Last weekend we took time out to visit the famous Jackass Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) in Simons town, though now they are called African Penguins, guess it’s more marketable name. They make a braying sound that sounds like a jackass, which seems more appropriate to me. Anyway not much to say except we are having a wonderful time.
Archive for September, 2007
On Sunday we took our car out to the Cape of Good Hope. On a side note, driving has been awesome. It didn’t take too long to get the hang of driving on the left side of the road and shifting with my left hand. Anyway back to the Cape… We spent the day hiking around the Cape enjoying the spectacular views. When I was trying to pick out pictures for this post, it was really difficult to pair them down to just five but I figured I’d spare all of your inboxes ….
Bebeth and Courtney finally getting their chance for a picture in front of the Cape of Good Hope sign. You literally had to wait in a improvised line and then when it was your turn run up to make sure nobody cut in front of you.
Well we made it safe and sound. We arrived in Cape Town Saturday night around 10:30 pm. We got two taxis and were whisked away to Green Point. Before we came Sam contacted some apartment places he found online so we had already arranged to have two apartments waiting for us when we got here. The landlord was kind enough to wait up for us so he could give us the keys and let us into our apartments. So now we have two beautiful apartments in the middle of Green Point. We have been aquainting ourselves with the surrounding area, reveling in the grocery stores, restaurants, cars stopping for pedestrians, sidewalks, and gorgeous scenery (we can see the bay from our windows and signal hill right behind us). Here are some pictures from our apartment.
We also have new phone numbers so here they are:
Time Zone: GMT +2 (Or 6 hours ahead east coast, 9 hours west coast)
We seem to have timed coming to Cape Town just right. Next weekend is the Penguin Festival, the whales are supposed to show up any day, and we are heading from Spring into Summer! This week we are working on getting a car, probably a VW Golf, so we can start to explore even more.
In a few hours we will be boarding a plane for Cape Town and moving on to the next chapter of our adventure (speaking of which, I guess we’ll have to change the title of the blog!)
To clear up a few items of confusion we’d have from people:
1) We are no longer Peace Corps Volunteers. We ended our service on August 1st (but didn’t post then b/c Sam and Miranda ended a few weeks later) and will be doing our work on our own. We both really valued our experience and don’t regret a single moment. However, we hope that we have found an opportunity that will allow us to find more success and fulfillment while still doing development work.
2) Peace Corps did not submit us to any draconian measures when we decided to leave. Although the program is for 2 years, you are allowed to end your service at any point (we are volunteers after all.) We left on very good terms and the country director was very supportive of our decision and all the work we had done.
3) Our move to Cape Town is not permanent. Our plan is to be there for 6ish months. We want to stay in the region to cultivate our “development world” contacts, but then we’ll return home (possibly with some traveling here and there before we return.) We long to lie on the dock at Starlight, hike in the Cascades, fly fish on the Yakima, canoe in Puget Sound, spend time with all the babies (or not babies anymore!) who don’t know us, and see all of our families.
So…next time we post, it will be from South Africa!!
Bebeth and Mark
ps – Many thanks to Stephen Fisher and the Lakeside Science department for identifying the fish from the last post. Its a mudskipper. You can read more about it at:
After Mom, Dad, and Mark headed back to Nairobi, Courtney and I set off on a 1.5 week adventure along the coast. The first day we headed up to Lamu, an very old Swahili Island at the Northern most tip of the Kenyan Coast. There are no cars on the island, only donkeys which rule the road. Courtney and I spent 3 nights there exploring the town, wandering down the very narrow “streets”, admiring the beautifully carved doors, and generally pretending that we were in another century.
Next we headed to Malindi to visit Grover, his cat Mpo, and Malindi Handicrafts. Our last day there Mark joined us and we headed to Watamu, the next beach town South of Malindi. There we spent 3 nights enjoying the pristine beaches and wonderfully warm water. The land is very flat there and when the tide was out we were able to walk far out into the ocean and explore the coral islands and their tide pools.
By far the coolest thing we saw was this “fish”. I really haven’t a clue what it was (and if anyone can identify it, please tell me!) but it fascinated us. In the pools there were up to 10 of these fish, only half of them were out of the water “jumping” around on the rocks….no, not flopping, they clearly wanted to be out of the water. The one pictured below is sitting on a rock out of the water.
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We’ve finally put some new pictures up on our photo gallery. They can all be accessed from http://www.steudel.org/pictures
The most recent albums are:
First one sister up and joins Peace Corps and heads to Kenya, then the other sister decides to move to Tanzania and spend 8 months volunteering at a rural community center.
For those that didn’t know Courtney (Bebeth’s younger sister) and her boyfriend Arthur are moving to Tanzania to volunteer with a NGO called Miracle Corners in southern Tanzania. They are also keeping a blog of their adventures, which you can check out at:
Courtney is spending the next month with us in Cape Town, and will then meet Arthur in Dar es Salaam and then they will subjugate themselves to a 12 hour overland bus trip with all their gear to Songea.
