Saturday, May 26, 2007
The first weekend I was here, I made a day trip with a bunch of other gals here doing research with various institutions to the Kakamega rainforest, the only shard left in Kenya of the vast rainforest that once stretched all the way across Africa.
We saw a lot of monkeys, but my camera doesn’t take reasonable pictures of monkeys in tree tops (believe me, I tried). The old trees were amazing. Here’s me inside one:
We climbed a hill to the highest spot in the forest (1700m) and stopped for a rest and a snack.
On the side of the hill is a small cave that shelters three species of bats.
Gratuitous close up flower shot:And yes, I actually did come here to work! Monday, May 14, we officially started our study, loading up a minivan with supplies and heading out to Bondo, which is an hour away on pretty good roads.Here are our two clinical officers (essentially physician’s assistants – function much like doctors here) and two nurses hanging out in our clinic. They have been great to get to know and work with. And here is the very first patient we enrolled, looking on while the clinical officer finishes up the paperwork. Poor sad sick kiddo eyes. It has been fun to see her back for follow up visits looking much better. We’ve been enrolling for two weeks now, and ironing out bumps as they arise, but things are going pretty smoothly. I really enjoy being in a clinic again. As the room we have is in the maternal and child health clinic, and there are about 250 patients per day that pass through the doors, we sometimes help out with the other patients and I’m enjoying being called to assist with interesting cases. I also very much enjoy the ride out and back every day. The country side is beautiful. Kenya also has great birds, and I go “telephone pole bird watching”. There is a bird sitting on just about every stretch of wire or pole. There are lots of starlings, doves, fierce looking shrikes, large brown hawks called black kites, kingfishers, crows, great black crested eagles with a long crests that curl over there foreheads, hammerkops (brown stork-like birds that have feathers at the backs of their heads that makes their head look like the head of a hammer), ibis, grey plantain eaters…
The other fun thing about being back is getting to know Kisumu. I get dropped off in town most evenings, do an errand or two, and walk the mile or so to my house. I found a tailor who makes beautiful suits, so I’m having a suit tailored. It was a lot of fun to sit down with the tailor and discuss the details. I think it will be gorgeous, and at a fraction of the cost that I’d pay in the US. I also found a salon that caters to “musungus” – foreigners. They do great pedicures, massages, waxing, etc. The other day, I had a one hour pedicure for $5. My feet were exfoliated and massaged to within an inch of their lives. J I got my arms waxed (just for the heck of it) for another $5 – not nearly as painful as I thought it would be! I’m going to go to church with Chris Odero, my study coordinator – I was supposed to go last weekend, but he was called out of town at the last minute.
There are several other EIS officers here on various projects.
I’ll be here until June 10, so I’ve got so more time to enjoy it!
My driver decided I needed to see more, so he took me to a place called Giraffe Center, where there is a population of rare Rothschild giraffes. They have built a raised pavilion, and the giraffes will come over and eat out of your hand.
They’ve also trained them to take a pellet that you have placed between your lips for a “giraffe kiss”. Now, giraffes have incredibly long, black tongues….
Fortunately, they are not slobbery…..
Are fairly dextrous about it…..
And have reasonably good breath!
And a kiss from a baby!
Sorry, the food is all gone!
Friday, May 25, 2007
The countryside is beautiful – Malagasy architecture is unlike any other I’ve seen in Africa, there is a lot of rice farming, and they farm on terraces, as in Asia.
to… well, ugly is a harsh word, but… let’s just say I didn’t want him on my shoulder. This fellow is a member of the largest chameleon species. It turns out geckoes are not just those tiny lizards on your ceiling (or that little green guy that sells car insurance). Some of them are fairly large and look quite outlandish! Many have camouflage patterns that are incredible and look exactly like dry foliage
Andasibe is home to the indri indri, the largest lemur. It that has an estimated life span of 50 years, but absolutely refuses to eat in captivity, so the only place you can see it is its natural habitat in Madagascar. It has a haunting call that carries several miles.
The brown lemurs are a lot of fun to watch climb around. These are very bold!
The sifaka is a lemur that travels on its hind legs, both in the trees and on the ground, but it doesn’t walk, it jumps. Watching them bound along in great leaps, with their little white paws flapping in the air beside their heads, is one of the funniest sights I’ve ever seen. I wish I could post a video on this!
And finally, the aptly named bamboo lemur – these guys are so cute!
Meeting in a conference room at USAID debating (more or less vociferously) where and how to use the funds and drafting the planning document. We frequently worked till after dark, and had plenty of opportunities to watch the sunset and moonrise over Antananarivo from the conference room window, which was a spectacular sight.
We also did some going out to eat afterwards: this is most of the CDC/USAID team, with the WHO malaria rep -
Once again, haute French cuisine nearly every night means extra pounds you need to shed when you get to Kenya!
I did manage to get down to Florida for a little less than 24 hours to my friend Lee’s house to meet up with my roommate from medical school, Hilary Ann, and her husband Shawn. We had a delightful time chatting, cycling around Watercolor (a beach side town), and walking on the beach. Trying to take the kayaks out in rough surf resulted only in some nasty bruises, but we quit before we sustained any concussions! This is me and Hilary Ann.