Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Kenya Travelogue – 2014

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Kenya Travelogue – 2014

On August 8, 2014, Posted by , In Travelogue,Where we’ve been, By , , With Comments Off on Kenya Travelogue – 2014

Amsterdam, August 8, 2014

Hello.

I am in Amsterdam, after a very uneventful and relatively easy journey.

The Delta representative in the Madison airport showed me how to move from an aisle seat with 6 other people to an aisle seat with just one other person. Being on the aisle is a must on these 8 or more hour flights. This flight, from Detroit to Amsterdam, I was very clever and put everything in the luggage rack above my head, so I had nothing under the seat in front of me.

Again, people were very helpful when I had to lift my heavy carry on way above my head to go into the luggage rack. Later, I returned the favor for a woman seated behind me who couldn’t reach the rack, either.

Delta has come up with a funny and charming safety video. It kept the attention of even this seasoned traveler.

For this trip, I paid attention to various benefits. For example, I am apparently a Sky Miles special cardholder. This means that I could board early. I’ve never noticed that I had that option before.

I also selected my seats online (my client’s travel agent does not generally put me in an aisle seat) as well as selected a low fat meal option. Selecting a special food option is a wonderful thing to do, because you get served waaay before any else. I was completely done with my meal before they even started to serve others in my section of the plane.
How cool is that?

It was fascinating to see that there were several quite elderly (my age?) male and female stewards. This is the first time that I’ve seen stewards this age, and I travel a lot. They were very pleasant, as were all the Delta staff on this flight.

I was worried that I would have difficulty: (1) finding my luggage in Schiphol airport and (2) getting the shuttle to my hotel. Not only was my luggage already available when I reached the baggage area, the shuttle to my hotel was right there when I went outside to find it. Easy peasy.

As the shuttle driver was putting my luggage into the van, he joked that I must be staying for several weeks since I had so much luggage (two huge heavy suitcases, mostly filled with training-related materials, video camera, tripod, etc.; and one heavy carryon). When I told him I was going to Nairobi, the father of the very large family that had just disembarked said that they were just then on their way to move to Nairobi since he works for CDC.

It wasn’t until after I was on the shuttle and on my way to the hotel that I realized CDC stands for Center for Disease Control. Ebola. Yikes!! And he was taking his entire family, which included four small children under the age of 10.

The hotel (Holiday Inn Express Schiphol, which I booked online through Expedia) was only 10 or 15 minutes away from the airport. Since our plane had arrived early, my luggage was right there and the shuttle immediate, I arrived at the hotel around 8:15 a.m., long before normal check-in.

However, they told me that they would let me know when a room was available, stored my luggage, and let me go have the continental breakfast. Which was lovely! All kinds of rolls, croissants and, my favorite from past trips, chocolate filled pastries. Yogurt, juices, cereal, fresh fruit (oranges and apples), cheeses, meats, and hard-boiled eggs. I actually didn’t even realize they had the eggs (which were in a large basket) until someone passed by with them on his plate.

By 10:15 a.m., I was in my room. I took a shower immediately and then went on line to check my reservation for tomorrow. Absolute panic occurred when I realized that my receipts and itinerary for the trip (which I had printed out in Madison) showed NO flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi. After much hysteria, I was finally able to log onto the Delta website, where I found that there indeed was no reservation for tomorrow’s flight. I was beside myself. I went on line to Delta, used Skype to call the international number and couldn’t get through. Finally, I was able to locate a Delta number for Amsterdam, called and was advised that KLM did indeed have my flight reserved, they just sometimes didn’t completely upload that information onto the Delta system.

When I went onto the KLM website, yep, there was my reservation. A huge teary sigh of relief.

While I was on the website, I was able to change my seat to an aisle seat and order a special meal. There was the silver lining!!

I also checked my email and saw that, in response to my request, I had been sent photos of the training room. It is lovely, with large windows on three walls. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that my huge agenda map is going to end up covering one of those wall windows.

My contact, Alma, has been terrific. Responsive, efficient, capable, professional, and effective. I’m looking forward to meeting her on Sunday when I go to set up the training room.

The hotel is very compact, very modern, very basic. It definitely caters to travelers. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes, only back and forth to the airport.

The room is small but comfortable. Internet is free. The door to the bathroom and the entire shower and shower fixtures are all glass. There are no amenities (such as soaps, shampoos, etc.) There is a wall soap dispenser next to the sink and another one in the shower.

The lobby is huge and very comfortable, with lots of red leather armchairs and loveseats. There are fascinating kiosks. One has small ½ pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Another has various meals (Indian tikka masala was the only one left when I looked) that you can purchase and then microwave right there.

They also have a tiny bar as part of the lobby desk, where you can get basic alcoholic beverages, sodas and bottled water. Two guys were happily ensconced at the bar, while a woman ate her dinner, worked on her laptop and was on the phone at a large dining room-like table in the lobby. I later had my own dinner sitting at that table.

There is also a clever spinning rack with small credit card sized discount cards and direction cards, etc. for local restaurants and tourist places. It is so much easier to pocket little cards than the larger brochures, which were also available.

I’d like to say that I got a little sleep and then went out to explore Amsterdam. However, since I didn’t get to my room until after 10, had to shower, manage the apparent travel snafu and then get a nap, that didn’t happen. I slept from about 12:30 to 6 p.m., which was wonderful since (of course, unfortunately) I can’t sleep on the plane.

When I got up, I found that it was raining outside. So I didn’t feel so badly about not venturing out. Instead, I went down to the lobby to book the shuttle for tomorrow morning and find out where I could get dinner. They gave me two options, to have something delivered or to go out. I was too tired to go out, so they handed me a book of menus.

I finally decided on chicken pad tai, which the hotel ordered for me and said they would charge it to my room. While I waited in the lobby, I read through a lovely magazine on current Amsterdam events, shops, museums, tours, canals, bars, etc. I also discovered that the sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. in the early summer here!

I really would have loved to see the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums, gone on a canal ride, walked in the center of the city. But it was much too late and I was still very tired.

When the food came, the hotel staff handed it to me with a china dinner plate, real silverware and a napkin. So I settled in at a table and read my Nook while I had a lovely dinner. There was enough for three people, so needless to say, I didn’t finish it. I had thought about saving the rest for tomorrow, but there was no point. There is no mini refrigerator in the room. The continental breakfast is plentiful. And my flight leaves at 11:15 a.m., so lunch will definitely be served onboard.

My only two complaints about my room are first, my standard complaint about there being no good reading light, and second, the inability to adjust the thermostat. The entire hotel has been a tad too warm for me, cold-blooded Wisconsinite that I am.

Stopping here in Amsterdam was a great idea, thanks to Piotr, who takes very good care of me when he schedules these trips. What is also great is that there is only a 1-hour difference between Amsterdam and Nairobi, so when I arrive after 8 p.m. in Nairobi tomorrow I won’t be reeling from the huge time difference as I did when I arrived in Amsterdam. Hurray!

Well, it is almost 10 p.m. and I’m going to bed.

More tomorrow. Thanks for coming along on this trip.

Hello.

Okay. Now today was typical.

First, the hotel never gave me my wake up call for 6:30 a.m. Luckily, I had set my phone alarm (which is still on Madison time, so that was an ordeal). Otherwise I would still be sleeping. Not good. Not good at all.

Then they overcharged me on my bill. Again, not good. It was probably the same dopey guy who was at the desk this morning.

The shuttle stopped at two other hotels, which I did not expect. The good thing is that the airport has luggage carts outside. Otherwise I don’t know how I would have managed with the three bags.

Then the fun really began. You enter the airport and there are hundreds of people going in every direction. I asked at the information desk and was told I needed to go upstairs. They are very clever. The escalator is like a ramp, so I was able to push the cart on to the escalator. Then the brake kept the heavy cart from pushing me down the ramp. Whew!

The procedure (I learned this the very hard way) is to get your boarding pass, then get in an interminable line to drop off your baggage. That probably took 30 minutes. Then, you hand your passport and boarding pass to the airport representative. This is when I learned that there was a priority check in area that I could have used. Okay, then next time.

What was fascinating is that there were many lines of people pushing their luggage, snaking around each other to get to different pairs of stewards. The airport really has quite a system! Self-serve all the way.

Past her, there is a self-automated baggage check in. You scan your boarding pass then wrestle your bag into this cubicle. Well, it didn’t like how I put it in. I had it standing up, and then lying down and then gave up and called a steward over. She shoved the bag to the back of the cubicle and that worked just fine, only to discover that my bag was too heavy.

I had to wrestle it back on the luggage trolley and push it to the end of a line and redistribute luggage. Then get in another line (not long) to check in again. And again my luggage was too heavy. So I took out the first things I could grab- my toiletries case and some shoes. Fine, that worked. I was past that hurtle.

By this time, I was absolutely parched, so I got Euros using my debit card (thank goodness Jenny suggested I get one, because I only know the pin code for that card). I found some fountain Fanta and then had to get in another very long line. By the time I got to the register, I’d drunk the entire thing.

Next, race to gate F6, which must have been a half-mile away, weaving through hundreds of people. I got on line, which was incredibly long, and then noticed the check in area for priority people. As I whipped into the security area, I suddenly realized that I had my toiletries case now, with liquids. I really thought I would lose everything.

Surprisingly, they were all right. What was not all right was the paring knife I had placed into the toiletries case so I could cut apples. That was a heart stopping moment. But all they did was confiscate the knife and let me through.

So, I am now sitting in the waiting area, desperately needing a bathroom with none available. Good grief!

Hopefully, there won’t be any more adventures between the waiting room and the plane.

Til Nairobi.

Nairobi Serena Hotel, August 10, 2014

Hello.

The rest of my trip to Nairobi went just fine. A wonderful stewardess kept me plied with water the entire trip. I really like traveling in the morning and getting somewhere in the evening. I still felt energetic when we arrived!

The line through immigration went very quickly and the agent, a very bored woman, barely grunted at me and passed me through. My luggage came immediately. The only snag was customs. I made the mistake of saying that I was carrying training materials. He wanted to see. That meant I had to pick up my heavy bag once more and then open the lock. This turned out to be the bag with my clothing and the candy (yikes!). He saw the clothing so I immediately said that the training materials were in the other bag and closed this one before he explored it any further. I don’t know what he would have done if he had realized the enormous bag held candy…

I had trouble getting the lock off of my other bag, but I did get it open eventually. The first thing he saw was the folded agenda map and the kites. He gave up at this point (I had told him that I was a teacher unlike any he had experienced). I then realized that my lock was broken.

When I got outside the airport, there was a huge crowd of people standing behind a rope. Many were holding placards with names. I quickly saw James holding my name. James was my driver last time, so I was delighted to see him again.

We caught up on the way to the hotel. He and his wife had another baby, a little boy, three months ago. He asked about my family and my health. I asked about his family and his work, which is still going well.

The peepers were not chirping as loudly when we arrived at the Serena. Nor were the plants as lush as they were when I was here in December.

Everyone was very gracious. I was easily able to convert some cash into Kenya shillings ($1 = 840 KS) so I could tip the bellman.

It was lovely to be in a room where I could set the temperature low enough to cool me off. As I put things away, I found that I actually had a sharp knife in my luggage. So I was able to have peanut butter (I brought it with me, smart, uh?) with the apples that were left on a fruit plate for me. I had forgotten that they leave a dish of fruit, with a plate and cutlery and linen napkin. They also have fresh roses in the bathroom and on the table. Plus two bottles of water, which are necessary because you’re not supposed to drink the tap water.

