Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My christmas. Minu jõulud.

Text both, in English and Estonian + photos here.

Inglise- ja eestikeelne tekst ja fotod siin.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas and new year :)

So, I have made my plans for christmas and new year and they are little bit different from the previous years.
Looking forward. Photos will be here soon :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Philosophical thoughts...

So, as you understand from the title, if you are not interested in my thoughts, then wait for the next entry:)

For the ones, who are still left here...

I left from Shianda, because I felt that I need a break and I need to get to know new places and new people. Now, what is the most funny thing is that even though I left Shianda, Wefoco and Shianda are still in my everyday life. Even I am not there at the moment, but I feel like I am doing even more for Shianda. Call me Shianda:) I am writing articles for newspapers, answering emails, updating databases and lobbying about WEFOCO.

Second thing that I noticed is that if I work here the way I work: on my own and following my own schedule, I do not give myself a break. My thoughts are always on work stuff and other tasks. I came here to write. So even if I am not writing all day, that sometimes can happen, the paper and pen are always next to me and I am making notes. Sometimes, the days when you are not writing, can be even more productive in the end, because in my thoughts the new chapter is written. And next day I just write it down.

Next to the things mentioned above, I want to rest - to have my privacy and not to talk with anybody if I feel like this. Here I can really close the door and to do my own things.

Today was the first day when I felt that I am not tired any more, I feel great and I am actually waiting to get back to Shianda :) Two Estonians are coming there for Christmas and another ones donated money to buy food for the local people, so it feels like I should be there during Christmas. After that, January and February seem to come very busy.

And I am waiting for Mirjam...Talking about Mirjam, while reading her letters (first from Kenya and then from New Zealand), I feel like this trip is way more bigger thing for her than for me. She gets excited and she gets amazed and She is not tired. Seems like she came to do this trip to find herself or peace in herself, but I am discovering the world. Learning from the world is a tricky thing, because the more I see and experience, everything gets more and more relative. In one village, there can live two neighbors in exactly the same conditions and they can have totally opposite personalities and they can think totally differently about the world and their lives. We all want to be very unique and special, but then we tend to group other people by their nationality, skin color, religion, education level, profession or anything else like that. Does it make any sense? So, experiencing all this makes it sometimes quite difficult to express opinion or make to conclusions, because there are at least two sides of every story. Therefore, I have stopped making conclusions or "tagging" groups of people. I can only describe what I see. But I can not see all. "I am not young enough to know everything."

So, isn't is funny? You get loads of experiences and you see so many different life stories, but instead of having more statements and answers, you actually have less. Maybe you have more respect and more understanding about different cultures and therefore, instead of saying something, you are rather quiet.

But again, thinking about Mirjam and her excitement about travelling and new cultures, I got first time the thought that maybe everything that is happening to me is a normal reaction, as I have not lived in my country for 2 years. Maybe I should go there and have normal life routine for some time. And may be if I start travelling again, I would also write like Mirjam. But on the other hand, I feel that at the moment in Kenya I can see things more like "insider" not observer and I like this feeling.

I am reading several blogs about people who are "travelling around the world" in one year and who are preparing themselves for a long time to "let it all go". I have been "living in the world" for 2 years and it just has happened like this. First, I went just for 5 months and I remember how excited and happy I was during the first months about my decision.

Yes, there are new and old places and people as well who I want to see and meet. There are so many things in my "list" and I am doing a lot of things. I feel like chasing my dreams constantly. 

The end :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The culture shock

So, today I visited a Kenyan wedding and I got a culture shock...after that while meeting with four running Estonians here. I knew that there are some Estonians staying in one guesthouse and we organised a meeting, so I went there and First I was talking with two girls and as nobody else said anything while we were talking, I assumed that everybody else are non-Estonians:) So, after kind of long time it finally came out that two guys who were sitting opposite me, were also Estonians.

So, for me, after all these months, if totally strangers (Kenyans) come to me with friendly smile, shaking my hand warmly, inviting me to their houses share the only food they have and offering their homes to "stay here as long as you want", always saying good bye: "I am so thankful for your visit, god bless you!". Honestly, I meet this friendly attitude and helpful approach a lot and the Estonian in me feels sometimes little bit uncomfortable in middle of all that. I am spoiled by all that and sometimes it is difficult to appreciate it, but now... I met two Estonians here, who even did not say "hello" to me. No, not that I blame anybody, far from that. I like if people behave the way they feel comfortable, not pretending, but during the following evening I felt that they are behaving the typical Estonian way in middle of Kenya... I am very proud of my nationality, but after travelling and living in so many different places, all Europeans are Europeans for me and it's not such a big deal anymore if somebody is German or Estonian or Swedish or anything else. In general I guess the more I learn about different cultures and countries, the less I recognize them. What I have learnt is that there are absolutely great people in every culture. I see a person, not nationality.

