beach vacation: wataumu village

When our plans began, we were going to meet up in Port Sudan for some diving. But yours truly was unable to get a visa to Sudan. Thankfully, I have flexible parents and our little diving trip was moved to Kenya. And that is why, after two weeks of work in Rwanda I met my parents on the Kenyan coast.

It was a classic Crane vacation. A small resort/guesthouse, narrow streets,  testing little restaurants, books for everyone, plenty of ocean time, and smiles all around. Here are few photos that tell some of the story of our time in Watamu.

Marijani Holiday Resort is where we stayed. Simple, clean rooms. Beautiful garden. Excellent breakfast. Located in town a block from the beach.

This is the road that goes in front of where we stayed. A beautifully horribly failed project to have drainage below the sand road. Now there is no road. The best part of this picture is the sign on the gate:

Tuk tuk taxis. Need I say more? Definitely increased the fun quality of our time there.

Dive buddies. We have been diving together since I learned when I was 12 years old. (Before that I would watch dad dive and think about when I would be old enough to dive.) We dove with the dive center at Ocean Sports. I highly recommend the operation – definitely the best that I have experienced in Africa. And there is plenty of great wildlife in the marine reserve to make it worth the effort to go diving.

Mother and daughter enjoying a walk on the beach. (Mom is the source of my love of water – we spent some good times bobbing in the water in the afternoons.)

My beautiful parents.

Traditional dhows sailing in after a day of fishing.

The young boy was playing in the surf and then swam out to meet a dhow coming in. Then he grabbed onto his older brother who was holding quite the nice catch. It was such a joy to witness the fun of these brothers.

This little cafe is run by an Italian couple and has outstanding gelato. Their sandwich was also good (which is really important because, although they had a dozen flavors of gelato, there was only one sandwich). They also serve coffee and croissants if you need a caffeine jolt.

This is the lovely mama that my mom bought mangoes from. Mangoes that were absolutely divine and no bargaining required.

All of that to say: Watamu Village is a great place for a chill vacation. Highly recommended.

rain on the porch

My first week here, I had saw a lot of sun and the days were hot. Then the rains came. There has been some sun, but there has been more fog and cloud cover and afternoon rains. This was taken on the porch – the porch rails reflected in the water gathering. With this storm there was some fantastic thunder and lightening too.

looking forward

This picture just seemed appropriate for today. It is the beginning of a new year. There is so much to look forward to. Headed out right now for some winter hiking and cave hunting. If things go well, maybe some caving and repelling too. Them some cave camping tomorrow night. Hoping for a year of adventures. This picture was taken last year at the Nairobi Safari Park. Have a great 3 day weekend!

my brother is engaged

It’s true. My brother is engaged. I am so thankful that I was here this week – setting up for a sunrise beach engagement, sharing smiles and laughter early Christmas morning in the house, beginnings of wedding planning, and taking the engagement photos. Yep, I got to do engagement photos for Matt & Lar. Not my normal subject matter, but they were perfect subjects and it was so much fun to share in their joy. This photo is a sneak-peek as I am sure there will be more photos up before long on Lar’s blog: And now… headed back to Nashville for one last weekend of fun before I return to work and the normal swing of things.

beach wood

I love warm beaches and ocean swimming, but this cool winter beach is doing a wonderful job of filling the ‘beach hole’ in my life. I took this picture on Christmas day during a glorious 2 hour walk on the beach with the sun shining. Yesterday we had snow flurries. Looking forward to the sun and relative warmth returning today while we walk Savannah.

schoolyard tree

This is a photo I took in Western Kenya in a schoolyard this fall. Each time I have looked back at the photo it has grabbed me, and I cannot tell you exactly why. I think I love how the branches seem to reach to the heavens while providing shade and beauty on earth.

school windows

I am in the midst of processing photos and stories for Blood:Water Mission from my time in Western Kenya in October. I love this photo taken at a primary school and had to share it with you. More stories from my time there will come out soon, and I am excited to be able to share them! For now, I hope you enjoy this photo as you work to push through the last few hours of this work week.

women and water

The water crisis is often told through the eyes of women – women who walk many hours and long miles to gather water, often dirty, for their families. The HIV/AIDS crisis is often told through the eyes of women – grandmothers carrying for their orphaned grandchildren and mothers unable to care for children. No, these are not crises that exclusively impact one gender, but the burden of both is high for women and their stories, faces, and images are compelling.

This short, three day trip that brought me to both the eastern and western side of Kenya and on the road with four local organizations and one international business, brought these women and their stories front and center. Normally my trips are filled with organizations and strategies and plans, but this time I was along to just see, experience, and learn. As I sit back and flip through my memories of this trip, it is the women that come to my mind. Their smiles, laughter, strength, and depth of story. Everywhere we went the women filled the space with life.

There were young girls walking home from school hand in hand whispering stories. Teens who recited poems and performed dramas to teach others how to treat their water to make it safe for drinking. A young woman who joined the men’s acrobatic and tae-kwon-do team. Women standing with vibrant colored skirts as they talked. Young mothers and old grandmothers holding children they loved. Women of all ages washing clothes, carrying dishes, and gathering water. Pregnant mothers and grandmothers who had HIV and were fighting to live fully for their families. Weaved through all of these women was strength and character and smiles. Yes, there are hardships in each of these stories. To deny that would be to deny a significant part of each woman. But to glorify those hardships denies their strength – a much larger part of who they are.

I cannot blame anyone for using the stories and images of women to talk about the water and HIV/AIDS crises. That is what I do here today. I just hope that the telling of the story brings out the strength of the women. I hope that is what you see through these photos today.

mother and child

I love the posture and poise I find in so many women here. And I wish I could wear a head scarf with such stunning style. Just in case you were wondering: no, I do not love that there is a huge Land Cruiser in the back of this photo or the one below, but some things simply cannot be helped.

schoolgirls singing

These schoolgirls recited a poem and performed a song about water for us yesterday. Although our time with them was brief, it was a joy to be with them as their bright uniforms and vibrant voices lit up the field

cape buffalo

Just over a week ago, I did a morning safari drive in Nairobi National Park. How can one ever get tired of such magnificent animals? If all goes well, I will try and put out a few more pictures and a short iphone video later.