Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas and New Years in Magical Kenya

First of all, major apologies for the lateness of this post. It has been a very busy and exciting week for me in work (which I will detail fully in my next update) which had led to me having no time for blogging.

So yes back to it. How was my Christmas in Kenya? In a word, wonderful. It was certainly very different from Christmas in Ireland. The weather for example was a little warmer than I'm used to in December. I think the temperatures were about 26 degrees on the day itself.

Our make-shift Mountain View Christmas tree. Made from branches,
string, newspaper, a gas cannister  and a Maasai blanket.

I definitely missed home, especially on the day itself, but thanks to Vodafone (which had free calls to anywhere in the world all day) and Skype I got to spend lots of time speaking to my family, and even seeing the contents of my stocking!

So what did we do? Well our visitors from up-country arrived on Christmas eve, Catherine, Simon and Chin -other VSO volunteers who arrived as part of the November intake - and we spent that evening catching up on our adventures over the past 6 weeks, washed down with pizza and beer.
Chin and Simon making pizza on our very snazzy pizza maker.

Christmas morning, the Mumbu Court gang had an early start as we prepared a full English/Irish for our guests. Two hours of cooking, and some electricity black-outs later we had prepared this feast complete with bacon, 3 types of sausages (pork, chicken and veg), eggs, toast, beans, tomatoes, and boxty which was my special contribution.That and the Irish coffees which washed down the epic breakfast!

Table laden down with yummy food!

Then to the business of the day, present swapping and parlour games. Our secret Santa with a limit of 500 KSh (approx €5) led to some great presents being swopped. A lot of them were food related which says a lot for our cravings here in Kenya. I got the most beautiful green Kanga thanks to Nicole, which has now got pride of place on the wall in my room until I find an occasion to wear it. Parlour games for Christmas day involved a monster game of Christmas-themed charades, Scrabble slam (which is a short, fast version of Scrabble which brought out all of our competitive sides)
Nick and Catherine are delighted to exchange gifts

Our day finished with dinner, Filipino style, thanks to Harvey and Chin. We didn't end up eating until after 9pm as we'd been snacking non-stop all day.  

And then it was back to work on the 27th. I've never had to work over the Christmas holidays before but it wasn't as painful as it could have been. For a start there was very little do, so I got to catch up on both work, and extra curricular reading. I also got a chance to have long lunches with some of my colleagues. There was definite a sense of solidarity amongst those of us who were there over the holidays and getting a chance to talk to people while the office was quiet was great.

On the 30th I then drove up to Lake Naivasha. Well I didn't drive, I am definitely no brave enough to face the Nairobi roads. My housemate Sandy drove Simon and I in a car she'd been loaned by her friend, and driving in a private car, after weeks of matatus and Star Buses was a great luxury. This was my first trip out of Nairobi since I'd arrived in November and it was long, long overdue. Lake Naivasha is situated at the southern end of the Rift Valley, so on the drive up I got my first ever view of the valley itself, which was just breath-taking.

The Rift Valley - this picture does not do it
 any justice. It is magnificent.

We stayed at Camp Carnelley's, which is right on the lake itself. Unfortunately because of a water hyacinth problem (long story) we could not get out on the lake itself so I didn't get to do much hippo-spotting. But no matter. Thanks to Sandy's borrowed Toyota Yaris, Sandy, Dr Bob and I went on an impromptu game drive at Crater Lake Game Reserve and I got to see... giraffes, zebras, impala, grant's gazelles, dik diks, eland, baboons, vervet monkeys, colobus monkeys, water buffalo...   The full set of pictures are up on my Facebook profile but here are a couple of pictures to whet your appetite (and enduce some of you to get booking your flights out here!)

Zebras and Giraffes!

New Years Eve itself was spent in the bar onsite at Camp Carnelley's. I think we had about 15 of us in total between VSO volunteers, friends, partners and parents. We played charades, we drank, we danced. As someone who is not normally a big fan of New Years I had a great time.

The Victorious Girls Team after a game of
Name Game aka Epic Charades

Chilling by the Camp Carnelley's campfire

And then it was back to Nairobi life on the 2nd, and UNICEF life on the 3rd. 

Hope you all had lovely Christmas' where you were!

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