When we last left you, our quads felt like death and we were battling flying worms. This week we were on our final push to finish our project. Which, to remind you, is a souped up wheelchair, complete with an ergonomic handle with a hand brake system. We also made some modifications specifically for Katherine, whose wheelchair we are pimping out. When we first met Katherine and her father Patrick we were impressed how proactive Patrick was. He gave us lots of valuable suggestions that made the design process much easier. Chef Ken’s food also made the design process easier.
The week began with an early wake up (our favourite) and a short drive to Kinwe (pronounced kin-oy) school and feeding center. When we arrived we were greeted by lots of kids who swarmed us and held our hands, arms, and clothes as we walked up the hill. Except for Peter, whose height has a repulsive effect on children #foreveralone. After the introductions we walked around the schoolyard, poking our heads into the various class rooms to see what was happening. We chatted with the students, played with Libby’s robot ball and did another Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
**UPDATE: Chef Ken just came out of the kitchen and asked if we saw the “comet”. We rushed out of the shaded seating area to try and get a better view. We didn’t see anything and one of the staff from the compound said “It was a horse”. Brady and I were slightly confused and we returned to our seats. Chef Ken then asked if it was a camel or a horse. That’s when it all clicked. Turns out he initially asked if we saw the camel but because of his accent it sounded like comet. Brady and I were left feeling thoroughly disappointed, but then Chef Ken announced that dinner was ready and that lifted our spirits immensely.**
We then walked to the feeding center for the school, which was established by MCOH. There, we got a quick tour of the facilities and then went monkey hunting. After an unsuccessful monkey hunt we return to the benches near the feeding center where we worked on our design documentation, because there is nothing in the world we would rather do. Even money hunting. After an hour of exhilarating documentation, Brady and I decided to give monkey hunting a second try. We went to a small watering hole where we looked for monkeys on the first trip. We stayed quiet to avoid scaring them away. After 20 minutes of standing we decided to head back. On the way back, Peter with his eagle eyes his saw a big black blob in a tree. He paused and saw the big black blob move its head. Peter then brilliantly deduced that the big black blob was in fact a big black monkey will a small white head. He whipped out the ol’ Canon and snapped a gorgeous photo of the money’s rear end. Brady, who is vertically challenged and could not see through his camera’s view finder as he held it above the fence, failed to get a picture. Perks of being tall #stillforeveralone. Satisfied with our monkey hunting journey we headed back to the shaded, benched area. We then ate lunch with the kids. By we, I mean Brady because my tall figure still petrified the kids like the basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. We then headed over to the polytechnic via taxi to work on our project. For the rest of the day we worked on the build of the wheelchair and then went to bed.
Tuesday was another early day. We walked the long, hot, dusty, and hot road to the polytechnic. When we got there, we were ready for a nap, until Kelvin saved the day. He started playing a reggae remix of The Gambler by Kenny Rogers on his phone. We couldn’t resist this groovy beat and we were energized to get to work. We got to work. After lunch, Libby came by to see how we were doing. Peter was then selected to brave the treacherous desert back to the Mikinduri market with Kelvin and Libby. It was hot, really hot. Apparently the locals did not get the memo, because they were sporting winter jackets and pants. I was sweating just looking at them. I was also sweating because it was 30 degrees outside. Once we got to the market we purchased a rubber mat and an air pump. We made an arrangement to pick up the mat the next day since he didn’t have it with him. We were assured that it was a “very nice” mat. Keep that in mind. After purchasing the materials we had the exciting opportunity to walk all the way back. As you can guess I jumped all over that opportunity. After we got back, we finished the build and tested it. Brady was able to push Peter up a steep hill with the new handles, which says a lot about their strength and effectiveness. Thankfully Paul gave us a lift home where we enjoyed a relaxing evening with a stupendous meal from Chef Ken.
