May 05, 2015

The One Where We {accidentally} Drive Our New Danish Friends to Kenya

"It's not too far," they said.
"You shouldn't have too much trouble finding it," they said.
"Just follow the directions on the paper," they said.

Until we reached the customs gate at Kenya.

Let me back up...

Friday was a national holiday in Tanzania, so with a three-day weekend upon us we were more than happy to join our church for a family retreat in the mountains.  We met at the church to car-share with those that needed rides and ended up giving a couple of Danes (and their infant) our empty seats and off we went.
I carefully read the directions at least 7 times.
"Take the turn at the Himo junction toward Marangu."
"Keep to the left in Marangu."
"You'll see a lot of green bananas being loaded into trucks, a lot of dala dalas, go past that."
"You'll be on a winding road."
"You'll see a cross between a roundabout and a four-way stop, with yellow and black painted curbs, turn right."

So, giving directions here isn't quite like in America.  There are rarely (if ever) street names.  Even less often are the names of villages posted anywhere.  There isn't strong enough reception to even think about using google maps.  We usually do fine finding new places, we've never got lost before following directions, so surely we could handle this.

After lots of beautiful, scenic views, great conversations with our new friends, and about 2 hours of driving, we called the maker of the directions... beginning to second-guess our skills.
Photo Cred: Mark Sherman
"We've passed one too many banana junctions I think," I told him, attempting to explain where we were.
"Oh - there are lots of them, keep going it sounds like you're in the right area, call if you get stuck."

Then we FINALLY see that roundabout-four-way-stop intersection thing and turn right.  We go down a bit, wind around some, and see a big, huge CUSTOMS sign with several uniformed men armed with semi-automatic weapons in front of us.


That would be Kenya.


The good news is, after about 5 extra hours of driving, several texts and about 21 dropped calls, we finally made our way up the mountain to Maua (mah-OO-ah) where we were just in time for dinner!
View of the pavilion (left) and dorms as you walk in from the parking lot.
Our weekend in a nutshell:
- Ate amazing meals prepared fresh, farm-to-table with organic produce and grass-fed animals.
- Enjoyed lovely views and gardens, heard the river running from our room each night.
That's our open window in the far right of the pic, the river is down the hill.
- Got biting ants in our pants, hand to run to our room, strip down and attempt to kill them all before they got into our beds.
- Worshiped God.
- Ate two varieties of guava straight off the tree (first time experience!) - even Owen tried one and liked it!
- Petted some of the fattest, healthiest looking cows I've ever seen in Tanzania.
- Visited some pigs - which Owen loved, but was less than impressed with their messy noses.
- Had great conversations with old friends, met new friends, laughed, and played Maasai, Mosquito, Snake (think paper-rock-scissors)
- Walked... make that, hiked, down to the river to witness a beautiful thing.

- Bundled up in jeans, a long sleeved shirt and a hoodie.  Slept under FOUR blankets, and it. was. amazing.
- Listened to the rain pouring as we slept.
- Tied my busted right shoe with a piece of rope to keep the rubber from flapping long enough to go on a walk.
- Took a minute to capture some of the beautiful foliage on the property.
- Bought some organic broccoli and homemade jam from the Sisters.
- Got punched in the face at least 15 times while I attempted co-sleeping with my four year old who wanted to sleep with me on a single bed.

And last, but certainly not least:

- Drove home - the right way - and made it back in just under an hour.