. I was feeling the altitude and had not slept well the night before, but I was able to keep a steady pace and make it to the hut for rest and lunch. I spent a few hours resting in my sleeping bag waiting for my headache to subside and the weather to clear before making a push to the summit. At 3 pm I suggested we try for the summit with the anecdotal evidence that it cleared up around 4 pm the previous day. Simon and Jen were game and so we started the somewhat quick hike from 15,700 feet to 16,322 feet.
Jen scrambles with assistance from cables on the way up to Pt. Lenana
The 40 minute hike was fun. There was a few inches of new snow on the ground, fun rock moves, moderate exposure, and some rebar ladders. We reached the top quickly and it was still socked in. We took some photos and hung out for a while when we saw a patch of blue make an appearance. Little by little, the skies cleared and we were treated to some views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. I excitedly proclaimed that we might get to ski tonight! So we headed back down to scope out our access to the glacier.
Me at Point Lenana with clear skis moving in! My backseat meteorology turned out to be correct. Watch out NOAA!
By the time we made it back to the Austrian Hut, the clear skies were gone, but the visibility was good enough to get a good look at the glacier. There were a lot more “cracks” visible than I anticipated. We had heard reports ranging from no crevasses to one obvious crevasse to an unknown amount of crevasses. We had also heard that the glacier surface would be anything from old ice to deep, wet snow. From my vantage it looked like it had multiple cracks and wet unconsolidated snow on top of ice. There was even evidence of a new slide. I was hoping the wet snow would freeze overnight and therefore stabilize and bridge some of the cracks. The lookers left side of the glacier was a longer run, but had less new snow and more cracks, were the lookers right seemed smoother, safer, and, overall, like a good starting point for the morning. We confirmed this information with the ranger who lives at the Austrian Hut. He said that the first snow Mt. Kenya received this year started 2 days ago and that due to the long dry spell, many cracks did open up. The glacier definitely looked a lot different than the conditions described to us during this expedition last year and it looked incredibly different from the shots in the Warren Miller movie filmed at least 10 years ago.
We knew the glacier was receding, but I couldn’t help but feel like we’d be one of the last people to ski on snow this close to the equator. We decided to wake up early in the morning and climb the right side roped up and reassess from there.
The morning came and it was clear so we got our stuff together as quickly as possible and made the 10 minute walk to the glacier. We roped up and started climbing. The snow had frozen overnight as I hoped and was perfect for climbing. The surface was not bulletproof and so crampons held well which boded well for skis and snowboards. When we reached the top, the clouds rolled in again so as we started our descent, we were in a white cloud. It induced a bit of vertigo, but I was able to use rocks and some bamboo poles (placed for a glacier study) to make efficient turns down the glacier. It was like a storm day above treeline where you use anything dark to gain perspective. At the bottom of the run, I thought about hiking back up, but the visibility kept degrading and that would be my only run in Africa, this time!
Jen making her way up the Lewis Glacier with clear skies in the background.
Not so clear for skiing, but skiing was still super fun!
After high fives to each other and our guide Simon who was waiting at the bottom, we returned to the Austrian Hut and showed photos to our cook and porters. I think they were impressed, but they were also happy to be heading back down to McKinders to a warmer and dryer environment. So we packed up the rest of our stuff and ran down there just beating the late morning rain! It rained the rest of the day, so instead of heading down, we just relaxed at McKinders and were to descend the final 10 km the next morning. We awoke to clear skies again and started our descent and sure enough it started to rain again at about 11 am! We were all but down at that point. We just had a scary 4 wheel drive down a dirt road to town. Amazingly, it hadn’t rained Naro Moru all weekend and the dry lawn and warm sun felt amazing… as did a shower and soap. We had done it! We climbed Mt. Kenya, skied Lewis Glacier, and summitted for our sisters. The campaign is running for 2 more weeks so go here if you want to donate and support Zawadisha’s work in Kenya! Quick shout out to all my supporters: Elevenate for gear that kept me dryer than everyone else, Osprey for the best ski mountaineering pack on the market, Natures Bakery and Tahoe Trail Bar for delicious snacks to fuel our bodies, Kirkwood Mountain Resort for the training ground, and Kind Design for stylish tshirts and gloves.
It’s clear again! Need at least one jumping photo!
There was no snow or rain in town, but my new friend Maureen wanted to try out the skis!
Back in Nairobi to change out my clothes, I caught a matatu the next morning to meet back up with Jen, Judi, and Cindy in Kilgoris, where they had a Zawadisha group of Masai women called the Upendo group. Upendo means “love” in Kiswahili and I would soon understand why the group was called this. I sat in the front of the matatu and the driver was remarkably safe by Kenya standards. As a result the trip took almost 6 hours, but I was alive and starting to get the hang of traveling on my own in Kenya.