Wednesday we took the freshly pimped out wheelchair to Giithu, where Katherine and Patrick live. We also picked up our “very nice” mat. It wasn’t very nice. Calling this mat nice is like calling the smell of your compost bin after it wasn’t taken out for two weeks nice. Once we got to Giithu we did an initial fitting with Katherine to see if there were any final modifications that needed to be made to make the wheelchair as pimpin’ as possible. Patrick tested the wheelchair on the local hills, which were quite steep (pushing Peter up them would be physically impossible) and he was extremely pleased. He requested a few alterations, which included: a new footrest, which was lower and at an angle to support Katherine’s feet, and a back support. Next we went to a rehab clinic in Kunati where we sat around and worked on the design documentation. We were overjoyed to be doing our favourite activity in the hot sun while sitting on a tree stump and a rock. We met a couple of women who were sitting with their babies on the grass. After a while of chatting, Brady had the opportunity to hold a baby. Brady has not yet mastered the art form of holding a baby and it began to cry. Peter did not even attempt to hold one of the babies as he learned from previous instances that children are quite frightened by his large stature. When we got back we expected a normal evening of eating and relaxing, but that all changed when Chef Ken came out and asked a question that we all wanted to hear: “Do want to see how I make Mandazis?” Mandazis are essentially big Tim bits, so we have called them Ken Bits. Peter jumped at this opportunity because he has eaten approximately 60 mandazis… per day. Everyone piled into the kitchen while Ken showed us how to make mandazis, samosas, pancakes, spring rolls, and chapattis. There were some laughs and a samsosa cooking challenge in which Brady easily beat Peter. Ken confirmed this by saying Brady’s samosa was the victor. Peter still believes that there was a bit of collusion between Ken and Brady. Peter ate an additional 60 mandazis that night alone and Brady also stuffed his face. Brady’s small mind is still blown away by the fact that Ken puts Fanta in his pancakes. It’s safe to say that we will always be hungry for Ken’s meals in Canada.
Thursday was a pretty bland day. We went to the polytechnic to make the changes that Patrick had requested. An hour before lunch the power went out, which slowed our progress considerably. About an hour later it came back on. Instead of making up lost time everyone decided to break for lunch. Even with the extremely long break we still managed to make all the alterations to the wheelchair. Our project has been completed and we will be delivering it to Patrick and Katherine tomorrow.
Friday was a busy day. We started the day off early and drove to Kagwuru Primary School. There we were greeted by approximately 500 children. Peter was determined to not scare the kids away, so he knelt down and got on their level. They seemed to enjoy touching his hair, and patting him on the head like a dog. Peter has developed chronic neck pain from looking down at the kids all the time. We then went to play a game of volleyball with the students, which was stellar, but did not last long enough. We checked out their classrooms, took more pictures, and then left for Thurri School, which is situated near the top of a very large hill. Climbing the hill re-aggravated our quads, which were still burnt out from our last leg day on Sunday. Once at the school, we started playing different games with the children, gathering information for the first-year engineering students, who are designing toys for the school. The view from the school was gorgeous, so we took a few pictures, including some where we tried to high-five in mid-air but failed miserably. We then headed back down the hill in the scorching sun. Peter forgot to put on sunscreen, but his toughness wouldn’t let the sun burn him. Instead, he burnt the sun. We then drove to Giithu, where we delivered the updated and now complete wheelchair back to Katherine and her family. They loved it and their reaction made the whole process worth it. Once in Canada, we will iterate the design to make it more aesthetically pleasing, as well as a few other changes. We then headed back to the compound to party it up with the crew. We partied it up with the crew. We took lots of pictures with FML (Francis, Martin, and Loyd), Paul, and Chef Ken. Chef Ken prepared a huge feast, which was spectacular as usual. That concluded our last night at the compound in Mikinduri.
