Monday, June 27, 2011

amusing africans.

some things in africa are funny: 
- matatu names like usain bolt
- kids running around in t-shirts saying 
"bob's 50th birthday bash!"
- being offered bride prices including each of the big 5

somethings in africa are really funny:  
{please look carefully.  enough said.}

Friday, June 24, 2011

give me a... K!

{home sweet home.}

as my infrequent blogging, email responses and facebook postings may indicate, my access to internet has been far more limited than anticipated.  with this being said, it has come to my attention that for those of you following my blog, my updates might suggest that my time spent in kenya so far has been, ahem… trivial.

as fun as bowling nights, bake sales, james bond themed parties and amazing race scavenger hunts were, I promise I didn’t pester all of you for money for the last six months so that I could come to africa to fly planes, ride bikes, and come home at the end with a few candid shots of me hugging adorable african children.

let me start by introducing you to where I live.  
I will make it easy for you to remember.   
just remember the letter K.

kenya: the country I am in.

kisumu: the 3rd largest city in kenya. a 30 minute matatu [bus] ride away from our home. the epicenter of all things luxurious: internet cafes and grocery stores.

kanyawegi: the community of villages outside of kisumu that I am living and working in. the home of the ojola school district. situated on the shores of lake victoria [which any local will proudly declare as the 'SECOND LARGEST fresh water lake in the WORLD.']

kaguya: the name of the compound our house [palace] is in.  also home to: several dozen cows, one rooster with a 7 am wake up call, two gobbling turkeys, some crazy goats and a pack of howling dogs.  also found here: houses much more modest than our own, yet are home to lovely locals who will proudly explain the biblical history of their names with any introduction.  

{tl: neighbor's pets. tr: maize + neighbor's home. bl: kaguya's gates. br: morning carpool.}

oh, and introducing you to my new home wouldn't be complete without introducing you to bridget.  bridget also lives at kaguya and likes to: patiently wait behind rock walls so she can jump out and scare mzungus, sing songs with actions, read books by saying each individual letter of each word and posing for photographs.

 {say cheese!}

Sunday, June 19, 2011

gran fondo: kenya.

 please meet: sam.

with our project well under way, we have become busy girls with places to be and people to see.  
what's the best way get yourself around a rural kenya village?
on bikes of course!

not just any bikes

what do you get when you take a 1 gear cruiser, made of 50 kg of solid steel?  add to that description a loose chain, faulty breaks and permanently flat tires.  
and there you have him, samuel, the son of hannah.

I am certain a day of riding sam in kanyawegi will more than adequately prepare me for riding in the gran fondo at the end of the summer.

samuel doesn't fly solo however.  he comes in a fleet of equally unsturdy bikes.  amongst them is his closest rival: boaz, the husband of ruth.

the two of them take turns being the centre of attention at the bike repair shops (a daily occurrence), making deafening screeching noises while you fly downhill desperately trying to brake, and losing nuts and bolts as they clunk their way across mountainous terrain.

in all honesty however, these bikes have been present for some of the most notable african adventures experienced so far.

they have helped us commute between schools in the kanyawegi school district to collect exam fees for our education day.  they have gotten us to and from meetings where we have shared and collaborated ideas for the after school girls club we hope to launch by the end of the summer.  they have gotten us to church so we can hear amazing gospel music, and were there waiting for us so we quickly escape after our embarrassing impromptu presentation in front of the congregation.  they have taken us to markets for fruit and to lake victoria for fish.  they have waited patiently in fields while we watch sunsets and while we chased monkeys out of maize crops.  they have heard me scream prayers as the top of my lungs when I was certain I was going to ride straight down hills into lake victoria.  they have witnessed me carry african men and women on the back as they nonchalantly chat on their cell phones.  they have been cut off my herds of cows and swarmed and chased by equally large herds of african children screaming, "mzungu, how are you?!" at the top of their lungs.

they are huge, they are clunky, they are exasperating and they making my legs as strong as a kenyan athlete’s.  yet somehow, they are still incredibly endearing.