Roadside maize stand from the matatu window
On this trip, I met the first Kenyan to say that the president was very good and not corrupt, which I thought was interesting. During our short time in Nairobi, the front pages of all the papers showed President Uhuru Kenyatta on trial at the International Criminal Courts in the Hauge. He was charged with having people killed in the opposing campaign. I didn’t have a lot of time to read up on it, but at least 10 Kenyans had told me how corrupt their government was. I did take some time to read about Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and some of his successors and there was quite a hint of corruption through power and land consolidation. There were tumultuous times in this relatively new democracy and comparatively, the past 2 presidents were quite an improvement from the previous one. In 1997 I was here during one of the most corrupt regimes in Kenya’s history and I was none the wiser. As a teenager I thought Kenya was all about lions, cheetahs, and elephants, but as an adult, I couldn’t help but think about the living conditions of the local population. Still, apparently the middle class is growing in Kenya, while it continues to shrink in the United States.
En route to Kilgoris, we passed through some very dry and dusty agricultural lands which felt like what the dust bowl might have looked like. Locals said there was less rain this season so far. We climbed up a hill and out of the rain shadow and into an area known for tea plantations. Kenya is one of world’s biggest tea suppliers and the area was lush and green. A light rain started to fall that stopped as we reached Kilgoris and I hopped on a motor bike to the convent where we’d be staying. I was looking forward to meeting back up with Jen, Judi, and Cindy and having a short retreat within a familiar Catholic compound. I found the convent and was shown my room, which reminded me of my days at middle school basketball camp. Jen, Judi, and Cindy hadn’t arrived yet, so I headed out for a long walk to take some photos, stretch my legs, and check out the surroundings. As I left the gates of the convent, I saw a large group of school children leaving school. They were quite surprised to see a “Mazungu” (white person) in their neighborhood and so they proceeded to walk with me for the next 15 minutes. Every once and a while one would get the courage up to talk to me in English and it would send the rest of them into fits of laughter. Despite the general feeling of being laughed at instead of laughed with, I enjoyed their company and had friendly greetings with many of the other locals on my hour long walk.
Classic Africa views on the way to Kilgoris
Kilgoris is really green
When Kenyan children first learn English, they are taught the phrase “How are you,” much like we’re taught como estas in Spanish class. So as I walked past plot of lands, I’d hear children yell out “HOW ARE YOU!” and I’d respond, “Good, how are you!” and then they’d respond, “FINE, HOW ARE YOU!” and thus began the possibly never-ending “how are you cycle” as I called it. It was definitely good for a few laughs!
When I returned, the others arrived and we observed a beautiful African sunset and sat down to dinner prepared by the sisters. We met 2 other Americans staying at the convent who happened to be University of Michigan graduates! They were working locally on project called “World e-Reader” which provided e-books to local people accessible via a mobile phone and also kindles which are provided to schools. There are so many projects in Kenya which is why the legitimacy of the government is so important.
Sunset at the convent
The next morning, we set out to visit businesses run by Zawadisha loan recipients. This would be my first time following Jen, Judi, and Cindy around on their tour. We headed up a crazy dirt road and marveled as our driver made it in his 2-wheel drive sedan to Mororo’s maize distribution warehouse. We were greeting warmly by Mororo and friends who were dressed in traditional Massai garb. Mororo spoke proudly about her business and was excited to increase her loan amount and maize stock. I took some photos and the women were amused that I took a photo of their dog and asked me to also photograph their donkeys. I was not quite in on the joke, but it was still hilarious to see them laugh in delight as I photographed the donkeys. After the visit, we were given tea and andazis which were delicious and headed out with Evelyn to check out her shamba (small farm) that Zawadisha helped support. Evelyn is a local school teacher and so her English was great. She talked about her farm, her improved quality of life, and also how, this year, the rains haven’t come. There was no irrigation in this region and the success of crops were dependent on rain. Lack of rain also put additional financial stress on families as water was often collected for drinking and cooking.
roro making a maize sale.
“How are you?” “Fine. How are you?” “Fine, how are you?”….
Can you believe I took a photo of these donkeys? HILARIOUS!
The scene in front of Mororo’s
The scene outside the “hotel” where we had tea and andazis.
Evelyn made a hilarious joke!