Saturday was a very sad day for us. It was the last time the Chef Ken would make us food. We made sure to consume more than usual, savouring every bite. After breakfast we said our final goodbyes to Loyd the matatu expert, Francis the mountain climber, and Martin the head honcho. We piled into the combi and drove to the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, where we would be staying for the weekend. It was gorgeous. While everyone else got their room number, Peter and I were informed that we did not have a room. This was because they expected us to share a bed, which we quickly declined. Once we got a room, we changed into our swimming trunks, and jumped into the refreshing pool, where we played volleyball with some members of the British military. These guys were hilarious, which compensated for their lack of volleyball skills. We got out of the pool, and went for lunch. It was pretty good, but couldn’t there was still a large void in our stomachs and hearts that only Chef Ken could fill. Then we went on our first safari at Buffalo Springs Game Reserve. We saw tons of animals, including: gazelles, antelopes, giraffes, zebras, camels, and elephants. The combi’s roof pops up, allowing a person of normal height to stand up and look around. Peter is not a person of normal height, and he quickly aggravated his chronic neck pain. We headed back to the lodge, and ate another Chef Ken-less supper. After a long, hot day, we were both exhausted and we headed to bed early.
Sunday we woke up at 5:30, which we didn’t even know existed, and we headed out on an early morning safari through Samburu. Highlights of this 6 hour safari included: a pack of elephants, a bunch of monkeys, and mating zebras, the image of which is now burned into our minds forever. We returned to lodge very sweaty and dusty, and went for lunch. After lunch we went back in the pool, where Peter’s skin couldn’t fight off the sun any longer, and he got burnt. Next we went on our third and final safari, where we were determined to find a lion/cheetah/leopard/all three. We didn’t stop for anything. If there were a group a zebras doing a conga line, we would have just drove on by. We met up with the park rangers, who knew the whereabouts of a lion. Or so they thought. We followed them throughout the reserve, getting excited as they aggressively pointed in various directions. We later discovered that they would aggressively point at just about anything. Although we did not see a lion/cheetah/leopard/all three, we did see a few crocodiles, and a dead elephant which was being devoured by vultures. The wind was not on our side, and blew the lovely aroma of rotting elephant directly up our nostrils. We lost track of time, and Paul had to book it back to the entrance gate before dark. The wind blowing in our faces was an exhilarating feeling. Peter believes he has a concussion after hitting his head on the roof so many times. Once we got we got back to the lodge, we went for supper. During supper, there was a guitarist who played a wide variety of songs while we were eating. We were discussing how wonderful it would be if he played our new favourite song, The Gambler. To our delight, this just happened to be the next song on his playlist. Brady, with his keen eyes, noticed that someone was drinking Coca-Cola out of a glass bottle. He immediately informed Peter of his discovery. Peter then calmly asked the server for a Sprite, which did indeed arrive in a 300ml retro glass bottle. He will be taking his bottles home with him, to be placed in his most prized collection. After a great evening, we went back to our rooms to pack up our stuff and then went to bed.
Monday we left the resort, but not before eating breakfast, which we had mixed feelings about. Peter was excited we he saw mandazis as part of the selection. This excitement quickly dissipated after he tried the mandazi. It was not a Chef Ken mandazi, to say the least. The banana bread, on the other hand, was Chef Ken level. We then left the lodge and started to make our 6 hour journey to Nairobi, and eventually back to P.E.I.
This trip was very busy, but extremely worthwhile. It was an eye-opening experience as to what some people in Kenya have to deal with on a day to day basis. If we had the option to go back, we would do it in a heartbeat. Shout-outs to: our new friends in Kenya, including FML, Kelvin, Paul, the teachers and students of Athwana Youth Polytechnic, Nelly, who works in the rehab clinic, and Germano, the owner of the compound. And obviously, the biggest shout-out goes to the one and only Chef Ken, who completely spoiled with his magnificent cooking skills. We hope you will come work at Fishbones, and you are always welcome on Peter’s futon. A big thank you goes out to Libby for organizing the trip. It was extremely well planned, even with the multiple groups who were off doing different things in different areas. Thank you to our friends and family for all the support you have given us before and during the trip. We wouldn’t be here without your help. The experiences we had on this trip were priceless, and will last a lifetime, especially the mating zebras. We are excited to return home, see everyone, and get back into the swing of things, especially our favourite class, Differential Equations. We would like to thank our faithful readers for taking the time to read about our adventures. We want to let you know that we are officially retiring from blogging. Our very long and illustrious blogging careers were a lot of fun, but require way too much effort for our lazy selves. We hope enjoyed the epic conclusion to our amazing trip, and we’ll catch you later! Peace!