Thursday, December 3, 2009


When Kristal, Anna, and I made stepped out of the Nairobi airport into the warm Kenyan air last night I had that comfortable feeling of home that never fails to make me stop and think about just how lucky I am!

After 18+ hours of flying and 6+ hours of airport we were very happy to see the smiling face of one of my all-time favorite people... Isaac Kinyanjui! There is no better ambassador for Kenyan culture and general awesomeness than Isaac and he was offering wonderful insights about the people, places, and things around us before we even left the airport parking lot.

Before I get to far ahead of myself I want to share a few fun tidbits from the travel portion of this adventure:
1. There were 4 groups of people traveling from Omaha, NE to Nairobi, Kenya with us... Nebraskans love Kenya, and I think the feeling is mutual!
2. One of the groups of people traveling with us was a young couple with two small children. The parents are going to be teaching and working as a nurse in Kenya for two years, the kids are going to have an amazing childhood. I cannot imagine making what it is like to travel with two small children. We affectionately referred to them as Team Family and even today I am curious about how they are doing!
3. There was a family on the second and third flights that made team family's job look EASY. This family had a mom, a dad, and 7.5 children (7 kids under the age of 12 and one on the way). Team Super Family as they are now known made me want to cry with exhaustion... I imagine the parents still haven't had much sleep!

There were no issues with the flights... there was also no sleep on the flights... so Team Tired was ready for bed! We checked into the Upperhill Campsite and Backpackers, spent some time chatting with Isaac, showered, and went straight to bed.

At 3am the following conversation occurred...
Kristal leaned down from the top bunk and whispered... "Hey do you see the animals in here..."

Jill: "No... what animals?"
K: "On the top bunk by the window... it is a cat and a rabbit..."
J: "I think they is just something on the bed that looks like an
K: "But it moves!"

I was not really sure how to respond at that point so I just quietly watched the cat and rabbit on the bed, and after a few minutes to ensure they didn't move I was satisfied that it was in fact just some of Anna's stuff, that looked incredibly like a cat and a rabbit?!?!

In the morning I asked Kristal if she remembered the cat and rabbit and she informed me that yes she did remember but it was not a separate cat and rabbit that she had seen but some amazing mix of cat and rabbit... a crabbit if you will... and she said she would take a picture of the next crabbit she sees, just to prove they do exist! This is what happens when people do not sleep for 36 hours!

Alright... off to find some food! And for anyone who is worried... no we are not going crazy... just having a damn good time!

First things first!

Soooooooo I am no longer in Arusha,Tanzania, but I am back in Africa! Lauren, Megan and I did make it home safe and very happy last summer... just never got around to making it blog-fficial!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back in the land of computers :)

Hello from Arusha, Tanzania!!!!

We have just spent a wonderful two weeks away from the world of computers and phones and in the peace and quiet of Malawi... the "warm heart of Africa!"

We were able to spend a few days in Nkhata Bay relaxing on the shores of Lake Malawi and I was able to reconnect with lots of people that I had met in my previous two trips. Even better we were able to reconnect with the Peace Corps volunteers that we all know and love Austin and Sarah. We spent a few days in their village getting to know the area and the groups that they will be working with for the next year and a half and we also went to a beautiful and fun hostel in Nkhotakhota call the Nkhotoakhota Pottery. It is right on the shore of Lake Malawi and has a fully operational pottery workshop. Lauren was able to spend a couple hours at the potters wheel and we were also able to purchase some very beautiful pottery for friends and family... and ourselves!!

I can't think of a better place to end our trip than with good friends on a beautiful lake!!!!