Our next stop was to meet up with the entire Upendo lending circle at a home of one of the members and do a seminar on empowerment and have lunch. When we arrived, the women welcomed us with a song and dance and took our hands leading us into their world. It was so incredibly moving that I had to put my camera away to fully engage. I was able to shoot some video and a few photos. Here is a video of the Upendo group welcoming us. greeting
We piled into the living room area of the home and Jen and Cindy began the day’s workshop. Again, the women were so happy to receive the help from Zawadisha. They talked about the importance of family, a house, animals, clean water, and a farm. The needs were different than the Nairobi group, but so similar throughout the Upendo group. There were many smiles. After lunch, they had another song and dance for us and then gave us traditional Massai bracelets with our names on them. I exchanged emails with one of the daughters and I do hope she writes me. It was an incredibly moving day of warmth, happiness and celebration. Unfortunately the leader of the group was very ill at the time of the meeting. We all made a pilgrimage to her house and prayed for her and visited with her, but we learned that she passed away no more than a week later from pancreatic cancer. The condition we saw her in provoked deep thoughts about end of life care for people in poverty versus wealthier developed nations. It was a heartbreaking end to an inspiring day.
The welcome from the Upendo group
We were sad and thoughtful at Lorna’s home, but this baby made us smile. (photo by Judi)
Just 3 days prior, I had no long term plan for the remaining 4 free days I had in Kenya. Then, just by staying at the hostel and talking to new people the plan became incredibly clear. Traveling with Lina and Lena, two 20 year olds, and Nico, a 25 year old, seemed to just work. Lina and Lena seemed like Kenya veterans and navigated the matatu and restaurant system with ease. We grabbed one matatu to Ukunda, then transferred but grabbed a $1 lunch first, then got off the matatu before Mombasa to board the ferry by foot for free transport across the river. When we landed in Mombasa, there was some confusion as to whether a matatu would connect directly to Kilifi and the 20 Kenyan men yelling in our faces didn’t really help the situation. We decided to just walk away, which is a vital skill in Kenya – sometimes removing yourself from the situation is the only way to find a solution – and sure enough, a Kilifi-bound matatu showed up. Departing Diana around 12:30, we landed in Kilifi via 3 matatus and a ferry at 4pm and Lina and I decided to walk to the orphanage while Lena and Nico hopped in a tuk tuk with our bags. A tuk tuk is a 3 wheel taxi. I’ve only seen them one other time in a town in Peru’s Amazon forest. They speak hot weather to me.
View from inside a Tuk Tuk
As we walked to the orphanage, we saw some of the older children from Saidia kwa Moyo leaving school for the day. They were middle school aged boys and girls and they politely introduced themselves. We settled in to our new temporary home which was really nice as the orphanage has guests on a regular basis. The guests are usually “godparents” that sponsor the children and then visit for a few weeks a year. We met the founders , Petra and Helmut, a lovely, older German couple, and many of the staff including “the mamas,” kind and beautiful Kenya women who cared for the children daily and taught them vital Kenya skills like traditional cooking and hand washing. Many of the children at Saidia kwa Moyo had lost their parents to HIV, Petra explained the “missing generation” to me – where the children had grandparents but no parents. Of the 34 children at Saidia kwa Moyo, many were brothers and sisters. Some were away at boarding high schools and the oldest was at university. Petra and Helmut’s plan was to support the children through young adulthood, until they were successful and self-reliant. Though the orphanage couldn’t replace their parents, the support they provided in access to water and food, clean shelter, showers, clothing, tutoring, sports, games, and mentorship was better than 90 percent of what I’d seen throughout the country. If you’re interested in getting involved and supporting a child, visit their website.
The scene inside Saidia Kwa Moyo. Cuteness OVERLOAD!
We sat down for a dinner of dango and rice. I think dango is red lentils – it was delicious. The children have a rotating menu that consists of dango and rice, small fish and rice, beans and rice, chicken and rice, ugali and greens and some other traditional Kenyan dishes. They rotate in helping to prepare the food. I have to admit, the scene at the dining room was straight out of Annie or Oliver Twist. I do think the food was better though! Nico and I were introduced and the children were told they could ask us any questions they wanted to. Questions flew off their tongues, “Where are you from? How old are you? Do you have any siblings? What are their names? Are you married? Do you have kids? What is your favorite food? Do you have any hobbies?” It was amazing and hilarious. After dinner, the children sang a beautiful song for us and showed us some awesome dances. My “whiteness” showed through in my dance moves, but they accepted me anyway. Everyone was super happy and it was a great welcome. Nico and I looked at each other and proclaimed that we definitely made the right decision to visit Kilifi! We spent the rest of the evening talking to some of the children about Michael Jackson, Rhianna, and movies and then called it a night after a long day of traveling.
