Africa is big. Frighteningly big, almost. Did you know that you could fit three United States, Alaska included, into the continent? Yet, unimaginably vast and varied as it is, there is often a typical image that comes to mind when you think of Africa. I'd wager that, whether you know it or not, Samburu is the image that is conjured up. It was for me, anyway, before I even knew Samburu was a place that existed.
Samburu is a desert land. A little over a hundred kilometers north of the Equator, it is fringed with mountains in nearly every direction. It is dry and dusty and colorless, yet illuminated by the desolateness of the land is the richness of the Samburu. They are a strong people, a resilient people, shepherds of the dust. Thirty kilometers some of the women recently walked to water. Weeks at a time, boys as young as five are sent out into the wilderness to tend to the camels or the cows.
I came to Samburu under rather unfortunate circumstances--a famine relief food distribution--and still I am constantly struck by how beautiful Kenya is. And it's funny, how seeing the greatness of this country somehow makes me love my own even more. I am over three-quarters of the way through this adventure and I'm still surprised every day. My little sister told me the other day about a shopping list she wrote: "Milk, cheese, jam, yogurt, and you." I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. I think a little of both came out. I wish my family could've seen Samburu too.
The last fifty kilometers of paved road before the dirt road turnoff reminded me of the American southwest.
Camels walking along the road.
Sunday morning business at the Toy Fashions and Tailoring Shop.
Evangelist Richard sings in church.
She was unsure about the camera and yet her eyes never left me.
Gathering under the acacia tree.
Filling out ration cards.
Gathered around the truck pre-distribution.
I'm afraid my hair made quite the spectacle. More often than not, there was a small following of children asking to touch my hair--or I would feel a soft brush of a hand on my back, only to turn around and see a pint-sized giggling face.
What a place.
"These are the days of miracle and wonder."
If you point the compass northwest and follow the needle out of Nairobi for an hour and a half, the landscape on the left side of the road will suddenly give way to a deep crater. This is your first glimpse of the Great Rift Valley. The two-lane road hugs the side of a cliff and as you wind down, baboons skitter along the road. If you fancy some souvenir shopping, you might stop at the precariously perched World Trade Center Curio Shop or perhaps the Facebook Curio Shop (beyond the names, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between the shops and the World Trade Center and/or Facebook). Gradually the pavement levels and gives way to the lush green of the Valley. A resting volcano, Mount Longonot, looms on the west and hills grace the east. Dotted with billowing clouds, the sky is vast and blue, and growing tall and strong are prickly cactus trees. The air is dry and thin and it slips easily over your palm hanging out the window. It reminds me of home.
With three curious little boys and a raging birthday party at the neighboring house, the weekend wouldn't be classified as peaceful; and yet, in the brief snippets of calm, there is quiet in the Valley. It is the kind of still that magnifies every soft sound, amplifies each step on the rocky path. The wind rushes past in a whistling whisper and the sun beats sweet and clean on the tall grass. The cottage we stayed in was constructed almost entirely of glass and the gardens were manicured in that wonderfully wild, natural way.
I love the times when I can travel, but my day to day life in Kenya is far from exotic. Living in Africa is an adventure, but, just like at home, it's unrealistic to think that each day will involve going on safari or visiting vast natural phenomenons. I love traveling, feel alive on the road, but the significance of the lessons that are being taught me in the quietness of my everyday life are not lost on me. They are not always easy to learn and yet, through it all, there is grace upon grace upon grace.
A rest stop at Delamere petrol station to stretch our legs and for surprisingly good iced lattes.
I am now so used to driving on the left that it will be a bit of a shock to drive on the right in the States again.
Cactus trees along the way.
Josiah and Elijah shooting the breeze at Delamere.
A herd of goats and sheep stop for a drink.
First glimpse of the cottage.
I think all living rooms should be encased in glass.
Zebras on the golf course...that's normal, right?
Dining room views.
Wished I could bring this rug home with me.
Elijah gets some help with his chocolate pudding from his Papa.