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My African Experience

Hello, welcome to my web page, hopefully i will write about all the exciting things i have done and seen.
With a few photos as well.

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Location: Kenya

Hi, i am leaving nakuru on thursday so thought its best to tell those of whom,still remember me and worry about my safety where i will be heading.
On thursday i will be heading back to the capital Nairobi,where i will be going to Carnivore, a world famous resturant,suprisingly by the name it specialise in meat,all kinds...sounds like heaven.
Then on friday night(which as u know is my birthday....dont expect any gifts or cards....similarily dont expect and gifts or cards from me at a tight git) i will be catching the overnight train to Mombasa. The railways in kenya do not have a very good safety record,only yesterday two trains collided. However since there is only one train i think its safe from collision, however it has a tendacy to de-rail. Though it is better than going by coach,there are rumours that the coaches get held up and they sometimes cut the fingers off of the passengers.
The three of us (Katie,Rebecca and I) will be staying in Mombasa for a night before getting a bus upto Lamu, again this road is nt the safest.
Lamu is so remote that the island has no cars,but as with typical kenyan theme its a very religious place.Going to be staying there for about a week.
Thenmoving onto Malandi and then back to Mombasa,before heading back to Nairobi. For flight back to UK.
Saw Sky TV the other day,seems cold in UK now.Not use to cold weather, Nakuru is about 25 and Mombasa and coastal regions are about 34...hard life.

Monday, 14 November 2005

Location: Kenya

Thought it was about time I updated my web page. Have not done anything really exciting, like previously. I have however played in my first competitive football match at the week, the one im suppose to be coaching. However they always listen to what I have to say and say that they fully understand, then go and do what the like.
I have spent much of my time explaining that you should pass the ball, I know I hear some of you say but you never passed. And the concept of marking is non existent.
Anyway to the game, I have warmed up, not that I really needed to because it was about 25c and then we gathered round for what I thought would be a quick talk about tactics, no I was wrong we had to pray, that we would win.Funny because the other team were doing exactly the same thing.....they must have prayed harder. This is something I had come to do when playing for Saturn Royale….God clearly has not been on our side for a longtime.
This is done in English, for my benefit….a kind gesture. However they then go onto explain tactics and positions in Swahili……great.
They asked me to play at centre back, not a position I was accustomed to do, it cant be that hard. I obviously played well, well I am the enforcer for AFC Beaver, how clearly they are missing my presence at the back…..last time I checked they still had not won, unless by default, same for Saturn still no win since I last played…….notice anything!!!
The pitch has no grass except for on the sides, I know why, the cows eat the grass as you play around them. I could not believe it at one point the ball hit the cow… carried on munching away.
Sadly we lost 3-2, no goals were my fault, we should have won ,but for woeful shooting by some players… I have not shown them how to shoot, I know my limitations.

I have climbed to the top of the Menahga crater, apparently the second largest in the world, was pretty spectular.
Today we went to some caves in the crater, in one of them there were some local people who go there to pray. It was quite scary, it was dark and filled with smoke. They stood in the middle and held hands. Then one woman Started to Shout and preach as only they can do. At this point I was going to point out that if they were to make a sacrifice that sadly I did not meet the criteria… know a young virgin.

Going to book my train ticket to Mombasa today, looking forward to sitting on the beach doing very little......i do this pretty well.

It has taken me five weeks to figure out this whole volunteering lark. This is how I see it, I come to this country with the aim of “making a difference” you know maybe make someone smile or pass on some of my limited knowledge. It’s a nice dream and I like to think that im doing an okay job at it.
This is how African people see the work of us volunteers, they see us as a source of money or a source of contact. They have this pre-conceived idea that we are rich and that we have money to give them. Also when we return to Our home country, we will set up an organization that will either fund their project or will sponsor their children through school.

An example of this is at the tree conservation project I am working at now, they need 30000 shillings to pay the government for water (about 300 pounds),they keep telling us, we get the feeling they want us to pay. I explain that is not I am here, now either they don’t understand or choose to ignore what I say.

