Monday, December 03, 2007

Journal Diary - Day 5

Thursday 11th October
A late start this morning as we had a circular walk in store up through the village and onto Kitumbeine mountain. After preparing ourselves and our packs and taking extra care to ensure we had enough water and provisions (no support vehicles to follow us), we set off with a few sore feet and without 2 of our party (both suffering illness). We passed through the village greeting the herdsmen taking out their cattle and goats for pasturing and waved enthusiastically at the children at the local nursery school.
Trekking in the vast plains

After about 1km it became apparent that my diligent preparations had failed and I had neglected to pack my camera for the trip, instead I made do with admiring the view and watching for wildlife – the first of which I did not spot. A sand snake was apparently spied on the side of the road but despite some desperate peering it remained elusive to mine and many others’ eyes. As we climbed more steeply before reaching plateau it became apparent that our circular work was more of a walk up a hill and down again (albeit a distance of some 10km in rising temperatures). We reached a clearing where being at the front I was first to spot a giraffe grazing nearby that posed dutifully before clearing off. It was here that we turned round and began our descent back to camp for lunch. We reached our temporary village to find our weary travellers feeling much recovered and enjoyed a meal of spaghetti Bolognese – a meal that proved one effort too much for Mike – he collapsing asleep at the table and slumbering all afternoon.
After a brief rest we set off for (another) school in the village that has been well established. This was not an ActionAid project but had received funding over several years meaning that the facilities provided and resources available were superior to those we had visited in Kenya. Many people felt depressed and upset at the sight of dormitories where children slept 8 to a 2-bed bunk – some even comparing it to a concentration camp.

To my mind, the accommodation was clean, it was enclosed and the school was clearly better off than others. The children too were different – more used to seeing white tourists (as the visitors book testified) and cheeky with it.
They were still marvellously entertaining though, particularly when Brian conducted a group of them to sing “Row, row your boat” with little prompting. As well as the dormitories the school had well stock classrooms, kitchen and dining hall, staff house, gardens and playing fields.
After eventually tearing ourselves away from the children we waved goodbye and returned the 2.5km to the camp, a few of us detouring on the way for a quick visit to the village centre itself where we bumped into the headmaster of the school we had just visited, back home and building a new house!
Dinner was pumpkin soup followed by beef stew with rice after which we discussed the events of the day around the camp fire before turning in for the night.