So, while travelling I am used to meet open-minded people who have somehow similarly forgotten the nationalities and are focusing on a person, but now I met the real Estonians in a context where I usually do not meet them. 

So, to finish this topic, the evening was great and conversations interesting and it is really good for a change to be in the European group of people. Who have lived alone in a different culture, I guess you understand me. Ehee...tomorrow again :)

But now the wedding. It was nice:) It was the first part of the ceremony: sending away the bride. So, the wedding had to start at 10, we reached there for 11 and I actually was worried that I was late, but of course nothing had started yet. So, there was about 30 people who had ALREADY arrived and others kept on coming. At 12.30 the food was ready and everybody stood in a line and got rice, beans, one potato, half chapati, meat and souce to one plate. Later on, everybody got as much additional food as they wanted and water as well. The food was made by women. The serving, cleaning up and dishes were done by men. I was told that the neighbors collect money and then buy the equipment that they need for the weddings (like a lot of plates and spoons and so on) together and use these things during several weddings. Also, the trucks are borrowed from some friends.

In general, the wedding was exactly my taste: it was a nice, but everybody felt themselves there comfortable, nobody came to show off and the host family was sincerely worried about that the people would have good time, but not worried that"everything would go perfect". The atmosphere was as relaxed.

Some people were singing...not very well. In some point I recognized, that I even did not notice how bad the singer was, because it did not seem to be important, the songs were amusing and the mood was good. Then I fell deep into my thoughts, analyzing in details following. If the singer is lame in Kenyan wedding, people still have a great time, but if same would happen in Estonia, it would be definitely a topic of dissatisfaction. 

After eating (it took about 2 hours), most of the people had finally arrived and little bit after 3 o'clock the real ceremony started. The bride came with 4 nice, but very small cakes. I looked around me, saw about more than 300 people and I realized that no cake for me today. Bride cutting the cake with some other women was the important part and then some lucky ones got cake. Bride and the escorting women sat on the chairs and then all the people started giving speeches that were regularly interrupted by the prayers. After some time, people started bringing envelopes to the big covered bowl in front of the bride - these were the rich people who had some money to give as gifts. Some presents were given as well. Then after 2 hours the speeches were finally over and all the relatives of both sides were lined up for many times into many different lines. This was the first time I saw the groom (and the last). The mothers of both, bride and groom, gave gifts to each other.

So the party ended (or started...) with music and dancing and as it was getting dark, people started heading home with the big trucks and matatus and anything else that they came with. I climbed to one truck and got a lift to the road where I was walking for a some time. I ended up in matatu, where I was pushed in, but I didn't mind, because, it was already dark.

After the wedding, the father of the bride (the host), came to me and thanked me for coming: "welcome back any time, this is home. thank you, thank you, good bless you!" The same text was repeated by other family members. 

The guest truck

Robert, thanks for inviting!

Hands clean...

...and to eat!

This food :)

The food line

The real house and the bride house before opening it

The relatives

House, where bride was sitting during all the ceremony

The important cake ceremony

The mothers changing presents

The bride on the LEFT :)

The most stylish dress....

The "kitchen"

I hope that the cake was good...

The cake...those, who got it...
From left: "800 meters runner", Robert (maraton man), the brother of bride (also a maraton man), I guess this one was the sister of bride and then the escort of bride and the musungu who had only hiking cloths with her during this trip :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Undiscovered areas...

Trip: one week.
The most impressive places: a lot
Climbing hours: 9
Full days of walking: 3 (2 with bags)
Main food: mangoes...
The price of an accommodation for 2 people everywhere during the trip: 200 sh (=2 euros)
Hours waiting for a matatu in one town: 12
New phone numbers of locals: 4
The craziest thing: the night matatu from Tot to Iten with the sleeping stopover in middle of nowhere for 2 hours
The favorite experience: walking in a mango garden with a local who gave us as much as we could carry + walking from village to village
What do I think: next time again, maybe with little bit less things :)

1. impressive place: ORTUM
In the beginning of the 5 hours climbing...up and only up

After some really difficult parts of the trail.