When I finally got on my computer at 10:30 pm, I saw that it was still early afternoon in Madison and called my daughter on Skype to tell her I was safely arrived. We chatted for a brief time, I checked email and Facebook and then got ready for bed.

They are quite luxurious here, providing slippers, a big fluffy robe, and lots of toiletries and soaps. Fruit plate, fresh roses, cool temperature in the room and comfortable temperature outside. Ahhh….

As I waited for my hair to dry, I looked over the PowerPoint slides for the five days of training, making a few edits. When I finally went to bed, it was very comfortable and I had a good rest.

It is now just after 1 p.m. on Sunday. I had a nice breakfast with lots of fresh fruit and fresh fruit juices, walked around looking at the flowers and trees, then sat reading for a long time next to the pool. I don’t know what the temperature is, but I was very comfortable even sitting in the sun.

I didn’t even feel guilty lolling around since I’ll be very busy later when I am setting up the training room. And the next five days of training will wear me out. So I’m doing all the resting up I can.

James will pick me up at 3:45 pm to go over to the Kivi hotel where the training will be held. He said it is only 10 minutes away. That will be nice.

Setting up will probably take an hour or more, depending upon whether or not I need to move tables and chairs (oh, I hope not! I did give them the room layout I wanted).

After dinner, I’ll have to iron clothing tonight. Then I’ll be ready for my week.

Wish me luck!

Nairobi Kivi Hotel, August 11, 2014

Hello.

Early Sunday evening, August 10

The Kivi Hotel room where I would conduct the training was octagonal, with walls of windows on five sides. The room was not set up in the sunburst arrangement I had requested; instead it was in a U shape.

The windows were slatted, so air and noise came in from children playing in the adjoining apartment complex and music playing, etc. No air conditioning…

There was only one small overhead light and a few on the walls, so it was very dim.
However, the floor was solid and the bathroom, though with minimal water pressure,
was 100 times better than my last toilet adventure conducting training in Nairobi.

When Alma, my contact, arrived, she sorted out the room arrangement and helped me put up the wall agenda map on a wooden divider that was just a tad longer than the map.

We discussed what the hours of the training would be. I had thought it would be 9-4, as it had been for the last training. She told me that she had notified the participants that the starting time was 8 a.m. in the hope that they would be here by 8:30. We discussed what the ending time should be and determined that 5 p.m. was usual. So I now had a full 1.5 hour more than I had anticipated. Hurray!

I put up the kites and started to put out the tabletop materials. However, Alma did not feel that the security would be very good and suggested instead that I put out the materials the next morning. Setting up the morning of a training is my least favorite thing, but there was nothing else I could do.

Then I sat and sat and sat waiting for James, my driver, to come pick me up. I didn’t have his phone number or Alma’s phone number, or any working phone for that matter, and I was exhausted with much to do once I got back to the hotel. After 45 minutes I decided
to ask the hotel to get me a taxi.

Just after the new cab driver had put my huge suitcase full of training materials into his trunk, James appeared. Good grief.

He said that he had just come from the police station. An associate had a car accident, the driver was all right but the car was totaled. For some reason, James had to be involved. For no reason I could think of, he didn’t take a moment to call the hotel and let me know what was going on.

I wasn’t a happy camper and told James I needed him to pick me up promptly so I could get to the training room and set up. He promised to pick me up at 6:45 a.m.

I spent the remainder of the evening ironing clothing and preparing for the next day. Well, I tried to iron clothing. The darn iron kept losing heat. Housekeeping came and changed where the iron was plugged in- and everything seemed to be working until 2 minutes after he left. So I called again and asked him to bring a different iron. That solved the problem.

It has become a routine thing to have that very pleasant housekeeping fellow visit in the evening. The first night I was there, I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the desk light. He came and showed me the switch on the cord.

The next night, I couldn’t find the TV remote and the maid had left the TV on. After looking everywhere I could think of, I called, he came and showed me where it was neatly stacked under the TV.

Now, the iron. He must think I have several screws loose. Maybe I do.

Monday, August 11th

I got up at 5:45, got dressed and went to breakfast. Was standing outside the front of the hotel at 6:45 when James said he would pick me up. No James. Finally at 7:10 I pulled out the page with his phone number on it and one of the porters offered to call him. James told him he would be here in 5 minutes. He was. This time, his excuse was traffic.

I was very angry and told him that this was not working. I would prefer to just get a taxi from the hotel. He asked for one more chance. He asked when I wanted to be picked up and I said 6 p.m. because I assumed I would have to break down the room. James said he would be here at 5:30 p.m. Fine.

I laid out the tabletop toys, the bowls of candy, set up my computer and the LCD projector. Set up the digital camera on its tripod. Several people showed up at 8 and 10 of the 15 were there by 8:30. Not bad. Two more arrived within the next 15 minutes and I had everyone complete the pre-test.

The total number of participants today remained at 12, with 10 men and 2 women.
However, Katherine thought that the others would probably show up tomorrow. I’m not happy about that, since we asked people to make sure they could commit to the five days before they agreed to participate. Today was very important to lay the groundwork and create comfort with the idea of highly participatory learning. I don’t really want to allow the 3 remaining folks the opportunity to come on the second day- nor should they expect it.

It took a few minutes for them to get my sense of humor and then things went quite smoothly. They enjoyed the different activities and several of them told me that they were having to completely change their paradigm about training. For example, the learning activities should be designed based on the desired level of learning rather than the content. The fact that training is about the learner, not about the trainer.

Katherine was there from abt, who is sponsoring the program. I love her. She is bright, funny, beautiful, aware, helpful- a perfect companion. She handled issues as they came up and we chatted about our families. She has just finished her MBA and started working for abt in December.

Katherine ran the videotape camera several times at my request since we are going to post the videos as tutorials online to help the trainers after the class. I also hope to be able to edit a few of them to put on my website and YouTube for marketing purposes. I guess I’ll have to see how they all turn out.

At the tea break at 10 a.m., they served pound cake and slices of cooked sweet potato. A very surprising choice but quite tasty, if sticky. At the tea break at 4 p.m., they served some kind of cake and tiny pancakes. Very interesting selections.

By the way, it is very cold here according to the natives. With the window slats open, I was comfortable with the low 70’s F temperature. Everyone else was bundled up, freezing. So they closed the window slats, everyone else was comfortable and I had trouble thinking because the air was so close and warm. At least there has not been the terrible humidity I experienced in December.

At one point during the day, we had a fascinating discussion to offer solutions to some really difficult training dilemmas faced by some of the participants.

One man teaches a gender class. His participants are involved in microbusinesses. One class may include an entire family (man, wife, children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles), educated individuals and semi-literate or illiterate individuals. He says that he has to provide the same content to them. Because of family dynamics and cultural issues, this can be very challenging.

Various suggestions were: use case studies that provide some objective distance to the topics; use role playing where people have to be in each other’s shoes; separate the participants so no family members are at the same tables- this would make it safer for the individuals to discuss concerns and beliefs more openly; have the literate folks mentor the less literate folks, which would co-opt the literate folks into a facilitative role; have cases and exercises of varying degrees of complexity and group the least literate in one group, the moderately literate in second group and the most literate in a third group.

Another problem was having a gender entrepreneurship program targeted at Masai women – but their husbands arrived instead, saying that they would attend the training and then train their wives. We had no suggestions for that one.

The cultural diversity issue was also raised when you have European companies with American sponsors, Kenyan trainers, and Asian participants. Again, no suggestions.

The evaluations were all very positive. I particularly liked this comment: “Transformed my view and philosophy regarding training. Now it is clear it is about the learner.”

The decision was made to pack up everything, leaving some in my locked suitcase tucked under a table and hidden by a table cloth, and the electronics (LCD projector and video camera) locked in the hotel. Katherine helped me, so we were done before 5:30.

No James. At 5:45 Katherine called him, because she wanted him to give her a ride home as well. He got there at 5:59. I had told him and Katherine that if he didn’t get there on time, that would be the end of this relationship.

Tomorrow, he promised to pick me up at 7:15. He sure better!!! Since the Kivi Hotel is only 10 minutes away, that will give me an hour to set up everything again.

Tardy drivers, sweet potato slices, and Masai warriors. An interesting and very tiring day.

More tomorrow.

Nairobi, August 12 and 13, 2014

Hello.

I’m sorry I didn’t write last night. I was exhausted and went to bed early, too tired to even take a shower.

Tuesday, August 12

This was the second day of the Business for Health Train the Trainer program. Everyone was there really early. At least 4 participants were there at 7:15 am when I came to set up. They are really into the training!

Both Day 2 and Day 3 are devoted to introducing, performing, reviewing the facilitator notes and assessing 16 different participatory learning activities- 8 per day.

They love the activities. We began with a teach-back to reinforce what they learned on Day 1. Loved it. They experienced a case study, competitive brainstorming (completely new to them), debate (they really got into it!), directed large group discussion, drawing (again, brand new for them), enhanced lecturette, gallery walk (new for them) and hands on activity.

For the drawing, they had to identify the characteristics of a small business owner and then draw the owner. Their creativity was terrific. One group depicted the business owner as a growing baby who needs the mother’s milk (resources), thinks s/he can do everything by herself (over confident), etc.

The two other groups depicted scenes involving risk, jumping off a cliff into a river of alligators to get to the desired island, or having to climb a steep hill, plateau, and then taking more risks to keep the business afloat.

A number of them have come up to me during breaks to say that they wish they had had this long ago, that it was completely changing their paradigm, and now they don’t need energizers

Apparently, there is a curriculum design model they have followed that insists on energizers to keep people awake. Literally. The group was astounded to discover that the interactive and high-energy nature of the participatory learning activities accomplished that while focusing on the training content. That was an eye-opener for them.

Today it was raining and very cold, probably in the 60’s. The women wore sweaters and the men wore jackets. I, of course, was delighted. But they ended up closing all the windows, so it got warmer and somewhat stuffy. In the late afternoon, someone opened up a few of the windows, which I much appreciated.

Alma came in the late afternoon to introduce what SHOPS is all about and describe the plans for rolling out the Business for Health series. There are two locations: in Nairobi county and in East Kenya. She told them that the SHOPS project, funded by US AID, just got an extension through September of 2015. After that, the project will end.

That means that the SHOPS website that houses all of the training-related materials I’ve developed: participant manual, facilitator guide, pre and posttest, and PowerPoint for 44 programs: each ½ day and full day) will be shut down. That will end access to the materials.

I was pretty distressed to hear this and so were the participants.

She also said that they anticipated needing only 6 trainers, while the class has 12. After she left, there was heated discussion that something should be done to sustain the training series.

Oh, I forgot to mention that James, my driver, was there on time to pick me up in the morning. Hurray!

On an entirely different subject, tea at 10 and 4 is very important. The hotel provides two different treats at teatime. In the States, one of the treats would always be something chocolate. However, chocolate is very expensive in Kenya so the treats in the morning are like dry coffee cake. For afternoon tea, there was a different coffee-cake-like cookie and again the sweet potato slices.

Back to my evening. I brought the video camera back to the hotel to download the videos from the past two days onto my laptop. I think I finally accomplished that. However, I had to delete a number of files on my laptop so there would be room.
What I now need to do is delete the videos from the camera. I’m concerned that, with videotaping entire days’ worth of activities, there won’t be sufficient space left. I couldn’t figure out how to delete them from the camera. I’ll need to try after Wednesday’s session.

Wednesday, August 13

When I was setting up today, I asked the two guys in the room if they had a music preference. Douglas wanted Jennifer Lopez. With all the music I have on my iPod, I don’t have anything from her.

