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Andrea & KTQ’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 05 Apr 2007

Location: kampala, Uganda

Mapkampala.

on a recent afternoon, less than 24 hours after leaving elangata wuas, kate and i found ourselves on the number 9 matatu headed for mathare - one of the three main slums in nairobi. we were on our way to visit MYSA - an youth sports organization based in mathare that we are working on partnering one of our projects with. still a bit out of sorts and overwhelmed after wrapping up our work in maasailand, the trip provived some stark constrasts to the kenya we have come to know up until this point, as well as a brief glimpse of one of the slums which we have heard so much about since being here. mathare vally is just east of the nairobi city centre - a sprawling and somewhat underfined area with about 700 000 (probably more) people living within its loose boundaries. most of the space is taken up by corregated iron sheet shelters and small wooden vendor stalls which line the roads. a few concrete appartment buildings rise above the densly populated streets - obviously just as packed themselves though, judging from the amount of clothing that hangs from the balconies on each level. the roads - which the matatus crawl along stopping and starting every couple of feet to let someone on or off - are more like dirt paths with more potholes than flat ground. the main market street is packed with people - vendors selling fruit, vegetables, bags, clothes, and other random goods; men pushing large carts of tires and bananas; women carrying children on their backs and baskets on their heads. piles of garbage and raw sewage are everywhere - not to mention that the biggest garbage dump in nairobi is within mathare valley. perhaps one of the more contrastingly beautiful and disgusting sights i've seen was the sun setting past the crest of a mound in this dump as we drove out of mathare that day. its a place that is difficult, even now, to picture and descibe. and my rambling attempts at description are just that - and a weak attempt at that. based only on a briefly glimpse - a scratch at the surface. i'm not sure very many outsiders ever really do see what lies beneath. needless to say, it left us with a mess of thoughts running through our already emotionally frazzled little heads.

the day earlier, we packed up our little home at kudu hills, said goodbye to our friends, and made a whole lory feel sufficiently awkward with our uncontrollable outward displays of emotion, as we drove away from our beloved elangata wuas. the 6 weeks we spent there were filled with so many incredible experiences and golden moments - surrounded by the most kind and warm people i have ever met. its amazing how quickly you can grow accustomed to and feel completely comfortable with the very sights and images which were so shockingly foreign just 6 weeks earlier. i think we both felt like we could have just carried on as the 'eco-friendly vagabonds' be have become and been perfectly content. as kate put it simply, it was a good life.
and here is where, i had the intention of launching into another rambling attempt to describe just what it is we've actually been doing in the middle of rural africa for the past month. but to be honest, i started this a week ago and already with the whirlwind of sights and experiences we have thrown ourselves into since then, i think it might be best left for another day. and a pint of beer back in canada. not to mention the fact that the heat in this internet cafe is making the screen start to blur and akon 'nobody wants to see us together' keeps playing over and over. my sanity is at stake here.

our travelling shoes are on though, as we attempt to see a bit more of east africa before our flight home at the end of the month. intended route this far: nairobi - kampala - kigali - nairobi.
then possibly out to the coast through tanzania.
we'll see where the wind blows.

hope this finds you all happy and healthy friends.
thanks for checking up on us.
we miss you all lots and can't wait to see you all soon - so soon!

sawa sawa.

peace and LOTs of love.
xoxo
andrea and katie.