Our Neighborhood

I took this picture on a recent hike. The arrow on the left is pointing to Rift Valley Academy, The arrow on the right is pointed toward the hospital. The bottom arrow is Old Kijabe Road. It goes from RVA down through Kijabe town and on to the lower valley road. To go from the area of the hospital, through the forest to the road, then up to RVA, and then back through the forest to the hospital is a common exercise loop for those of us serving at the school or the hospital. Our house is located in the forest about equally distant from and between the top two arrows. It takes me about 40 minutes of walking, heavy breathing, and sweat to get to this lookout. I love walking these forests inhabited by the seen monkeys and baboons and the unseen leopards and hyenas

Back in Kijabe

We are glad to be home! I am working again in the hospital. In fact this weekend I have been busy covering the ICU. I am glad for the meaningful work, and again I am impressed with the challenges of doing good care in complex situations. Allison is teaching at RVA, and the kids are in school. We all feel a hole in our lives where David was, however it is not a painful hole, but a sudden missing of having him around. We are happy for him at ACU! He seems to be having a good time. The weather has been beautiful overall, and that has allowed us to get out and do some walks on the weekend. All these pictures are taken within an easy walk of our house. We live in a beautiful part of the world. We are thankful!

Almost Done

It has been a weird four years. Moving to Kenya as a freshman and then all the losses COVID caused. David heads out on his Senior trip tomorrow. We are super happy for him! He graduates next Saturday. Hopefully we will have a trip to the our favorite restaurant in Nairobi to celebrate the following day, and then back to Dallas. The group in the picture above were the core of his friends. Not all of them made it through all four years as their families moved home or away, but they flew back this summer after they finished school in the US to have one last hurrah in Kijabe! I am thankful for each of them. We had barely arrived in Kenya in 2017, and on our first full day in town this group walked by the house and invited David to go up the hill with them for a bonfire. That was the beginning and they have been good friends since. God has been good to David with these loyal friends. Now we look forward to how God gives him friends at ACU!

What You Might Find Surprising

Today it was 48 degrees outside when I woke up. Yesterday the thermometer said 45! It is winter time in Kijabe. We are barely south of the equator, and yet by some miracle of altitude and weather patterns we are always temperate. And currently it is cold. It is not “USA winter” cold, but chilly nonetheless. As I walked to the hospital yesterday I marveled at the temperature. It felt like the first true autumn chill in Texas. And it stayed cool and cloudy all day. I came home and built a fire at about 4:30 PM (the fireplace is the house heater), and at just that moment the sun came out. (Typical timing. It is like when the power goes out. Just as I get all the candles and lanterns gathered and lit, the lights will come back on.) Despite the sunlight, the outdoor temperature did not warm much, and as the sun set over the valley the autumn chill returned. This time of year the girls wake up in the morning and the first thing they seek is the space heater. In the evening everyone gathers around the fireplace, sitting in camp chairs to be close to it. It is good for family bonding although it can get a bit crowded. I think we will all enjoy the hot summer in Texas when we fly home for a short visit in July! Time by the grandparents pool with the hot sun on our faces. We’ll see some of you soon!

Local Leapord

A visitor to Kijabe was coming up the local road when a leopard jumped on the road in front of their car. They slowed down and despite the its camouflage were able to get it on video. As I walked by this spot yesterday with my dogs, I took my headphones out of my ears and kept a better lookout than usual. Today riding bikes with David, we blew by it quickly. It is very cool to have a leopard nearby. We have baboons, hyenas, and now leopards right around Kijabe. A bike ride away I have seen elephant droppings in the forest. If you go down to the valley there are all sorts of grazing animals like giraffe, buffalos, and zebras. When we camp by the lake, sometimes the hippos come It does not feel wild around here, but we certainly have a lot of wild animals.

The map from yesterday’s bike ride. The arrow is where the leopard video from below was taken.

Driving on Small Rural Roads . . .

. . . you might be surprised when rounding a corner, come to a complete stop, and then grab your camera! I know this is just a normal thing for people who have grown up here, although even Kenyans generally get excited when they see the big animals up close. However for a kid from Oklahoma, these sightings are always exceptional.

What Should We Do This Weekend

Possibly some people wonder what a weekend in Kijabe is like. It is similar in to a weekend in the US, except that it is more relaxed. There are no organized sports or activities, no restaurants to eat at, and everyone we would want to see is within walking distance. If I am not on call, I will go in on Saturday morning and round on the week’s patients. Afterward, I turn my patients over to the on call physician for the weekend and I am free (sort of – it is hard to completely disengage from the hospital). The kids usually have school activities, but those have decreased significantly because of COVID precautions . . . which is a real bummer as we all agree. However most Friday and Saturday nights they have class activities up at school. If we have an occasion to go to Nairobi, we will make the hour drive to do grocery shopping or eat a nice meal. Pre-covid, we might go into the city to see a movie or go bowling. Sometimes we can go camping in one of the nearby national parks or we go to the lake that is an hour away to go sailing. If we stay in Kijabe (usually) we may build a fire in the pizza oven and have friends over for pizza as the sun sets. I go on long hikes in the forest and give the dogs a chance to run and chase monkeys. I work in the yard, Allison cooks something fun in the kitchen, I clean the storage container (a never ending process), and other odd jobs around the house are completed. Often we have friends over for coffee on the porch or we go to their place for the same. It really is a good life. So what should we do this weekend? We’ll figure out something.

Baboons

They are my favorite and my least favorite. Of the animals that come through our yard, I think they are the most interesting. However they are a menace. They drive our dog crazy, and she will bark for hours. They go in peoples houses if they have not locked their doors. They threaten kids and women. But they are so interesting . . . dog like apes. This video is from a few years ago, when two troops of baboons had a turf war in front of our neighbors house just around the corner from ours. Lots of bluff with little damage, but still scary to be in the middle of it.