"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Friday, February 22, 2019

This "tent" was our home for 3 days
I’m so sorry for the delay. I realize that the last post was over a week behind.  It was difficult getting caught up on things here, and that just pushed everything else further back.  I’ve finally got Thursday posted, and I’m not going to wait any longer for Friday. It’s was our last day, and it was another fabulous one!
Our last day was to begin with a game drive at 6am.  Everyone was awake (at least in our tent), but Karen wasn’t feeling well and wanted to stay behind.  Andrea stayed with her.  We would be returning in a few hours for breakfast at 9, so this was going to be a short trip that would allow them to get some extra rest for what is sure to be a long ride to Nairobi, and by “long” I mean “not restful.”
I met up with Ryan and Sue at the reception counter, and Isaac was not far behind that meeting.  I explained the situation before departing and everyone understood.  This was the culmination of some very long days.
It didn’t take long before things started happening.  We were headed for the hippo pool, but there the day had something else in store for us. It began with the black rhino. Again, not an easy find, but Isaac was on top of his game.  This thing is amazing.  My favorite animal; kifaru (kee-fah-roo, don’t forget to roll your “r”).  This one was just enjoying some alone time grazing in the morning sun before heading back up into the hills.

Next came the jaguar. Again, not easy to find.  This one we actually “found” twice.  We weren’t the only ones who spotted him.  There were several other jeeps there, but as Issac watched it’s movements he pulled away from the crowed and double-backed on a different path.  It literally walked right toward us before veering a bit to the left and walking directly behind the jeep.  He couldn’t have been more than 5’ away.  Magnificent! I am beyond sad that Andrea and Karen aren’t here to enjoy all this with us.  I’m sending them photos from my phone so that they can see what we see, but it’s not the same as having them here.
We continued on to ostriches, zebras, antelope and Thompson gazelles… 
warthogs and more elephants. Amazing.  Then, more cheetahs.  This time we were the first ones there and everyone else came afterwards… as you can see.  The young cub wandered next to the jeep… they’re not as “cute” as I expected them to be. Lion cubs have that “you can take me home” look, but these guys look like they’ll rip you apart right away.  
We finally made it to the hippo pool that was loaded with ‘em.  We stood for awhile as they made grunting sounds, spitting water through their noses as they emerged before receding back into the murky water.  I stood on a precipice watching them when Isaac said, “Adam? Is it okay?”  That’s his way of saying it was time to get going.  We did.  On the way back we just took in the scenery.  It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky that shined brightly against the green trees and dry grass that looked more like straw.  This is a beautiful place on this planet.
I was excited to see the girls when we got back.  They met us in the restaurant for breakfast, so we didn’t have to go far.  I was grateful that they were feeling better and they said they made the right decision by staying behind… despite the roster of animals we saw.  Just before we finished our breakfast, Anthony appeared again – wide smile and arms outstretched for hugs.  It was wonderful for everyone to be able to have so much time with Isaac’s brother. Isaac’s siblings are wonderful, and I’m grateful that everyone was able to experience that.  We laughed and joked and told more stories, but all good things must come to an end.  Nope, not this one, though.  We’ll just have to wait until the next trip to continue the story we’ve stared. After a few more photos, we headed back to our rooms for our bags.  We were leaving with a lot less than we arrived with, and I was thankful.  We were down to one bag each (along with our back packs).  We hadn’t done any shopping yet, but I had a plan for that, too.  I knew we would be stopping at Lovebirds Curio in Karen.  It’s become one of the regular stop for me – it’s a very large shop with very animated employees.  They have a tendency to spend too much time dickering, but that’s their job.  I just don’t like wasting time; especially when time is in short supply.
We thought we’d have plenty of time when we left, but the ride through the Rift Valley was a crowded and slow. I think we could have walked up the mountainside faster.  It was bumper to bumper on the way up, but that didn’t stop people from trying to pass whenever possible.  As a reminder, this is one lane up and one lane down.  High mountain wall on the left, and a steep, deep ravine on the right… and no guard rails for most of the journey.  Fortunately, Isaac knows what he’s doing.  If I wasn’t trying to type, I would be able to sleep without concern. Sleep is often a good idea as opposed to watching traffic “events” unfold.  Cars and lorries are mixed together going in both directions, and cars pass into oncoming traffic as well as passing on the dirt shoulder (when one becomes available).  It’s not for the feint of heart.  We’re driving in a big land rover, but when a tanker or a big lorrie comes by, you feel awfully small.  Then when you consider the fact that if you stick your arm out the window, you’d probably break it on the side mirror of the oncomoing traffic and it quickly becomes a harrowing roller coaster – keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.
