Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Farewell continued

A farewell at the Centre usually means a tea party planned by the staff.  In the past this involved light food:  boiled eggs, biscuits, queen cakes and chai.  Ian and I decided about a month before leaving that we would like to throw the staff and residents a nice lunch for our farewell….with good food… we arranged to have a caterer for the party.  It was a win-win.  The Centre was able to not spend money on the party, we had wonderful food, and no one had to worry about set up or clean up!

But it’s easier to explain the farewell in pictures: 

Upon entering the party you must go through a tunnel of singing people

As guests of honor you sit up at the front while everyone sings & dances to their places

After announcements by the MC Hillary, the food line opens

Beef stew, irio, rice pilau, sukuma, and kachumbari. Anne's favorite is the green irio, Ian's is kachumbari (looks like slaw on the top)

After lunch the singing and dancing begins...complete with heaving us up on the shoulders

Ameena gets into the dancing too as Esther carries her around

I think it's safe to say Eli enjoyed the dancing

Esther with Ameena in her African party dress which came via Naomi's friend at St. Patrick's Catholic Church

Receiving the's a really big deal to take a picture of the gift and giver!

Eli and Lucy thought presents on a non holiday were fantastic!

A special song prepared and sung by the day program teaching staff

Ian and I had to give "speeches" to the staff. I talked about how God has a plan written for each one of them & how much each one had contributed to the success of the Centre

It took Ian a moment to find the right words to express all that we had experienced in our 15 months in Kenya with this staff.

We tried to keep the end of the party light with a "guess the $ in the jar giveaway" & the promise of shopping at Momma Eli's duka (shop)

At the end of our party we took about 30 of this same shot, with a different staff member or resident inserted. We then printed copies for the staff as photos are a very treasured and special gift.

The staff & residents of Karibu Centre. In 15 months, we went from 4 staff and 0 residents to about 27 staff, 27 resident girls, babies and abandoned babies and about 120 children in the day program! We felt so blessed to be with these people day after day!

And that was our formal farewell.  More in the next few days of my “garage sale” aka Momma Eli’s duka & of our push by staff/friends to the airport.


An afternoon….

I’m guessing that at times it might be hard to imagine what life over here is like.

At least that’s my guess since I really had very little idea of what to expect before we come over.  I thought I was pretty prepared with my expectations as I’d taken work and witness mission trips in high school and college to less developed countries.

What I wasn’t prepared for (now I think, duh!) was how different everyday life can be from a 1 – 2 week visit to one of these developing countries.

It’s the everyday mundane things we might take for granted in the States that often take up my afternoon….that and work stuff.  So, I thought hey, I’d share what a typical Sunday might look like here in Kenya.

We wake up here daily, without an alarm (which never would happen for me in the States), promptly at 6:30am  every day because the sun rises and sets at the same time, every day of the year when you live this close to the equator.  And, if the sun weren’t enough to rouse me, I have a 3 year old who is happy to stand by my net enclosed bed to alert me that the sun is out and I need to get up.  NOW!  If I am lucky enough to beg off a few minutes, she is promptly back to remind me that my few minutes are more than over…..

On Sunday, we hang around and eat some breakfast until about 8:20 when Ian leaves to take the Centre girls to church in the van.   On some days this can be quite an experience, especially if the dirt road to the Centre from the main road is flooded in about 2 feet of water (as it is now) .  Thank goodness the Centre van has a snorkle on it.  Plenty of gripping on the roof handle still occurs as we plow through the water, along with Centre girls saying all sorts of exclamations in Swahili.  Ian usually arrives home by 8:45 when we need to leave to make the hour trip into Nairobi so we can attend church ourselves.

Church.  Thank goodness it’s only  1 1/2 hours long.  American-style.  Out by 11:30.

When they travel a very short 5 minutes to eat at the mall food court (really people, there aren’t any other choices, and the food court is the highlight of our week).  Usually we are accompanied by friends from church.  1 hour.  Customer service just doesn’t equate to quick or fast food in Kenya.

Leave food court & drive to what is in my opinion, the good  grocery shopping store.  Really, you all know what it’s like to shop in a store with a horrible layout and poor stock.  It’s not even worth the effort.  This drive takes 30 minutes.

Grocery shopping.  1-2 hours.  Check out can last 30 minutes (usual) or longer.  I think that 10 key instruction would revolutionize Kenya…sometimes I just want to hop on over that belt and whip some UPC codes out for those guys.   I’ll take a slow checker or broken scanner though any day over having all of the groceries scanned and packed, and then having the computer (yes they do use a computer system) turn off.   That happened 2 weeks in a row, with cranky kids (and me) in tow and that was enough to ensure that now I carefully investigate the checker technique and speed of each line before lining my cart up.