I have been having a lot of fun playing music at breaks. There is great appreciation and some dancing going on.

Today the activities included: individual rating activity, paired activity, pop up, questionnaire, relay race, rotating flip charts, skit and visualization. Other than one person who has used a relay race in his training, everything else was exciting and new for the group. They particularly enjoyed the relay race, skit and visualization.

They are enjoying the small prizes I give them. Today, the winners were the plastic back scratchers and pencil sharpeners that look like sharks and open up their mouth to get to the sharpener part. They are bringing the gifts home to their children and getting a real kick out of them.

This is a wonderfully appreciative group. Their verbal and written comments to me have me on cloud nine. They realize how much work went into creating everything for the 22 day-module. They had all sorts of questions- was there a master list of 100s of learning activities (answer-no), how did I learn how to do this, did I conduct trainer certification programs in the States, how long it took to create the materials, etc.

I promised to send them a Laurel Learning Tip, a training resource list and my lesson design materials, in addition to photos from the five days.

I also realized yesterday that it will take hours and hours to edit all of the videos. I’m going to have to renegotiate my contract.

Toward the end of the day, they had a pow wow to discuss organizing into an association so that they could negotiate with SHOPS and work together to create a sustainable program for the training series. They think it is brilliant and don’t want it to die. They also want to gradually influence the school system to adopt accelerated learning techniques. And they want me back- all of which are extremely gratifying.

A funny side note. Melvin was playing with a Koosh and it went out the window. He had to leave the class to go outside and get it. Very funny.

For morning tea, they served samosas and tiny pizza slices. For the afternoon tea, they served what looked like hot dogs and something else, but I didn’t get over there to see what it was.

Tonight, I washed my undergarments in the sink using shampoo for soap and sent the rest of the clothing to the laundry. It is 7;30 p.m. now and I just ordered dinner. I have to prepare for tomorrow and work with the video camera again.

Until tomorrow,

Fondly,

Deb/Mom

I’ve been asked what Kenyans eat. It’s hard for me to answer that because I don’t know if what we are served during lunch is typical. There was a rice dish, a dish with sliced vegetables, a chicken dish (chicken curry today), a potato dish, and a lamb dish. Both the chicken and the lamb were in chunks with bones. They were very crispy and I couldn’t even cut the lamb chunk to eat it. For dessert, there was fresh fruit salad and some type of cake.

I just looked up Kenyan food and I can tell you which they have served so far:
They have served Ugali (Cornmeal Staple)

The undeniable most common Kenyan food staple is ugali – usually made from cornmeal that is added to boiling water and heated until it turns into a dense block of cornmeal paste. Ugali has the consistency of a grainy dough and the heaviness of a brick.

For many Kenyans, ugali along with a small amount of cooked vegetables or saucy stew is a normal meal. When I was in Zambia, they also ate ugali. It is not a universal favorite among Kenyans, however, because some of the participants told me they don’t like it at all.

We haven’t had this yet- Irio (Mashed Peas and Potato Mix)

Irio is one of the most famous dishes in Kenya, a food that originated as a Kikuyu staple and spread throughout the country.

Green peas and potatoes are boiled and then mashed up before whole kernels of maize (corn) are added to give the mash some extra starch and texture. This hearty and heavy Kenyan food is famous to eat with roasted nyama choma meat (nyama na irio) or just some Kenyan style stew.

Nor this Githeri (Beans and Corn)
It’s not too complicated, a Kenyan dish that consists of boiled beans, corn kernels, and possibly mixed in with a little bit of vegetables.
The combination of Githeri is a filling, highly nutritious, and can be quite good when complimented with salt, pepper, chilies, and even a chapati!
4. Kenyan Pilau (Spiced Rice)
Pilau is a glorified combination of rice cooked with flavor bursting spices like cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, and cloves. The fragrant rice is fantastic to eat with a form of meat stew and a few slices of fresh tomato and onions.
Biriyani is another form of spiced rice that is a popular Kenyan food on the coast.
Nor this. Wali wa Nazi (Coconut Rice)
Coconut rice is a popular Kenyan food mostly along the Indian Ocean coast. White rice is cooked with grated coconut meat to create a fragrant twist on plain boiled rice. Wali wa nazi is best enjoyed with a serving of fish or chicken curry, some vegetables, or even bean stew.
Not this, either so far. Sukuma Wiki (Collard Greens / Kale)
One of the most popular vegetable Kenyan dishes is sukuma wiki (known as collard greens or a form of kale in English).
The nutritious green leafy vegetable is often cooked in oil with a few diced tomatoes, onions, and flavored with a sprinkle of mchuzi mix (Kenyan food secret flavoring salt – MSG) or stock cube flavoring.
This was served- Kenyan Stew
Kenyan stew can include a number of different meats: beef stew, goat stew, chicken stew or any other animal stew. Kenyan stew dishes might also include a few other base vegetable ingredients such as carrots, peppers, peas, or potatoes. The sauce is usually formed from a light tomato base and accented with onion, salt and pepper, and that essential mchuzi mix!
This was served- Nyama Choma (Roasted Meat) – Pride of Kenyan Food
Any Kenyan food list is not complete without a mention of nyama choma, also known as roasted meat. Goat and beef are the 2 most common forms of nyama choma, but chicken (kuku choma) and fish (samaki choma) are also valid choices.
Fat and the grizzle from the meat is the choice part of the animal, and is often consumed with a quick dip into a pile of salt for extra flavoring! It’s also possible at many places to get the “fry,” – the fried meat variation.
Not yet-Matoke (Plantain Banana Stew)
Matoke is originally a dish from Uganda, though it is widely available and popular in Kenya as well.
Plantain bananas are cooked up in a pot with some oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies, meat (optional), and lemon juice. The bananas are cooked until they become soft and begin to form a thick sauce with the other ingredients.
The result is a delicious dish that is reminiscent of boiled potatoes in sauce and excellent to eat with rice, ugali, or a chapati.
This was served- Chapati (Flatbread)
Chapatis in Kenya can trace their origin from the influence of the Indian population. Kenyan style chapatis are made with a flour dough that is wound into a coil before being rolled into a flat round circle. The dough is then fried on a skillet accompanied by plenty of oil so it becomes crispy on the edges but remains moist and doughy on the interior.
Chapatis can be considered more of a special form of Kenyan food, a treat to eat. Chapatis go well with fried cabbage, beans, or even just rolled up with a cup of tea!
This was served- Kachumbari (Tomatoes and Onions)
The simple formula of diced tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, cilantro, and sometimes avocado, is a natural power combination of vegetables that cultures all the way from Mexico to Kenya have discovered. Kenyans enjoy kachumbari as a garnish, a side salad that accompanies things like nyama choma or beans.
Not yet-Kenyan Bajias
There are multiple forms of what is commonly known as bajias. The Kenyan variety (sort of borrowed from India) is normally what can be described as glorious spruced-up plate of awesome French fries (chips).
Potatoes are sliced up and battered with seasoning, deep fried, and served with a Kenyan tomato salsa that is worth boasting about.
Not yet- Masala Chips (French Fries Masala)
The dish starts with a greasy plate of freshly deep fried French fries (chips).
Tomato sauce, chili sauce, herbs, cilantro, and whatever else the chef decides are all added to the fries, coating them in a luscious sauce that will have you licking your fingers and the plate!
Not yet-Chips Mayai (French Fries and Egg)
Chips mayai can be described as a French fry Kenyan omelet.
It all begins with a plate of famous Kenyan chips that are placed in a frying pan before being covered in a generous amount of beaten egg and cooked through.
Lather it up with a generous portion of chili tomato sauce and it’s a snack that will provide calories of energy for a few days!
Chips mayai is a one of the Kenyan dishes that is also popular in Tanzania.
Yes, this was served- Mandazi (Kenyan Doughnut)
They can be smelled from a kilometer down the street, that lovely familiar scent of a blob of deep frying dough.
The smell is enough to entice anyone to make a mandatory mandazi stop.
Mandazi’s make a great snack or a light breakfast with a cup of sweet chai.
Not yet- Mutura
Mutura is the real Kenyan sausage, a protein rich meaty snack that could be the envy of every beer drinker.
Goat intestine wrappers are stuffed full of the alluring combination of ground meat parts and goat blood. The sausage is boiled until it is almost cooked through and then thrown on the grill to dehydrate the meat and give it that sensational smoky taste.
If you are searching for that truly authentic Kenyan food street meat experience, mutura will go above and beyond your expectation!
I had this last time I was here and it was terrible-Kenyan Burger
Though it’s not a traditional Kenyan food staple, there’s something about the burgers in Kenya that have the power to make one smile with happiness.
Some restaurants choose to grill their burgers while others choose to deep fry their burgers, adding that extra grease to the meat for super calorie deliciousness.
Not yet-Grilled Maize
One of the most popular on-the-go snacks in Kenya is a cob of roasted maize. The corn is picked when it has become mature, so it’s a dry starch that is perfect for roasting over hot embers.
As the maize roasts, some kernels pop like popcorn while others blacken to a crunchy crisp. Some street stall vendors will supply a chili lime salt garnish for the grilled maize.
Yes, very tasty but somewhat spicy-Samosas
Another Indian snack turned Kenyan food are samosas – small triangular pockets of spiced meat or vegetables put in a pastry wrapper and deep fried to a golden brown.
Yes, but I didn’t drink it- Chai (Kenyan style tea)
Kenyan coffee is one of the more famous varieties on earth, yet it is tea that is the popular hot drink of choice for many locals. Kenyan tea is brewed dark, mixed with plenty of whole fat milk, and sweetened up with a few heaping tablespoons of sugar.

 

Amsterdam, August 8, 2014

Hello.

I am in Amsterdam, after a very uneventful and relatively easy journey.

The Delta representative in the Madison airport showed me how to move from an aisle seat with 6 other people to an aisle seat with just one other person. Being on the aisle is a must on these 8 or more hour flights. This flight, from Detroit to Amsterdam, I was very clever and put everything in the luggage rack above my head, so I had nothing under the seat in front of me.

Again, people were very helpful when I had to lift my heavy carry on way above my head to go into the luggage rack. Later, I returned the favor for a woman seated behind me who couldn’t reach the rack, either.

Delta has come up with a funny and charming safety video. It kept the attention of even this seasoned traveler.

For this trip, I paid attention to various benefits. For example, I am apparently a Sky Miles special cardholder. This means that I could board early. I’ve never noticed that I had that option before.

I also selected my seats online (my client’s travel agent does not generally put me in an aisle seat) as well as selected a low fat meal option. Selecting a special food option is a wonderful thing to do, because you get served waaay before any else. I was completely done with my meal before they even started to serve others in my section of the plane.
How cool is that?

It was fascinating to see that there were several quite elderly (my age?) male and female stewards. This is the first time that I’ve seen stewards this age, and I travel a lot. They were very pleasant, as were all the Delta staff on this flight.

I was worried that I would have difficulty: (1) finding my luggage in Schiphol airport and (2) getting the shuttle to my hotel. Not only was my luggage already available when I reached the baggage area, the shuttle to my hotel was right there when I went outside to find it. Easy peasy.

As the shuttle driver was putting my luggage into the van, he joked that I must be staying for several weeks since I had so much luggage (two huge heavy suitcases, mostly filled with training-related materials, video camera, tripod, etc.; and one heavy carryon). When I told him I was going to Nairobi, the father of the very large family that had just disembarked said that they were just then on their way to move to Nairobi since he works for CDC.

