Archive for November, 2006

More mail info

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

So, a number of people have emailed us about sending packages, so I thought I’d just post the info here. Yes, you may send packages….we do get charged a little bit on our end to receive them but we’d still enjoy it. Good things to send (ie – things that don’t cost us too much to get) are drink mixes, small food items that don’t perish, really anything small that no one here is going to think is really expensive. Also we’re going to be getting a CD player soon so that people can send us music….mixes or copied cd’s (DON’T bother sending new stuff. On the customs form put .10 at most for a burned cd.) When you have to fill out the customs form make sure to put everything on it and give EVERYTHING a price….just reduce the value a lot. The trick is to make it cheaper than it actually is, but still believable. Then address it to either "Sister Bebeth Steudel" or "Brother Mark Steudel" and put some kind of religious wording on the outside. Otherwise we love all the mail we’ve been getting and if you’re looking for something to fill the envelope with any kind of news/reading material is great.

Mark’s Birthday

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006


(This is a little old….)

We arrived home from Machakos safely on Mark’s birthday. Due to the timely posting of our phone number he received a number of phone calls from home. Thanks!! It was so great to hear so many voices from home. Our host family decided to make an exception for Mark and celebrated his birthday (in Kenya you don’t celebrate when you’re an adult. Our Baba had his birthday a few weeks ago and forgot about it!) They bought him a cake, some cookies and some molasses wine (gross!) We decided to take this opportunity to take a picture of the family. Mama laughed so hard when we took the picture because she said the flash was blinding!. In the picture you can see Mama, Mark, our host brother Joshua, Baba (desperately trying to get as far from me as possible so as not to be offensively close to me) and me. All in all it was a very sweet birthday.

The long train ride (Bebeth)

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

After leaving Bungoma for our site visit we headed to Kisumu to catch the train with 15 other trainees. Depending on your perspective the train can be much better or much worse than the bus. It costs the same amount, takes 13 hours instead of 8, and you get a sleeper car. From our perspective it was a great deal. The 13 hours are always at night so you get a good nights sleep, don’t have to pay for a hotel room (always an issue in the peace corps!) and during the daylight hours you can watch the landscape go by. All of us boarded at 6:30 pm in Kisumu and set off on our adventure. There was plenty of hanging out, eating junk food for dinner, etc. Around 10 pm most of us were asleep. Aside from being cold (next time I will definitely bring a sleeping bag) it was really a great night of sleep. When I woke up, however, I had that sense that we had not moved for much of the night. I assumed that it was just that I had happened to wake up at the points when we were stopped…like we were at that moment. After not moving for another hour (and seeing lots of passengers OUTSIDE the train) we decided to go investigate. It turns out that we had only gone a distance equivalent to 4(!) hours of travel. During the night the engine had broken down and they had to change it. This “new” engine was now broken down again and we were currently waiting for a new one to come. Since all the locals were outside the train we too decided to go exploring. Our car was in a place where the walls were too high to see anything, but once we walked up past the first car the views were spectacular! We were in the middle of the Rift valley which is incredibly lush. 4 hours later, still having not moved, the sense of adventure was wearing off. Eventually the engine did come and we set off again. At 2 pm we were finally in Nakuru. It would have been another 6 hours on the train to Nairobi, but only 3 by matatu, so Peace Corps told us to get off and get on a matatu so that we’d be in Nairobi before dark. At 5:30 pm we finally pulled in to various hotels in Nairobi exhausted and ready for showers. All in all it took us almost 24 hours! Unlike some, we still plan on taking the train, we just hope it doesn’t take as long next time. Karibu Kenya!

MAILING ADDRESS IN BUNGOMA

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

We have opened a mailbox in Bungoma and thus our mailing address has
changed. Our new address is:

Bebeth and Mark Steudel
P.O. Box 355
Bungoma, Kenya

It seems to be taking a few weeks for mail to get here, so for those
of you who are sending us mail (and we love you all SO much for doing
so) its probably best to switch over to this address. Mail send to our
old address will still get to us even after we are sworn in, but it
may take some time.

More info on Bungoma (Bebeth)

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

So we have now been in Bungoma for 3 days and area a very excited
about our site placement. Bungoma is a larger town with many
ammenities and a diverse population. It is still small enough,
however, to be safe and to allow us to get to know people. We spent
our first day here walking all over looking at places to live with our
counterpart (peace corps lingo for co-worker) Njagi. We ended up
selecting an aparment rather than a house. It is in a VERY safe
apartment building that is conveniently located. We only have to
commit for 3 months and then we can choose something else once we know
the area and community better. We will have electricity(!) and running
water(!) and way too much space. It will be great for other volunteers
to stay with us or even visitors from abroad! :)

We are working with an organization called “Pride Africa” on a project
called DrumNet (http://www.drumnet.org/index.htm). It is an american
NGO run by a former peace corps volunteer. We will be helping them
with a large project that involves connection sunflower farmers with
buyers, seed sellers, and microfinance institutions. (We’ll get lots
of info for Jessica!)

Bungoma is in the Western province of Kenya about 40 km from Uganda.
It is very green here and SO beautiful. We feel so lucky to have
gotten a site close to so many great places to visit. Mt. Elgon is to
the north and has many hiking/camping opportunities. To the south is
Kakamega Forest which houses some unique monkeys and other wildlife.
We are also told that it is a birders paradise! (We will be taking a
picture of each and every bird we see for Jason!) Anyway, the list
goes on and on and I’m sure we will never run out of things to do in
the area. The only disadvantage (that we know of) is that we are about
as far from my cousin Jaron as possible (he arrived in Kenya in May
with Peace Corps.) But hopefully we will be spending thanksgiving with
him.

Today we are headed to Kisumu for a night, then on to Nairobi to meet
with the head of Pride Africa and finally back to Kitui. We have 4
more weeks of training before we are officially sworn in on December
1st. Then we will move to Bungoma for good!