Eldoret was out, Chevakali was burned, Kisumu was the Place

While still in Newberg, I reserved a ticket with Jetlink, a Kenyan regional airline, to carry me from Eldoret to Nairobi to get me back on the path toward home. Once we got to Kenya and conversed with John, it became clear that to fly out of Kisumu was a better option.  At the conclusion of our workshop in Bungoma, we needed, then, to return to Kisumu.  We drove back to the Golf Hotel in Kakemega that evening.  Yes, there is a golf course there, and indeed I saw three courses in Kenya, one in Kisumu, one in Nairobi and the one next to our hotel in Kakemega.

I woke early on Saturday.  While sitting in the backyard of the hotel, I prayed and reflected on the past several days.  It was a peaceful place and a peaceful time.  A large Maribu Stork walked over near where I was sitting and we watched each other for a few minutes until a hotel employee walked by and the large bird took to the air and flew off to the east.  I had a very light breakfast with John and Eloise.  John asked us if we wanted to go to the forest and Eloise said yes and so off we went.  The Kakemega Forest is a Kenyan reserve of tropical rain forest.  The drive itself was lovely.  We arrived at a resort within the boundaries of the park.  John arranged a guided tour for us and our guide, a young woman named Caroline, took us off into the forest.

Along the way we saw monkeys and birds and a lot of butterflies.  The forest reminded me quite a bit of the Pacific Northwest rain forest.  Moss and ferns was plentiful, and the foliage was dense.  It was dry in the forest and we made good progress along a well-established trail.  We came to a steep area in the trail, as we were ascending a volcanic outcropping.  About halfway up the hill, we stopped at a cave that had been made in the side of the hill by people looking for gold a number of years ago.  I became very light headed and could not go on.  I sat for awhile as my colleagues proceeded up the hill.  Caroline told me to go down the hill, returning to the place where the trail re-entered the forest and wait for them.  I figured I was dehydrated and weak from having eaten little at breakfast, but for whatever reason, I was not willing to chance the ascent and so I went back to the forest and waited.

The forest was quiet and lovely.  The Kenyan government protects it from loggers, poachers and other activities that would encroach on the natural beauty of the rain forest.  The organization that our guide worked with is a group that trains the guides, and then profits by their earnings in returning a portion of what tourists pay to a conservation fund.  This fund provides opportunity for local people to receive seedlings of the native trees to plant in their own areas, among other activities.

While at the resort area, after our walk, we met an American couple that was just leaving to return to their home in Paris, France.  They had spent several days in the forest at the end of a Kenyan trip, supporting several schools which provided for the education of orphans.  We also met two people from the Friends Theological College in   Kaimosi, Kenya.

On our way back to Kisumu, we stopped in Chevakali.  We had spent several days here last August as part of our curriculum development workshops trip.  During that trip, my wife Debbie had made friends with a couple who owned a small shop and also served as pastors in the community.  Debbie asked me if I might be able to find Lawrence and Zippy.  I was not sure if we would even pass through that area, but we did.  John was glad to help me attempt to find them.  We asked around and someone directed us to a burned out building across the street.  Debbie had shared with me that the Omega’s had had a fire in their shop, but I was not expecting this.

The building was completely destroyed.  Nothing remained of the shops and homes that had been there.  The front walls were charred and many of the blocks from the stucture were littering the ground.  A neighboring merchant told John that Lawrence and Zippy had returned with nothing to their home region.  Everything they had was destroyed in the fire.  I asked if their home area was nearby and John told me no.  With somewhat of a heavy heart, I returned to the truck and we proceeded southward, toward Kisumu.

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