Wish them luck, keep them in your thoughts, and send them yummy care packages !
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During the first half of the trip with my family we did a lot of camping. On those nights Mark, Courtney and I all shared a tent. Ever spent a lot of time with the 2 Schenk sisters in a small space? If not, ask Mark or Arthur about it….its enough to make you look like this:
The second half of my family’s visit was spent in a great house on Tiwi Beach, south of Mombassa. After the first week of excitement and adventure, the second week was filled with heavenly relaxation. Tiwi is known for being calm, beautiful and not filled with hawkers (also called beach boys). For the most part the only people who came were selling fruit, vegetables and seafood…we happily partook of their goods. The Indian Ocean is beautiful and so warm.
In the mornings and evening the tide would go far out and you could walk out into the water examining the multitude of wildlife. One morning Mark, Courtney and Mom and Dad went out during sunrise and saw lots of beautiful crabs and brittle stars.
Another day we took a trip to Wasini Island. There we did some snorkeling, took a cool boat ride and had an amazing, amazing, amazing dinner where the STARTER was an enormous bowl of fresh crabs. My mom brought along one of my old masks that has lenses in it. Since Mark and I have almost the same prescription we could share it and see all the cool fish. Apparently Mark hadn’t been snorkeling in years and had a great time. Get a load of the three dorks in action!! That week we also got to see Jaron who came and spent 2 nights with us. After getting to see his family it was great to have him with mine. Although not the same as Maho or Starlight, we all had a great time. The only downside was that at the end of the week we all had to say goodbye. It will be at least 6 months till we are all together again (hopefully we’ll all be visiting Courtney and Arthur in Tanzania then). Fortunately Mom and Lucy will be sending us letters to keep us abreast of all the goings on at home!
My family arrived in Kenya on August 13th and the following morning we set out on 7 days of safari. We chose, as is in my family’s tradition, to go “off the beaten path”. This meant that we skipped the biggest game parks (with the exception of Lake Nakuru which got added due to poor weather) and hit some of the smaller, but just as beautiful, parks instead. Given that this was a Schenk family trip we spent almost every night camping (real camping, not the fancy “safari” camping!) We went with a friend of our boss, Marco, who quickly became integrated into the gang and even tried valiantly to win a game of Wizard.
We began with a night on Lake Naivasha, took a beautiful boat ride, and saw lots of beautiful birds. Courtney is a budding, but avid, birder and took on the duty of identifying the hundreds (literally) of species of birds that we saw. (I was extremely grateful as now I won’t get admonished by Laura and Jason for not giving the bird photos their due print space!) Here is a Pied Kingfisher.
Next we headed off to Hell’s Gate outside of Naivasha. There we biked through the park to a large gorge. One of the few parks in Kenya that allows you out of your car, we were able to see zebras, giraffes and many other animals up close. Here’s Mark, Courtney and myself with some wildlife in the background.
After the bike ride we walked through a 1.5 km gorge with a small river running through it. The scenery was amazing but there were some particularly hairy stretches that required fancy footing and stretching across wide gaps. Fortunately we had a very capable Masai, Joseph, with us who know EXACTLY where each foot and hand should go. Adding to the complexity was the fact that at times the water was cold and at other times is was very, very hot. At the end Joseph took us to his village to learn a little about how the Masai live.
Our next stop was at Lake Nakuru which is best known for the thousands of flamingos that live on the lake. Below is a picture of some of them, but its hard to convey the sheer quantity of them. When looking down on the lake its looks more like some kind of pink algae bloom has covered the lake.
Our two most exciting sightings of the day were a rhinoceros (common to the park, but rare to us) and stripped hyena (rare all around). That night we camped next to a large waterfall in a “campground”. Here, a campground simply means a large space of grass. This probably doesn’t sound too weird to our camping friends, but when you’re in the middle of a park where they don’t let you out of the car at any point b/c of wild animals, it’s a little strange. Our biggest concern were the cape buffalo that are in the area. We created a barricade of a car and fallen tree around our tents so that the wandering buffalo wouldn’t accidentally trample us in the middle of the night. Knowing that they didn’t actually want to hurt us didn’t alleviate any of the fear that we all felt when one sauntered by us just before bed. Fortunately we all made it through the night without any incidents!
The next day we drove up to Lake Baringo, known for its huge population of birds. We were camping in a campground on the shores of the lake and there were so many birds everywhere you looked. We took a boatride on the lake and our captain helped us identify many different species. One of my favorite was this African Jakarta. There were tons of them running around on top of the water.
The second morning we took an early ride and were treated to an amazing sunrise.
Our last stop of the week was at Lake Bogoria where we had our most beautiful campsite of all. There were NO people, just stunning scenery, flamingos and the rare Greater Kudu. As usual, we were left in utter amazement (and gratitude) that there were so few people in a place that was so gorgeous.
Sadly the next morning we had to get up and drive all the way back to Nairobi. A sad end to a fabulous week!