There were still people living

4 hours walked, no food, but good mood

You can call it THE view point

Local woman climbing to the top and guiding us

You can call this THE VIEW as well

How did these cows get up here?

From Lomut to Tot
Morning sun

the mountain

The mountain vol 2


River means a town. Town means a river.

Travelling in the truck

Lomut market

Tegla Lorupe Peace Race...Stop cattle raiding

The bed

Truck traveling vol 2

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I'm sitting on two hiking mattresses, one of them belongs to Alari and another one to Elen, who both left them to Kenya, saying that maybe there's some use of them here and I can say, yes, there is. On the mattresses, there's a small blue blanket that was also left by Alari and a warm blanket and two sheets borrowed by "my Kenyan family".

The light is coming in from a big window in my room. My kitchen corner consists of a black washing bowl and 2 water containers, one bought and another one given by my Kenyan neighbor after she saw that I have only one small one. Next to the containers, there's a paraffin cooker and cooking pot, both by my Kenyan family again. On the newspaper on the ground I have all food I need for cooking. Next to me, there's a jam tin that is converted into a cup - really nice and stable one. Spoons and plates from my Kenyan family again.

Next to the drinking water bottles, there's a "water-guard" for treating the water - I even do not remember when I was buying drinking water. On the wall is hanging a hiking bag, left here by Elen, repaired more than once. In the corner, there's my old phone charger - found use as a hanging rope for the cloths. On the newspapers on the floor there are some other cloths, books, notebooks, pens, medicines and washing equipment.

As I take relatively few clothes with me while travelling, then today, after washing those, I discovered that I have nothing left with long sleeves, but it was cold. I met my friend and he also recognized that I felt cold, soon I walked home with his favorite jumper. The jumper is now on the newspaper next to the warm socks that I got from the flight (Turkish airlines).

I did not write this long story to tell that I don't have any furniture. Newspapers, phone charger and hiking mattresses are furniture....aren't they? :) But I somehow like this... life. Being happy that a small butter box gets empty to get a box for salt and another one for sugar. Cooking from the tomatoes and onions bought from the seller on the corner. Life without a jumper.

Meeting people. Simple people. Runners, whose times are better than the Estonian record, but who live in a small rented room, made out of iron sheets, without electricity and having just one bed and running cloths hanging on the rope over the bed, cooking their maize and beans outside on the firewood, because there's no money to buy anything else. Running. Dreaming. Living. These people inspire me. If this is not living the dream, then what is?

Living this simple keeps me somehow awake. I can focus my energy where I need to focus it. I rather feel happy about an extra container than sad about all I "could have".

Friday, November 26, 2010

3 months

Soon, soon and 3 months are over.

These months have gone faster and faster with every passing day.

After 3 months in Kenya, I discovered that I have not visited even a single new place and I was really feeling that it is time to go and discover Kenya again. 

So, it was just yesterday morning, when I took my (actually Elen's) backpack and said goodbye to my mud hut and people. Every time right before I start going to the unknown, I feel some kind of small fear and temptation to stay in the place I know and just continue living the comfortable life in the environment that I know.

Most of us in the Western world, we are working all the time to ensure our lives. To have insurance for everything. To make life more comfortable, more perfect. It's like building the wall between us and the real world higher and higher, because the more insured and comfortable we are, the less we want to discover anything new, because it seems dangerous.

Anyway, while already on the road, all the fear seems funny. It feels good to be on the road. It is good feeling to sit in the bus and not to be sure about how the place I am going looks like. It's good feeling to get out of the bus when driver tells you that this one here is the destination. If I do not know what to expect, it makes me to appreciate small things, as well as it makes me somehow vulnerable. I discovered that if I drive my regular and everyday road in Kenya, I often think about my own things and do not look around me, but if I drive a new road, I am opened to everything - new people, new ideas, new surroundings, everything.

The first evening we arrived to Kapenguria, that is called the capital of west pokot. We just drove through the town, because we did not understand that this is the capital town. Few houses - even my home village is bigger :) The evening ended with staying in one of the very few lodgings - it was one of the four rooms behind the "Poa place bar". The noise lasted until the morning, but at least they had good music and I was just sleeping.

In the morning, we walked back to the bigger centre on the main road and passed Tegla Lorupe peace center - She is a pokot woman. Next interesting sight was a HUGE church. Really huge one.