I do have to report that we had our first, and hopefully only, run-in with the ever-present African scam artists. And we came out a little frustrated, and out $10, but hey... that isn't so bad. When we left Dar we went to Mbeya, TZ a town near the Malawi border. We arrived as it was getting dark and wanted to find out the best way to get to Malawi the next day. We thought we had done the right thing by booking tickets for a bus that was supposed to leave at 6:30 the next morning. The tickets seemed a bit expensive but hey... we gotta go. So we show up at 6:00 in the morning and there is no bus to be found. We ended up paying again to get on another bus... and again got overcharged for out tickets. So a ride that should have been $4 was now costing us each $24 :( But we made it to Malawi... and it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It really helped me to get the closure I need to get ready to head home. And in the end we did get some money back for the tickets when we went back to Mbeya. Now that we are done with most of the long-hauls (17.5 hours from Mbeya to Arusha yesterday) we are all getting ourselves ready to return.

I can't speak for everyone but I think it is safe to say that we all had an amazing trip... and will all be overflowing with pictures and stories when we get home. (I have 2000+ pictures I think)

So we all just got some very very very bad news over email that a good friend of ours has had one or multiple strokes and is in a coma at UNMC so I would just ask that all of you think some good thoughts... or say prayers... or whatever you can. I have a lot of hope that she will recover, she is young and strong, but as of know things sound pretty scary.

All my love from Africa, stay safe, and we will be home in a week.

Peace, Jill

Monday, July 14, 2008

May I have a sip of your passion....

fruit fruit flavored Fanta soda... said Lauren to Megan... I feel a new pick up line being born!!

Anyways we made it to Dar Es Salaam (Haven of Peace) on the coast of Tanzania. We met a girl from Oklahoma when we got of the bus and we have had a great time hanging out with a fellow mid-westerner! She is an recent graduate and engineer and was volunteering at a medical supply repair place for the last 13 months, she is headed home tomorrow.

We booked out tickets yesterday to head to Mbeya which is a town close to the Malawi border. We leave here tomorrow at 6:00am and will arrive there 12+hrs later. We will stay the night then head for Malawi in the morning. We are meeting Austin and Sarah in Nkhata Bay, staying the night there, then heading on to their sight the next day. I expect that internet will be hard to come by so it may be that you will not hear from us until we start our trek back to Nairobi around the 28th or 29th.

For all who I know are wondering Megan is doing great... I assume she blogs when we use the internet but maybe not...

I love you and will talk to you all soon.

Love, Jill

Saturday, July 12, 2008

From the bottom of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Sorry it has been so long... we were staying in the foothills of Mt. Meru while in Arusha and he internet is a bit hard to come by.

We spent 3 nights staying at the Songota Falls Lodge just outside of Arusha, Tanzania with Joyce Kimaro, her son Ray, and his new lady friend Consolate. It was great to go back and visit old friends. It is also fun for me to return to Arusha as it was the first place we stayed on my first trip in 2002 so it has that "where it all began" feeling! Joyce will hopefully be joinnig Isaac Kinyanjui when he visits Lincoln again in late September so it will be great to get to introduce her to my friends and family at home!

Yesterday afternoon we took the short bus ride from Arusha to Moshi where we are planing to stay one more night before we head to Dar Es Salaam. We will be spending 2 nights there before heading off to see our Peace Corps friends Austin and Sarah. I spoke with them on the phone last night and we will be meeting up with them in Nkhata Bay Malawi on the 16th then heading to their sight near Nkhotakhota on the next day.

Can't believe how close I am to the end of this trip... it has been fun and fast...

See you all soon, Jill

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jinja, Uganda

Hell from Jinja!

Just wanted to check in quickly and let you know that we are heading for Isaac's village in Kenya tomorrow and I probably won't be on the internet till we arrive in Arusha, Tanzania in about a week!

All is well and I am very excited to see Joyce and the girls!!

Peace, Jill

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Having a sunday in Rwanda...

We are in Gisenyi, Rwanda which is located on the shores of Lake Kivu... we have been here for a couple days scouting out the place for Betty's group that arrives in just over 2 weeks.

It is very beautiful and reminds me a lot of Lake Malawi.

We have laid out what we think will be our schedule for the remainder of the trip.