When we finally crested over the peak, traffic opened up and things went a bit faster.  Despite the faster pace, we still arrived in Karen almost two hours later than we expected.  I assured everyone we’d be fine as we pulled into Lovebirds.  We said our “hello” and went to work.  The place goes through pretty significant changes every time I’m here, and this stop was no different.  It seemed to sprout another 40’ of shop although they may have just crammed more stuff in the space they already occupied.  No matter, everyone found something they liked and nobody left empty handed.  Back in the jeep for the ride to the Royale where we can shower and freshen up before dinner and the plane ride.
While Andrea showered, I packed the bags.  We did manage to put one of the spare bags to use, packing it with dirty clothes and other items that wouldn’t mind being banged around by the baggage handlers. The breakables got packed carefully in the suitcases.  I’ve gotten pretty good at placing them in bags so that they don’t move around and, more importantly, don’t break.  I finished that, then jumped in the shower.  It was another case of hot water versus electrocution.  I was just happy to wash the dust and dirt off me from the ride we just took.  Sue and Ryan were in the room across the hall and I was wondering if they were having the same experience.
They notified us that they were heading down with there luggage, so I sent Andrea and Karen ahead of me while I finished up.  I threw some clothes on, finished zipping up the bags and followed them down.  Time hadn’t slowed down, but dinner was a necessity so we went to the place we always grab dinner before a flight out.  It’s on the way to the airport, and that will save us some time.  
We pulled into the mall and found a table outside to sit.  We all ordered a drink and dinner and continued to tell stories and laugh.  Sue and Ryan had us in stitches through most of the meal, just retelling experiences they had while they were here, as well as mixing in some stories from home.  It has been an absolute delight traveling with them.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  
Next thing I knew, it was time to push off.  It was dark, and the roads were busy but we were grateful to be on asphalt the entire way to the airport.  A smooth ride makes everything easier.  We got to the airport and gave Isaac several hugs before finally having to walk away.  He wasn’t the only one with tears in his eyes as we walked toward our terminal.  We miss him terribly when we leave.  We remind ourselves that he’ll be in the states in June and that manages to stiffen our lower lips as we enter security.
The bags get through, then we get through, then it’s a short wait at the ticket counter before heading through immigration.  Ryan was last one through, and he still had people laughing.  The woman processing his passport kept looking at him and smiling. Ryan smiled back and said, “Yes, it’s an old picture.”  HE wasn’t kidding.  I think it was 8 year’s old – ironically, he looked like he was 8 years old in his passport photo!  He had this mane of hair that ran from one side of his face over to the other side, obscuring one eye and the corresponding cheek.  The immigration officer actually showed it to some of her co-workers so they could have a laugh, too.  They did.  That’s Ryan for you… just spreading the joy!
The airport was warm and humid, so we grabbed a seat and something cold to drink.  I grabbed two cold things.  One of them was  strawberry milk shake.  They restaurant we stopped at was Java.  It’s a chain that I first visited while in Kisumu.  There’s also one next to the restaurant we at at before coming here. I think we’ll try Java next time. I really like their food, and I really LOVE their milkshakes.  Karen agreed.
We got onto the plane, and headed for home.  Andrea and I slept intermittently, unlike Karen who slept the entire way.  She did the same with the flight from Amsterdam. We arrived in JFK and it took quite some time to get to an immigration officer.  We stood in line for what seemed to be an eternity, but when we finally got there, we breezed right through.
Although Sue’s bag seemed like the last one off when we arrived in Kenya, by the time we got through immigration, Sue and Ryan had already grabbed all the bags!  We headed over to the Delta desk and dropped them on the belt before going back through our last security check for the trip.
It seemed to take forever for the plane to arrive and take off for Rochester.  I’m pretty sure I was asleep before the wheels left the ground.
This was another wonderful trip. I know I say that with every trip, but they all really are.  I love traveling with my family. I love traveling with friends, and these were two of the best ones to travel with.  We do our best to make sure that we prep everyone before they travel with us. When your traveling to the third world, though, there are always surprises.  The ability to adapt, and shuck and jive your way through is invaluable. Sue and Ryan went with the flow at every turn, and there were a lot of them.  That made things very easy on everyone.  I can only hope that they enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed theirs.
That brings this trip to a close. I’ve added a few extra pictures here at the end because there’s never enough room for everything.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.  It was an honor having you…

My brothers from another mother
Isaac (left) and Anthony (right)

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