samuel, the son of hannah, boaz the husband of ruth.. I wouldn't even trade them for this:

{and it was really, really fun.}

Friday, June 3, 2011

picnics and pantries: international.

today I have managed to: sneak in an early morning workout in kitsilano, watch the canucks win while sitting in yvr, enjoy lunch in london and rode in a van with 20 africans into the town of kisumu, kenya. 
several flights and timezones later we arrived in the small, beautiful town that we'll be calling home for the next 7 weeks.

our seamless day of travel continued all the way to buying tickets on the last flight from nairboi to kisumu this morning.
too good to be true you might ask? yes. 
oops, our tiny little airline had given us not only the last spot on the plane, but had sold us a ticket without a seat.  

this girl + 3 bags + jetlag + 0 seat = no longer as cute as a button in her rumpled canucks t-shirt.

there are no problems, only solutions, right? jumper seat it is!

the next thing I knew, I was getting ready for take-off, in the cockpit of a tiny african airplane. after telling me not to touch any of the buttons or switches in front of me, the pilot took an incoming call on his blackberry, checked his mobile facebook one last time, and the next thing I knew we were cruising over kenya.  oh, and did I mention that at this point we are still trying to get in touch with the airport we'll be arriving at to see if they're still open?  it's okay though if they aren't, he assured me.. I can always come to his bbq tonight if we have to reroute back to nairobi.

all is well that ends well, and the charming pilot (just think, the bachelor: kenyan style), has me in one piece at my final destination.

and I am here to tell you that I haven't been here for 12 hours and I am already smitten.  my body is melting from the heat and my heart is melting from people.
the perfect combination.

if I don't want to leave I can always call my new friend with the phone number he gave me and take him up on his offer to marry into a kenyan family.  don't worry though, friends.. he's a pilot.  I'm sure he'll fly me home for visits on the weekends.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

can you do the can can?

sound familiar?  remember the time I went to india and got a bonus day?  
with my new found time I wrote a post about delicious 

fast forward 5 months, and here I am with a bonus day before I leave for africa.  

{can you do the can can revisited}

for the last three weeks I've avoided grocery shopping so that don't leave the country with a a fully stocked fridge.  
perhaps a little too preemptive, but it's forced me to be creative and to make some picnics out of my pantry.

I plumped up my fresh produced with some protein packed canned foods and voila, a well balanced meal is born.

of course, due credit goes to my mother who recently replaced our rickety old can opener because she feared it may give us tetanus.  more proof she's a major contributor to this blog.

canned goods + sparse veggies = delicious salad

summer salmon salad.

the goodies:

- 1 can of salmon
- 1 can of artichoke hearts
- 1 can of lentils
- 1/2 cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 bell pepper, cut into bit sized pieces
- 1/2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1/4 c. quinoa, uncooked

from: KathEats

- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 tsp. pepper

the fun part:

#1.) get your quinoa cooking while you prepare the rest of the salad: add 1/2 c. of water to uncooked quinoa in a small pot and bring to a boil.  lower heat, cover with a lid and let simmer for 15 minutes.
#2.) crank open your cans, and toss in bowl with remaining chopped vegetables.
#3.) prepare your dressing in a small bowl.
#4.) add quinoa to veggies, drizzle dressing over top and stir until combined.

minimal grocery shopping + minimal dishes = maximum satisfaction.

what your body will like:

#1.) salmon: all those good omega-3s we talked about last time!
#2.) lentils: fiber and protein? win!  eating your carbohydrates with protein slows down their digestion, and prevents blood sugar levels from spiking.  lentils are full of this dynamic duo!
#3.) quinoa: not only is quinoa a whole grain, but it is also a complete protein.  want a refresher on all quinoa's health benefits?  check out this versatile quinoa recipe!

excuse me, I have a plane to catch and a few extra items in the refrigerator that need to be polished off before take off.  

stay tuned, the next picnics and pantries post will likely be coming from kenya!