I went on a long hike this week. I am not a runner. I have been a cycler in the past. Currently I am a walker. Few exercises are more enjoyable than a long walk with a good podcast or book. This one was long . . . almost 8 miles and 1500 feet in elevation gain. You can see small out and back spurs from the main road when I followed untravelled trails that ended up being dead ends. The best part was an “Africa” moment. As I crossed a creek my older dog went running and barking around a bend. I came around the corner and saw what I suspected I might see. On the small cliffs and trees over the creek were a troop of baboons. It looked like a what a zoo might create in the baboon cage mimicking an African setting. A small river with cliffs and trees and baboons. It was a little far for a good iPhone picture, but take my word for it that it was awesome.
Eighteen months ago, pre-Covid, our family went to Egypt. It was fantastic and exciting and dusty and historical. We came home very enthusiastic about Mediterranean food. Since then, I crave pitas and creamy cucumber salads. I thought I would share some excellent recipes in case you would like to make a Mediterranean feast and in that way share a meal with us.
Shakshuka: who knew that eggs poached in tomato sauce could be so satisfying? It’s the feta cheese that makes this special.
Pitas: If you use allrecipes.com, you might already be acquainted with Chef John. These are a terrific texture.
Hummus: I modify this recipe a little (less tahini), but I like the very specific instructions.
Orzo salad: Giada has so many tasty pasta recipes. The addition of mint makes this one fun for Mediterranean night. I usually leave out the garbanzo beans and add a cheese, either mozzarella or feta.
Cucumber: I love tzatziki, but it’s a bit of work. This salad is also popular at our house.
Here is David, looking cool and getting ready to chow down.
One of the things that has given me the most pleasure in this last week is our new “ceiling extractor fan” as the box identified it. We have a (previously) white, all-tile bathroom at the front of the house that never dries out in the rainy season. It just stays a moist, humid, moldy place to get clean every day. Think of an unfinished basement with a bit of septic tank thrown in but right next to your front door. We have always had a plan to remodel it, but after nearly four years, no remodeling has taken place. So three weeks ago I made the drastic step to hunt down a fan in Nairobi and last week a couple of kindly Kenyans installed it.
The extractor fan is changing the atmosphere in the bathroom! There is no more funky smell. The mildew and mold are drying up. The towels are dried in between showers.
One morning I was thinking, “I want to be as healing and as effective as this fan.” Then I realized that God’s grace is like that fan. There are still disgusting, unpleasant things that we do and that are done to us. There is still the daily dousing that can propagate mold and bacteria, spiritually speaking, but God’s grace can keep us cleaned up, can heal what hurts, what causes smelliness and damage. I am a really good receiver of grace but I desire to be a better giver of grace. Only then can I absorb the sin, unkindness, lack of respect, and ignorance of those around me. Only as I extend the grace I have been given can I make the world a cleaner, brighter place. Just like our bathroom fan.
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.
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.
Many of you know we have been in a governmental lockdown for the last month. We are over one year into a curfew. Schools have been closed for the past month, and mostly closed for the past year. We did not know if our kids were going to finish school online or in person. We were praying for in person. Today we got notification that everything is open again!. For us this means freedom of movement through all of Kenya. The lockdown spoilt a vacation we had planned for early April, but at least we now have flight vouchers for an obscure regional Kenyan airline. Maybe we can use those next Christmas to go to the coast? Instead we did a trip I have been wanting to do for four years to Amboseli National Park which happened to be within the region we were allowed to travel. Amboseli is a beauty. There were not so many animals as hoped, but the setting made up for it. So although it was no the trip to the beach we had hoped for, it was a nice respite nonetheless.
Thank you to Robert and Amy Reid for letting us stay in their home while they are away for the 4th of July weekend. No parades, no fireworks, but some awesome hamburgers, pool, and sparklers.