we are in malindi!!! i cannot begin to explain how incredibly beautiful it is here! you know those postcards with the white sand beaches and the palm trees next to crystal clear water and a traditional looking hut that provides shade over lounge chairs? that’s exactly what the beaches look like here. our hotel is really close to the beach, but it is secluded enough to have some privacy. i hate to be the american who doesn’t want to live in a less than perfect environment, but to be honest, i feel much more comfortable being accommodated as we are now. breakfast was so refreshing this morning. it was simple, we just had some eggs, sausage, and toast (TOAST!), but i hadn’t had them in quite a while, so they tasted great. especially the toast. i don’t know why, but that kind of bread is usually not eaten around here. it was like a slice of home again 🙂
but let me back up a little. yesterday we traveled from mombasa to get here. we didn’t leave until the early afternoon because we went to class with mwalimu just to sit in and see what the yale students had been doing the whole summer. it was the end of the program, so the goodbyes and farewells were quite sentimental, but it was really neat to see the research that the students had done and to see how awesome they were at speaking swahili! i thought that i was somewhat efficient….but after hearing them speak i realized that i have such a long way to go. the students stayed in a huge house right on the ocean there in mombasa, and it was beautiful to see the coastline from the second floor after class was over. what was the most valuable, however, was seeing how intelligent and talented mwalimu is at what he does. it makes total sense why he would be involved with a program that caters to yale students.
after class we had a quick lunch and left for the road. once we got out of the city, the traffic was much lighter, the congestion that we had gotten used to was absent, and it was absolutely gorgeous to see what i guess would be considered the countryside. it doesn’t look like the countryside in america (of course) but it was beautiful. rolling hills, very green, strong trees in the middle of somewhat sparse fields, bushes that were sure to provide a safe home for many animals, and even more traditional residences for people along the road. again, the presence of mud houses and thatched roofs was common.
we were almost to the town of kilifi (our first stop to get some interviews) and we were pulled over by the police–i guess i should mention that we rented a car for the next few days. the police just stand on the side of the road and motion to cars who pass by so that they pull over to the side. the officer had no reason to pull mwalimu over, but mwalimu educated us by telling us that all they want is money. they pull you over, threaten you, and if you give them a bribe, they let you go. mwalimu patiently got out of the car after the officer informed him that he wanted him to go to court in 10 minutes (ha!) because of a crack in the windshield. after informing the officer that he was going to call the US embassy to find out what his rights were, mwalimu got back in the car and told us that the officer had let us go, free of charge. it was such a funny experience! and just as the smiles had faded from our faces, we were stopped by another police officer further up the road. this guy was the chief, though, so mwalimu had to pull out his wit even more. he told the officer that we were ambassadors from the US embassy! the chief also let us go without having to pay a dime. we finally arrived at kilifi and went to an NGO called scope. it was great to see what they did and who they worked with. they aid those who have HIV/AIDS and focus on prevention and helping those who already have it. there is much to tell about them, but if i could narrow it down, there are about 60,000 people in the area who are estimated to be HIV positive (out of 700,000) and scope can only attend to 3,000 because of how limited its resources are. as the other 57,000 people are left unattended, HIV is surely spreading. how incredible it would be to see an organization like scope be funded to the point where it could service an area like kilifi c0mpletely! more information about scope and other organizations that we are visiting will be available in our report after we conclude our trip here in east africa.
we left kilifi and traveled another hour to malindi. we arrived a bit late, so we just had dinner and went to bed, but we have been able to see so much today. the beaches are great, as i said before, and the town is so much smaller than mombasa. it is still vibrant with people everywhere and stores decorating the main street, but the constant whir of cars is a bit subdued. we have seen the main town area and have also traveled to the resort side (a significant portion of malindi is owned by italians, and it is built up in an incredible way) that caters to tourists–malindi’s sole (or major) income is from tourism. we were able to go to mwalimu’s land plot where he is building his retirement home (it. is. HUGE!) and we are going to see his normal house later this afternoon. he told us earlier that he is like a chief here in malindi (hehe, it’s true!) and he has pointed out several of his cousins as we have driven around. he has many hopes for this town, and it is inspiring to hear what he aspires to do when he comes back for good.
so here we are, at the next stage of our trip, and it is proving to be wonderful. continue to pray for my personal spiritual focus, and for clarity and vision for what God is leading me to, both now, and in the future for my involvement in africa. i talked to a girl from the yale program yesterday and she was telling me her reflections on her time in mombasa. she was a graduate student now, working on her master’s thesis, and this was her third time to mombasa. she had stayed there for an extended time twice before. after her third time there (she had also had other involvement in east africa) she was facing up to the fact that she was american and that she truly considered that her home. it was really interesting to hear her say that because i usually hear people who go to places like this saying that they can’t wait to get back and stay there, etc etc. this trip is already providing me with valuable experience to base my future decision on–as far as staying here long time and the like. but there is much much more to see!
i’m off to the beach, my friends. i wish you could see what i am seeing right now. it is beautiful. and the water is so warm!
dad, a place like this is where you’ve always told me that you wanted to go. someday i’ll be able to share a beach like this with you. but for now, i’ll just soak up enough perfectness for the both of us 😉