It wasn’t until after I was on the shuttle and on my way to the hotel that I realized CDC stands for Center for Disease Control. Ebola. Yikes!! And he was taking his entire family, which included four small children under the age of 10.

The hotel (Holiday Inn Express Schiphol, which I booked online through Expedia) was only 10 or 15 minutes away from the airport. Since our plane had arrived early, my luggage was right there and the shuttle immediate, I arrived at the hotel around 8:15 a.m., long before normal check-in.

However, they told me that they would let me know when a room was available, stored my luggage, and let me go have the continental breakfast. Which was lovely! All kinds of rolls, croissants and, my favorite from past trips, chocolate filled pastries. Yogurt, juices, cereal, fresh fruit (oranges and apples), cheeses, meats, and hard-boiled eggs. I actually didn’t even realize they had the eggs (which were in a large basket) until someone passed by with them on his plate.

By 10:15 a.m., I was in my room. I took a shower immediately and then went on line to check my reservation for tomorrow. Absolute panic occurred when I realized that my receipts and itinerary for the trip (which I had printed out in Madison) showed NO flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi. After much hysteria, I was finally able to log onto the Delta website, where I found that there indeed was no reservation for tomorrow’s flight. I was beside myself. I went on line to Delta, used Skype to call the international number and couldn’t get through. Finally, I was able to locate a Delta number for Amsterdam, called and was advised that KLM did indeed have my flight reserved, they just sometimes didn’t completely upload that information onto the Delta system.

When I went onto the KLM website, yep, there was my reservation. A huge teary sigh of relief.

While I was on the website, I was able to change my seat to an aisle seat and order a special meal. There was the silver lining!!

I also checked my email and saw that, in response to my request, I had been sent photos of the training room. It is lovely, with large windows on three walls. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that my huge agenda map is going to end up covering one of those wall windows.

My contact, Alma, has been terrific. Responsive, efficient, capable, professional, and effective. I’m looking forward to meeting her on Sunday when I go to set up the training room.

The hotel is very compact, very modern, very basic. It definitely caters to travelers. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes, only back and forth to the airport.

The room is small but comfortable. Internet is free. The door to the bathroom and the entire shower and shower fixtures are all glass. There are no amenities (such as soaps, shampoos, etc.) There is a wall soap dispenser next to the sink and another one in the shower.

The lobby is huge and very comfortable, with lots of red leather armchairs and loveseats. There are fascinating kiosks. One has small ½ pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Another has various meals (Indian tikka masala was the only one left when I looked) that you can purchase and then microwave right there.

They also have a tiny bar as part of the lobby desk, where you can get basic alcoholic beverages, sodas and bottled water. Two guys were happily ensconced at the bar, while a woman ate her dinner, worked on her laptop and was on the phone at a large dining room-like table in the lobby. I later had my own dinner sitting at that table.

There is also a clever spinning rack with small credit card sized discount cards and direction cards, etc. for local restaurants and tourist places. It is so much easier to pocket little cards than the larger brochures, which were also available.

I’d like to say that I got a little sleep and then went out to explore Amsterdam. However, since I didn’t get to my room until after 10, had to shower, manage the apparent travel snafu and then get a nap, that didn’t happen. I slept from about 12:30 to 6 p.m., which was wonderful since (of course, unfortunately) I can’t sleep on the plane.

When I got up, I found that it was raining outside. So I didn’t feel so badly about not venturing out. Instead, I went down to the lobby to book the shuttle for tomorrow morning and find out where I could get dinner. They gave me two options, to have something delivered or to go out. I was too tired to go out, so they handed me a book of menus.

I finally decided on chicken pad tai, which the hotel ordered for me and said they would charge it to my room. While I waited in the lobby, I read through a lovely magazine on current Amsterdam events, shops, museums, tours, canals, bars, etc. I also discovered that the sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. in the early summer here!

I really would have loved to see the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums, gone on a canal ride, walked in the center of the city. But it was much too late and I was still very tired.

When the food came, the hotel staff handed it to me with a china dinner plate, real silverware and a napkin. So I settled in at a table and read my Nook while I had a lovely dinner. There was enough for three people, so needless to say, I didn’t finish it. I had thought about saving the rest for tomorrow, but there was no point. There is no mini refrigerator in the room. The continental breakfast is plentiful. And my flight leaves at 11:15 a.m., so lunch will definitely be served onboard.

My only two complaints about my room are first, my standard complaint about there being no good reading light, and second, the inability to adjust the thermostat. The entire hotel has been a tad too warm for me, cold-blooded Wisconsinite that I am.

Stopping here in Amsterdam was a great idea, thanks to Piotr, who takes very good care of me when he schedules these trips. What is also great is that there is only a 1-hour difference between Amsterdam and Nairobi, so when I arrive after 8 p.m. in Nairobi tomorrow I won’t be reeling from the huge time difference as I did when I arrived in Amsterdam. Hurray!

Well, it is almost 10 p.m. and I’m going to bed.

More tomorrow. Thanks for coming along on this trip.

Hello.

Okay. Now today was typical.

First, the hotel never gave me my wake up call for 6:30 a.m. Luckily, I had set my phone alarm (which is still on Madison time, so that was an ordeal). Otherwise I would still be sleeping. Not good. Not good at all.

Then they overcharged me on my bill. Again, not good. It was probably the same dopey guy who was at the desk this morning.

The shuttle stopped at two other hotels, which I did not expect. The good thing is that the airport has luggage carts outside. Otherwise I don’t know how I would have managed with the three bags.

Then the fun really began. You enter the airport and there are hundreds of people going in every direction. I asked at the information desk and was told I needed to go upstairs. They are very clever. The escalator is like a ramp, so I was able to push the cart on to the escalator. Then the brake kept the heavy cart from pushing me down the ramp. Whew!

The procedure (I learned this the very hard way) is to get your boarding pass, then get in an interminable line to drop off your baggage. That probably took 30 minutes. Then, you hand your passport and boarding pass to the airport representative. This is when I learned that there was a priority check in area that I could have used. Okay, then next time.

What was fascinating is that there were many lines of people pushing their luggage, snaking around each other to get to different pairs of stewards. The airport really has quite a system! Self-serve all the way.

Past her, there is a self-automated baggage check in. You scan your boarding pass then wrestle your bag into this cubicle. Well, it didn’t like how I put it in. I had it standing up, and then lying down and then gave up and called a steward over. She shoved the bag to the back of the cubicle and that worked just fine, only to discover that my bag was too heavy.

I had to wrestle it back on the luggage trolley and push it to the end of a line and redistribute luggage. Then get in another line (not long) to check in again. And again my luggage was too heavy. So I took out the first things I could grab- my toiletries case and some shoes. Fine, that worked. I was past that hurtle.

By this time, I was absolutely parched, so I got Euros using my debit card (thank goodness Jenny suggested I get one, because I only know the pin code for that card). I found some fountain Fanta and then had to get in another very long line. By the time I got to the register, I’d drunk the entire thing.

Next, race to gate F6, which must have been a half-mile away, weaving through hundreds of people. I got on line, which was incredibly long, and then noticed the check in area for priority people. As I whipped into the security area, I suddenly realized that I had my toiletries case now, with liquids. I really thought I would lose everything.

Surprisingly, they were all right. What was not all right was the paring knife I had placed into the toiletries case so I could cut apples. That was a heart stopping moment. But all they did was confiscate the knife and let me through.

So, I am now sitting in the waiting area, desperately needing a bathroom with none available. Good grief!

Hopefully, there won’t be any more adventures between the waiting room and the plane.

Til Nairobi.

Nairobi Serena Hotel, August 10, 2014

Hello.

The rest of my trip to Nairobi went just fine. A wonderful stewardess kept me plied with water the entire trip. I really like traveling in the morning and getting somewhere in the evening. I still felt energetic when we arrived!

The line through immigration went very quickly and the agent, a very bored woman, barely grunted at me and passed me through. My luggage came immediately. The only snag was customs. I made the mistake of saying that I was carrying training materials. He wanted to see. That meant I had to pick up my heavy bag once more and then open the lock. This turned out to be the bag with my clothing and the candy (yikes!). He saw the clothing so I immediately said that the training materials were in the other bag and closed this one before he explored it any further. I don’t know what he would have done if he had realized the enormous bag held candy…

I had trouble getting the lock off of my other bag, but I did get it open eventually. The first thing he saw was the folded agenda map and the kites. He gave up at this point (I had told him that I was a teacher unlike any he had experienced). I then realized that my lock was broken.

When I got outside the airport, there was a huge crowd of people standing behind a rope. Many were holding placards with names. I quickly saw James holding my name. James was my driver last time, so I was delighted to see him again.

We caught up on the way to the hotel. He and his wife had another baby, a little boy, three months ago. He asked about my family and my health. I asked about his family and his work, which is still going well.

The peepers were not chirping as loudly when we arrived at the Serena. Nor were the plants as lush as they were when I was here in December.

Everyone was very gracious. I was easily able to convert some cash into Kenya shillings ($1 = 840 KS) so I could tip the bellman.

It was lovely to be in a room where I could set the temperature low enough to cool me off. As I put things away, I found that I actually had a sharp knife in my luggage. So I was able to have peanut butter (I brought it with me, smart, uh?) with the apples that were left on a fruit plate for me. I had forgotten that they leave a dish of fruit, with a plate and cutlery and linen napkin. They also have fresh roses in the bathroom and on the table. Plus two bottles of water, which are necessary because you’re not supposed to drink the tap water.

When I finally got on my computer at 10:30 pm, I saw that it was still early afternoon in Madison and called my daughter on Skype to tell her I was safely arrived. We chatted for a brief time, I checked email and Facebook and then got ready for bed.

They are quite luxurious here, providing slippers, a big fluffy robe, and lots of toiletries and soaps. Fruit plate, fresh roses, cool temperature in the room and comfortable temperature outside. Ahhh….

As I waited for my hair to dry, I looked over the PowerPoint slides for the five days of training, making a few edits. When I finally went to bed, it was very comfortable and I had a good rest.

It is now just after 1 p.m. on Sunday. I had a nice breakfast with lots of fresh fruit and fresh fruit juices, walked around looking at the flowers and trees, then sat reading for a long time next to the pool. I don’t know what the temperature is, but I was very comfortable even sitting in the sun.

I didn’t even feel guilty lolling around since I’ll be very busy later when I am setting up the training room. And the next five days of training will wear me out. So I’m doing all the resting up I can.

James will pick me up at 3:45 pm to go over to the Kivi hotel where the training will be held. He said it is only 10 minutes away. That will be nice.

Setting up will probably take an hour or more, depending upon whether or not I need to move tables and chairs (oh, I hope not! I did give them the room layout I wanted).

After dinner, I’ll have to iron clothing tonight. Then I’ll be ready for my week.

Wish me luck!

Nairobi Kivi Hotel, August 11, 2014

Hello.

Early Sunday evening, August 10

The Kivi Hotel room where I would conduct the training was octagonal, with walls of windows on five sides. The room was not set up in the sunburst arrangement I had requested; instead it was in a U shape.

The windows were slatted, so air and noise came in from children playing in the adjoining apartment complex and music playing, etc. No air conditioning…

There was only one small overhead light and a few on the walls, so it was very dim.
However, the floor was solid and the bathroom, though with minimal water pressure,
was 100 times better than my last toilet adventure conducting training in Nairobi.

When Alma, my contact, arrived, she sorted out the room arrangement and helped me put up the wall agenda map on a wooden divider that was just a tad longer than the map.