We are leaving from here tomorrow to go back to Kigali for one day and one night. We will then head on from Kigali back through Uganda. We are planning to spend two nights in Jinga which is just east of Kampala. From there we are going to head back with Isaac and possibly Betty and Carla to visit Joyce and the girls in Isaacs village. The village has for sure been my favorite part of the trip and I know I will be sad if I don't get to see them all again. We are planning to stay in the village for 5 nights. Then it is on to Tanzania where we will stay in Arusha, Moshi near Mt. Kilimanjaro, and possibly meet up with Captain Simba and his huge boat. From there it is on to Malawi for a visit to the Peace Corps Couple Austin and Sarah and some time in Nkhata Bay!

Sounds like a good month to me!!

Two days ago we visited the Genocide Memorial/Museum in Kigali. As you all can imagine it was a very powerful and sad experience. The museum did a very good job of displaying the facts and history of the genocide as well as the emotional stories of the victims and survivors. It is something that all people should see so that we can work to prevent these kinds of problems in the future.

This keyboard sticks so I am gonna wrap up!

Stay safe from the weather!

Love, Jill

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kigali, Rwanda-- the city of 1,000,000,000 hills!!

Well maybe not 1 million... but a lot of hills!!

We arrived here the yesterday and have had a great time going around inside and near to the city getting a feel for the country.

Many people here speak the local Rwandan language, French, or maybe some English or Swahili so we have had fun trying to figure out where things are and where we are going.

The countryside is beautiful and the people are friendly despite our inability to speak with them.

Today was Isaacs birthday and he went with Lauren, Megan, and myself to on of the Genocide Memorials that is located about 30K or 19ish miles outside the city. It is a church where 10,000 people were killed during the months of violence in 1994 that took the lived of over 1,000,000 Rwandans including many many innocent victims, even women and children. Inside the church they have left all of the clothing that the victims were wearing when they were attached. Below the church they have built a small room that houses around 100 skulls, arm and leg bones and some of the personal items of the victims. Behind the church there are 2 a tombs that hold more then 40,000 people that were killed in the village surrounding the church. Many of the victims were never identified and you can walk down into the tombs where the skulls, arm and legs bones are stacked very neatly on shelves more than 10 feet high.

To say the least it was a very sobering experience. Tomorrow we will head to the Genocide Memorial Museum that is located within Kigali. I hope that it will lend some insight to the history and context of the genocide.

After the museum tomorrow we will head out of town to some places on the Western edge of the country where Carla and Isaac will be getting to visit the gorillas on Monday.

Things are going well... Internet is a bit slow... The keyboards are arranged in the way the French apparently have their keyboards but so it is a good thing I can type without looking :)

We have about a month to go... time seems to be moving so fast!

I love you all, and miss you also.

Love, Jill

Oh and someone send me an email, everytime I check I only have emails from Betty... and I see her everyday....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Made it to Rwanda!

We are in Kigali. Found a place to stay, found a way to get money, found some internet, need a drink :)

I only have 4 mins left on this computer so will write more tomorrow!

Love you all! Jill

PS Someone tell Grant that at least he didn't have a hippo in his yard!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hello from Uganda!

We are in Kampala, Uganda. We arrived the day before yesterday after a 13 hour bus trip from Nairobi. Betty and Carla are a wonderful addition to our traveling group and we are also VERY VERY excited that Isaac has been able to join us for our travels. We are headed out to Rwanda tomorrow to scout out activities and accomodations for the alumni group that is coming over to meet up with Betty and Carla. We are planning to spend around a week in Rwanda, head back through Uganda into Kenya then on to Tanzania and Malawi!!

Sorry this is so brief but the internet is free here and there is a line so I will be nice and move along!

Love, Jill

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sorry for the delay... its not my fault.

Hello from Nairobi.... sorry about not writing sooner... I tried very hard, but power outages just wouldn't allow it!

So first thing to do is scroll down right now and read that blog first.

Really do it, use the roller thing on the mouse and scoll down.

Okay, welcome back.