Day continued with the waiting in the matatu. One or two hours I guess. But we were not in a hurry. After we decided that Kapenguria is totally boring and there's nothing that we would not have seen yet, the road onward was a good surprise. Our destination, Ortum was surrounded by uncountable mountains and having all the basic things I could want, even the room for 200 shillings with a great view, socket, network and electricity. And all these mountains. Tomorrow morning I choose one and see how the west pokot looks from the top of this one.

If there's electricity, more stories will be found here also tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not on a trip.

During last 1,5 years I have been living in different countries. Doing different things, adapting with different ways of seeing life. Different people. Different goals. Different atmospheres.

For the last few weeks I have a strange feeling that this is not anymore a trip or being away from home for a short time. I feel like I live exactly there, where is my bag. And this is my present. My future is future.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Safari. Chakula. - Travelling. Food.

So I was travelling for few days to meet my friends all over Kenya.

This time I took the real and big bus this time as the memories from my last longer trip are still fresh. My first matatu driver was sleeping and woke up only when there was a hole in the road (luckily there's no problem with those) and I was really afraid of my life, I stopped the matatu and left. While I was waiting for the second matatu, a lot of young men came around me and tried to "help" me - that means to earn money from my presence. If a matatu stopped, they made some kind of deal (they thought that they are making it secretly)- they were basically selling me to the driver telling some price that he should ask from me in the and and what I had "agreed" with them. I was so annoyed, that I even did not want to ask the price that is obvious thing to do before sitting in. I decided that I will pay the amount according to the distance.

Well, I sat in and this matatu had no breaks. I was angry. I was sick. I was tired. And I was sure that with the "luck" I had that day, the next matatu will be worse. So I hoped that the town comes soon. And it came, too soon for the price that was asked from me. If I refused to pay, the driver said that the men had said him that this is the price I pay. I got angry. I said that many people can tell him many things. Then I said that he should repair his breaks, he asks "so what?", I said I could go to the police, he got very angry, asking: "Are you threatening me, let s go to police." I said that OK, let s go. I guess this was not the answer he expected and instead of taking me to the police station, he just drove the opposite way to the Nairobi highway. Then he stopped. I said that this is not the police station. The co-passengers said that "you arrived safely, why do you complain." I was wondering, how people care about their lives so less and just said that: "I hope that you reach to Nairobi still alive. Anyway, I was sick and tired, paid the money and left.

So, this time I took the real bus and the trip was really uneventful, only in Kisumu some people had created some kind of road block and were running around and jumping from car to car and putting some plants to the cars. I was not sure about what was happening, people closed the windows and all bus was quiet. But our bus driver was a real macho. He just held the leg on gas and drove through all this while a lot of cars had stopped and got stuck. Later on I heard that people are protesting because of the bad situation of the roads. Yes, they have a good reason for that - the road from Kakamega to Kisumu is kind of awful, consisting of only holes and the drivers drive on the side that has less holes or on the sidetrack of any line. Sometimes the sidetrack has 30 degrees angle or something similar, so the trip is an experience for sure.


One of the best moments during my trip to town is always eating.
I just discovered that I have got used to the Kenyan/Luhya village people way of eating.
Morning equals to the chai (tea). Sometimes I have also some bread, butter and tomatoes.
Lunch time equals to no food or sukuma and ugali (maize flower mixed with water and boiled and some green vegetables).

Dinner means ugali and sukuma. Or rice and cabbage if I'm lucky. Or sometimes even some potatoes. But that's it. No cheese sandwiches or pasta :) No meat. Ugali. Ugali. Ugali.
I wouldn't tell that I can't get food. But there's no variations. And also some important components (for me) are missing. So if I get to the town, I go and order everything I want and EAT. It feels really good. But even in smaller towns it's sometimes difficult. But I just eat my vitamins and if I reach back, I EAT!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Left alone.

Alari started moving towards to Estonia and I returned alone to my home in Shianda. After the trip that was not my favorite one I arrived to Shianda and everything was the way it is in Shianda.

Yesterday I lighted the lamp and started writing. Then I got the idea to draw. I usually never draw. But I did it this time. And I was drawing 4 different images... somehow I liked it. I was just listening music, thinking, writing, drawing... Today I add also learning Swahili and reading. It's good to have my own space for a while - I have a whole house :) Before drawing I did another thing that I do quite rarely - I was cleaning and arranging the house. It created a good and peaceful feeling that some things are in order - felt like I would have cleaned my life as well.

There's less than a week left in Shianda before I take a vacation. It feels good and I have enough time.

