Week 4: the week that was

Dear friends and family,

I slept in a treehouse last night. A house built on stilts above the
ground in Malu forest reserve about one hour and half from Nairobi, near
Lake Navaisha. I woke up this morning to the sights of colobus and syke
monkeys dangling from the trees surrounding the treehouse. Their dance was
amusing to watch. At the same time, there was a chorus of birds, which
produced an orchestra of sounds I'd never heard before. I swear one of
them was playing a pan flute. Yesterday afternoon,  I had endeavoured a
hike in the reserve with my friends, an hour's walk from the treehouse to
a natural hot spring in the forest. The walk to the spring was sublime.
The sun was shining and hot, the sky blue, cattle and horses grazing on
the lush green grass. On the return, however, the heavens turned on us and
down came the heaviest of downpours. Needless to say we got wet, and I'd
say I've never been so soaked in my life. We made it to the reserve's
restaurant, a quaint thatch roofed hut with tables and chairs with
fireplace in the middle, before too long and warmed ourselves with hot
tea. As we waited there for a driver to take us the 5 km to the treehouse,
it was clear after about a half hour there was no driver coming, so we
decided to keep warm and keep moving. The rain had more or less stopped,
and the more we sat the more we got cold in our wet wardrobe. Away we went
and a about 10 minutes later the guy with the safari jeep showed up to
take us home. Dry we were soon enough and laughing out loud at this
adventure.

On our way home, we stopped by Hell's Gate National Park, an overtly
volcanic landscape with tall cliffs and beautiful rocky outcrops. There we
visited the Obsidian Cave, which is named after a black indigenous type of
rock. This glassy rock was used by early man to create cutting tools. I
took a few so I could show my kids.  Although one can walk and ride bikes
in this park, we drove through and witnessed a number of wildlife: zebra,
gazelle, buffalo, warthogs, giraffe. As we picnicked on one of the hill
tops overlooking the grazing zebra on the ground, I was caught by surprise
by the sight of two giraffe above us on close by cliffs hovering among the
trees. Africa knows how to do wildlife!

Back to the week that was. The streets on the way to work are littered
with newspaper vendors. They stand in between the lanes holding out the
local dailies, the Standard and Daily Nation. Every morning, I ask
Kennedy, my driver from the High Commission, to stop and pick up the Daily
Nation for me. These guys are skilled at giving you your paper and taking
your 40 shillings (about 10 cents). It's dangerous as there are cars
whizzing by in both directions, but these guys seem to know what they are
doing. I try to read the paper before getting to work so that I can then
give it to Kennedy, but the ride is bumpy so I end up only reading the
headlines. On the way home, it's the same deal, but now the vendors are
selling other goods, clothes, cards, electronics, puppies (you read
right). It's a hard life for many in this town. On Thursday, I went to
Carnivore, a famous Nairobi restaurant and concert hall to hear a
legendary South African artist Hugh Mesekela. He is a trumpet player, and
plays a fusion of jazz and traditional African beat. I'd never heard of
him before, but I am now a convert and plan to buy some of his music.

Now you may be thinking it's been all fun and play this week. It has not.
I worked every day at the Canadian High Commission and continued with my
refugee interviews. I am getting more and more the hang of it, feeling
more confidant and efficient by the day. I was invited to meet the High
Commissioner this week. He likes likes to meet all staff at the office,
whether they are there for a short or longer stay. He is a very nice
fellow and appreciated meeting him.

Enough said for now. Please write me and let me know what's up with you.
It must be preety these days in Ottawa as summer takes hold. Thinking of
all of you!

Carole
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