Sunday, 06 November 2005

Location: mount kenya, Kenya

Have just returned from climbing Mount Kenya, (second highest Peak in Africa). Just like to point out that I was never my intention to do it, seem like it would be a laugh.
I should also point out that most people who decide to do this climb, come prepared to do so…..well I did nt.
Most climbs bring gloves, I used three pairs of socks….worked extremely well, however your ability to grip things like rocks is much hindered by this, something I would later regret.
The climb took five days, we left on the Saturday. At first I thought we were just climbing a big hill, like the breacon beacons. It was nt till the end of the second day that I actually saw where we were heading…I now regretted not bring the correct equipment or completing my will (just so daddy does nt get his hands on my money).

To reach the summit we left at 2:30am, usual time for coming home from a nightclub. I could nt sleep anyway because it was so cold. I wore all the clothes I had and still borrowed some long johns….i looked so sexy.

The climb to the to was brilliant, the stars were shining. We reached the top at six o clock, just as the sun was rising from the west. (hopefully the photos will do it justice).
The climb to the top was pretty scary, I imagined that it would be a nice easy climb, you know, no need for specialist gear or gloves. The top was covered with snow and ice, making it difficult under foot.
At one point I thought we had reached the top, I mean I could see the sunrise and I was happy. But I was wrong Issacc the guide carried on climbing, I flashed Gwen a look “we are going to die” I mean one miss placed foot and it was about a 100 metre fall down a 45 degree slope.

On the way down we stayed at two huts, both infested with mice,nice.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Location: Kenya

Finally had a few beers at the weekend,also went to the cinema (odeon), would love to tell you the film i saw but the quality was nt very good and it did nt really have surround sound.
They were nt willing to show the film as there was only 7 of us and the manager insisted that there ahd to be 10 poeple. But when we asked how much, we decided to pay (33p paying 6 quid at gunwharf)
Last weekend we went to Lake Nakuru(see photos on web page) which was lovely and the flamingoes where amazing, the noise they made was like a motorway. Then we went to Thompson falls and stayed over at a local hotel. Apparently I had a deluxe single room, so up market there was no hot water and the tap came away in my hand.
Dinner was an experience, I saw the menu and thought great, sirloin steak for 150 shillings (just over a pound), however when I went to order, they only had chicken on the menu….i felt hard done by.
On Sunday we went to Lake Baringo and after a long journey and several minutes of arguing with the local boat men we went on a boat trip where we saw hippos, crocodiles, eagles and people.

Ate goat on sunday,was awful, but it did only cost 90p so i cant really complain.

Am planning to go to Mount Kenya on Thursday, where Gwen and I will attempt to climb it over a five day period, after which we are going to stay till next weekend and do some reforestation work on the slopes, before I head back to Nakuru.

Undecided what I will do after that, I might stay and teach for two weeks, before heading for the coast and travel along it for three weeks, I now have a greater desire to travel and feel more confident about moving around.

Friday, 21 October 2005

Location: Kenya

Thought id better show you some pictures of the local area and the children I have been working with, I did not want you to think that I was on one long holiday.

I don’t think the pictures, or even words can convey the conditions that I have seen over the past week or so. Whilst all the kids might look sweet and smile a lot, they come from homes where there is no water or power. The only food they get is the food from the centre. I had it yesterday and it was the worst food I have very tasted, it was a bowl full of kidney beans and corn in water, I will never (well I might) moan again about food.

Have spent the week either coaching a local football team or working at the centre teaching. This is such a challenge I have never really considered how you teach a child to count, I always took it as read that a child can count. It is so hard, but made harder by the language barrier.
They are able to say the numbers 1 to 10 in order, but have no concept of their meaning, so if you point at any number they say 1 because that is how they have been taught. The teacher does not really understand what im hinting at (as usual).

Yesterday in the afternoon some of us went to a woman’s house made of sticks and rocks and nail plastic sheeting to the walls to help prevent rain getting in. It had two rooms. Where she lived with her three children (one bed). The house was so dirty there was flies everywhere, there was food and dirty clothes on the floor. She has no water or electricity. She gets money by going to the local dump and collecting plastic. She is paid 10 shillings per 3kg bag (8 pence).

Going to Thompson falls (waterfall),on the equator on Saturday, followed by visits to a few local national parks. Really looking forward to this as I need a break.

Its really hard to explain but the local people constantly ask “how are you, mzungo?” Mzungo,meaning white man. You never get time alone.

