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Kenya Archives - MAP AND MOVE

What doesn’t Freeze Us Makes Us Stronger

By | Africa | 2 Comments

I recently asked a friend for suggestions on my next post. For whatever reason, he resonated with this story and told me to write about it.

It was only third day in Africa and my first night completely on my own. I decided to head north and camp out at Lake Naivasha. It was a hell-tastically hot day so my budget-minded sense said to rent a tent without the extras: a blanket and bedding.

My sense was wrong. Temperatures dropped morbidly low that night and I had only the minimums: a hoodie, two t-shirts and a pair of shorts. In the next six hours that I stayed up writhing in my frigid misery, I questioned everything that I had given up to pursue this foolish dream of travel and adventure: my job, financial stability, security, the comfort of friends and family, a bed and Junior’s cheesecake. There no one to lament to except the empty darkness, the creepy crawlers that decided to bunk in my tent and the barrage of groaning hippos 700 feet away. It was the first time in my life that I could remember being so homesick and so alone.

There would be a dozen other times after this where I would run into a dire situation on my trip. But I learned something every time: we’re stronger than we think.

Three Things My Mom Will Never Find Out

By | Africa, OUR TRAVELS | No Comments

Three reasons why I’m happy that my mom doesn’t know how to use the internet:

1. I learned to ride a motorcycle

In a village where there’s minimal electricity, no tv and zero internet you need to get a little creative. (I lied. We found ONE tv and it was playing of all things, Chinese soap operas in Mandarin. Of course.)

After some constructive brainstorming, my friend and I flagged down a boy on a motorcycle taxi and asked to rent his bike. Voila! 40 minutes later:

Success!

What I didn’t mention was that we were on the very Muslim coast of Eastern Kenya. Proper women are covered up and stay at home, tourists stick to snorkeling by the shore and NO ONE tries to learn how to ride a motorcycle. What started out as an empty field became littered with boys and men both jeering and cheering at the strange sight of me- a foreign girl teetering around on a bike. If ever there was a moment where I couldn’t fail, it was this. I heard the roar of their laughter when I couldn’t kick start the bike and the weight of their stares when I got burned by the exhaust.

africa kenya coast vacation tourist attraction adventure travel fun people culture

This crowd had grown to a group of 20 guys by the time we left. If there was ever a moment that I felt like I needed to win one for the girl's team, it was now.

But at last, my moment of glory come when I walked off the field and turned to wave a victorious good-bye at the crowd of stunned men. Point for the girl’s team.

2. We got mugged in Mombasa

My initial thought was to grab a rock and heave it at the four guys that had pushed my friend down and ripped the gold chain off his neck. But judgement kicked in and I realized me < four guys wasn’t a good idea; violence was a bad look for me anyways. So I ended up doing the reasonable thing and flagging down help.

The best part of the scenario? No one got hurt, it was a good lesson learned (be more careful and don’t throw rocks at men twice your size) and my friend got his chain back. The guys had dropped it on their way out and a watchful homeless man found and returned it, once again proving the goodness of random strangers.

3. I got left by a bus in Nowheresville, Kenya with no phone, cash or passport.

I got off the bus to let the pushy passenger behind me out. For whatever reason, the bus stopped, I got out, but the man behind me didn’t. As the bus whizzed away and left me in the darkness, I realized that my phone, cash and passport were in the bag my friend offered to help me carry when the bus got too crowded. FML.

While looking for help down the empty, barren road, a concerned trucker spotted me and somehow understood my wild gestures and that I needed to locate my friend who was still on the bus. A frantic truck chase, a lot of mishaps and two hours later, friend and I were reunited once more.

To Hell and Back

By | Africa, OUR TRAVELS | 3 Comments

Summer lasted a whooping 7 months for me this year. I left for Africa back in February, dodging almost every single blizzard that hit New York. By the time I left for Europe in May and finally came home in July, I had hit summer on three different continents. What that means is that the cold is going to kick my butt this year.

As my way of saying “screw you” to the rain that’s hit New York for the past three days and the first chills of fall, here’s a post from one of my hottest days in Kenya: Hell’s Gate.

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The park is called Hell's Gate for a reason: 98 degree weather, no cover, no water and stretches of cliffs that look like they got baked in an oven called "Inferno."

Yup, I decided to go for a bike ride.

Made some friends.

Kenya naivasha africa travel zebra safari tourist park attraction hells gate bike scenery

Traffic jam.

Made some other friends along the way who convinced me to take the route called "Buffalo Circuit." Bad decision. See those hills? Imagine riding up 30km of them.

4 hours and over 40km later, we found a school tucked between some hills. This Massai teacher, John, and his friend offered to show us the shortcut out. But not without warning us to stay out of the bush. Why? So didn't end up as lion snack.

