Category Archives: Adventures in Kenya

Shem and I

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Shem and I celebrated our one year anniversary just one week ago. We have had such good times together and have learned about ourselves and each other through challenging and joyful moments.

Our adventures are spontaneous and random, our conversations saturated with hopes for the future, and our dedication to each other has been firm.  Shem is a very special man to me and I am so glad that he has been in my life for this year and I hope for many more.

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Mount Longonot

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Mount Longonot (a Maasai word meaning ‘mountain of steep ridges’) is a dormant stratovolcano near Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley. Last it erupted was in the 1860’s.

This is where Shem and I chose to have our special adventure day last weekend! We started around 12:30 and, surprisingly, we reached the top rim of the mountain in just one hour. It was steep! There were many times I had to stop, catch my breath, and steady myself from rolling down the steep incline. The view was beautiful and the further we climbed the more mountains, zebra, giraffe, and gazelle we saw.

Once we reached the rim we pulled out our peanut butter and jelly and banana sandwiches and relaxed, overlooking the crater inside.

As we sat and enjoyed the view you could hear thunder in the distance, and turning around, we could see a fast approaching

thunder storm with a lot of rain.

But because we were so content and relaxed the idea of rushing down was not very appealing. So we sat, watched the storm come, got rained on a bit, and let it pass!

This was a wonderful rest from the city for a day and such a good adventure. Because of the rain and storm we weren’t able to hike the

whole rim (takes 3 hours) but next time- we will 🙂


Dad came to Town

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I arrived a few weeks ago, back to Kenya, this time with my dad! For 2 weeks I was able to show my dad around “my world” and witness him experience things for the first time that I have long gotten used to. Within these weeks together he met my boyfriend and many others who are close to me here, for the first time. He visited Kibera and Mathare slums and got to sit in on an art class that I do for my 50 children at the Inspiration Center every week. We took many walks, rode many matatus, ate ugali and chapatti, visited the archives museum, and at the very end we got to go on a 3 day Safari trip together in Masaai Mara! Another thing that he helped me to do is to move into my own apartment with one other friend. Kazi and I are waiting for a slightly larger place to become available, but in the meantime we are renting a 2 room place- one tiny bedroom and one other main room which we use for livingroom/kitchen. This has been a fun change for me- to enjoy cooking for myself and entertaining friends in my own place.

Interns come to Kenya!

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CTM is hosting 3 interns right now so that means a few things for me:

  • I get to be a tourist
  • Meet and get to know these 3 crazy guys
  • I add another thing to my responsibilities for the next few weeks
  • The interns can help me with Saturday art classes
  • Gideon and I can decide that we want to start a paper-making initiative and point to them to start it!

Having Dan, Yoki, and Johnathan here, from Seattle, WA, has been refreshing and fun. Last week Shem and I took them on tours of Kibera, Mathare, Kawangware, and the City. We ate fish and stood on top of the second tallest building in Nairobi! The guys love to play Settlers of Catan, try weird food, play with kids, and play the guitar. Yoki brought his unicycle, Johnathan plays soccer, and Dan in intrigued by the Swahili language- a very interesting trio! The interns will be working in the informal settlements for 2 months, helping with various programs, including art classes, camp, network meetings, and the paper-making project!

My puppy, Max

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Last week Shem and I went for an evening walk. As we went we came across five fluffy little German shepherd puppies that were living inside a tunnel and gutter next to the road. For about 20 minutes we sat there playing with them and talking about how we could carry one home. Because I cannot keep a dog in my room at Mwix and Gideon’s place I was asking/begging Shem to take two so that I could help raise them and we could rescue them from the street. But since it was getting dark and puppy-taking was not in the plan for our walk Shem said that we could stop by tomorrow again and see it they were still there.

That night, as I was thinking more on the dog thing, it entered my head that why not me- why couldn’t I have “my own” puppy but just keep it at another person’s house, if someone was will. So that next day I started telling others about these puppies…and my friend Moses Naftari agreed! We decided then that at 4 pm Moses, Shem, and I  would go to the gutter and Moses would pick one and I would pick one and we would raise the 2 brothers together. Later that day we set out with 2 cardboard boxes. When we got there we found the puppies and lots of kids that had just left school for the day. After asking further it was clear that no one owned the puppies and that they are street dogs, yet surprisingly healthy.

