Sunday, February 22, 2009

I saw Kili and Simba!

I went on safari this weekend near the Tanzania border. Being so close to Tanzania I saw Mt. Kilimanjaro, for the first time, as it loomed magnificently over the game park. In this first picture it is in the back ground behind a few clouds, but it popped out for us in all its glory throughout the weekend. No picture can really capture how Kilimanjaro stands out over the savanna. It's the largest mountain in all of Africa - 18,000 something feet in elevation. As I watched her at sunrise, throughout the day, and at sunset, I just kept thinking... I will summit that mountain one day. I will stand at the top and look down at the land I'm standing on now. I will conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro!But not today. On this particular day I was on safari and saw some things I hadn't seen in Kenya before...

My first simba on safari, as well as my second, third, and nineteenth!
Sunrise as a herd of wildebeest walked the plain.
A hyena eating a baby wildebeest.Lots and lots of Masai men and women.
Here the local Masai were fetching water from a swamp in the park.
Water is sparse right now in most of Kenya, and I've never seen anywhere in Kenya so dry as this area was. In some places it looked like a barren wasteland with absolutely no vegetation.

But my favorite part of the weekend was watching a cheetah eat a gazelle.
We missed the actual kill by minutes (bummer!), but watched as the cheetah recovered from the rush and exhaustion his body recently went through to catch his prey. Cheetahs are unable to eat their kill for about 20 minutes because their bodies are so worn out from traveling 70 mph and often have their prey stolen by other animals in their weakened state. When this cheetah finally recovered, he feebly rose from the grass, dragged the gazelle three feet away from the onlooking humans, and dug in. We watched him for 30 more minutes. It was amazing! I believe in the moment I used the word "magical". Who is ready to come on safari with me?!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Knuckle Hills

The Ngong Hills are famous in Kenya. It's where Karen Blixon, the Out of Africa lady, lived. It's where the Maasai warriors live. It's what separates the city of Nairobi from the Great Rift Valley. It's also known to be full of bandits, robbers, and thieves. So when we went hiking through the hills on Saturday, we had to take along our AK47, which Chris is holding in this picture.Just kidding! We didn't take our own automatic weapon. We hired a policeman named Humphrey to carry the AK47 and accompany us on the hike.With Humphrey at our side, we didn't run into any thieves. Instead we encountered grazing goats of the local Maasai, beautiful scenery, and a 360 degree view of Kenya.The Ngong Hills, which means "knuckles", was given this name because, from a distance, the hills look just like the knuckles on a hand. The hills are really five hikes in one. When we finally made it to 9,000 ft on the first hill, we hiked back down and up again for the second hill...
the third...
the fourth...and the fifth!

It was another wonderful Kenyan experience, which I wouldn't mind repeating if you come to visit. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love is in the air!

In honor of Valentine's Day I thought I'd share a little about the fifth grade "love" that's going around my classroom. Yesterday one of my little girls came to me complaining that a boy keeps hitting and kicking her. Being a teacher who avidly focuses on Matthew 18:15&16, I asked her if she'd "gone to her brother first". After she said yes, I honestly responded, "He likes you. He doesn't know how to tell you that he thinks you're a nice girl, so he hits you. Boys are just like that." She had a somewhat dazed look, then a half smile, then a dazed look again. She was having a hard time making the connection (which I suppose is often the case no matter what the age :). I told her I'd talk to him.

So when I saw the boy at recess, I pulled him aside and asked, "Did this girl ask you to stop hitting and kicking her?" "No," was the response. I continued, "Well, she doesn't really like it. I realize you're not doing it to be mean. You're doing it because you think she's a nice girl and you like her, but she doesn't like it. A better idea is to say 'I think you're nice' or 'Hi, how are you doing?' It's just a suggestion." "OK Miss Grimes," and off he went.

Did my suggestion work? I don't know. These two were also caught playing footsies in another class. Love is in the fifth grade air. Teddi Jo, you were right - second semester of fifth grade is a whole different ball game. Hormones are going crazy! But it certainly makes for fun conversation at the teacher's lunch table and some comic relief for their teacher during the day. :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday Drive

Last weekend we took a drive through the Rift Valley to introduce our new roommate, Bethany, to life outside of Nairobi. Bethany is a college student from Ohio who is doing her student teaching at our school for two months. Her cousin, Rebecca, was visiting her last week, so we took the opportunity to take the girls to Lake Naivasha and Mt. Longonot for a great Kenyan experience. Some of the sights the girls enjoyed were...

Hippos snorting and splashing in Lake Naivasha,
African huts on the savannah,And a "cow jam".
Bethany is with us for four more weeks as she completes her student teaching in first grade. Our next venture with her is a safari near the Tanzanian border. I must say it's a little strange to have Bethany living with us because every time I say her name, I think of my dear sister Bethany. So Bethany Grimes, I think of you a lot these days! :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Superbowl Monday

In Kenya we celebrate "Superbowl Monday" instead of Superbowl Sunday. It's not that we're behind the times, it's that we're ahead by 8 to 12 hours (depending on the state you're in). So we had a Superbowl party on Monday night, 15 hours after it began. The rules were as follows:
1. No looking on the internet to see the game results.
2. If you know the results, no telling the score.
3. Bring snacks to share.
We crowded 25 friends into our living-room to enjoy a great game...
We projected the game on the wall for the big-screen effect, and watched a VHS copy that had been recorded from Kenyan ESPN at 4 am.With a crowd of friends, chips and dip, and American commentators, it felt like a normal Superbowl experience. The only thing that was really different was the commercials. WE MISSED ALL THE AWESOME AMERICAN SUPERBOWL COMMERCIALS! Because it was taped from Kenyan TV, we got to watch the same five Kenyan commercials at every break. Ugh! On the plus side, we could fast-forward through all of them. But I must admit, I missed those million dollar commercials the Superbowl is famous for. Luckily, it was a great game, and it was actually worth watching. Go Cardinals! :(