So we arrived in
Nairobi this morning after taking the overnight bus from Mombassa. I would say it is good to be back, but I would be lying. I just don't think that me and Nairobi will ever enjoy the love affair that Hemingway and others have had with the city. But good news is that tomorrow will mark the arrival of Betty, Big K, Joyce and the girls!!! All in all tomorrow will be a great day!

So to fill you in from my last post (which you have now read by scolling down, this is very important because there have been some changes and without the previous blog you may be confused!!).

We spent what may very well be the best single day of the trip on a huge dhow in the
Indian Ocean yesterday with my very very good friend Captain Simba!! He met us in Mombassa on Tuesday afternoon and we headed by matatu to Shimoni, a small village on the coast. From there we took a small speed boat out on the water to board the Safina, Simba's new boat.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the boat, sang and played on Lauren's new drum, and went to bed... on the boat. It has two bedrooms with six bunks in each. It has a toilet on board and they are working to get a shower installed as well.

We got up early in the morning the next day and went to
Wasini Island, which is just across the channel from Shimoni. We walked through a coral garden and mangrove forest, both very cool, I will post pictures later. Then we headed out to the boat to change into our swimming gear. We did some awesome snorkeling in the coral reef off the shore, saw lots of cool fish, coral, sea urching, etc. Then we had lots of fun jumping and diving off the boat into the water... also great pics to be seen later.

I wish that we had cut short our time in Lamu and had more time with Simba on his amazing boat surrounded by crystal clear blue waters!!! But alas there is always next time.

I am not sure that the internet is working so I hope this post gets up!

All my love! Jill

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The REALLY REALLY Funny!!

I wrote this blog 4 days ago in Lamu.... then the power went out... good thing autosaves :) So I am going to post this as is and write another one now!!!

For those who are now worried because of the appearance of the word bad I will explain.

The African Travel Diet (Traveler's Sickness) has come... and gone.

Night before last and yesterday Lauren, Megan and I became very very familiar with our bathroom as we spent most of the night and day there. We have heard from many locals that they were also sick so maybe something was just passing through or else we ate some bad food... we are all back to 100% and still drinking lots of water to catch up. Seems that I always get sick in Lamu but the experience is always worth it.

Now on to the good news...

Answers to the quiz from last post:
I love mango, passion and lime juice and need to go have one ASAP!
The Hapa Hapa still makes the best juice ever!
Yes I am skinnier... especially after yesterday :)

We are headed out of Lamu tomorrow at 6:00am. We will catch a bus from here to Mombassa which should arrive there around 1:00pm and there waiting for us at the bus stop will be my dear friend Captain Simba. Thanks to the advances in cell phone usage here we were able to get in touch with Simba and he will be hosting us for 1 night on his dhow that is on the coast near to Mombassa. I can't even express how excited I am to see him and the huge boat he is working on now!!!

Things here in Lamu have been great as usual... the Salt Water Boys lost a hard fought final match in the soccer tournament, but definately put up a good fight. We have had a lot of fun hanging out with Mchizani, Aloe Vera, Paper Bag and the rest of our friendly boat crew boys. Also had fun meeting local shop keepers and getting some fancy African clothes made. We will all be sad to go but will be happy to get on to more great experiences. Bri if you are reading this many many people, especially Mchizani, say hello and would like you to come for a visit :)

Oh yeah... so Megan hasn't blogged in a while and wants me to tell everyone that she is doing great and just hasn't felt like blogging when the power has been working (which is about 75% of the time). To report news on her front... she got Queen Latifah braids in her hair and is happy to have it out of her face and not to have to worry about washing for a while! For those of you (Pappy) who wonder who Queen Latifah is just google it. And also for you Pappy I will use my best Sir voice and sternly tell Megan it is time for a blog!!

After we spend the day/night with Simba on the Safina we will be heading by bus back to Nairobi. Betty and Big K arrive on the 20th and Joyce and the girls are headed from the village to meet us all there so it will be great to see them all again. We are all then off to Rwanda!!

I may or may not write in Nairobi so look for a post sometime within the next week!