Going to the cinema tonight and hopefully will finally get my hands on a beer, its been 10 days. Should be better than last Friday when across the road from where im staying there was an all night church service, im not kidding it stopped at 6am. I did lots of praying, I prayed it would stop. Eventually it did, only for the stupid cockerel to start.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Location: nakuru, Kenya

Have spent the first half of this week working at a private school, they come and collect me everyday. I have a class of three pupils and they just work solidly all the time. However there is nt a teacher's desk or any text books so my usual lesson ( you know "turn to page 10' and then i go for a sleep" dont seem to work very well).

Though its been good becasue i had to learn Logarithms before i taught them (only you golden oldies e.g. Lawson would know what they were).
Today i have been working at a charity school which caters for 4 to 5 years, i spend the morining trying to get the kids to write out their alphabet and then write the number 1 to 9. God that was hard work.

Going to work in the slums tomorrow building some shelters for local people, conditions are appalling there.

You find at times that you get hassle from a lot of people, just because you are white, but i ignore it.

Going to lake Nakuru on saturday, might even go to the cinema on friday....i know what a social life.

Saturday, 15 October 2005

Location: Nakuru, Kenya

Arrived late on Saturday night in Nairobi, was a little scared as I got into a taxi with three complete strangers, I thought this is how I die, but im still here.

Stayed in a run down hotel, was a little disappointed, however I think in hindsight, it was a luxurious hotel.

On Sunday we went to a Giraffe sanctuary, where I was headbutted by one of them because I stopped feeding it. Then went to an animal orphanage where I was able to stroke a cheetah, as you can imagine my asre was going at this point.

I decided that before I started work that I need to take a quick holiday, because as you know I had been working really hard over the last few months!!! So I went on safari to the Masi Maara game reserve in southern Kenya, also went into Tanzania but only briefly. (three days Monday to Wednesday)

Saw lots of different animals, as hopefully you can see from the photos. Would have taken more but im an idiot who bought a camera that only holds 15 photos a time, so im compiling a CD Rom.
Went to a Masi Maara village, conditions were appalling and you would nt believe it but they had a market there selling local art and craft, just so convient!!

Travelled to Nakuru on Thursday, road was very bumpy and dusty.

Conditions here in places are the worst I have ever seen and when you see the photos you will be shocked (don’t worry mum im fine) Still not sure about my role, it seems very flexible, you can do what you want. There are two projects mainly working with 4 to 8 years olds near where I live. These kids have absolutely nothing (no shoes), some don’t eat until they come to school. But they always smile and they all shake your hand or touch your legs(must be my sexy legs).
They all shout out “how are you?” But they don’t understand my response. I will take some pictures of the streets and the school.
The school has no equipment at all.
Another project is working with homeless boys, this seems to be a well financed organisation, with lots of books. Run by Indians… comment!!

However im going to secondary school because are host has arranged for me to do some teaching, not sure why, think its because he wants to improve links with them and get some resources or money. May do it for a month, then work for the second month at the local school.

Im also doing football training with a team Mon to fri 4 till 6 and 10 to 12 on sat. We don’t fully understand me but im working on it. So keeping myself busy.

The hardest thing I find it the fact that you are not suppose to go out at night and so from 6, you are at home. They always have some religious Tv on, usual from America, with some fat white preacher raving about the lord…..! So I usual make my excuses and go to bed at 9 and read till im tired. Looks like its going to be a alcohol free time ahead……I miss route 66 on a Saturday night.

It is usually sunny and warm in the mornings and rain in the afternoon…just like home.

Will be going to lake nakuru and Thompson falls next weekend, also planning to go to lake Victoria and hopefully climb mount Kenya in three weeks time.

Photos - Click Below

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Recent Messages

From maila
Have you been in Finland y 1985?
Response: no!!!
From MUM
Response: yes i used it recently, i think i put in the wardrobe,but that s a guess. Why would he want his ski he taking chunk skiing.
Im fine,now back in nairobi going to the coast tomorrow.
From matty boy

Last thing I Knew you were planning a round the world trip and now your in Kenya! Seem like you got stuff sorted quickly and made a quick decision!

good on ya mate.
amazing site...sounds like a big experience there....i will send the link to my mum she will enjoy reading as she always asks about you!