We discussed what the hours of the training would be. I had thought it would be 9-4, as it had been for the last training. She told me that she had notified the participants that the starting time was 8 a.m. in the hope that they would be here by 8:30. We discussed what the ending time should be and determined that 5 p.m. was usual. So I now had a full 1.5 hour more than I had anticipated. Hurray!

I put up the kites and started to put out the tabletop materials. However, Alma did not feel that the security would be very good and suggested instead that I put out the materials the next morning. Setting up the morning of a training is my least favorite thing, but there was nothing else I could do.

Then I sat and sat and sat waiting for James, my driver, to come pick me up. I didn’t have his phone number or Alma’s phone number, or any working phone for that matter, and I was exhausted with much to do once I got back to the hotel. After 45 minutes I decided
to ask the hotel to get me a taxi.

Just after the new cab driver had put my huge suitcase full of training materials into his trunk, James appeared. Good grief.

He said that he had just come from the police station. An associate had a car accident, the driver was all right but the car was totaled. For some reason, James had to be involved. For no reason I could think of, he didn’t take a moment to call the hotel and let me know what was going on.

I wasn’t a happy camper and told James I needed him to pick me up promptly so I could get to the training room and set up. He promised to pick me up at 6:45 a.m.

I spent the remainder of the evening ironing clothing and preparing for the next day. Well, I tried to iron clothing. The darn iron kept losing heat. Housekeeping came and changed where the iron was plugged in- and everything seemed to be working until 2 minutes after he left. So I called again and asked him to bring a different iron. That solved the problem.

It has become a routine thing to have that very pleasant housekeeping fellow visit in the evening. The first night I was there, I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the desk light. He came and showed me the switch on the cord.

The next night, I couldn’t find the TV remote and the maid had left the TV on. After looking everywhere I could think of, I called, he came and showed me where it was neatly stacked under the TV.

Now, the iron. He must think I have several screws loose. Maybe I do.

Monday, August 11th

I got up at 5:45, got dressed and went to breakfast. Was standing outside the front of the hotel at 6:45 when James said he would pick me up. No James. Finally at 7:10 I pulled out the page with his phone number on it and one of the porters offered to call him. James told him he would be here in 5 minutes. He was. This time, his excuse was traffic.

I was very angry and told him that this was not working. I would prefer to just get a taxi from the hotel. He asked for one more chance. He asked when I wanted to be picked up and I said 6 p.m. because I assumed I would have to break down the room. James said he would be here at 5:30 p.m. Fine.

I laid out the tabletop toys, the bowls of candy, set up my computer and the LCD projector. Set up the digital camera on its tripod. Several people showed up at 8 and 10 of the 15 were there by 8:30. Not bad. Two more arrived within the next 15 minutes and I had everyone complete the pre-test.

The total number of participants today remained at 12, with 10 men and 2 women.
However, Katherine thought that the others would probably show up tomorrow. I’m not happy about that, since we asked people to make sure they could commit to the five days before they agreed to participate. Today was very important to lay the groundwork and create comfort with the idea of highly participatory learning. I don’t really want to allow the 3 remaining folks the opportunity to come on the second day- nor should they expect it.

It took a few minutes for them to get my sense of humor and then things went quite smoothly. They enjoyed the different activities and several of them told me that they were having to completely change their paradigm about training. For example, the learning activities should be designed based on the desired level of learning rather than the content. The fact that training is about the learner, not about the trainer.

Katherine was there from abt, who is sponsoring the program. I love her. She is bright, funny, beautiful, aware, helpful- a perfect companion. She handled issues as they came up and we chatted about our families. She has just finished her MBA and started working for abt in December.

Katherine ran the videotape camera several times at my request since we are going to post the videos as tutorials online to help the trainers after the class. I also hope to be able to edit a few of them to put on my website and YouTube for marketing purposes. I guess I’ll have to see how they all turn out.

At the tea break at 10 a.m., they served pound cake and slices of cooked sweet potato. A very surprising choice but quite tasty, if sticky. At the tea break at 4 p.m., they served some kind of cake and tiny pancakes. Very interesting selections.

By the way, it is very cold here according to the natives. With the window slats open, I was comfortable with the low 70’s F temperature. Everyone else was bundled up, freezing. So they closed the window slats, everyone else was comfortable and I had trouble thinking because the air was so close and warm. At least there has not been the terrible humidity I experienced in December.

At one point during the day, we had a fascinating discussion to offer solutions to some really difficult training dilemmas faced by some of the participants.

One man teaches a gender class. His participants are involved in microbusinesses. One class may include an entire family (man, wife, children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles), educated individuals and semi-literate or illiterate individuals. He says that he has to provide the same content to them. Because of family dynamics and cultural issues, this can be very challenging.

Various suggestions were: use case studies that provide some objective distance to the topics; use role playing where people have to be in each other’s shoes; separate the participants so no family members are at the same tables- this would make it safer for the individuals to discuss concerns and beliefs more openly; have the literate folks mentor the less literate folks, which would co-opt the literate folks into a facilitative role; have cases and exercises of varying degrees of complexity and group the least literate in one group, the moderately literate in second group and the most literate in a third group.

Another problem was having a gender entrepreneurship program targeted at Masai women – but their husbands arrived instead, saying that they would attend the training and then train their wives. We had no suggestions for that one.

The cultural diversity issue was also raised when you have European companies with American sponsors, Kenyan trainers, and Asian participants. Again, no suggestions.

The evaluations were all very positive. I particularly liked this comment: “Transformed my view and philosophy regarding training. Now it is clear it is about the learner.”

The decision was made to pack up everything, leaving some in my locked suitcase tucked under a table and hidden by a table cloth, and the electronics (LCD projector and video camera) locked in the hotel. Katherine helped me, so we were done before 5:30.

No James. At 5:45 Katherine called him, because she wanted him to give her a ride home as well. He got there at 5:59. I had told him and Katherine that if he didn’t get there on time, that would be the end of this relationship.

Tomorrow, he promised to pick me up at 7:15. He sure better!!! Since the Kivi Hotel is only 10 minutes away, that will give me an hour to set up everything again.

Tardy drivers, sweet potato slices, and Masai warriors. An interesting and very tiring day.

More tomorrow.

Nairobi, August 12 and 13, 2014

Hello.

I’m sorry I didn’t write last night. I was exhausted and went to bed early, too tired to even take a shower.

Tuesday, August 12

This was the second day of the Business for Health Train the Trainer program. Everyone was there really early. At least 4 participants were there at 7:15 am when I came to set up. They are really into the training!

Both Day 2 and Day 3 are devoted to introducing, performing, reviewing the facilitator notes and assessing 16 different participatory learning activities- 8 per day.

They love the activities. We began with a teach-back to reinforce what they learned on Day 1. Loved it. They experienced a case study, competitive brainstorming (completely new to them), debate (they really got into it!), directed large group discussion, drawing (again, brand new for them), enhanced lecturette, gallery walk (new for them) and hands on activity.

For the drawing, they had to identify the characteristics of a small business owner and then draw the owner. Their creativity was terrific. One group depicted the business owner as a growing baby who needs the mother’s milk (resources), thinks s/he can do everything by herself (over confident), etc.

The two other groups depicted scenes involving risk, jumping off a cliff into a river of alligators to get to the desired island, or having to climb a steep hill, plateau, and then taking more risks to keep the business afloat.

A number of them have come up to me during breaks to say that they wish they had had this long ago, that it was completely changing their paradigm, and now they don’t need energizers

Apparently, there is a curriculum design model they have followed that insists on energizers to keep people awake. Literally. The group was astounded to discover that the interactive and high-energy nature of the participatory learning activities accomplished that while focusing on the training content. That was an eye-opener for them.

Today it was raining and very cold, probably in the 60’s. The women wore sweaters and the men wore jackets. I, of course, was delighted. But they ended up closing all the windows, so it got warmer and somewhat stuffy. In the late afternoon, someone opened up a few of the windows, which I much appreciated.

Alma came in the late afternoon to introduce what SHOPS is all about and describe the plans for rolling out the Business for Health series. There are two locations: in Nairobi county and in East Kenya. She told them that the SHOPS project, funded by US AID, just got an extension through September of 2015. After that, the project will end.

That means that the SHOPS website that houses all of the training-related materials I’ve developed: participant manual, facilitator guide, pre and posttest, and PowerPoint for 44 programs: each ½ day and full day) will be shut down. That will end access to the materials.

I was pretty distressed to hear this and so were the participants.

She also said that they anticipated needing only 6 trainers, while the class has 12. After she left, there was heated discussion that something should be done to sustain the training series.

Oh, I forgot to mention that James, my driver, was there on time to pick me up in the morning. Hurray!

On an entirely different subject, tea at 10 and 4 is very important. The hotel provides two different treats at teatime. In the States, one of the treats would always be something chocolate. However, chocolate is very expensive in Kenya so the treats in the morning are like dry coffee cake. For afternoon tea, there was a different coffee-cake-like cookie and again the sweet potato slices.

Back to my evening. I brought the video camera back to the hotel to download the videos from the past two days onto my laptop. I think I finally accomplished that. However, I had to delete a number of files on my laptop so there would be room.
What I now need to do is delete the videos from the camera. I’m concerned that, with videotaping entire days’ worth of activities, there won’t be sufficient space left. I couldn’t figure out how to delete them from the camera. I’ll need to try after Wednesday’s session.

Wednesday, August 13

When I was setting up today, I asked the two guys in the room if they had a music preference. Douglas wanted Jennifer Lopez. With all the music I have on my iPod, I don’t have anything from her.

I have been having a lot of fun playing music at breaks. There is great appreciation and some dancing going on.

Today the activities included: individual rating activity, paired activity, pop up, questionnaire, relay race, rotating flip charts, skit and visualization. Other than one person who has used a relay race in his training, everything else was exciting and new for the group. They particularly enjoyed the relay race, skit and visualization.

They are enjoying the small prizes I give them. Today, the winners were the plastic back scratchers and pencil sharpeners that look like sharks and open up their mouth to get to the sharpener part. They are bringing the gifts home to their children and getting a real kick out of them.

This is a wonderfully appreciative group. Their verbal and written comments to me have me on cloud nine. They realize how much work went into creating everything for the 22 day-module. They had all sorts of questions- was there a master list of 100s of learning activities (answer-no), how did I learn how to do this, did I conduct trainer certification programs in the States, how long it took to create the materials, etc.

I promised to send them a Laurel Learning Tip, a training resource list and my lesson design materials, in addition to photos from the five days.

I also realized yesterday that it will take hours and hours to edit all of the videos. I’m going to have to renegotiate my contract.

Toward the end of the day, they had a pow wow to discuss organizing into an association so that they could negotiate with SHOPS and work together to create a sustainable program for the training series. They think it is brilliant and don’t want it to die. They also want to gradually influence the school system to adopt accelerated learning techniques. And they want me back- all of which are extremely gratifying.

A funny side note. Melvin was playing with a Koosh and it went out the window. He had to leave the class to go outside and get it. Very funny.

For morning tea, they served samosas and tiny pizza slices. For the afternoon tea, they served what looked like hot dogs and something else, but I didn’t get over there to see what it was.

Tonight, I washed my undergarments in the sink using shampoo for soap and sent the rest of the clothing to the laundry. It is 7;30 p.m. now and I just ordered dinner. I have to prepare for tomorrow and work with the video camera again.

Until tomorrow,

Fondly,

Deb/Mom

I’ve been asked what Kenyans eat. It’s hard for me to answer that because I don’t know if what we are served during lunch is typical. There was a rice dish, a dish with sliced vegetables, a chicken dish (chicken curry today), a potato dish, and a lamb dish. Both the chicken and the lamb were in chunks with bones. They were very crispy and I couldn’t even cut the lamb chunk to eat it. For dessert, there was fresh fruit salad and some type of cake.