Pictures above:
1. Salt Water Boys Soccer Team at the Finals
2. Ben's Shamba... Ben is a friend from previous trips who is an artist and an orphan. He has now taken in orphans on his farm (shamba) near Lamu town and is teaching them how to do art. Great project that receives no support from the Government.
3. The oldest mosque in Lamu. The population is around 95% muslim.
4. A picture of our sweet house!!!!
5. Typical street in Lamu. There are only 2 cars on the island, one for a politician and one ambulance... for donkeys :) The streets are all about 8-12 feet wide with lots of pedestrian and donkey traffic.


Friday, June 13, 2008

More Pictures... 2

and the zebra is just for you Brent!!

1. Zebra
2. Girraffe
3. Lioness
4. White Rhino
5. Susanne
6. Ashley

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lamu is the S%$T!!

Hello from Lamu!!

We arrived here on Monday afternoon after 17 hours in buses traveling from Nairobi to Mombassa then Mombassa to here!

There has been much good news and much bad news related to the much publicized post-election violence during our travels in Kenya. Sadly there are almost no travelers in Kenya at this time meaning that an economy that relies heavily on tourism is having a hard time. Good news is that accomodations here in Lamu at a very reduced price! We are staying in a 3 level house with 2 bedrooms, 7 or 8 beds, 2 bathrooms, and a kitchen, all for US$12 per night... not so bad, in fact nicer than what I have at home :)

As some of you may know I have a very good friend from Lamu, Captain Simba, who has been a
great guide and an even better friend. Because he is truly the best dhow (Lamu boats) captain in the WORLD he has landed a job as the sole captain of a US$100,000 boat that takes rich people around on the costs of Kenya and Tanzania!! So I likely won't be able to see him but I spoke to him on the phone and am very very happy that he landed the coolest job I have ever heard of!! Good news is that his boat and some of the crew are still here so we took our first dhow trip yesterday with Mchezani and some of the guys. It was just as good as I remember and Simba certainly trained his new captain well. We also got to see a football (soccer) game yesterday where the fisherman/beach boys were successful in advancing to the finals of the islands soccer league tournament!! The final is tomorrow so I will let you know how it goes.

I think I will get some pics up so I hope you enjoy!

Things that HAVE NOT changed in Lamu...
The number of donkeys (still around 6,000)
The taste of the juice... amazing
The pace of life... pole, pole (slowly, slowly)
The taste of seawater

Things that HAVE changed...
There is a stupid motorbike that goes up and down the seafront... life without engines is better!
More cellphones
No Simba :(
I live in a sweet house :)

So question for today... since Megan isn't blogging...
What is my favorite flavor combination for juice?
A) Pineapple, Mango
B) Mango, Passion, Lime
C) Banana, Chocolate
D) Avacado, and only avacado

Where do you get the best juice in the world?
A) The Hapa Hapa
B) The Hapa Hapa
C) The Hapa Hapa
D) The Hapa Hapa

The question noone wants to answer but everyone is thinking.... Am I losing weight??

Talk to you soon, Jill

1. Sweet Vulture Picture
2. Elephant
3. Fencing
4. Esther, Teacher at the Special Unit
5. Mom Joe, Joyce (my new mom), Alice
6. Mchizani on the Themani!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


As requested I am taking some time today to upload pictures... note that this is only being done because we found a swanky white people center with fast internet.... enjoy!!

Well I wrote that a half hour ago and still don't have 1 picture uploaded so I am trying something else now (just thought you would like to know).

I lied... I can't get a single photo uploaded!!!

Next time maybe!

Also use the links on the right side of the page to visit Megan's blog and Lauren's flikr page for more photos!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Since everyone is cheating...

and reading Megan's blog first then answering my questions I am thinking of discontinuing the contest and the awesome prize (a zebra)... so you all just think about that before you answer any more questions :)

As all of you have figured out the one thing that isn't happening to me is the one that sounds the most plausible, but hey I am not gonna complain about not having the "travelers toilet" problems of trips in the past.

