The days have been so busy but I wanted to share a few updates.

February 19th

This day marked the end of our third week in Kenya. We’ve had such a blessed time – with family, with friends, or just by ourselves. I am writing from the beautiful Kisii highlands – specifically Keroka. We are here to give aunt Phossie Gekonge some company and to see the final resting place for uncle Chris Gekonge. We will also see as many of our family in Kisii as possible.

I am from the Kisii (Abagusii) tribe in South Western Kenya. Our land here can only be described as lush. There are hills, beautiful green trees, all sorts of agricultural produce and the temperatures are much cooler than Nakuru or the Coastal part of Kenya.

Uncle Abel Otero and I with Kisii (Bogirango) in the background
Kisii highlands (Keroka). Pictures don’t quite capture the beauty

Week 2 update – Our vacation within the vacation

A good chunk of our second week in Kenya was spent with just the 4 Walls.

Tuesday February 6th

We went to the Nakuru National Park to check out the wildlife. The best time to see animals is at dawn or dusk, but it was difficult to get the kids up before dawn. We got to the park around mid morning. Though many of the animals may have retreated due to the heat we spotted a lot of buffalo. They were caked in mud – their natural sunscreen. There were also tons of zebra. You can easily spot zebras from the highways in Kenya, they are pretty common. We enjoyed a procession of baboons that were leaving the lake after their mid morning fishing maybe? This was a delight.

We spotted gazelles, guinea fowl, a tiny monkey type, some eagles and quite a few flamingoes at the lake Nakuru. It’s not the rainy season yet so there was a smaller group of them.

Beautiful views from Lion Hill at the Nakuru national park. This was the highlight of our drive around the park

We’ve not been driving nights so we hadn’t noticed that our break lights were broken. The night, before we got home late. My brother in law who was driving behind us alerted us to the issue. After the park, we spent some time on car repair. For less than $10 we got some nearly 2 hours worth of work done.

We also grabbed some cake and went over to my sister’s house to sing happy birthday to Jared and my sister.

Wednesday February 7th – Rest day

With a busy travel schedule, we are grateful for the days we just get to stay home. The kids’ favorite things to do are play with Bella the dog, cat and the chickens. Ronald really tortures those poor chickens running after them all day. He has been pecked by a mama hen though so hopefully he is learning to respect her chicks.

Thursday February 8th

This was an exciting day for our family. We left Nakuru before 7 am to visit two sites to view some properties we’d acquired last year. The time we spent with Goshen Acquisitions – the company that we purchased the properties from – was a breath of fresh air. After spending days haggling with vendors and service providers over pricing, it was nice to be in company that builds you up. The company treated us to breakfast and lunch in between viewing the properties.

We also pleasantly learned that our guide for the day, George Kagwe, homeschooled his daughter. He shared that homeschooling in Kenya is in a bit of a grey area and promised to connect us to some home school groups in Kenya. He is also a prominent entertainer and a digital media strategist.

After our site visits we headed to Nairobi. My friend Janice, who illustrated Yana Goes to Kenya, met us at the airbnb and we all enjoyed an evening of catching up and planning for the future. Janice is doing great in her career as a geologist and civil servant. I hope she will continue illustrating as well.

I didn’t take any decent pictures of Janice’s visit

Friday February 9th

After breaksfast the kids played in the neighborhood playground. The apartments are relatively new and were built by the Chinese. The signs in the building are in English and Chinese. There are some interesting feelings about the Chinese’ work in Kenya. There are complaints that some of these buildings are too crowded for how the horizontal infrastructure (sewage and waste management) was designed. Some complain that these apartments look good but lack longevity. We were greeted by a Chinese man as we got into the elevator going downstairs and he said “karibu” which means welcome in Swahili. My initial reaction was taking a little offense. Who is the foreigner? Me or him? But after heated conversations with Jared over this, I changed my tune. He lives in the apartments and we were there for there as airbnb guests so I guess he noticed we were not from around here.

Feb 27th edit. Objectively, these apartments are very well done. After seeing what construction looks like in many parts of Kenya, the Chinese are filling a gap in the market. Kenyan housing is mainly high end and well done, or shoddy workmanship for the masses. These apartments by the Chinese are very nice for the middle class by the standards of what I’ve seen.