By the time we leave the grocery store (and this is speedy by most standards because I have a list and Ian and I divy it up) it is either 2 or 3 pm.

We then cram in the car  (generally 3 adults and 2 toddlers in a 5 person sedan)and prepare for the hour or  more drive back to our beloved home of Thika.  This generally involves the following statement, “Kids, go to sleep right this minute or you’ll have to take a nap when we get home.”   Amazingly enough, this is all it usually takes to have them conked out in less than 5 minutes…..because who really needs a 3 year old asking about 20 times where the camel was that she was too slow to see out the side window?

We arrive home by 3:30 or 4pm usually, unload the groceries and put them into the fridge/pantry.  Today I put them into a warm fridge because the power was out again.  Thankfully it came on within the  hour.  It is not unusual for us to have power outages 3-4 times per week for as little as 30 minutes, but also up to an entire day.  You never know.  Thankfully, I’ve relaxed a lot about food in general, and it seems like a lot less gets thrown out here than would at home.  The food police or Terry Goldman are going to need to come and help me when I get back to Portland because I’m sure that I’ll be allowing way too many unsanitary food practices to go on.

Then, I usually end up doing laundry (like all of you at home), but in my  dual drum washer that requires manual filling/emptying and transferring to the spin tub.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love this baby… has reduced laundry to a 2 hour chore instead of all day.  Then (like today) I might take a bucket of water out to my front concrete porch to wash off all of the mud that was brought in by the nightly/morning rain.  If you leave it, it gets tracked into the house like no ones business.  Such was the case today, so I washed the concrete floors in the dining/living room and the kitchen too.

By the time that was done, it was 5:30….and dinnertime.

Dinner prep, dinner, dinner clean-up.

Kid clean-up, Bed prep, kids to bed.

Now it’s 8:30, and I am getting ready for me time.

So, I guess that there are many things here in Kenya that are the same as life in Portland, just without the speed and modern conveniences we are accustomed to.  The slowness rather than being invigorating tends to drain the body of energy…..and we have never found ourselves staying up til 11pm like we might at home.  Perhaps it is the heat, or the need to shut the house up from the darn Malaria mosquitos at dusk, the darkness by 7pm, or the inability to go out on the town at night because of safety concerns…..but, I’ll be heading to bed within the hour.

At home I’d “melt” by 10pm and need to be in bed.  In Africa, I feel melted by 8pm.

So with that said, goodnight all, it’s 30 minutes past melting hour.


An interesting observation made in the 10 months our family has now lived in Kenya is that Kenyans generally stick to a diet consisting of a few favorite foods.

One of these foods is Ugali.  Pronounced oo-ga-ly.

Tito, the Centre security guard, says he can’t live without Ugali.  I think that is the sentiment expressed by many Kenyans.  Tito is VERY proud that his little almost one year old boy is now eating Ugali…and regularly tells me how content and happy Kelly is after eating it.  He can go hours without needing his momma or a nap apparently.   If you ever come to Kenya, or meet a  Kenyan or East African, I think it would be incredibly wise to praise their ugali if they have made it for you….or ask them about ugali in general.  You’ll make their day and their face will glow with pride.

So what is Ugali?

According to wikipedia:  

Ugali is an East African dish (also sometimes called sima, sembe, or posho) of maize flour (cornmeal) cooked with water to a porridge– or dough-like consistency. It is the most common staple starch of much of Eastern and Southern Africa. When ugali is made from another starch, it is usually given a specific regional name.

This is generally what it looks like:

Ugali and sukuma wiki

Ugali is relatively inexpensive and is thus easily accessible to the poor who usually combine it with a vegetable stew (e.g. sukuma wiki in Kenya) or meat stews and makes a filling meal. Ugali is easy to make and the flour can last for considerable time in average conditions. Maize from which the flour is obtained is hardy and will grow reliably in dry seasons. For these reasons, ugali is an important part of the diet of millions of people of Sub Saharan Africa.

Here is a link from the web on cooking Ugali, it’s really simple:

You will need a sufuria (a big metal pot)  and an ugali stick (like a canoe paddle actually) .  The one I have for my house is about 18 inches long,  with a paddle about 2 inches in diameter, and 4 inches long. 

The traditional method of eating ugali (and the most common in the rural areas) is to roll a lump into a ball, and then dip it into a sauce or stew of vegetables and/or meat. Making a depression with the thumb allows the ugali to be used to scoop, and to wrap around pieces of meat to pick them up in the same way that flat bread is used in other cultures.

Most Americans would probably say that Ugali has no taste, or at best is bland.  But, I think it’s kind of like tofu, if you know how to cook it…and what to pair with it, it can be quite tasty.  At least the kids enjoy scooping some out of the sufuria with their hands, and then patting and making it into an eating scoop.  What other excuse does a kid need in order to be able to “play” with food?

