Bethany and I traveled to Kenya for a quick trip to visit Milla and meet her fiance, Jay and (most importantly) her baby, Abrielle (Abby). The three of them met us at the airport at around 11 pm to take us back to their house for the week. Abby had been born in January and we were visiting 2 months later, so she was so big already when we got there to see her. We hung out for a little while and caught up and then went to bed because we were exhausted.
The next day, we woke up and spent the morning driving through Nairobi National Park and searching for animals. We were lucky and saw 2 mother rhinos with their babies (last time I went on an actual safari, that was the only one of the big 5 that we didn’t see). We saw some giraffes, ostrich, zebras, warthog, eland, impala, buffalo, and a lot of birds. Unfortunately, Nairobi National Park doesn’t have Elephants living on the land because it’s too close to the city, and we weren’t able to spot any lions.
After our drive, we stopped for lunch and got fresh mango and passion fruit juice - one of my favorite things to get in Kenya), and we chased away monkeys trying to steal our food. Then we made our way to the Giraffe Center to feed and pet some giraffes before heading to the grocery store and back to Milla and Jay’s for the night. Milla’s nieces Christina and Elsie were living with them and going to school in Nairobi, so we brought along a bunch of coloring books and crayons for them and the kids in the village - once they were done with their homework, we let them pick out a coloring book each and gave them crayons, and they went to work coloring all evening.
The second morning, we got up bright and early and went to a slum across town where Milla’s friend Grace runs a school. She started it about 20 years ago and they have around 400 kids at the school now. The school is just a bunch of ‘rooms’ made from sheets of aluminum, most of the classrooms don’t have windows, and there are 40+ kids in most of the small classrooms. We brought them some food - the school provides meals for these kids and sends home snacks/meals with the kids who are HIV positive so they have food to take their meds with. We visited each classroom and answered questions - the 8th graders were amazed when we showed them photos of the snow back home.
We spent the day driving to Milla's hometown - a village near Homa Bay. We got in lots of baby cuddles on the 9 hour drive (most people don't use carseats in Kenya), and stopped halfway there to buy some chickens to bring back for her family. When we got there, we were greeted with tea and chapati (the best), and all of her nieces and nephews. I brought some printed photos for her mom from my last trip to the village, and she loved them. We spent the afternoon playing with the baby goats, showing all the kids photos on our phones, and watching the sunset before dinner.
We spent the day hanging out in the village - playing with the kids, talking with Milla's brothers and sisters-in-law, and playing with the puppy (Bruce). We took a little walk down the street to visit Milla's favorite aunt, who was so excited to invite us in to talk. We went down to the market and decided to buy a bunch of new sandals for all the kids because half of them had mismatched or broken shoes. They were SO excited when we brought the sandals back - the smallest kids wouldn't take them off the rest of the night. We had also brought a bunch of crayons and coloring books with us - we gave some to the kids at the school and we brought some to the village for Milla's family. The kids had so much fun and they spent hours coloring after dinner in the dim lights of their solar powered light.
We spent the morning with Milla's family for a few more hours before we had to leave to go back to Nairobi. The first photo is the shower - it was an upgrade from the shower we used last time - this time there was a door (and a roof)! It had a concrete floor, and it was next to the (pit) toilet, which had a PVC pipe chimney which eliminated any smells. This visit was also Jay's first time meeting Milla's family, so we spent an hour or so after breakfast sitting (awkwardly) in her mom's house listening to her 3 brothers grill him in a mix of English, Swahili, and Luo (their tribal language). Then we said our goodbyes and started the long drive back to the city.
Our last day in Kenya. Some glimpses of Nairobi, and a walk through the neighborhood with Milla's nieces (Christina and Elsie were living with Millicent and Jay in Nairobi, Millicent was sending them to school there.) Her nieces Faith and Jacque were also living with her while attending college, and helping with the kids.
Later in the evening, I broke out this dress to take some photos for a traveling dress project (that never ended up going anywhere, but it was fun anyway) - I took photos of Bethany first, but then Faith and Jacque wanted in on the fun, so they each took a turn too :) I LOVE these photos.
We had a long layover in Amsterdam so obviously we hopped on the train and went downtown. We got some stroopwafels, took a lot of photos, and grabbed some dinner. We stayed in the coolest hotel for the night (at Citizen M hotel) and then headed back home in the morning. (And then our plane from Amsterdam to Paris was delayed an hour, so we had to RUN through the Paris airport, quick get through customs, and sprint to the literal farthest gate away to get to our plane back to Chicago... unfortunately, our bags did not make the quick turnover and had to be delivered a few days later)