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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Prison Finals-5/31/08

It is Sunday June 1st, 2:15pm Kenya time and I am sitting with my back to the swimming pool, looking out over the Masai Mara! The sky is bright blue with some wispy clouds scattered about the horizon and big puffy clouds that look like clusters of cotton balls scattered about. The clouds just above the horizon take on many distinct shapes: an Indian chief with headdress and hook nose, the head and neck of a sheep, a full front head view of a buffalo. They are the type of clouds that you don’t have to look at very hard or long, the image just jumps out at you.

I will now write about my amazing day yesterday and only hope I can do it justice because as I sit here I find I only want to tell you about the elephants I can see from my window in my room, or how beautiful the room is, or how I was instructed I must close my window before leaving the room because of the thieving baboons that lurk about! But that will wait until I share yesterday’s adventure!

I arrive at Nyono stadium at 9:15 and as I expected, the events did not get underway until after 10. Today was very different from yesterday in that the VIP area was very carefully constructed for the dignitaries that were expected for the day. A large, high back royal-looking chair was placed front and center, almost in the exact position where I sat yesterday. There were 3 rows of carefully lined up chairs with the red velvet cushions and then another 3 rows of black office-type side chairs.. I learned that the Vice President of Kenya was expected.

The first dignitary to arrive was the Chief Commissioner of the Prisons, Gilbert M. Omondi, CBS. He is the big boss of the prisons and it was his branch that was competing. Then came Isaiah Kiplagat, the Chairman of Athletics Kenya, the organization that is head of all the athletics in Kenya and sets standards and regulations; they have coaches for their international teams, etc. There were many more people who trickled in throughout the morning. The athletic events were almost secondary to the who’s who of people but everyone did cheer on their own province. It was a lot of fun watching the pride each team had. All of these athletes work for the prison systems but they are divided into team depending on which region they work in and they then compete against the other regions. When a team wins an event, someone comes running out with their provincial flag and runs around with it!;

Then there is the chairman of Kenya Prisons Sports Council, Mr. Mutua, who is also the Chairman of Athletics Kenya Prisons Executive Committee. He is a very nice man who always made sure I was taken care of! When it was tea time we were ushered into a very nice lounge with leather seats all around and we had our choice of tea or hot cocoa along with little cakes or cookies. When we came back in Catherine was already in the middle of her 10000 meter race. She won! Earlier, one of the prison officials asked me if I would please present one of the prizes! You have to understand how the whole operation works. It is similar to a three ring circus with maybe another ring or two thrown in just to keep you on your toes! There was javelin throwing far right, discus far left, hurdles or sprints all around. Then almost directly in front of our section was where they had three blocks for the winners of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place to receive their prizes. All of a sudden, without warning, I heard my name over the loud speaker to come present the awards to a group of winners. I sill have NO idea who I handed prizes to or what they won! All I knew was there were 3 envelopes and each had a different place written on the front so I would know who to give it to!

Finally the vice president came and the band went down to the field, and all events stopped. He was an extremely young man and very nice and polite; however, he sat down, watched the band, presented the prizes to Catherine’s event and then he was gone as quickly as he arrived.

When the vice president left someone told me it was ok to sit in the front row again. Since I was taking a lot of photos I did. However, all of a sudden the events ended and the Permanent Secretary got up to speak. Here I was in the front row, 3 seats away from these dignitaries, with cameras all around; I was wishing I could slink back to the third row! Unfortunately that was not meant to happen until later.

When the events were over and all the speeches were over, we were ushered back into the lounge for lunch. It was fairly good with chapati, beef and chicken and choice of any soda. The Kenyans seem to drink a lot of soda and rarely can offer diet!

When I finished lunch I went outside to meet with a cameraman/DP that I had been referred to. He was very nice and it was also nice that he met me there! When we were finished our talk, I caught up with Anthony and Catherine. I had been wanting to go to a certain restaurant before I left and I asked them if they would go with me.; Anthony was really very tired but Catherine was able to persuade him!

I had not had a lot of time with Catherine because of her busy schedule so I rode back to her house with her. When we arrived she prepared arrowroot and tea. Her brother, Samuel and his wife Lidia were there with their adorable (yep another one!) baby boy Steve. Of course I had to play with him and take photos! After tea Catherine gave me a tour of the property before it got too dark. She took me into her vegetable garden which was huge! It would qualify as a small farm! Not quite as big as her mother’s but she had spinach and beans and corn and mango trees and tomatoes and peppers and so many other things growing! We had stopped so she could explain something to me and all of a sudden I felt something bite me! I looked down and there was a swarm of big, black ants! I never knew they could be so viscious! They were all over my heel and under my heel in my sandals and one had gotten up my pant leg and bitten me on the calf! OUCH! They can bite! So we quickly scurried away from that area and headed down to the cows. She has a mama and a baby calf and they are adorable! She has two cousins that work for her and they tend to the vegetables and animals including the cows and chickens and 4 dogs. There is an electric machine that grinds food for the cows and both of her cousins live on the property.

It was almost dark so we went back inside and I waited with Samuel and his family while Catherine took a shower. We then drove them home and went to dinner at the place I had heard so much about.

The restaurant is called Carnivore and I’m sure you guessed, it was heart-attack city. You sit down and it’s a price fix so after they serve soup, they just start bringing you meat. Everything from lamb and pork to alligator and ostrich! They come to your table with a skewer containing the meat and carve it right onto your plate. I found it to be okay but don’t really think we got our money’s worth because none of us ate very much but I’m glad I went; the place was definitely like no other I’ve been to anywhere. There was a giant bbq pit right when we walked in that held all the skewered meats!

Back to the hotel it was time to pack and get ready for safari tomorrow!!!!!! I was up way too late but needed to be sure my hair was washed and that I treated my clothes for the safari with premythrin to protect against mosquitoes!

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