I just looked up Kenyan food and I can tell you which they have served so far:
They have served Ugali (Cornmeal Staple)
The undeniable most common Kenyan food staple is ugali – usually made from cornmeal that is added to boiling water and heated until it turns into a dense block of cornmeal paste. Ugali has the consistency of a grainy dough and the heaviness of a brick.
For many Kenyans, ugali along with a small amount of cooked vegetables or saucy stew is a normal meal. When I was in Zambia, they also ate ugali. It is not a universal favorite among Kenyans, however, because some of the participants told me they don’t like it at all.
We haven’t had this yet- Irio (Mashed Peas and Potato Mix)
Irio is one of the most famous dishes in Kenya, a food that originated as a Kikuyu staple and spread throughout the country.
Green peas and potatoes are boiled and then mashed up before whole kernels of maize (corn) are added to give the mash some extra starch and texture. This hearty and heavy Kenyan food is famous to eat with roasted nyama choma meat (nyama na irio) or just some Kenyan style stew.

Nor this Githeri (Beans and Corn)
It’s not too complicated, a Kenyan dish that consists of boiled beans, corn kernels, and possibly mixed in with a little bit of vegetables.
The combination of Githeri is a filling, highly nutritious, and can be quite good when complimented with salt, pepper, chilies, and even a chapati!
4. Kenyan Pilau (Spiced Rice)
Pilau is a glorified combination of rice cooked with flavor bursting spices like cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, and cloves. The fragrant rice is fantastic to eat with a form of meat stew and a few slices of fresh tomato and onions.
Biriyani is another form of spiced rice that is a popular Kenyan food on the coast.
Nor this. Wali wa Nazi (Coconut Rice)
Coconut rice is a popular Kenyan food mostly along the Indian Ocean coast. White rice is cooked with grated coconut meat to create a fragrant twist on plain boiled rice. Wali wa nazi is best enjoyed with a serving of fish or chicken curry, some vegetables, or even bean stew.
Not this, either so far. Sukuma Wiki (Collard Greens / Kale)
One of the most popular vegetable Kenyan dishes is sukuma wiki (known as collard greens or a form of kale in English).
The nutritious green leafy vegetable is often cooked in oil with a few diced tomatoes, onions, and flavored with a sprinkle of mchuzi mix (Kenyan food secret flavoring salt – MSG) or stock cube flavoring.
This was served- Kenyan Stew
Kenyan stew can include a number of different meats: beef stew, goat stew, chicken stew or any other animal stew. Kenyan stew dishes might also include a few other base vegetable ingredients such as carrots, peppers, peas, or potatoes. The sauce is usually formed from a light tomato base and accented with onion, salt and pepper, and that essential mchuzi mix!
This was served- Nyama Choma (Roasted Meat) – Pride of Kenyan Food
Any Kenyan food list is not complete without a mention of nyama choma, also known as roasted meat. Goat and beef are the 2 most common forms of nyama choma, but chicken (kuku choma) and fish (samaki choma) are also valid choices.
Fat and the grizzle from the meat is the choice part of the animal, and is often consumed with a quick dip into a pile of salt for extra flavoring! It’s also possible at many places to get the “fry,” – the fried meat variation.
Not yet-Matoke (Plantain Banana Stew)
Matoke is originally a dish from Uganda, though it is widely available and popular in Kenya as well.
Plantain bananas are cooked up in a pot with some oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies, meat (optional), and lemon juice. The bananas are cooked until they become soft and begin to form a thick sauce with the other ingredients.
The result is a delicious dish that is reminiscent of boiled potatoes in sauce and excellent to eat with rice, ugali, or a chapati.
This was served- Chapati (Flatbread)
Chapatis in Kenya can trace their origin from the influence of the Indian population. Kenyan style chapatis are made with a flour dough that is wound into a coil before being rolled into a flat round circle. The dough is then fried on a skillet accompanied by plenty of oil so it becomes crispy on the edges but remains moist and doughy on the interior.
Chapatis can be considered more of a special form of Kenyan food, a treat to eat. Chapatis go well with fried cabbage, beans, or even just rolled up with a cup of tea!
This was served- Kachumbari (Tomatoes and Onions)
The simple formula of diced tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, cilantro, and sometimes avocado, is a natural power combination of vegetables that cultures all the way from Mexico to Kenya have discovered. Kenyans enjoy kachumbari as a garnish, a side salad that accompanies things like nyama choma or beans.
Not yet-Kenyan Bajias
There are multiple forms of what is commonly known as bajias. The Kenyan variety (sort of borrowed from India) is normally what can be described as glorious spruced-up plate of awesome French fries (chips).
Potatoes are sliced up and battered with seasoning, deep fried, and served with a Kenyan tomato salsa that is worth boasting about.
Not yet- Masala Chips (French Fries Masala)
The dish starts with a greasy plate of freshly deep fried French fries (chips).
Tomato sauce, chili sauce, herbs, cilantro, and whatever else the chef decides are all added to the fries, coating them in a luscious sauce that will have you licking your fingers and the plate!
Not yet-Chips Mayai (French Fries and Egg)
Chips mayai can be described as a French fry Kenyan omelet.
It all begins with a plate of famous Kenyan chips that are placed in a frying pan before being covered in a generous amount of beaten egg and cooked through.
Lather it up with a generous portion of chili tomato sauce and it’s a snack that will provide calories of energy for a few days!
Chips mayai is a one of the Kenyan dishes that is also popular in Tanzania.
Yes, this was served- Mandazi (Kenyan Doughnut)
They can be smelled from a kilometer down the street, that lovely familiar scent of a blob of deep frying dough.
The smell is enough to entice anyone to make a mandatory mandazi stop.
Mandazi’s make a great snack or a light breakfast with a cup of sweet chai.
Not yet- Mutura
Mutura is the real Kenyan sausage, a protein rich meaty snack that could be the envy of every beer drinker.
Goat intestine wrappers are stuffed full of the alluring combination of ground meat parts and goat blood. The sausage is boiled until it is almost cooked through and then thrown on the grill to dehydrate the meat and give it that sensational smoky taste.
If you are searching for that truly authentic Kenyan food street meat experience, mutura will go above and beyond your expectation!
I had this last time I was here and it was terrible-Kenyan Burger
Though it’s not a traditional Kenyan food staple, there’s something about the burgers in Kenya that have the power to make one smile with happiness.
Some restaurants choose to grill their burgers while others choose to deep fry their burgers, adding that extra grease to the meat for super calorie deliciousness.
Not yet-Grilled Maize
One of the most popular on-the-go snacks in Kenya is a cob of roasted maize. The corn is picked when it has become mature, so it’s a dry starch that is perfect for roasting over hot embers.
As the maize roasts, some kernels pop like popcorn while others blacken to a crunchy crisp. Some street stall vendors will supply a chili lime salt garnish for the grilled maize.
Yes, very tasty but somewhat spicy-Samosas
Another Indian snack turned Kenyan food are samosas – small triangular pockets of spiced meat or vegetables put in a pastry wrapper and deep fried to a golden brown.
Yes, but I didn’t drink it- Chai (Kenyan style tea)
Kenyan coffee is one of the more famous varieties on earth, yet it is tea that is the popular hot drink of choice for many locals. Kenyan tea is brewed dark, mixed with plenty of whole fat milk, and sweetened up with a few heaping tablespoons of sugar.
Nairobi, August 14, 2014

Hello.

Random musings and observations.

Yesterday at lunch, I sat with Mercy and Joyce, who are the only two women in the class. A group of tall, slender, very dark people came into the dining room. The women told me that they were Sudanese and tended to be very stuck up. I don’t know about that. All I can tell you is that their dark chocolate skin was beautiful.

I wore a very bright colorful dress today. Sammy mentioned that at another train the trainer session he had attended, they had been told that the facilitator is also an audiovisual. He asked me what I thought about it. I looked down at my dress, looked up at him and said that I absolutely agreed. I had never heard that before and it tickles me.

Today at lunch I had the kale and Kenyan stew and rice that I described in yesterday’s message. Ugalu was also on the menu but I passed on that. I think I tried it in Zambia. It looks like a solid block of white cream of wheat.

Where there would be one person doing a specific job in the States, here in Kenya there are four or five or even more.

The security detail at the entrance to the hotel manually raises a barrier to let the car in. Then another security person walks around the car with an electronic device to check under the car, while another person opens the back doors and looks in the car. Then a fourth person manually raises the second barrier to let the car drive up to the hotel.

Traffic is absolutely crazy, with people, motorcycles, buses and cars all jockeying to go on their way. I told James today that he had to have eyes in the front, sides and back of his head to safely maneuver through this craziness. He told me that he had one guiding principle: don’t hit anyone. With this in mind, he slows down and stops in intersections. After traveling a long distance with James last December, I trust his reflexes completely.

My participants laugh continually. They are a very happy culture, laughing and smiling, shaking hands or shoulder bumping throughout the day. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much. They get a kick out of everything.

Their insights and observations prove that they are an incredibly well educated, business-aware and training-savvy bunch of folks. I am pleased with every single one of them.
Yesterday, one of the learning activities was a questionnaire. I explained that a questionnaire was a terrific way to convert a lecture into a participatory activity. The questionnaire we worked with pertained to business identity. When we finished debriefing the questionnaire, they said that it would take them a full day of lecturing to cover the information transmitted through the 10-minute questionnaire.
I used a peg system for teaching the seven motivational tools for the first time today. What a terrific experience. It worked perfectly! First I associated a different movement for the numbers 1 through 7. They loved the movements, particularly jumping up and down saying ta dah! (for success)and sashaying around holding their “lapels” (for confidence). We went through them a number of times during the day and it was clear that the peg system worked- they could immediately recall what the activity represented. Very cool!
I spoke with the reception desk about the fact that my flight on Saturday doesn’t leave until 10:25 p.m. I wanted to know if I could arrange to stay in my room rather than vacating it at noon. First, the fellow told me they charged 75% of the day charge from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then another 75% from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. I shook my head, saying I wouldn’t do that. So he looked at me and asked if I would change my mind if he charged me 50% of the room charge and allowed me to stay in my room until I had to leave for the airport. I jumped at that offer. So now I won’t have to wander aimlessly around until James picks me up at 7 p.m. That is a great relief.
The next time I come to Kenya, assuming there is a next time and I hope there is, I now know that I should only bring chocolate candy. There are some folks who get to the class early. As soon as I put out the candy bowls, they scavenge for the chocolate. Bowls that were overfull at 7:30 a.m. are almost completely depleted by 8:30 when the class officially begins. In the evening, all that is left are the tootsie rolls and hard candies. They even mow through the sugar free candies, all of which have chocolate coatings.
I just looked at what I wrote. I don’t know how a candy can be sugar-free and still have chocolate, but apparently it is possible.
It was Sammy’s 40th birthday today. Pius told me about it after lunch and asked if they could have a quick celebration. He also had me sign a card they made out of one of the colored construction papers I put on the tables. They got Sammy up in front of the class through a pretense, then sang Happy Birthday, gave him pipe cleaner gifts (I gave him a paddle toy), then asked him for a speech. He was funny and articulate.
The morning was very chilly, as it has been every day since I’ve been here. Today, it did warm up and get sunny, but at the end of the day I am just too tired to do anything other than go up to my room.
Oh, speaking of that. The elevator is a big pain in the neck. It closes and then opens again, once or twice, before closing for good and finally moving. It is a very reluctant elevator. And I am typically a very impatient passenger.
I need to do battle with the video camera. I tried to download yesterday’s full day of videos and couldn’t manage it, even having it work all night. I don’t know what it was working on, because I could only see the Day 1 and Day 2 video clips I had somehow downloaded earlier.
I tried again at 5:45 a.m. and thought that I was finally making headway, only to return from breakfast to discover that my laptop didn’t have sufficient memory. I have to figure out how to delete the first two days’ worth of videos from the camcorder. Otherwise, I don’t know that I’ll have sufficient space on the camcorder to video the full six hours I need to cover tomorrow. I wish I were more technologically and electronically literate. My father’s electronic engineering gene completely jumped over me and landed on my children instead. No fair!!
To add injury to that insult, I am also unable to decipher instruction manuals. So, there you are. Maybe the Internet will have the information I need to help me resolve this problem.

