Saturday, July 30, 2011

Imani Workshops

One of the great things about the AMPATH program is that it provides not only medical care, but also social support for their HIV positive patients.  For patients in rural settings the social support comes in the form of paid work on a farm that grows food for other HIV+ patients.  In the urban setting, there are several opportunities including a craft workshop called Imani.  Imani workshop was established during our first trip to Eldoret by two of our favorite artists - Barb Zech and Peter Rose.

Since I had never been to the workshop in the five trips that I've taken to Eldoret (quite embarassing), we decided that we had to make a visit this time.  We organized an afternoon trip with Angie and two of our most favorite-est new friends from Kenya.  Elise and Jason.  Elise is a medicine resident from IU going into infectious disease, which is good because her laugh and sense of humor are both infections that Lisa and I are still trying to recover from!


Jason is a medicine/psychiatry resident from Duke, who is my new bro-friend.  Jason made a big committment to Kenya - almost 10 weeks of solid rotation time.  He's officially one of my biggest heros as he's doing a palliative medicine fellowship after residency.  I certainly hope that he can talk his wife into more trips to Eldoret because palliative medicine is certainly an area of need in Kenya.

The workshop produces quite a few products including paper, bead work, ceramics, art, and tailoring.  It was great to see how the products that we've bought so many times in the past are made.   We'll leave you with a few pics from our visit.

Stringing beads

Pounding recycled paper into pulp

Dying and screening the paper pulp

Some of the colorful ceramic beads

One Last Day

Our last day in Kenya consisted of a return to Nairobi, shopping, dinner with a friend and then the long journey home.   Lisa and Angie both enjoyed visiting the bead store again.  Lisa picked up another new necklace that wasn't featured on the first blog post - pink coral and turquoise.  In fact, there was another run to the ATM to get out more cash for super extra necklaces.

Our second stop in Nairobi was Artcaffee.  It's a beautiful little french-themed restaurant that looked like it was picked up and transported from a city in the US.  Everything decked out in black and white with exposed natural wood finishes.  The men's bathroom didn't even smell remotely of urine.  The food was fantastic as well with real chewy french bread for sandwiches.  We even got three take-away kits for dinner since we knew we'd be trapped in the airport.  The favorite sandwich of the bunch was a parmesan aioli tomato.  Sounds pedestrian compared with what we have access to here, but is a real revelation for Kenya.

One of the best things about visiting Nairobi was being able to hang out with our friend John.  He's studying Health Systems Administration at a college in Nairobi.  He's got plans to become a lecturer (professor) after his graduate work, and is working on getting married.

You've heard us complain about driving in Kenya on the blog before.  Mostly about the quality of the roads.  However, driving in Nairobi, even where the roads are good presents a new host of challenges.

1. Stoplights - there are few and where they are installed they aren't obeyed unless there is a police officer present.
2. Lanes - they don't exist.  If you can fit four cars wide, they fit five. 
3. No shoulders - since there aren't lanes shoulders don't exist either.  We saw several cars driving on what would otherwise be considered sidewalk.
4. There are more than just cars on the road - added to the above are bicycles, motorcycles, push-carts, pedestrians, and livestock.  All weaving in and out of traffic.

Driving in Nairobi rush-hour traffic compounds all of these things into one stressful 15 km trip that takes about two hours.  Luckily we had left in good time anticipating traffic and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

The Debacle, Part 2

Lisa and Angie studied the laughing planet Kenya and recommendations from friends and came up with a great plan. We would take a taxi to see Fort Jesus in Mombasa and visit the old town for a walking tour.

Fort Jesus was built by the Portuguese along the island of Mombasa to protect a shipping route to India in the 16th century. It has changed hands several times throughout its history and is apparently one of the best standing examples of 16th century Portuguese architecture in the world.

It was here that the Lonely Planet let us down again. It clearly said that there would be a guidebook for purchase (only about $1). Of course, we should have known that the guidebooks are kept quite safe from the hands of evil tourists making sure that they aren’t sold. Instead, there are vulture tour guides hovering around the car drop-off who are more than willing to assist for a “good price”. Having paid our entrance fee we wandered around a bit and took a few photos.

After getting our fill of Jesus, we decided to go on the self-guided walking tour of Mombasa old town as laid out in our trusty guidebook. We saw some amazing old buildings with beautifully carved ornate doors and balconies. Mombasa is decidedly more diverse than the rest of Kenya.  The entire coast was dotted with green and white painted mosques.  Several of the mosques in old town had been there for centuries. 