Yesterday I decorated the home:) Next to the map of Estonia and Kenya, I added the big and colorful world map. I have always wanted to have the world map on my wall and now I have it.

No more news.
Last week, last week :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

50 meters from the Ugandan border

Yep, that's it. And not a step to closer. Viva la Kenya! :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Same place, same work, but so different.

If I compare my current work and life in Shianda with the one I had little bit more than one year ago in the same place, it is very different. This time I could skip all the progress of getting know the place and getting used to the culture, as well as dicovering the interesting aspects about how it is possible to run a project here. During the time I was away from Kenya, I had time to think about all that I experienced and accept it. And the running organisation is so much easier to work with than the starting organisation:)

Next week, Alari is going away and leaving me alone to represent the Estonians here. Luckily, a huge amount of work has been done, leaving me here to enjoy the first results and to prepare the next inetresting projects. Life is peaceful and the days are filled with moving forward.

I like where I am now, I like what I am doing and I like the direction I am moving to.
If somebody wants some special chirsthmas presents from Kenya, it is the very last time to order those.


Monday, October 25, 2010

It's good to travel, but it's the best to be back at home.

I left Shianda for 10 days to visit my friends in the other parts of Kenya. At first I really enjoied the luxury of having electricity and floor that was having some cover - not just pure soil, I enjoied the running water and the toilet that was inside the house and it had even electricity. Then I went to Kabarnet, where I continued enoying the same things, but after few days I felt somehow not peacefully.

I arrived yesterday evening back to Shianda and I realised that actually I had missed our mud-hut. It was great to light the parafinlamp and to listen the sounds of the nature around our house. It was so great to have this peace and time. It was also a good feeling to have one place that feels like home in this country. Where, after I have been away for 10 days, people say hello, give me the key to our home, say that they missed me and just simply offer the dinner.

Its also good to reach to the place where I know exactly, how the things are and I can skip all the hussle caused by not knowing. It's good to find my things from the house, even if there's so few of them. Even that small amount feels like a lot actually. Me, Alari and Elen came to Kenya, having one small backbag of personal things and stayed for 1 or 2 or 6 months.

What I have discovered is that if there are people living somewhere, then they possibly need the same basic things for living as I do. Therefore, worrying about what to take or taking too much to the trip is kind of overrated. All these fancy packing lists that everybody have in the internet, full of the expensive gear for any possible occasion- it's much more fun to buy things locally, as well it's often cheaper - for example the malaria prevention cure, mosquito net, hand sanitaiser and water purifier are definetaly cheper in Kenya than in my country. In general I like Kenyan supermarkets very much - they have really everything you could ever need (except the special make up and hair products for white skin and blond hair) and the choice is wide. Sometimes it's possible to find really great products, like the torch that's rechargable from the socket - it's our favorite thing and we use it every day.

One day, me and Alari tried to make the minimal list of things that we need for living in Kenya in the mud hut style and the list is following:
  • 1 pair of sandals, 2 pairs of trousers (1 pair of long trousers), 3-4 t-shirts and one long sleeved pullover, socks and underwear - should be logical :)
  • pen, notebook, 1-2 books (but also possible to buy local magazines and newspapers instead)
  • camera
  • money
  • toilet paper
  • soap, shampoo
  • comb
  • hand sanitizer
  • small backbag
  • medicines - malaria prevention, painkillers, bandages, thermometer is also a good luxury thing to have
  • torch/flashlight
  • i-pod/mp3 player (can be also used as a flash disk)
  • small scissors
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
Should be all :)

Anyway. It's raining in Shianda as usually - this place has really a lot of rain and it's also kind of cold (cold in the African way), but it's fine, I like this kind of weather anyway more than hot one. They say that in December, the local summer will start - we'll see.

But I finish now and will go and enjoy the mud hut and peace.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I had time to read a book and watch a movie.

It's difficult to understand the sum of a person's life.

Some people would tell you it's measured by the ones left behind.
Some believe it can be measured in faith.
Some say by love.
Other folks say life has no meaning at all.

Me, I believe that you measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.

"The bucket list."


Life has so much to offer. All one ever needs is imagination and energy to chase down one's dreams. Something I swore I would never lose sight of, no matter the cost. Of course, I wondered about our future: where we might live, what careers to pursue. Somehow, out there in the desert these questions seemed less pressing and I was content to leave them unanswered, to let them drift. I was confident that the future would unfold as divine providence saw fit.

"My heart is Africa"

Saturday, October 16, 2010