So I have decided to tell you about the 120 year old lady that we met in the village. In 2002 in a village outside Arusha, Tanzania we met a man who claimed to be 120 but I had my doubts, this time there is no question in my mind... we met a woman who is 120 years old. She probably weighed about 75 pounds and was literally skin and bones. She spends all of her time in bed but is still able to sit up and was definately able to acknowledge us and even shake our hands. She still recognizes her family and some of the people who visit her often. It is a very powerful experience to be in the same room as someone who was alive in the 1800's and to think about all the things that have happend in her lifetime. I will say though that I don't know if I am that keen about living to the year 3002????

So we arrived in Nairobi today from the village and it is fun to be back in the city now that we have a our "sealegs" and to be able to walk around and be a bit more relaxed.

Leaving the village today was very hard for all of us. Joyce made us feel so welcome in her home and I certainly feel as though we are more family than friends. I even shed a few tears as the matatu (van for public transport) pulled away from her and the girls.

Just a note if anyone needs a fence built out of cedar posts, barbed wire and chicken wire I know there ladies up for the job. You all would have gotten a good chuckle out of the site of three WAZUNGUS (white people) sweating away in the afternoon sun building a fence. But we were able to complete the fence in 2 days. We probably put up 200 feet of fence in total and by the end were working like a well oiled machine. The fence will allow the special unit to grow the fruits and vegetables they need to feed the children and to save the few precious dollars they recieve for supplies like mattresses, mosquito nets, medial supplies and school supplies. Everyone at the S.U. and the school seemed genuinely grateful for the work and also a quite impressed that three women could do something that is generally viewed as a mans job. There are many things that can still be done to help improve the school including getting electricity, building and stocking a library, and helping them to get supplies for the school and I hope that we can find ways to continue supporting this community in the future.

One of the most amazing things that we experineced in the village was the sincere generousity and openness of the people there. I would guess that the average family in the village is living on less than $100 per month but each and every home that we visited would offer us a cup of tea and often times food to eat. We were truely made to feel at home from the moment we arrived and I am left to wonder if a visiter to the US would enjoy the same welcome considering we didn't know the language the customes or anything of the sort.

We are heading off to Lamu tomorrow to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation on the beach and to hopefully catch up with some old friends! I will probably download some pictures and post them while in Lamu so stay tuned!!

I am still gathering ideas for my DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE IN THE MEDIA post so don't worry I haven't forgotten.

It is very interesting to be in Kenya as one of there decendants gets one step closer to being the president of the US. I will share more on that later.

Congrats to Jake on the new job... now lets get that house!!

Everyone stay safe in the crazy weather (Kendra that means you especially)

Grandma Lucy... we went to church on Sunday and while it wasn't quite the same as Mass on Saturdays it made me think of you!

Mom wins an extra large zebra for first posts and for checking email twice daily... about 50 more times a day and we will be even :)

Grant.. how is my baby (computer)?

Grandma and Grandpa... I will give Simba in Lamu a hug for you and I am gonna tell the rat story just for fun... The first room we were staying in at Joyce's was attaced to their store room and goat/sheep house. The store room is a great place to live if you are a rat so a family had taken up residence. Rats are crazy active at night and our room had a tin roof so all night we would here "rat olympics" on our roof. Isaac decided to try and poison the rats with a poison that would just dehydrate them so they would die. That got a few of them but he decided to move on to a stronger poison... He put it on eggs and put it in the rafters... in the middle fo the night I felt something land on my pillow just behind my head and when the flash light came on there was a huge piece of poison egg on my pillow... needless to say I am fine and we moved to a new room the next day!! As Betty might say... TAB (thats africa baby!!)

I love you all and write some comments... they are fun for me... tell your friends to comment too cause... well why not?????

Peace, Jill

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Coming next...

Why you should not believe everything you see on the news!!

Only in Africa!!

WARNING: Spelling will be incorrect and I am not going to fix it so happy sounding out words :)

Hello from the coolest village in Africa!