The roads were quite narrow and twisty, lined with cute girls running around in burkas and cats everywhere. Unfortunately trash was ubiquitous throughout the streets as well. Through some miracle we managed to stay on track for about half of the tour. Things went off the rails when we tried to stop for lunch. Again the LP let us down, the restaurant that Lisa and Angie had diligently researched no longer existed. Likely replaced by a Bata shoe store. At that point we were on one of the busiest streets in Mombasa and were beginning to be hounded by people asking for money, including one guy who screamed at us as we walked away after politely saying “I’m sorry”. We ducked into a supermarket and decided to buy our lunch there. Rolls, coke, Fanta, and chips with a few “date newtons” would round out our lunch. We walked our haul back to Ft. Jesus and ate by the ocean.

We had been recommended to try the Ooh! Ice Cream parlor that wasn’t far from the Fort. Typically Kenyan ice cream doesn’t have the rich flavors and dense texture that Americans expect, but we heard that Ooh! was different. It didn’t disappoint. Lisa picked a sweet, tangy, smooth passion fruit sorbet Angie picked a butterscotch toffee affair, and I had mint chocolate chip.

When we sat down to ice cream we tried to call the hotel driver to come and pick us up again. In true Kenyan style he didn’t arrive for almost two hours after we had called despite many phone calls where he indicated he was “just around the corner”. We finally retired to the White Sands exhausted.

Mombasa has a protected reef sanctuary and one of the featured attractions at the White Sands is snorkeling. We booked a reservation for the next morning, enjoyed another walk on the beech and stopped by the swimming pool outside our room. After washing off the funk from Mombasa proper, we enjoyed a nice dinner, and retired to our rooms for some R & R.

For the most part we have been extremely lucky when it comes to weather throughout the trip. We only had a few power outages in Eldoret, and I only had to walk back from the hospital in the rain a few times. Our luck ran out with snorkeling. A storm front rolled in off the coast bringing with it waves that were undoubtedly stirring up sand limiting visibility. We decided to scrap the snorkeling and retired to our room looking through all of the great safari pictures and authoring the blog post blitz that you’ve been reading.

Angie spent nearly the entire day poolside, and Lisa and I went to rouse her for our only activity for the day – jetskiing. A little history - Lisa and I shared our first-ever magical jetskiing experience on our first trip to South Carolina in college. We had spent half a day exploring numerous inlets and jetties in the search for porpoises. We booked from our hotel’s watersports office hoping to explore up and down the coast. Unfortunately, after booking we were told that we would be only in the open ocean within the view of our hotel. The aforementioned waves were still in effect and were a stark contrast to the smooth inlet waters that we had previously traveled. We had a great time, including when Lisa said “this is what our pasta water is supposed to taste like” and I heard “this is what our faucet water is supposed to taste like”.

After the jet skis we retired to the pool to enjoy our new favorite cocktail – pimms and ginger ale. It’s a riff on the classic pimm’s cup minus the cucumber. We had learned from our last pool visit that plastic hurricane glasses would allow us to enjoy our drinks in the water. As we enjoyed our cocktails in the pool, we attracted the attention of four English ladies who were seated poolside, and enquired what we were drinking. After sharing a sip, they decided to have their own. Maybe we’ll start a trend….

Our last evening was topped off by another good dinner and a restful night’s sleep before the long journey home.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Birds of Tsavo

Tsavo was an especially nice place for bird pictures. I'm not sure how many rare finds we made, but several of the birds were new to us. We had a great time and were impressed with how well our driver could spot birds. 

We have tried to identify the ones that we could without a good bird book at hand.

White-headed Buffalo Weaver

MDK-20110724-4759, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Some kind of grouse?