Nairobi, August 15 and 16, 2014

Hello.
Friday, August 15
The week went so quickly! I couldn’t believe it was the last day for class. I’ve been very lucky to have Catherine there to videotape. That saved me from having to stand all day another day.
Eleven of the twelve participants really did an excellent facilitation job. I was very pleased! I also learned a lot.
For example, it is possible to have a debate with four different positions represented. Who knew?
The participants took to heart the need to create new small groups and did it in a variety of ways: numbered cards under their seats; playing cards; a grab bag of small folded notes with numbers on them; lining up by height; etc. That was a lot of fun to watch.
Catherine had me cosign the certificates of participation, which were very classy. But during lunch with Sammy, Sam, and Douglas they pointed out that the verbiage on the certificates would be very important to them when they tried to partner with institutions. So I met with Alma to discuss this and she was very open to any suggestions. Sammy later got consensus from the group on the language we should use: Certificate.
This is to certify that _______ successfully completed the Business for Health-Train the Trainer course conducted by Deborah Laurel at Kivi Milimani Hotel, Nairobi from August 11-15, 2014.
On the back of the certificate, they’ll have listed all twenty-two Business for Health modules.
Formalities in this regard are very important to them. Mbogo, who is Chief of Party for abt SHOPS Project in Kenya, came to hand out the certificates (they’ll be replaced by the newly worded ones next week). Catherine and Alma took photos of each person shaking Mbogo’s hand as they received their certificate.
They absolutely loved the celebration ending. I gave them bottles of bubbles and had them get in a circle and blow them as I played “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. I also instructed them to thank anyone whose involvement in the training helped to make it meaningful for them. They were busy dancing around, blowing bubbles into the air and into each other’s faces, and ultimately all turned to blow bubbles on me!
Then they each wanted a picture taken with me. My face got tired, I smiled so much. Then we had a variety of class photos, taken with approximately 10 cameras!!
Mercy and Alma gathered up my materials and then Mercy joined the others for an impromptu meeting that Melvin called about the association. They had unanimously elected him to be their chair and he took his responsibility very seriously. He wants to register the group, which will cost $2,000 KS. They’ll all contribute equally to get this off the ground.
James, who has been on time ever since the second day, was on time again to take me b back to the hotel. I tried again to download the videos from the group and had a heck of a time. I finally went to bed, exhausted, in disgust.
Oh, I did have dinner, which was gratis. The last two meals I had were not to my taste, and I didn’t even take more than a bit of the second meal. They felt badly about it and told me when I called that there would be no charge. And my meal was lovely- basil tomato soup, a dark meat chicken breast(?), steamed broccoli, carrots and spinach, and a potato. Very nice.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Since I went to bed around 9:30 pm last night, I got up at my usual time, 5:50 a.m. I went right to work on those videos. With a short intermission for breakfast, I worked on them straight until 2 p.m. There was a lot of cursing and crying in the process. Bottom line: despite trashing almost every other document and movie on my laptop or moving them to a thumb drive, I just couldn’t manage it. I had two days of videos downloaded into iMovie and then realized that the first three participant facilitations were not on them. I can’t tell you how many times I connected and disconnected my video camera to my computer. My iMovie kept freezing. I think I forced it closed and reopened it about thirty times.
When I finally was able to select the clips I needed from yesterday, iMovie would not send them to the file to be formatted as a movie. Something must be wrong with the software. My laptop may not have enough memory, either.
I gave up and wrote to Piotr and to Alma about my incredible lack of success.
At breakfast, I finally got a chance to get waffles, which were never available when I ate my breakfast at 6 a.m. A lovely Victoria made the waffles while we had a nice long chat. Later, when I was leaving I waved goodbye and then stopped at the pastry/bread table right next to her. I decided to load up on a few things for lunch. She told me to put it all on a plate and ran to get a container for everything. She asked if I wanted yogurt or fruit and proceeded to help me add them to the spacious bag she gave me. She even went to wash the apples for me.
It wasn’t until I went to cut up apples to have with my peanut butter that I realized washing the apples made them inedible for me. That is, unless she used bottled water and I have no idea whether she did that or not. Luckily, I had two apples from the fruit left for me in the evening yesterday.
I am completely packed except for my laptop and my Nook, which is charging. James will be picking me up at 6:30. His bill is KS 10,600 for the entire week. $110 isn’t bad for all of that.
I may write more once I am waiting at the Kenyatta airport. I received a notice from the US State Department that, once I get there, I may be screened for Ebola, which has not hit Kenya yet but they are taking lots of precautions.
Thank you for coming along for this trip.
Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi August 16, 2014

Hello.
When I checked out, the gentleman at the desk asked if my stay was pleasant and when they would see me again. The porter, the concierge all wished me well and asked when I would be returning. They do this for everyone and it is very gracious. I wish I had an answer.
I’ve never used the lobby bathroom. It was immaculate, with a huge bunch of fresh roses in a vase. I took photos of the amazing yellow lily floral arrangements. It is really a very beautiful and gracious hotel.
I left my luggage with the bellman and went outside to walk around, take some photos and then just sit reading, since I was in the room working all day. It was actually quite chilly, with a cool breeze. It has been unseasonably cold here, which I’ve probably mentioned before.
While waiting for James to pick me up, a newlywed couple arrived. She was absolutely exquisite in a white wedding dress with a huge scarlet rose-like decoration and black net small hat over her left forehead. She also wore a black scarf draped around her neck. I didn’t want to be an ugly American and take her photo. Her groom was very dapper in a suite and purple tie.
As we drove toward the airport, I saw these huge birds that I remembered from my last visit. Probably a hundred storks were either flying, in the trees or on the buildings. Pretty spectacular.
A bevy of nuns in white gowns and white headscarves crossed the road.
We had to go through two security checks before we could drive up to the terminal. James grabbed a luggage cart and kindly pushed it to the terminal. There, I had to immediately take out my laptop and put everything on a conveyer belt for screening. Past that, I schlepped the two big suitcases and my carry on back onto the luggage cart. The bags are appreciably lighter (particularly since all of the candy is gone), but they are still heavy.
Next, I tried to check in with my passport at a kiosk. It wouldn’t recognize my passport. They called a security guy over, who tried and failed with the passport. So I entered my ticket number but it wouldn’t give me my boarding pass.
So, on to an airport representative who handled everything. It was certainly less difficult and crazy than my experience at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. However, since they only issue the ticket to Amsterdam, I’ll probably have to go to a transfer station to get my Delta boarding passes and deal with my luggage when I get there.
Next, I had to show my passport again to a woman who clearly doesn’t like her job. No greeting, no words, no acknowledgment. She essentially threw my ticket back to me and then my passport after she stamped it. I thought of saying something that might cheer her up and decided against it. She was definitely in a bad mood.
I’m here, it’s 7:30 p.m. and my flight doesn’t leave until 10:25 p.m. I have no idea why James thought he should pick me up four hours before my flight!! It made for a very leisurely trip through check in, but I think this is really over the top. I’ve brought a banana and orange from the hotel, but I’m sure I’ll have to break down and purchase water and something else to eat. I’m hungry just thinking about it!
You hear every language imaginable and see people in all sorts of native dress. I don’t know what nationality the guys in long white robes are. They must be Arab, I now recall seeing similarly garbed men when I was in Jordan. Their robes go to the floor.
There are some people wearing masks. Some misguided preventative Ebola measure would be my first guess.
Arab, French, American, English, Asian, Indian, African in native dress and in very stylish European dress. Young and old, wheel chaired and ambulatory. All shapes and sizes. International airports are fascinating. You can immediately tell the Americans because many of them are wearing shorts or short shorts (the women, not the men so far). They are the only ones in shorts (unless I’ve mistaken Australians for Americans). Everyone else is dressed much less casually.
Although I sit corrected. A group of young men and women just passed me, all in print harem pants. Is that a new fad? Hmm, I notice young women wearing print pants. Something they picked up shopping here, possibly? Yup, I just saw a young woman wearing the same flowing pants with African symbols and pictures of elephants.
I’m wearing long pants, a sleeveless blouse and a long sleeve blouse over it. I have my hoodie in my carry on. It gets very very cold on these long flights. I can bet I will see these folks bundled in blankets halfway through the flight.
The seats are very very hard. I’ll read and then walk, and alternative those activities until my flight boards.
There are a lot of duty-free shops, mostly selling perfume and small bags of chocolate candy. I’m tempted, having experienced chocolate withdrawal this trip. There is a type of open table restaurant at the very end, but I’m not sure I feel that adventurous.
Madison, WI August 18, 2014

Hello.

I am safely home (as of about 1 p.m. yesterday, which was Sunday. Jenny kindly picked me up.

Continuing from my last note, from Kenyatta airport, an Asian gentleman holding a MacBook asked me if I had a charger he could borrow. I was reluctant but finally agreed, giving him a converter as well. Then I decided I had better find out where he would be.

He was quite a way away, standing with a bunch of Asian folks, all powering up their MacBook’s at a power station I hadn’t noticed before. I just sat there, reading. He finally noticed me about 30 minutes later and thanked me again. Later, he came back and asked if he could get me a coffee. I thanked him and asked for an orange Fanta soda. When I had to leave to board my flight, he and several other people thanked me for the loan of the charger. They all were able to charge their laptops up, thanks to me.

That was the first time where being helpful in response to a request turned out very nicely for me.

The second time was in flight (I think from Amsterdam to Detroit). A man asked if I would be willing to move to another seat so he could sit with his family and friends. I agreed, saying that I would need his help to get down my carry on when we arrived in Detroit.

Later, a steward came over to me and told me in very apologetic tones that they had served my low fat meal to my original seat so they didn’t have one for me. I had actually forgotten I had been able to order one. Then he came back with a tray of fresh fruit, wonderful yogurt in a real bowl, and smoked salmon with crackers! This is what they were serving in the first class cabin. So I really lucked out!!

This trip, I had to retrieve my luggage, go through customs and passport check, and then check in again at both Amsterdam and Detroit. My luggage did not go through to my destination at any time. Having the luggage carts made it easier to tote my three bags and handbag where ever I needed to bring them. I still had to pick up the luggage to put it on the cart and take it off the cart…

I had aisle seats for every flight. Thank goodness!

So now I am home. Everything is put away, I’ve done a load of laundry, filled the six bird feeders, watered the flowers in the front and back yards, read through my mail, uploaded the 100+ photos I took of my travels and the class work, paid bills, and finally gotten through all of my email.

Five of the participants sent me lovely thank you notes and one has even provided the new information he learned in his own newsletter! When I wrote to them on Saturday before I left Nairobi, I had told them I hadn’t been able to manage the videos. I asked if they had any suggestions regarding how I should get theirs to them. Sam suggested I upload them on YouTube and give them the link instructions. So that is what I will do.