I can't believe that we have already been here for nearly 2 weeks!!!

We have been in the village with Mama Max (Joyce), Baba Max (Isaac) and the girls Susanne and Ashley for the last week and it has been great! We have been helping during the days at the Special Unit of the public elementary (secondary) school. There are 30 kids that live and go to "school" there and only one dedicated teacher (Esther) and 2-3 house mothers. The kids range in age from 8-18 and have diabilties including downs syndrom, severe A.D.D., autism, spinabifida, and problems from menegitis and malaria. To say the least Esther is a saint and it is amazing to see the progress that she is able to make with these great kids.

We are doing our best to help with math and english exercises as well as general suppervision. This coming week we are going to build a fence around the garden area for the S.U. Currently the garden fence has been stolen by neighbors for firewood so chickens, goats, donkeys and the like are able to get in and eat the food before it is picked. The kids work in the garden as part of their vocational training so by fixing the fence we can help provide food and training... and we can sweat a bit in the process! So here today we are in Thompson Falls which is a town with a hardware store/ supermarket/ etc. We bought 2 rolls of chicken wire and nails to make the fence so hopefully our fencebuilding leader (Lauren-- now pronounced Loraine) will be able to help us to make a difference!

We have met lots of children who attend the elementary school that the S.U. is in and are having fun praciticing our swahili and kicking soccer balls as far as we can!

Joyce and Isaac are the best hosts anyone could ask for. Isaac headed back to Nairobi to hopefully find some safari work and so we are helping out around the house and meeting the rest of the village.

I hope that some day all fo the strong women I know in the US will get a chance to meet some of the STRONG WOMEN in Africa because it is a humbling and enchanting experience!! These women run households, farms, churches, schools, and communities and all without running water, electricity, shopping malls, or cars. And they also love to have fun and gossip! I had a pretty nasty cough a couple days ago (all better now) so I stayed home with Joyce and I tell you the gossip we heard on our walk through the village was far better than any episode of "Days of our Lives!!"

Our safari with Isaac last week was by far the best safari experience of my life--considering that I have been on 6 or so now that is saying a lot! We saw 37 mammals, 2 reptiles, 1 dead mammal, and 65+ different birds. I think I have more than 600 pictures from that alone so get ready for slideshows!!!

Well it is trivia/poll time......

Question 1: Which of these things has not happend in the last 48 hours?
A) Elephants passed through our yard in the middle of the night
B) I had diarreaha
C) An egg covered in rat poison fell on my pillow while I was sleeping
D) We met a woman who is 120 years old
E) A girl possesd by demons made lots and lots of noise in the dark

Question 2: Which of the above events would you all like a detailed explanation of... winner takes all and please only vote once and tell your friends to vote too! (if you vote for the one that didn't actually happen I will explain the runner-up)

Well we are now going to stay in the village for another week then head to Nairobi then on to Lamu for about 7-10 days then Betty and Carla will arrive!

I love everyone and am being able to ready your comments so keep 'em coming... and someone that knows my politics fill me in on whats going on in the world!

Love from the best vacay ever!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hello from Nairobi

Hello everyone!!

We made it safely to Nairobi early yesterday morning. Our flights on Virgin Atlantic were all ontime and we had no problems in the airports. In fact I would like to recommend VA for all your flying needs because we had planes both from Chicago to London and London to Nairobi that were on 1/3 to 1/2 full!! We all got to have rows to ourselves!!

Megan spent her 26th bday in the London airport during out 11 hour layover--but she did get some extra specail treatment (free chapagne) on the way to Nairobi.

The place we are staying is wonderful, we stayed inside last night and are going to be camping tonight. Early tomorrow morning we are headed out on safari. Three days in the Masaai Mara and 1 day at Lake Nakuru. Should be great!!!

After the safari we are heading straight to Isaac's village where we will stay with his family for 10 days and volunteer in the special needs schools. I know a few people have asked about supplies or pen pals for the school and we will check all that out and get back to you when we return to Nairobi.