Max and Hunter

So we chose our puppies and headed back to Shem’s place. The puppies were shaking and scared. We found tons of fleas on them and also in some places the fur was falling out. So thorough washing happened that first night plus a big bowl of milk for their bellies. First night was at Shem’s then after that they have slept at Moses’s place and during the day I come to visit them at the shop closeby CTM. Moses has become the puppies’  father for sure… having them on a strict schedule of 2 baths per day, 3 meals per day, reading up on how to train them properly, and even deciding to de-worm them this Saturday! I get the “grandma role” of coming to play with them and feed them treats.


Even I don’t like pets much, people back home who know me know that. But this little guy, Max (Maximus in full), I am telling myself, even willing myself to like him and make him my own. I’ve never had a dog of my own and being in another country can feel lonely sometimes so having a friend that I can call my own, even if he isn’t staying with me all the time, is still a comfort.

Funny Birthday Story

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So, as you might recall, there is a great birthday tradition  in Kenya  to wash the person who is having a birthday with buckets of water on their special day. The house where I live is a very dangerous place to be on these special days because Mwix (the mom of the house) loves throwing buckets on birthday victims. But guess whose birthday it was this time around? 🙂

Last Saturday after I finished sculpture class Moses, Shem, and I met in town over lunch to talk about how to wash Mwix thoroughly. Our strategy? We station buckets of water at both gate entrances to the house plus one bucket in the middle by the stairs. I lay down on the cement outside the gate of the house and pretend to have fainted. Moses sits by my side fanning me with a book. Shem runs upstairs to Mwix telling her “Kaylie is feeling sick and dizzy and has fainted outside.”

Did it work? Well first she wouldn’t come out and the only witnesses to my fainting were passersby and my little sister Gabi. I tried my hardest ever not to bust out laughing. Finally Mwix came out and then we both got a bucket of water in our face! She was washed properly! After the first bucket I jumped up laughing and Mwix grabs me to use me as a shield against the second and third blow of water! Haha, it was great fun and so far I have been washed on all birthdays- mine, Shem’s and now Mwix’s. Next is Gideon’s!

After the washing we had a party for Mwix with many friends and family who came to celebrate!

Going to Shem’s Aunt’s House

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We walked for about 3 hours up and over, down and around; passing many mountains until we finally came to a small cluster of mud-wall, thatched-roof huts that were cupped in a valley of shambas, surrounded by a horseshoe of mountains. It was beautiful. This aunt was his mom’s older sister and once again she was thrilled and surprised at our coming all in the same. After meeting the family Shem’s aunt (he calls her mom) packed us a picnic of soda and cookies and Shem and I just kept on walking. This time it was straight up the mountain! Our mission- conquer the peak and see a 360 view of the mountains and homes that were tucked between. 

The views were amazing and it was so peaceful on top that we actually repeated out trip up the mountain again the very next day. We ended up staying 2 nights total at his mom’s place even though we didn’t even intend on staying one night. First night she insisted we stay because she hadn’t seen Shem in so long and then the next evening it started down pouring buckets. Shem was so determined to go that night though that despite the rain he told me to get ready to leave. Because my refusals to walk in the rain for 3 hours did not seem to sway him I let him go say goodbye to his aunt, knowing that she would also completely refuse his idea of leaving, so once again we stayed another night! Back home at Rose’s place apparently both evenings that we were gone people from the surrounding churches and homes had come in a large number to visit and welcome us. I was told they wanted to see a white “Mazungu” and both days people prepared food for us and awaited our coming, only to return home disappointed. When we finally returned home on Friday is when we heard from Shem’s uncle that he had bought fish as a special meal for us to have and then had also prepared special food the second night because he was so sure of our return. This uncle was the one whom especially put pressure on Shem to build his home next to the family there, while at the same time Shem’s mom was making the same request on the other side of the mountains. Both are good offers, but I think time and thought will bring clarity to Shem’s decision on that.

During my entire stay I felt completely relaxed, at home, and at peace right where I was… surrounded by mountains, shambas, fresh air, birds chirping, people caring for me with such thoughtfulness even though we had just met, good food, outdoor bucket baths, and I was able to spend more time with someone who I am enjoying getting to know very much. My phone was off. I woke up with the sun and birds and fell asleep by candlelight. You would have thought time would drag on and days would be slow, but actually in my opinion it went way too fast.