We’re back . . .(family)

Had a decent week at Diani Beach near Mombassa. This was the view from the front porch (only much more panoramic with richer colors). Things I especially enjoyed:The view from the front porch

  • jumping waves with my kids
  • eating fresh fish
  • dugout sailboat ride to the reef and swimming with the fish. (It ain’t like people describe the Caribbean, but it’s fun.)
  • getting to see my kids enjoy a new setting

We feel spoiled. Christi and I never thought we’d go back to the same place for vacations, but this is our third time back to this particular place. The cottage is about 50 meters from the water; the kids can come and go between the beach and house as they please. The reef blocks the rough waves (not so great for me but very nice for kids.) We pretty much have this section of beach to ourselves and the local fishermen even in high tourist season. We finally feel like we are getting the hang of the place – fish prices, who to book your boat-ride with, etc.

Last time, we went with Christi’s parents, her sister’s family, and Njeri and Nicholas. This time we went with a really great American student who is graduating from here this year – Debbie Head. Like me, she is an MK (missionary kid); she grew up in Ethiopia. Christi says it is uncanny the way we both approach different situations. After having gone with her family during her high school days (RVA), Debbie was anxious to get back to Diani one last time before graduation, and so we can thank her for initially encouraged us to think about going. She really bailed us out with the kids when Christi got sick; I guess that’s the price you pay for hanging out with a family with young kids. A Danish couple from the school here was backpacking and busing the coast (Lamu), and spent the last few days of their tour with us. He is a student; she works with kids. It was nice to get to know them a bit.

The main drawback of the beach is the beachboys always hassling you to sell you something or hook you up with an excursion. I recognize they are people trying to earn a living, so as soon as they come up, I introduce myself. “Jambo! I’m Captain Nemo (they are all Captain ______). I can arrange for you a nice trip to snorkel at the reef, or a glass-bottomed boat to the sand bar for only . . . I also have shells or bracelets . . .” This usually gets a good chuckle out of them since I basically stole their speech (A trick I learned from my brother). Then I apologize that I’m not going to buy from them today, and off we go. I felt kind of sorry for them this time. Because of what happened in January, there are almost no tourists. Even the nearby hotel beach clubs were like ghost towns. (The positive side of this was the total absence of older Europeans hanging out with young, good-looking Kenyans ; I don’t have to tell you why.)

I’m not a very good vacation person. I enjoy the ocean, but not the beach. My Myers-Briggs says I need to be doing something perceived as useful. I have to tell myself that the break is good for me and especially good for my wife who is just trying to survive the kids’ school break. The first two days, I did pretty good at cracking the books, feeding kids, and helping referee their energy between 10 – 4. Then Christi came down with a fever (lingering chest infection), and it was all kids from then on with a visit to the hospital mixed in. The doctor turned out to be a liposuction specialist, but he prescribed the right drugs (as verified by a physician friend we have here.)

The 10 hour road trip almost wipes out the “break” gains. Every few minutes you feel like you have to make a life or death decision. Do I pass this decrepit truck even though it’s on a curve? He’s only doing 20 kph, and I could be doing over a 100kph otherwise. Most of the road is nicely paved, but the last couple of hours (nearest Nairobi) are over bone-jarring dirt detours due to construction. At a couple of points, I had to come to a complete stop because the truck in front of me threw up so much dust I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of the car.

This week, Christi is sitting through a customer care training for school employees. One of her closest friends Fortuna (the wife of my colleague Samy) is quite the professional trainer and is volunteering her time. She wanted Christi around for moral support.

Both of us are also trying to team proof-reading sections of the thesis of our next door neighbor on missionary attrition (Kenyan missionaries). This neighbor couple is the real deal!! I’m going to try to get his permission to post specific portions of his thesis here to give you a flare for the new face of African missions, so more on them later.

Me, I have a lot of writing to do. Unfortunately, it’s not here on this blog. I got up at 3:30am this morning to do some catch up, but the power went out at about 4:30, and my laptop battery went shortly thereafter. Hey, I tried.

2 thoughts on “We’re back . . .(family)

  1. David Ker says:

    Glad you’re back. Having a regular place that the kids can call their vacation spot is really precious. It means a lot to unstable MK’s!

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks. True. My girls got very excited when they found out we were going back. The night before, you would have thought it was Christmas eve; they couldn’t get to sleep.

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