Walking in the North Kenyan Desert

I wrote this as our little plane carried us from the North Kenyan desert back to the real world.  I am not the best flyer and feel even worse on small planes, but I had to get on the plane to get home.  I distracted myself by writing this blog…

 camel safari 9We all shed a tear as the plane pulls away from an amazing 10-day trip spent with the beautiful Samburu men of Northern Kenya.  It was a great honour to have the opportunity to get to know their kind and happy natures.

Waking up at 5am to the best alarm clock ever, Creepy’s singing as he fills our water trough, the love filled singing and the calls of “Jambo” (‘hello’ in Swahili)  certainly wakes you up with love in your heart and a smile on your face.  Within half an hour of waking, we hit the trail; if there is a hill to climb, Helen finds it, especially with the help of Lemongas leading the way with no map and a broad grin on his face. We blindly follow, trusting him to take us where we need to go.

Down the Lugga (river) we go, followed by six beautiful camels carrying our day packs and breakfast.  Most mornings we are lucky to see footprints of some description; I now know what elephant, aardvark, goat and camel prints look like.

The Samburu walk with a feather-light glide – they can easily walk for hundreds of kilometres without water or food – while us Muzungos (Swahili for ‘white people’) stomp around, frightening any animal that happens to be in the vicinity.  Some days, we walk 10 or even 20 kilometres, whatever is required; and even though we are in the desert, the scenery changes constantly. Sometimes, we must channel our inner mountain goat as we scramble over the passes, passing local people along the way.  One particular day we encounter the most beautiful ladies looking immaculate in their bright clothing but dressed in simple kikoy, their hair cropped short and necks swathed in the most amazing layers of woven necklace. We aren’t allowed to take photos but I can still picture their faces.

Another day we came around a bend in the Lugga nearing the end of the morning walking session, to come across a group of ladies singing; they are singing for rain.  The women move away up the Lugga as the Samburu started making camp and we think they have gone, only to be treated to them coming back down the Lugga and standing right in front of us, singing.  It is the most unearthly sound, penetrating right into the soul, it gives me goose bumps and the most spiritual feeling…

camel safari 5

This is where I stop my recount of my time in the North Kenyan desert as the plane suddenly lands.  I am very relieved to land safely, but also very sad to be back…   

The Safari was organised by Michelle Richmond, who is running different Safaris throughout Kenya and Africa.  The safaris are extraordinary and will change your life.

If you’d like to know more, drop me a line and I would be happy to share.

Walking to change energy

beachSometimes, you just don’t feel like going for a walk but being outside can be the best for your health and wellbeing.

We look after two foster boys (aged 15 and 12) one weekend a month. Last time I picked them up, they seemed very agitated and the younger one had been in trouble at school, playing up so much he had been suspended, only seven weeks into the new school year.  His Carer told me what was going on, but he was denying everything and didn’t want to come to our home as he knew my partner would be disappointed and would come down heavily on his attitude.

After an hour of driving, I got the boys home and both talked loudly all the way back and the younger one had trouble sitting still.  I encouraged them to help me get the dinner ready, preparing the dessert and making a lasagne from scratch.  It gave them something to focus on. It was a beautiful day, so I decided the best thing to do was go to the beach for a walk. Both of them complained most of the drive to the beach, but I chose to ignore them.  The first half of the walk was very slow; I had to do a lot of encouraging/blackmailing/cajoling (whatever you call it) to get the youngest one moving.  He only wants to do things his way and at his own pace, in this case, 1 kilometre an hour (I normally walk around 5km an hour); it became a battle of wits.  I managed to push the boys to where I wanted them to be, 3km from the car.  We stopped for about half an hour to watch the wave boarders and then turned around and walked back. 

On the way back, we took off our shoes and walked on the beach and in the water, and this is where I saw the transformation.  The youngest boy transformed from a child that was fidgeting a lot, and looking for ways to cause trouble, to a young man who was happy to walk and talk with me.  For the first time that walk, I felt l was connecting with him again; his energy levels seemed to be returning to something he could control.

What I learned from this walk:

  • Just get started, do whatever you can to get moving and stop listening to the negative talk
  • Don’t give kids the choice, choices can be overwhelming, especially for kids with ADHD
  • Nature is powerful and great for changing energy levels for the better
  • Walking 6km tires kids out, and they sleep so much better and are happy to go to bed earlier!
  • Because his body had become calmer, the younger boy actually started telling the truth, and we found out what has really been going on in his school and home life

I am not a parent and this is not a lesson on what to do with your kids, but more of what I observed in dragging the young boys along with me, as I encouraged them to join me in doing something that I love that definitely helps settle and soothe me.

The older boy didn’t want to walk on the beach, after all he had his phone and seemed to be more connected to that, which I have thoughts about that I will save for another blog!