MDK-20110723-3782, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Long-crested Eagle

MDK-20110723-3815, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

In flight:

MDK-20110723-3817, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Egyptian Goose

MDK-20110724-4015, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Splendid Starling

MDK-20110724-4111, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

MDK-20110724-4263, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Von der Decken's Hornbill - Male

MDK-20110724-4117, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Von der Decken's Hornbill - Female

MDK-20110724-4427, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


MDK-20110724-4220, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Unidentified Owl

MDK-20110724-4233, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Jackson's Hornbill

MDK-20110724-4306, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Southern Ground Hornbill

MDK-20110725-4817, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Hartlaub's Bustard

MDK-20110724-4443, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

White Bellied Go-away-bird

MDK-20110724-4447, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Martial Eagle

MDK-20110724-4730, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Helmeted Guineafowl

MDK-20110724-4754, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Eurasian Cuckoo

MDK-20110724-4757, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Lilac Breasted Roller

MDK-20110724-4420, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

White Sands

MDK-20110725-4762, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

We had one last game drive in Tsavo before heading out for Mombasa. Fortunately, our luck continued. After a few minutes of searching, we got a call on the radio that someone had spotted Cheetahs. We sat down and blasted across the park.

When we arrived we could see three slinky figures lurking through the grass. We all hoped that it wouldn’t be a repeat of the teasing that the leopard had given us the day before. After a few mediocre shots the cheetahs decided that the 10 safari vans were limiting their food choices and disappeared over a hill.

After the safari vans disbursed, we decided to go back and take another peek at the spot where we had lost them. No dice, so we moved on. Then we got another call on the radio sighting cheetahs and so we sped back to no avail.

Just when we were about ready to give up completely we turned down a side road and the Cheetahs were plain as day almost right next to the road. It was the perfect way to end our safari to Tsavo.

The trip to Mombasa was pretty uneventful. Traffic in Mombasa was a nightmare because of a nation-wide teacher’s convention that brought 10K teachers from all over Kenya to the coast. It was pretty funny to see all of the teachers filling the busses that normally transport students.

We finally made it to the Sarova White Sands, which is an excellent resort right on beach just north of the island of Mombasa. The white sands is a massive estate with beautifully painted white buildings. The lobby, and dining hall are open air and have a great feel to them.

MDK-20110725-4823, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

The rooms are typical for Kenya, with d├ęcor that could really stand to be updated, but we didn’t plan to spend a whole bunch of time in the room anyway. We were able to book rooms with an ocean view, which was a major win for the trip.

The first afternoon we didn’t do much other than a walk along the beach. Luckily, we had been warned by a friend about how many people come up to harass you to buy things on the beach. If I hadn’t been prepared I would have been really angry. If you’ve never been in this situation think about walking along in one of the most beautiful places in the world and having the highest-pressure used-car salesman walk right next to you for at least 20 feet. They’re selling everything from boat rides to safari packages, carved keychain, or other overpriced delight.

MDK-20110725-1460, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

We actually had a good time walking on the beach despite the salespeople, that’s how nice it was. We had never suspected when we started walking that we’d run into the teachers again. It turns out that the teachers from the convention were also visiting the beach. One of the Kenyans asked us to have our picture taken with his friend, which felt a bit like Japan all over again. Luckily it was just the one set of teachers that had the “picture with white people assignment”.

There is a portion of the beach that is public just south of where our hotel is and the water was filled with school-children. Many of them were still dressed in their uniform shorts, sweaters and ties, frolicking with delight in the ocean.

Each dinner at the White Sands has a theme. The first night was “Arabian Night”, which turned out to be quite good. The food here has been the best on safari by far. We retired with good food in our bellies and a plan to visit Mombasa proper the next day.

What A Difference A Day Can Make

MDK-20110723-3904, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Waking up at 6A for our first game drive in Tsavo the skepticism from the night before had not yet worn off. The sunrise over the beautiful landscape began to help, but was not sufficient, we needed to see animals; big animals and specifically big cats if we were to recover completely.

After puttering around seeing a few cool birds (dedicated post coming soon) we finally happened upon a small herd of elephants a bit off in the distance. After snap-snap-snapping a few pictures we sat back down in the van. The driver took off with unusual haste, eventually informing us that someone had spotted a leopard.

For Lisa and I, the leopard has proven to be a very elusive creature. In all of our safaris we’ve yet to see one. When we arrived at the site there were at least 6 other vans full of tourists that were also trying to see the leopard. The leopard was doing his best not to be seen, and in particular not to be photographed by our crew. Unfortunately he succeeded in his objective, although we did catch some quick glimpses as he bounded through the tall grass.

MDK-20110724-3914, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

We started to work our way back toward a watering hole that we had passed on our race to see the leopard and were greeted by several shy giraffes and a few zebras to round out our morning drive.

After heading to the main lodge for lunch we got to snap some shots of the beautiful landscaping including our favorite lizard – the agama.