We should be back here in 2 weeks so please do not look for any emails until then as I don't believe the internet will be available.

Can't wait to get out of the city!!

Peace and love, Jill

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Go Cubs Go!!

We are spending our last few hours here in Chicago doing laundry and getting last minute supplies. We had a great day yesterday touring Chi-town with Jill McCann. We went to Millennium Park and Navy Pier. We spent an hour lounging in Oz Park which has a Wizard of Oz theme and I had my first falling down incident, not to worry though I am fine, just clutzy!

We also went to a huge used book store and we all found great books to take along so we should be stocked up on reading material for at least the first couple weeks :)

We can't say thanks enough to Jill McCann for showing us around and giving us a great place to stay!!

FYI... Lauren has a flickr page at where you can view her photos and colorful commentary!! Also Megan has a blog at where you can follow her adventures!!

You should hear from me again in Nairobi in a few days!!

Peace, Jill

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Its about d@#m time...

that I got around to writing my first blog! It is probably less than reassuring to my family that I can't even seem to sit down and write on this in Lincoln, let alone Africa!

So we are all in Chicago after a wonderfully American road-trip with the DeGrave fam!! We ate at the Machine Shed in Iowa and stopped at the "Worlds Largest Truck Stop" also in Iowa. Whoever started that nasty rumor that there is nothing to do in Iowa is just plain wrong! :)

We are staying with Jill McCann in Chicago and she has been great at showing us around and helping us to get some last minute items (although I am not sure where we are supposed to put them as all of our bags are packed to the limit!!

We are going to be here in Chicago until Sunday, May 18th (tomorrow) at 6:00pm when we board a plane to London. We have an 8 hour flight to London, a 12 hour lay over in London, and a 10 hour flight to Nairobi Kenya. So Megan will get to spend her b-day in an airplane/airport, what more can a girl ask for?? I have posted our itinerary below (note that all times are local and that there is as 7 hour time difference from Lincoln and Kenya):

Departs: Sun, May 18 2008
From: Chicago, IL, US (ORD) at 6:00PM
To: London, GB (LHR) at 8:00AM Mon, May 19 2008

Departs: Mon, May 19 2008
From: London, GB (LHR) at 7:15PM
To: Nairobi, KE (NBO) at 6:05AM Tue, May 20 2008

We are arriving in Nairobi very very early on Tuesday and our very good friend Isaac Kinyanjui is picking us up at the airport and taking us to our accommodations in Nairobi ( Isaac is a safari guide (maybe the best in the world if you ask me) and we are going to try to round up a couple more people in Nairobi for a 3 or 4 day safari in the Masai Mara/Serengeti and at the Nakuru River. If you ever find yourself in need of a safari guide in Kenya give this man a call (

After our safari we will be traveling to Isaacs village in Northern Kenya to volunteer our time in a school/orphanage in the area. Isaac has gone to the trouble of setting up a "program" for us while we are there meaning they will be more than ready to put us to work!

Next we will head to Lamu, Kenya which is a small island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast. It is certainly in my top 3 favorite places to be in the world and will offer us some time to relax, read, get a tan, and swim in the ocean. I hope that many of my friends from Lamu are still there and that I will get a lot of time to reconnect and see how life has been for everyone in the last 3 years.

Betty and Big K (Carla) arrive in Nairobi on June 20th so we will plan to meet them there and then head off quickly to Rwanda and Uganda.

And I am going to stop telling you our plans now because I am tired of typing and they may very well adjust as the trip continues so check back here on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to see my first post from afar!

If you want to comment here I will read the comments when I can and also if you need/want to send me an email it is best to reach me at because my other accounts are just too full of peace and justice for me to keep up with them.

Also all of the photos seen here any any others I will be able to upload can be found at

So contest #1 the first to correctly identify the meaning of mzungu wins a prize, and being as I am going to Africa you could be winning a zebra for Pete's sake!!!!

Peace and Love to everyone! See you on the flip side!