I’m trying to think of an American food past-time that might compare to Ugali…something most can’t go a day without.  I’m going to have to say coffee, or eggs, or cereal?  What do you think?

I *heart* eggnog

It was one sad fact of being pregnant with gestational diabetes….not being able to have eggnog….but one good fact about being in Kenya….because it wasn’t available!!

Until now.

My brother must have heard my wish for an eggnog product because his Christmas package just arrived here in Kenya (it was sent off 12/12/09 btw)….and included were a few eggnog products for me.


For my brother:

Who has a bathroom scrub named after them? Seriously.



Until later

Good byes aren’t fun, especially when very good friends come for a visit and are getting ready to leave.  We had a fabulous time with Rhett & Erika Lee, close friends of ours from Portland, Oregon. 

Rhett and Erika in front of Chania Falls in Thika


Erika and Rhett both grew up in Hawaii, so much of what we see everyday in Kenya that is foreign to me was familiar to them.  Trees, fruits, flowers.  It was wonderful to have someone knowledgable to educate me!  Did you know that the lychee fruit looks like this and has to have the skin peeled off it? 

Lychee fruit


Erika also got me to do things that I haven’t so far here in Kenya, like have fresh flowers in my home.  This bunch of about 40 roses ended up costing Erika about $4 US.  Not bad.  I probably wouldn’t have purchased them myself, but I am happy that Erika did and left them for me!  What a wonderful reminder of the Lee visit. 

Fresh roses from Peponi Street in Nairobi


 Here is Erika at the actual flower market: 


And they got me to go to the Triangle Shops in Nairobi AGAIN.  My first visit was by myself when I first arrived in Nairobi, naïve about how to barter for goods, and unable to speak Swahili.  We went this time with some specific souvenir items in mind and all had a fun time.  I guess there is power when you go in multiple: 




Rhett and Erika did a fantastic job of taking Kenya in stride and experiencing some crazy things!  We had a wonderful time with you personally and as “fill in” for our Portland Care Group and can’t wait to hang out again!

The Best Laid Plans

can easily be turned upside down in Kenya.

Take Day 4 of the Tour.  This was supposed to be our agenda:  Giraffe Park & Amani Ya Juu.

Our agenda changed into:  Airport, Salvation Army Headquarters to take care of business & Amani Ya Juu.

Erika and Rhett got a call that 3 of their 4 bags had arrived & we could pick them up.  The airport is easily an hour out of the way of anything, without traffic.  But, since they were on day 4 of wearing their clothes, we decided it would be a nice host thing to do and take them to hopefully retrieve the bag with their clothes in it.

We were successful.  Erika even managed to get our gas reimbursed.  She’s the best at handling airport types!  **Insert big smile here**

Rhett and Erika were really good sports about having to ditch the idea of getting to the giraffe park.  There’s just only so much you can squeeze into a Nairobi day what with hours of sitting in traffic.

We had a wonderful time eating and shopping though at Amani Ya Juu.  Erika purchased some wonderful African batiked green napkins and hotpads with serving spoons (I threw in the matching cloth trivet).  I found a few pieces for the baby that I have been eyeing since before finding out that it was a girl.  It was a successful shopping trip for all!

Dad and Lucy hanging out

Lucy hanging out at Amani ya Juu, with her baby, Kenyan style

Yummy lunch




Tour Guide: Day 2 & 3

What happened?  Didn’t day 2 and 3 happen a while ago?  Yes.

Mmmm, I’m lazy. Day 2 happened. We (Ian, I, Rhett, Erika and Lucy) went to Nairobi, had pizza at the french restaurant, went to Spinners’ Web ( a great place to get Kenyan souvenirs that are nice), got stuck in horrid traffic (what’s new??), missed Eli’s pickup time from school so asked if he could go home with an Indian friend (yes), picked up Eli from his friends house (they got in a bit of a brawl), and came home.

Day 3 happened too. Lots of exploring of Thika. Makongeni Market with Rhett and Erika where they both tested out the effects of their doxycycline (Erika has more sensitivity and sunburned herself in a great tilted pattern on her neck) and their bargaining skills. Erika did pretty well…..she was able to get 3 mangoes for 60 bob, which is about 80 cents. We got some fun pictures from the market. The smell there was the worst I have ever experienced. It was amazing also that we were able to make it out of there as clean as we did.

3 days after rain...the market was pretty "ripe"


Man in the market as we were browsing kangas...but this is not a kanga he's holding

the walk home from the market through Madaraka


A few weeks ago, I asked Esther to make some traditional African food for our dinner while she was at our house today. On the menu was:  Chapati, and stew (they usually do beef, but I had her put in some pork tenderloin).   Here’s what it looked like: 

Esther really is a great cook!

We are having a great time hanging out with the Lees:   Lucy hanging with Rhett:

Having some hang time with Rhett