MDK-20110724-4359, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Just as we were leaving the main lodge, a large herd of elephants passed by, only about 100 ft away. They had apparently just had a satisfying mud bath and were on their way to their next engagement. At that point, we had no idea that this close experience with elephants was nothing compared to what was yet to come.

After a brief respite we headed out on our afternoon game drive with one objective – Lions. When you go on safari, the little trucks, in addition to having a pop-up roof also have a radio. This is critical, and allows drivers to alert others to animal sightings. All of the drivers set out for the afternoon drive and scatter across the park in a lion-hunting network. After what felt like 2 hours driving up and down our section of the park we were exasperated. Mad again with our tourist agency, and ready to throw in the towel.

When we crossed over the next ridge we found something unexpected. There was a small herd of elephants off to our left, making their way across the road in front of us to a watering hole in the distance on the right. They were moving much more quickly than we had ever seen for elephants and one of the larger mamas fanned her ears wide and trumpeted loudly. She was clearly telling us to stay out of their way.

As the elephants crossed the road in front of us we were too busy snapping pictures away to look to see what was following them – a pride of eight lions. The elephants had passed the road and it became clear that the lions too were sauntering their way toward the watering hole. The lions passed directly in front of our van including a young male who jumped up on top of one of the park signs. We all got some amazing pictures, and Lisa even got video of the Lion jumping off of the sign in the middle of the road.

Our driver called the other trucks as the lions made their way to the watering hole. The watering hole was a decent bit away from the road and no one had a view like we did when they crossed our path. We had just gotten incredibly lucky.

MDK-20110724-4474, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

MDK-20110724-4694, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

One of the features of the Salt Lick Lodge is that they provide a watering hole for local animals. On our first night, nothing much happened there and it seemed like a gimmick. When we ate breakfast the next morning, we noticed the near constant parade of zebra, antelopes and baboons that frequented the watering hole. When we returned from our amazing experience with the lions we found a group of elephants at the watering hole. In addition to the view from the lodge, there is a small tunnel that leads to an elephant-proof fortress/elephant butt scratcher that allows viewing from the waters edge.

MDK-20110724-4709, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

While we were looking at the elephants from the tunnel, a second group of elephants joined the first at the watering hole. The two males stood aside while everyone else drank from the watering hole. After a few minutes of standing face-to-face there was a series of brief tussles, without a clear winner.

One of the brave younger elephants moved to the watering hole immediately at the base of the elevated lodge for a drink so we changed our vantage point. Lisa and I stood nearly 10 feet away from him as the rest of the herd eventually made their way over and stood there drinking for 30 minutes. It was a magical evening.

A Brutal Drive

MDK-20110723-3658, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Saturday marked the end of our stay in Eldoret and the beginning of safari.

As we planned our safari with Angie, Lisa and I reflected on the trips of the past. We both recall vivid memories of dirty, hot, exhausting trips across rugged roads between Eldoret and Masai Mara that we travelled with the Kellys. After that, Lisa and I made a pact never to travel to the Mara by ground.

When we began to plan our safari with Angie we made sure to tell our travel agent, Christine, that this group had a low tolerance for ground travel. Unfortunately, as this is the high season in Kenya, the resorts accessible via air were completely booked.

Since we wanted to make sure that Angie checked off a few of the big five, our agent suggested that we try Tsavo East. She told us that the road between Nairobi and Tsavo was good and that it would take 3-4 hours to get there by lunch time. We would then have two nights and lots of game drives before traveling on to the coast. This sounded agreeable so we had her book the excursion.

Upon arriving at the Nairobi airport we were greeted by our travel agent. This is remarkable because in the numerous times that we have used her services she has never personally met us at the airport. Of course, she was there to deliver some unexpected news: we would not be traveling to Tsavo East.

It turns out that Tsavo is one of the world's largest game preserves, rivaling Israel in size, which is why it's split into two halves.

Christine informed us that a government convention had booted us from our reservations, but that it would be no problem as she had rebooked us in Tsavo West. We figure that this was not clearly on the up-and-up, with several possibilities for the resulting shenanigans. She assured us that although we would miss lunch, the drive wouldn’t be too bad and we were left with no other option.

After the massive stretch of road construction around Nairobi we were finally smooth sailing on some of the nicest road that we’ve ever traveled in Kenya. The speeds were 60-70 mph throughout, similar to traveling on a small US highway with lots of passing required to avoid the big trucks.