We flew from Nairobi in the afternoon and arrived in Malindi a little before 5pm. The plane started off a little rocky during take off and I started praying for a safe trip. I was glad when we landed. I am a land creature! When we got to the rental, the kids wanted to get in the pool right away. Jared helped them with that while I took (my first) tuktuk to the supermarket to get some supplies.

Saturday February 10th

We spent the day resting and enjoying our Airbnb. In the morning we took a quick walk to the beach with Lawrence – one of the two gentlemen who maintain the airbnb. The beach had beautiful white sand but full of seaweed and the water was a little brown. That part of the beach was close to a river so it gets a lot of silt and debris. Next time we’ll try Watamu or Diani for a great beach experience. The home had a pool so the children swam ALL DAY. Jared and I took turns being in the pool with them.

Super dad! Ronald loved being tossed into the air then swimming to baba.

I cooked beef soup to enjoy at dinnertime. My friend Virginia whose family was also visiting Malindi hired a chef for 1500 Kenyan shillings or $10 a day to cook for them. I thought that was a great deal and great thinking on her part.

Sunday February 11th and Monday February 12th we spent in Mombasa.

Tuesday February 13th
We had breakfast at the Karen Blixen restaurant in Malindi. We met Maria, a friend I’ve known since about 2010 though we lost touch for a few years in between. Maria and I met through Akili Dada – a leadership incubator for African women. Today, Maria and her husband are building a home in Ngomeni – a small town north of Malindi.

Outside our Malindi Airbnb

Malindi is an Italian town, there are lot of older Italian people in the area and quite a few Italian restaurants. On our first night in Malindi, we ate at the Olimpia restaurant. There was beautiful live music by an Italian singer. At Karen Blixen, I noticed a few bookshelves full of books. When I perused them, all but two were in Italian.

The explanation for the large Italian presence is that there was an Italian influencer in the 1980s who inspired Italians to build vacation homes in Kenya. We met a gentleman and his wife who told us that they live in Malindi for 5-6 months out of the year during the winter in Italy. Our airbnb was simple but beautiful. It did not have AC but is constructed in a way that it worked with nature to cool us down since Malindi is HOT and HUMID.

In the afternoon, we hang out with our friend Virginia, her husband, daughter, sister and niece. We gifted their daughter with the Tuttle Twins book set. It ended up being perfect because her niece who is 11 got to read and enjoy them better than Zuri who is still quite young.

Neema and Zuri met for the first time but loved each other instantly. Neema is enjoying playing big sister to Zuri.

Wednesday February 14th

Rest day. I wasn’t feeling great so Jared spent the day watching the kids while I rested on the couch and tried to finish the novel “The Damned of the Taiga” by Heinz Konsalik. The kids spent nearly the entire day in the pool except for the hottest part of the day. Jared and Ronald walked over to the Olimpia house and got pizzas and fried veal for a late lunch. Neema chose to stay back with me and color.

Thursday February 15th
We took another quick walk to the beach in the morning. I would have loved to go to a nice beach on Wednesday but resting also felt great so next time. We picked some shells, and Lawrence gave me two shoots for the frangipani tree whose flowers smell so so so great. Later we went to the airport to fly back to Nairobi and drive to Nakuru.

My time in Kenya has made me feel like a lion that has been at the zoo for a while and is now being reinstated in the wild. So much has changed since I first left, and more still since our last visit here in 2017. For one, I consistently forget to bring reusable bags to the store since plastic is banned in Kenya. Second, I am so tired of bargaining. Most merchandise outside of supermarkets does not have a set price. Your price is as good as your bargaining power. Many times you are charged more based on how you look, sound, or who you are with. On our first night in Malindi, I went to a store to get supplies for our stay in the Airbnb. My tuktuk driver charged me 3x what I had paid to get to the supermarket. Moreover, he appeared tipsy and it was getting dark. I didn’t know where the rental was other than the address and I was a little nervous. But he proved trustworthy and took me home safely. There are quite a few instances that make me grateful for my siblings and friends who tell me what to look out for and give me a softer landing as I navigate Kenya as it is today.

Please forgive the brevity of this note. It’s been so busy and I haven’t had enough time to do much else. But I wanted to share something however imperfect.

Thanks for reading.