Dinner! Beans and rice with James and Elisha
The next day Lina and I headed to the Kilifi beach which was as beautiful as Diani beach, but without all the tourists and beach boys. We were even able to leave our stuff on the beach while swimming. After lunch, we headed into town for a look and some groceries. Kilifi had at least 40 tailors and I regret not having something made. We returned to the orphanage in time to help the children with homework and play some sports before dinner. I hung out with Robin who used an old tire to catapult himself into the air doing a variety of flips. It was super impressive. He tried to get me to give it a go, but I just couldn’t trust the tire or my front flipping ability!
No one’s here!
Might as well do some handstands!
Fun on the beach with Lina!
Robin sending flips off the tire “trampoline”
When more children returned from school, we started up a football (soccer) game. Because we only had about 4 players, the game was keep away, basically every player for himself. The boys stared in disbelief as I was able to take the ball from them and keep it from them. It’s always nice to show Kenyan males that women can play football too. With more players, we were able to shift into another type of game and by the time dinner rolled around, I was covered in sand and sweat! Since the children were eating small fish that night, which none of the volunteers liked, we headed out to the Kilifi club for dinner.
Battling David on the pitch. He was pretty good!
Um, we’ll pass on the small fish.
We decided we’d stay one more full day. I was having fun and Nico wasn’t feeling well, so it was the best option we had. Lina and I were up early to head to the beach. The weather was great and the tide was out, so we walked a few miles all the way down to Kilifi Bay. When we returned, we decided to head to the Distant Relatives Backpackers Hostel to check it out. It was run by Americans and I found out the girl was actually from Maryland, quite near where my husband is from. The eco-hostel had a beautiful common area and bar, composting toilets, outdoor showers, comfortable looking rooms, chickens and a pig, and two friendly dogs. We decided to check out the beach, which was on the very wide Kilifi Creek, not the Indian Ocean and one of the dogs joined us. She swam with us and when she was done, sat guard over our possessions. It was nice to have a pal. On the way back to town, we met a local woman who offered us a ride to town. It was a kind gesture and we accepted. It was probably one of the first times of the trip a Kenyan stranger had helped me without expecting anything in return.
New friend in Kilifi
When we returned to the orphanage, volleyball was the sport of the day and we had 3 large and competitive games before dinner. I announced our departure to the children at dinner. Part of me wanted to stay, but Nico needed to return to Nairobi and it was nice to have someone to make the long bus trip from Mombasa with. So, we reluctantly caught a matatu out of my favorite place of the trip early the next morning for the 8 hour bus ride back to Nairobi.
Arriving in Nairobi around midnight, I took a taxi to Jen’s friend’s house in Loresho – an area of Nairobi. My driver was friendly and we discussed the current state of affairs and his family. The roads in Nairobi were much more modern than I remember and there were even traffic lights, though as far as I could tell, no one was abiding by them, which I later confirmed to be true. We passed a few large building, so billboards and clubs, and made our way towards Loresho – a quiet, mostly gated neighborhood where we’d stay while in Nairobi. The house was nice and very “Kenyan,” not much detail, just functional – bars over every entrance, buttons for hot water, outlets, and the stove, and hard, but practical beds.
The next day, the plan was to head to Eastlands for an event in the home of a member of Zawadisha and a seminar on empowerment. After a taste of a classic Nairobi traffic jam, we met up with Cindy, Zawadisha’s local employee, and Joyce, a woman supported by Zawadisha who runs a salon and made our way through a chaotic market to a matatu (colorfully decorated buses) stand to head to the outskirts of Nairobi.
When we arrived at Cecila’s house she had food on the table and we lingered over greetings. She was very proud of her house and her accomplishments and grateful for the help of Zawadisha. Other women were supposed to arrive shortly, but Africa time is even worse than Tahoe time so we ate without them and some showed up 2 hours late! The women were from 2 different lending circles and represented many different ages and businesses. They shared how they each used their loan and what it meant to be empowered. They shared their dreams and encouraged one another. They took us in as friends immediately. It rained hard during the end of our meeting and we were told it was a blessing. It gave me a whole new outlook on rain.
Zawadisha women drawing their version of empowerment
Proud and empowered small business owner!
We traveled home from Eastlands via a muddy dirt road and a very loud matatu and were caught in another rain storm as we dashed through Nairobi, trying to beat the dark. A rule of thumb in Nairobi is to never travel at night, so we grabbed a taxi back to Loresho with our new $1 umbrellas.