About 3 hours into our journey, I pulled out my iPhone to use google maps to check our progress. I didn’t exactly know where we were headed, but estimated that we were close to half-way. Unfortunately, I did not factor in the last bit of the journey that was on one of the most awful, bumpy roads that we’ve been on in Kenya. That awful portion of the trip lasted 1.5 hours. So approximately 8 hours after we had left Nairobi we arrived in Tsavo East to the Sarova Salt Lick resort.

It was too late for the game drive that we were promised that evening so we just got checked into our rooms and headed for dinner. The lack of attention to detail at the hotel was astonishing – our safe was out of batteries (so was Angie’s), there was a giant stain on the middle of our blanket, and our toilet was running a never-ending marathon.

Christine was lucky that she wasn’t at dinner.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beautiful Beads

On Wednesday I (Lisa) went to Nairobi for the day with Monica. It was a last minute trip planned when we were having dinner with Monica and she was talking about going to a beaded jewelry store the next day and I got excited, and then it turned out it was in Nairobi because she was up there for the day before her evening flight home. Monica is a pharmacist that Marc met last summer in Eldoret, but unfortunately schedules hadn't cooperated for a get-together in Indianapolis aside from a chat at the Kenya gala, and we also hardly got to see her this trip to Kenya. So I decided to make a day of it and fly to Nairobi for the day so that I could get to know this Monica character, and also check out the beaded jewelry store. The store was recommended by Sonak who is a long-termer here and apparently knows several good places to go in Nairobi. We have heard rumors that Will Smith and Kofi Anan both shop at this store, and Monica was raving about it from a previous trip. She described it as a place where you could get unique and well made necklaces during your trip but that weren't so touristy "African" that you would feel weird wearing them at home.

As with most (everything?) in Kenya, there was no street address, but fortunately we had the number of Sonak's Nairobi taxi driver who knew where this place was. David was great, and waited patiently while we spent hours shopping that day. Monica's plan was to spend as much time as we wanted at this shop, and then possibly hit a few other stores in the afternoon if time permitted.

The store was at the back of a house in what was either a very nice residential neighborhood or sort of an embassy row. We asked the woman to tell us about the beads, which she had done for Monica on her last trip, and it made all the difference. When I first walked in, I thought it wasn't bad and there were tons of beaded necklaces, but nothing really stood out. Once the owner started telling us about the beads and I started looking at things more closely, I realized she had a lot of very beautiful and special pieces. She had probably 5 main beads that had a history that she told us, and I think all of them have been used as trade beads in the past, although only one type was labeled as "trade beads"-- trade beads being beads that were used as currency to barter for goods. In addition to those beads, she had jewelry made from other glass beads, amber (including African amber which was opaque rather than the more familiar translucent Baltic amber), tigers eye, and others. For each bead type she had multiple necklace designs and bracelets, and then often a few earrings.

African amber, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

The three main beads that I really liked were all antique handmade beads-- trade beads, samburu beads, and black coral beads.

Trade Beads, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

The trade beads are Venetian millefiori beads, which are handmade glass beads that were brought over by Europeans to trade for things they wanted. They come in lots of different colors and sizes, and the woman pointed out that somehow they seem to change a bit depending on what color you put them next to, so that they go with any color even if you think they won't when you pick them up. She claims that the technique for making the beads was lost to history, although my bit of google searching did not confirm that, and there are definitely types of millefiori beads being made today. However, the pictures I found showed the modern beads being much brighter and different looking than these antique ones. I have to wonder if it is kind of like the original technique of making damascus steel or samurai blades old being lost-- it doesn't mean that we can't made blades today, but there are differences between what is made today and how the antique versions were made and some of the details have been lost to history. She told us that Manhattan was bought for a handful of trade beads, and the internets tell me that that is at least a common story, if one without any evidence to prove it either way.

Samburu, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

The Samburu beads are red glass beads with a white core that are made by winding a thread of glass around a wire. They were given to Samburu and Massai men when the killed a lion by hand or by spear, and then the men would give the beads to women the liked. A woman's popularity was judged by how many beads she wore, and once she had 'enough,' someone would propose to her.