Hey, if you get the chance, do a bungee jump at Victoria falls Bridge. I did one it was amazing and if you get to do white water rafting its awesome - most amazing thing I ever did!
From Kev
Neil, Hope all is going well, seems like you are having a good time. Pompey won 4-1 away at Sunderland on saturday, I was there!!!! 1-0 down at half time, Matt Taylor scored a 45 yard volley, goal of the season easily. Got interviewed by The Quay before th game aswell!! dream team is doing crap and Matt Taylor scored 2, set up 2 and was man of the match so he would have scored a few points for you. Robert has thrown his first strop and refused to be a sub so we only had 4 on the bench!! Wigan at home on Saturday so hopefully another 3 points!!
From Dave and Diane
Hi, Neil - loved reading the 'log' and messages Reckon you'll come back a changed man...............!
From Sam
Where are these pics then? I can still on;y see the Safari ones!

The game on Saturday was good, even i did a bit of a cheer, until Charlton scored. Kev's off to Sunderland on Saturday to meet up with Louisa, so i get a whole day to myself.....whooooppie!

Did you get the beer you have been waiting so long for?

I'm surprised they don't call you 'Boss' (the older people that is!)

We'll keep you posted on the scores - apparently Westwood has been banned from Fratton Park - not ure on the details!!!

See Ya!
From mum
i have sent you two messages but they don't seem to work, hope you are well and exery thing is ok, we have all been reading your diary and great interest. love mum xxxx
Response: thdy do work, i have to publish them, just in case you write anything too soppy. cos i need to maintain my cool imagine
From paul & jan
hello neil,
glad you are having a good time. where is my birthday pressie you cheap git?
ethan is getting chubby by the day.
keep in touch.
Response: your pressie is the fact that on your birthday i will be at the top of mount kenya (5000m) i will take a picture and txt you it.
From Andy S
Hi Neil
Glad to hear you made it out there! Sounds incredible what you're doing and I must admit I'm not sure I'd have the balls! I hope you're going to be putting your engineering expertise to good use. I expect the village to have a complete sewerage system by the time you leave! looking forward to the updates.
From Heather
Hi Neil - glad to hear you arrived safely - maybe you'll be able to pick up a real giraffe's toothbrush for Steve Lawson!! I was quietly chuckling while reading your diary as I was just saying to everybody the other day that it would be quite 'humourous' if you ended up staying with a religious family, have they invited you to church yet?!! We're missing you - 11Z5 say hello!
From Gill Brown
Neil, missing you loads, please to hear you have arrived safely and are having some fun, making the most of your time. i am sure you will survive on early nights and no drink !!!!!
Keep in touch, look forward to hearing from you soon
From ken watson
Have been talking to your Mum & Dad in the bar this evening and we all wanted to wish you the best on your travels.
Regards ken, glo, theresa etc. etc.
Response: Thank you, i do miss the comfort of the taxpayer.
From Lil Sis
just shown mum and dad ur webby, they liked it, dad didnt quiet understand but thats dad! i think its well kool.
had a chest infection that sucks so i missed route on sat 2!!!!! love you as always xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From Nic
Came across your page by accident. Sounds as though you are really in tune with your surroundings. There is nothing like a man who can take control of his surroundings and who has the confidence and ability to help others. What a bush man! I think I could love you lots. When you get back maybe me and you can do route 66 or should that be route 69!
From Kate (Natasha's mate
hello! just being nosy & checkin out your page! all sounds like great 'experience' & sure you'll b glad you've done it when u get back even if it's not totally enjoyable whilst you're there! & as for Route on a Sat night, u not missin much, we'll still be bopping away to cheesy tunes when u get back! take care, Kate
Response: At least you can go out on a saturday night, im under curfew and have nt had a drink for a week.
From Sam
Hey Hey Nelly!!!

Those pics look amazing! Cant believe you actually made it.

Kev and i got your text on saturday night about the portsmouth result.....they'll be fine without you!...i think...

I thought it never rained in portsmouth!!??

Maybe you'll come back a preacher...ha ha ha.

Can't wait for more photos and see/hear from you soon.

From Natasha
Wow! Looks like you have thrown yourself in the Africa thing already! Tho I don't think that you will in furture be known as Neil friend of the Giraffes!!!

It will be great to be able to track your adventure through your diary entries and photos.

I am sure that your innate ability and passion for teaching will be greatly appreciated by the kids.

Look forward to keeping in touch. Take care