Kenya naivasha hells gate bike rental weather cliffs scenery attraction tourist

50km+ and 5 hours, I'm smiling on the outside, but dying on the inside... of thirst, fatigue and sweat. The great lyricist and poet, Nelly, describes it best: guys, "it's gettin hot in herr."

extra-Ordinary Man

By | Africa, OUR TRAVELS | No Comments
His name is Offin. I met him on my third day in Africa.
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Offin- he’s a walking library of stories from living as a Nairobi street boy to hunting in the bush with Massai tribesmen. 

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DKC Shopping Centre- where Offin and I would grab a plate of nyama choma and a Tusker’s

He lives on the outskirts of Naivasha, Kenya. It’s an area where there is no electricity except for the occasional restaurant or pub. No connection to the outside world besides the few internet cafes in town. No TV, no running water, no access to watching Kim Kardashian getting married live (gasp). He does bike rentals and runs the occasional safari tour for a living. In his off time, he organizes clean-up projects in the slums, plants trees and teaches kids about AIDS in local schools. He’s just an ordinary guy.
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At a school in Muchia, one of the slums Offin teaches at.

Kenya Africa naivasha lake

Offin’s friend sits in his shop in Muchia.  

So ordinary, in fact, that this is exactly what makes Offin extraordinary: he works with the resources that he has to make the difference that he can. Through the tourists that he meets at his day jobs, he has made friends with people from all over the world. Some of them have gotten involved in his projects and done everything from cleaning up the slums to visiting the local schools where he teaches.
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In case you needed a dose of adorable up close

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I lied- there ARE tv’s . Three to be exact. They sit side-by-side simultaneously playing old movies and documentaries in a darkened room full of people at the local movie house in Muchia.

AIDS rates are no joke in Naivasha. Parents don’t talk to their kids about it because the subject is taboo. Many people are misinformed (condoms cause disease, sex with a virgin will cure AIDS, the list goes on) or not informed at all. And for those who are aware of condoms, they are much too expensive of a habit to maintain.
Offin has never be outside of East Africa. Yet his aspirations are so inspirational that half way around the globe, people are still spreading the word about the projects he helps with. I am one of them:
The Rift Valley Festival is a not-for-profit music festival that raises funds for villages around Lake Naivasha. Where else are you going to see the likes of DJ Yoda, a Gorillaz DJ set, Jimmy Sreech and 13+ other artists for a measly price of 3000ksh ($33USD)?
Won’t be in Kenya anytime soon? You can still donate. Contact the one of Offin’s friends and organizer of the event, Sean for more info.
Offin might not be changing the whole world, but he is certainly changing the world around him.

Dining in East Africa

By | Africa, OUR TRAVELS | 4 Comments

In lieu of the tragic events of Tuesday’s earthquake and soon to be catastrophic effects of Hurricane Irene, I’ve decided to write a more positive post in the hopes that all New Yorkers can rise above the possible cancellation of Dave Matthews Band on Governors Island this weekend.

Many people have asked me what the food was like while I was traveling through Kenya and Tanzania. I’ll be honest, food in East Africa is not always the stuff culinary dreams are made of. It didn’t stop me from gaining weight though. Here are my picks of the bunch.

Kenya food cabbage matokeo street vegetable africa east

Cabbage and chai. A meal usually consists of a filler like rice, chapati (thin Indian crepes) or ugali (the best way to describe it is a dough made of maize) paired with one dish- meat, lentils, beans or the aforementioned cabbage.

Making chapati. Your typical meal in a hut.

Kenya food drink fruit juice sugar cane mombasa fresh

Some kind-hearted employees in a juice store in Mombasa, Kenya pitied my desperate tourist photos and let me go in the back to see all the action: a machete-welding man chopping up sugar cane and feeding them into this grinder.

passion fruit juice sugar cane fresh kenya africa mombasa natural delicious

Fresh Passion Fruit sitting next to its friend, Fresh Sugar Cane Juice. This is the real deal. Just fruit, no additives and eternal happiness.

Kenya food cassava snack africa fried fresh

Cassava- It's like fat, starchy french fry minus the crisp.

kenya food italian pasta aniello diani beach seafood fresh delicious

Aniello's on Diani Beach. Basically an Italian decided to set up shop on the the coast of Kenya and marry homemade Italian goodness with fresh seafood off the coast of Kenya. It was one of the best meals I had in three months.

Kenya food samaki fish curry

Samaki- fried fish with coconut curry sauce. Yums.

Flashback: Kenya

By | Africa, OUR TRAVELS | 4 Comments

I said good-bye to Africa over a month ago and I’m finally have catching up with the 7,234 photos I’ve taken in the last five months.

Starting from the top, my first few days backpacking through Kenya:

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Lake Nivasha

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One of my most versatile and fantastic friends I met in Kenya, Offin.