Black Coral, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

The black coral beads are made from black coral that was hand drilled and then inlaid with either silver or silver and amber. These are the original prayer beads, probably my favorites of the three, and the ones that I had the most difficulty finding for sale on the web. We plan to go to this store on our last day in Kenya before our flight home, with Marc and Angie in tow, and I have my eye on a black coral bead necklace that was out of my price range on my first trip (the woman only takes cash, which is possibly a good thing because if she took credit cards I may have scooped up half of the shop).

I came home with a few pieces and have ended up having a "trunk show" in my room most evenings since I got back, as word has gotten around the IU house and people were interested in putting the shop on their to-visit list for their way out of town.

After spending about three hours at the shop (and despite that I was relieved that I would get another crack at it on our last day), Monica and I went to the village market which was a kind of open mall. We had lunch at a cafe (real sandwiches! With real bread! And pesto!) I haven't been here long enough to really feel like I was missing good food too terribly bad, but at the same time just a well done simple sandwich was a revelation and I could totally understand why Sonak gorges himself when he comes to Nairobi and gets away from the limited selection in Eldoret.  We walked around the mall and through a couple of fun art and African-themed housewares/decorations shops which made me wish it were easier to ship things home, and then headed to Spinners Web. Marc and I went to Spinner's Web on a previous trip, they are kind of a cooperative of a several handicrafts sellers and also had a couple of things that I wouldn't have minded getting if I were driving home instead of flying.

By the time we were done at Spinner's Web it was time to head back to the airport for my flight back to Eldoret. The bead store was obviously a great find, but I was also really happy to have finally gotten some time to spend with Monica, who is great. She was wonderful to let me tag along to her day in Nairobi, and she was just so easy to get along with. We seem to have a lot in common, and we are going to make a point of all getting together in Indianapolis once Marc and I are back in town. For me, being here without a project/purpose of my own, the people are definitely the highlight of the trip. There are so many people at the IU house now that we don't get to know them all, and I'm pretty sure they're not all winners, but there are always a couple of gems that we're grateful to have met and look forward to continuing to know in the states.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tea Fields revisited

MDK-20110716-3605, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

Unfortunately, our plans to go see the Kakamega rainforest again were thwarted by a lack of space at the Rondo guest house.  We were able to put our backup plan into place for a day trip to the hidden lake, high in the Nandi Hills.

The weather was beautiful, and it was great to walk around the grounds soaking in all of the beautiful flowers and wildlife.  Jason and Joe got in some time fishing while Lisa, Angie, and I walked around the grounds.

As always, Lisa came prepared with food. Rolls that she had bought especially for our trip from Paul's Bakery in Eldoret. The rolls are pretty typical of Kenyan baked goods - dense, and just a hint of sweetness. They are especially tasty if you take very small bites. Otherwise you're chewing for hours.

MDK-20110716-3654, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

On the way back from the lake, we passed by the tea fields. As you looked over the fields, they were dotted with multicolored people hand picking tea. It was a refreshing take on a place that I had visited several times in the past. The people were incredibly friendly and would wave and smile at the mzungu in a truck.

MDK-20110716-3639, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

We topped off Saturday with a tasty meal at the Chinese restaurant, a great way to end a relaxing day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Challenges

MDK-20110713-0426, originally uploaded by monkeydoc

If you've read the blog in the past you'll notice that the volume of posts has gone down significantly.  At first I didn't understand quite why things didn't seem so important to share.  Through time I've come to the conclusion that this place is beginning to feel like another home with it's own routine.

The first few trips were marked with complete sensory overload and a helter-skelter schedule.  The mental effort necessary just to walk to the hospital without being run over by a matatu, boda-boda, or fall into a ditch is daunting.

The workflow of the hospital is so completely different from Indiana that it took me four years to understand that patients travel miles and miles for CT scans and that a two-day time period from exam to report means that the patient waits miles from home for two days.

That isn't to say that I've mastered everything in Kenya. The new challenges seem bigger and more long-term so it's not as easy to share in a blog post or two. 

One new challenge worth sharing has been working with the radiology residents.  In the past, I have been able to work on programming a little, read scans here and there, and in general get things done at the hospital during the day.  On this trip, the residents are so eager to spend time learning and reading exams that even getting through a few CT scans takes nearly the entire afternoon.  I've realized that, much like Indiana, I need to set aside time for non-clinical activities.

The residents are quite a refreshing addition, and hopefully something that will make visiting folks from the states feel better about their participation.  I'm excited to see how they progress as time moves on.