. . . what you may find on a walk. Below is an African Spurred Tortoise. It is not native to our area of Kenya, but is found in a sub-Saharan region of Africa. It arrived here as a pet and escaped into our local jungle. What I think is so cool about these tortoises is that they burrow extensively to escape the desert heat. I read that they can have burrows as deep as 20 feet that can extend horizontally up to 30 feet. It is hard for me to imagine this turtle, which can reach up to 200 pounds in weight and 36 inches in diameter, is able to dig like that. Pretty cool! We kept him for a few days in our yard, but he escaped from us too. Todd the Turtle has moved on.
We live by the Great Rift Valley. On Saturday mornings it is a pleasure to get Allison, leave the kids behind, and walk 30 minutes out to the cliffs to look over one of the longest inhabited areas of the world. It is changing rapidly. Just 30 years ago there were zebras and other wildlife roaming through the valley behind us. They are still there, and you will see them sometimes when driving through it. But I do not think it is like it was. But I am glad we still have all the birds, monkeys, and baboons roaming through our neighborhood. On the very hike when this picture was taken, Allison and I found ourselves in the forest surrounded by a troop of 10-20 baboons. Luckily we had Chardonnay our dog going crazy barking at them to keep them at a distance. They can be aggressive, and it is wise to keep your distance. But they are so interesting, you cannot help but stop and look for awhile.
Moving is stressful. Moving to your third home in less than a year is hard. Moving to your third country in a year might be crazy. And we are a little stir crazy in the small house in which we find ourselves without a car and without much knowledge of the world outside of Kijabe. But we were pleased to discover that just 30 minutes from us is a recreational area called The Forest which has fun adventure-type activities. It has East Africa's longest zip line, mountain biking, hiking, archery, and most importantly for our family . . . paintball. Best of all, it is paintball without any age limits, so even Sarah could play. On the kid's mid-term break we found a driver and we took a day to go out there and shoot each other up. It was a good break for all of us, and I am still carrying the bruises of my family's wrath!
I have been studying Swahili intensely for the past several months. It is an interesting language with hard consonants combined with a floating lyrical song of vowels. Imagine a combination of German consonants against Hawaiian vowels. The structure is not too difficult, but the language has noun families that change every word associated with the noun in the sentence which can then make things confusing, especially for a beginner. I have enjoyed my teachers who have taught me a lot about culture as they have taught me about the language. Gideon is my primary teacher, and Kelvin is in training with him. Gideon being from Tanzania is quite proud of his Swahili, and he will state that Swahili was born in Tanzania, got sick in Kenya, and died in Uganda. I hope that knowing some Swahili will help me as I try and serve my patients in the hospital. Gideon is also a musician, and he states that he has to express himself in his clothing as he expresses himself in song. You may see what he means in the picture below.