5 Things That Happened

5 Things That Happened


Marlene got malaria (and we got a bug zapper racket)

Based on my own observations, expats in Africa are divided into two camps: first the “I’ve never had malaria and I can’t believe you have – surely you aren’t very careful!” group and the “I get malaria every two weeks and can’t figure out what to do about it” group. I’m not actually sure it’s possible to do anything about it (or anything more than we’re doing), but I’m hoping we end up somewhere in the middle, since now that we’ve both had malaria I would really like to avoid the experience again! There are no pictures of this particular adventure, since waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat as though someone had poured a bucket of water on you is not the kind of thing you want photographic evidence of. We always do our best to keep the mosquitos away, but this past week we finally managed to get our hands on a bug zapper, and hunting down all the mosquitos in our apartment has become a nightly ritual. I would also like to know why our treated mosquito net seems to kill every bug that lands on it except mosquitos. Thank goodness I was able to kill the mosquito that found its way into our net the other night… by nearly swallowing it.

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Way too excited.

photo 4The imprint on our wall of the mosquito that I am convinced gave me malaria. About two weeks before I got sick, I fell asleep outside the mosquito net. I woke up to Tim smashing this mosquito, full of my blood, against the wall. It had been biting my eyelid, which was really itchy and annoying. Then I got malaria. Is this blood splatter a little TMI? Oh well.

4WD up Mt Elgon


Easily some of the most fun we’ve had in Kenya, our fun maximized by sharing it with Anne and Cameron when they came all the way out to Western Kenya to visit! Rocketing our way through the jungle, pausing to climb through caves and around waterfalls… the far out there corners of Kenya at their best. I was only slightly nervous about getting Marburg from this cave, but so far so good! (More coming soon from the epic adventures we took with Anne, Cameron, Madison, and Nate!)


We started to actually enjoy ugali

At lunch the other day I ordered a large portion of ugali and couldn’t stop eating. I’m sure that my enjoyment had something to do with the amazing pile of nyama choma we also had, but it looks like we are finally integrating into the local culture if we are learning to love this stuff. Also, I can highly recommend a little place in Ekero for the best nyama choma in Western Kenya.

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My fear of snakes was confirmed


My number one irrational and over the top fear here is SNAKES. I am way more afraid of them than things I should be more scared of. However for some reason seeing this on safari – when you’re supposed to see wild and crazy animals – was just awesome. But let’s keep the snakes out there.



Yes, Tim actually took these pictures.

We played with animal poop

Our awesome friend Angela is here visiting! She is working on a study that involves testing animal feces. Since we’re really familiar with all things poop in our lab, we were happy to help out. So we’re in for some exciting field work collecting animal feces while everyone gives us funny looks. Crazy white people collecting animal poop!

photo 5So that’s a quick update about what’s been happening here! But that’s not everything, so more posts and pictures to come soon!


Summer Visitors


It’s summer in Kenya! And I know that not because of warm weather and barbecues (actually the newspaper keeps printing articles about how to take care of your skin in the cold season and there was a display of heaters at the grocery store today), but because all of a sudden there seem to be many more mzungus (white people!) wandering around Western Kenya.

These summer visitors stand out not only because of their white skin, but because for some reason they all seem to wear tennis shoes or hiking boots with long skirts (not a great look unless entirely necessary), nodding attentively as they follow a Kenyan guide around town. In fact I remember before we moved to Kenya when we visited the travel doctor to get some vaccinations the nurse warned us, with a serious face, to “always wear tennis shoes, since the sidewalks there can be pretty uneven.” Sidewalks!? Our road is made of dirt.

There are so many misconceptions and so much anxiety when it comes to Africa, and visitors come ready to protect themselves from everything from malaria to a stubbed toe. One of the best things about being in Kenya has been the opportunity to tell other people about our experiences, to help people realize that you don’t need to wear hiking boots to get around a town where many people are barefoot (although you might want to watch out for malaria). We don’t have family or many friends who have experience in Africa or with development work, and it’s really cool to be able to share this place with people who might otherwise never experience it.  We really hope not only to show all the amazing things like the animals on safari and the gorgeous beaches on the coast, but to also show that life here is normal life in so many ways.


Recently Tim’s family came to visit, and we loved the opportunity to show them around! They came to Kakamega and saw our home, our office, and the rainforest next door – before exploring the Rift Valley, the Masai Mara, and Nairobi.



It felt good to show them both the every day and extraordinary that we experience here in Kenya. We were lucky enough to see lions hunting (unsuccessfully) in the Mara, black rhinos in Lake Nakuru, and baby elephants at an elephant orphanage in Nairobi.




We also saw monkeys and birds in the Kakamega Rainforest, went by the office to show them a bit about our work, and taught them a little Swahili.


We are looking forward to having more friends come soon! We hope that through visitors and through this blog we can show our friends and family far away a little more about what Kenya is all about.