So are you all sure that you don't want to come and climb Mt. Kenya and/or Kili with me over Christmas break? Since I'll now have to come back to work after Christmas break it looks like my vacation will be a bit shorter, but I still might be able to do Rwanda-Mt. Kenya-Kili as planned. The big hitch in the plan is that I've been told that solo trips up Mt. Kenya are not allowed--not that you need a guide, just that parties must be at least two people, and I don't have anyone to go with. I'm willing to take a guide up Kili because you have to, as bagging one of the Seven Summits takes precedence over my loathing of guides, but not so for Mt. Kenya. Sure it's Africa's second highest, but that's only the technical summit that I wouldn't make it to anyway, and the regular-people-summit wouldn't be an altitude record for me. Perhaps you should all write me and tell me I am a snob for not using guides and I can write you back and tell you what weaklings you all are :)
I went to Saiwa Swamp National Park this weekend. It's only 3 square kilometers, so it's nothing spectacular, but I did see vervet monkeys (they're the ones with the bright blue scrotum), a ton more black and white colobus, a Ross' turaco, crowned cranes, and some sitatunga antelope, as well as some proper British settler folk--I stayed at Sirikwa Safaris run by two women from the Barnley family. The oldest (80+?) has been here since she was four years old, and her daughter was born here and chose Kenyan citizenship. They said things like "Never mind my knickers drying by the fire. Would you like a cup of tea? That's grand. He's a nice chap," along with frequent use of the words "smart," "proper," and "rather." I was hoping to get the word "brilliant" out of them in a context totally unrelated to intelligence, but I failed.
Their staff made some great food and they were good company. I went to a local waterfall that wasn't that scenic itself but had decent views off the edge of the escarpment to the north. I got mad that a local girl tagged along and told that if I was a man of God I'd give her a pencil. That was forgotten when I was walking back along the main road to town waiting for a matatu to come along and a couple tiny kids ran up to me and held my hand and walked with me without saying a word, just smiling and waving when I finally caught a ride.
A few recent photos (which're kinda tiny, sorry).
Life in the EC (evaluation consultant) house. Everyone brings stuff when they come and never take it with them when they leave. This is our sunblock collection.