I still have to send all of the photos and promised resource documents to the group. And struggle again with the video camera. But I’ll wait on the video until I talk with Piotr tomorrow. We have to determine how to handle the 18 other hours of video in addition to the 6 hours of the participants’ facilitation practice.

I’m still tired, even though I went to bed at 8 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 1 p.m. today. I know that it will take me a while before I feel peppy again.

Thank you again for coming along with me.

Hello.

Random musings and observations.

Yesterday at lunch, I sat with Mercy and Joyce, who are the only two women in the class. A group of tall, slender, very dark people came into the dining room. The women told me that they were Sudanese and tended to be very stuck up. I don’t know about that. All I can tell you is that their dark chocolate skin was beautiful.

I wore a very bright colorful dress today. Sammy mentioned that at another train the trainer session he had attended, they had been told that the facilitator is also an audiovisual. He asked me what I thought about it. I looked down at my dress, looked up at him and said that I absolutely agreed. I had never heard that before and it tickles me.

Today at lunch I had the kale and Kenyan stew and rice that I described in yesterday’s message. Ugalu was also on the menu but I passed on that. I think I tried it in Zambia. It looks like a solid block of white cream of wheat.

Where there would be one person doing a specific job in the States, here in Kenya there are four or five or even more.

The security detail at the entrance to the hotel manually raises a barrier to let the car in. Then another security person walks around the car with an electronic device to check under the car, while another person opens the back doors and looks in the car. Then a fourth person manually raises the second barrier to let the car drive up to the hotel.

Traffic is absolutely crazy, with people, motorcycles, buses and cars all jockeying to go on their way. I told James today that he had to have eyes in the front, sides and back of his head to safely maneuver through this craziness. He told me that he had one guiding principle: don’t hit anyone. With this in mind, he slows down and stops in intersections. After traveling a long distance with James last December, I trust his reflexes completely.

My participants laugh continually. They are a very happy culture, laughing and smiling, shaking hands or shoulder bumping throughout the day. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much. They get a kick out of everything.

Their insights and observations prove that they are an incredibly well educated, business-aware and training-savvy bunch of folks. I am pleased with every single one of them.
Yesterday, one of the learning activities was a questionnaire. I explained that a questionnaire was a terrific way to convert a lecture into a participatory activity. The questionnaire we worked with pertained to business identity. When we finished debriefing the questionnaire, they said that it would take them a full day of lecturing to cover the information transmitted through the 10-minute questionnaire.
I used a peg system for teaching the seven motivational tools for the first time today. What a terrific experience. It worked perfectly! First I associated a different movement for the numbers 1 through 7. They loved the movements, particularly jumping up and down saying ta dah! (for success)and sashaying around holding their “lapels” (for confidence). We went through them a number of times during the day and it was clear that the peg system worked- they could immediately recall what the activity represented. Very cool!
I spoke with the reception desk about the fact that my flight on Saturday doesn’t leave until 10:25 p.m. I wanted to know if I could arrange to stay in my room rather than vacating it at noon. First, the fellow told me they charged 75% of the day charge from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then another 75% from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. I shook my head, saying I wouldn’t do that. So he looked at me and asked if I would change my mind if he charged me 50% of the room charge and allowed me to stay in my room until I had to leave for the airport. I jumped at that offer. So now I won’t have to wander aimlessly around until James picks me up at 7 p.m. That is a great relief.
The next time I come to Kenya, assuming there is a next time and I hope there is, I now know that I should only bring chocolate candy. There are some folks who get to the class early. As soon as I put out the candy bowls, they scavenge for the chocolate. Bowls that were overfull at 7:30 a.m. are almost completely depleted by 8:30 when the class officially begins. In the evening, all that is left are the tootsie rolls and hard candies. They even mow through the sugar free candies, all of which have chocolate coatings.
I just looked at what I wrote. I don’t know how a candy can be sugar-free and still have chocolate, but apparently it is possible.
It was Sammy’s 40th birthday today. Pius told me about it after lunch and asked if they could have a quick celebration. He also had me sign a card they made out of one of the colored construction papers I put on the tables. They got Sammy up in front of the class through a pretense, then sang Happy Birthday, gave him pipe cleaner gifts (I gave him a paddle toy), then asked him for a speech. He was funny and articulate.
The morning was very chilly, as it has been every day since I’ve been here. Today, it did warm up and get sunny, but at the end of the day I am just too tired to do anything other than go up to my room.
Oh, speaking of that. The elevator is a big pain in the neck. It closes and then opens again, once or twice, before closing for good and finally moving. It is a very reluctant elevator. And I am typically a very impatient passenger.
I need to do battle with the video camera. I tried to download yesterday’s full day of videos and couldn’t manage it, even having it work all night. I don’t know what it was working on, because I could only see the Day 1 and Day 2 video clips I had somehow downloaded earlier.
I tried again at 5:45 a.m. and thought that I was finally making headway, only to return from breakfast to discover that my laptop didn’t have sufficient memory. I have to figure out how to delete the first two days’ worth of videos from the camcorder. Otherwise, I don’t know that I’ll have sufficient space on the camcorder to video the full six hours I need to cover tomorrow. I wish I were more technologically and electronically literate. My father’s electronic engineering gene completely jumped over me and landed on my children instead. No fair!!
To add injury to that insult, I am also unable to decipher instruction manuals. So, there you are. Maybe the Internet will have the information I need to help me resolve this problem.

Nairobi, August 15 and 16, 2014

Hello.
Friday, August 15
The week went so quickly! I couldn’t believe it was the last day for class. I’ve been very lucky to have Catherine there to videotape. That saved me from having to stand all day another day.
Eleven of the twelve participants really did an excellent facilitation job. I was very pleased! I also learned a lot.

For example, it is possible to have a debate with four different positions represented. Who knew?
The participants took to heart the need to create new small groups and did it in a variety of ways: numbered cards under their seats; playing cards; a grab bag of small folded notes with numbers on them; lining up by height; etc. That was a lot of fun to watch.

Catherine had me cosign the certificates of participation, which were very classy. But during lunch with Sammy, Sam, and Douglas they pointed out that the verbiage on the certificates would be very important to them when they tried to partner with institutions. So I met with Alma to discuss this and she was very open to any suggestions. Sammy later got consensus from the group on the language we should use: Certificate.

This is to certify that _______ successfully completed the Business for Health-Train the Trainer course conducted by Deborah Laurel at Kivi Milimani Hotel, Nairobi from August 11-15, 2014.

On the back of the certificate, they’ll have listed all twenty-two Business for Health modules.
Formalities in this regard are very important to them. Mbogo, who is Chief of Party for abt SHOPS Project in Kenya, came to hand out the certificates (they’ll be replaced by the newly worded ones next week). Catherine and Alma took photos of each person shaking Mbogo’s hand as they received their certificate.

They absolutely loved the celebration ending. I gave them bottles of bubbles and had them get in a circle and blow them as I played “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. I also instructed them to thank anyone whose involvement in the training helped to make it meaningful for them. They were busy dancing around, blowing bubbles into the air and into each other’s faces, and ultimately all turned to blow bubbles on me!

Then they each wanted a picture taken with me. My face got tired, I smiled so much. Then we had a variety of class photos, taken with approximately 10 cameras!!

Mercy and Alma gathered up my materials and then Mercy joined the others for an impromptu meeting that Melvin called about the association. They had unanimously elected him to be their chair and he took his responsibility very seriously. He wants to register the group, which will cost $2,000 KS. They’ll all contribute equally to get this off the ground.

James, who has been on time ever since the second day, was on time again to take me b back to the hotel. I tried again to download the videos from the group and had a heck of a time. I finally went to bed, exhausted, in disgust.

Oh, I did have dinner, which was gratis. The last two meals I had were not to my taste, and I didn’t even take more than a bit of the second meal. They felt badly about it and told me when I called that there would be no charge. And my meal was lovely- basil tomato soup, a dark meat chicken breast(?), steamed broccoli, carrots and spinach, and a potato. Very nice.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Since I went to bed around 9:30 pm last night, I got up at my usual time, 5:50 a.m. I went right to work on those videos. With a short intermission for breakfast, I worked on them straight until 2 p.m. There was a lot of cursing and crying in the process. Bottom line: despite trashing almost every other document and movie on my laptop or moving them to a thumb drive, I just couldn’t manage it. I had two days of videos downloaded into iMovie and then realized that the first three participant facilitations were not on them. I can’t tell you how many times I connected and disconnected my video camera to my computer. My iMovie kept freezing. I think I forced it closed and reopened it about thirty times.

When I finally was able to select the clips I needed from yesterday, iMovie would not send them to the file to be formatted as a movie. Something must be wrong with the software. My laptop may not have enough memory, either.
I gave up and wrote to Piotr and to Alma about my incredible lack of success.

At breakfast, I finally got a chance to get waffles, which were never available when I ate my breakfast at 6 a.m. A lovely Victoria made the waffles while we had a nice long chat. Later, when I was leaving I waved goodbye and then stopped at the pastry/bread table right next to her. I decided to load up on a few things for lunch. She told me to put it all on a plate and ran to get a container for everything. She asked if I wanted yogurt or fruit and proceeded to help me add them to the spacious bag she gave me. She even went to wash the apples for me.

It wasn’t until I went to cut up apples to have with my peanut butter that I realized washing the apples made them inedible for me. That is, unless she used bottled water and I have no idea whether she did that or not. Luckily, I had two apples from the fruit left for me in the evening yesterday.

I am completely packed except for my laptop and my Nook, which is charging. James will be picking me up at 6:30. His bill is KS 10,600 for the entire week. $110 isn’t bad for all of that.

I may write more once I am waiting at the Kenyatta airport. I received a notice from the US State Department that, once I get there, I may be screened for Ebola, which has not hit Kenya yet but they are taking lots of precautions.

Thank you for coming along for this trip.

Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi August 16, 2014

Hello.
When I checked out, the gentleman at the desk asked if my stay was pleasant and when they would see me again. The porter, the concierge all wished me well and asked when I would be returning. They do this for everyone and it is very gracious. I wish I had an answer.

I’ve never used the lobby bathroom. It was immaculate, with a huge bunch of fresh roses in a vase. I took photos of the amazing yellow lily floral arrangements. It is really a very beautiful and gracious hotel.
I left my luggage with the bellman and went outside to walk around, take some photos and then just sit reading, since I was in the room working all day. It was actually quite chilly, with a cool breeze. It has been unseasonably cold here, which I’ve probably mentioned before.

While waiting for James to pick me up, a newlywed couple arrived. She was absolutely exquisite in a white wedding dress with a huge scarlet rose-like decoration and black net small hat over her left forehead. She also wore a black scarf draped around her neck. I didn’t want to be an ugly American and take her photo. Her groom was very dapper in a suite and purple tie.

As we drove toward the airport, I saw these huge birds that I remembered from my last visit. Probably a hundred storks were either flying, in the trees or on the buildings. Pretty spectacular.

A bevy of nuns in white gowns and white headscarves crossed the road.

We had to go through two security checks before we could drive up to the terminal. James grabbed a luggage cart and kindly pushed it to the terminal. There, I had to immediately take out my laptop and put everything on a conveyer belt for screening. Past that, I schlepped the two big suitcases and my carry on back onto the luggage cart. The bags are appreciably lighter (particularly since all of the candy is gone), but they are still heavy.

Next, I tried to check in with my passport at a kiosk. It wouldn’t recognize my passport. They called a security guy over, who tried and failed with the passport. So I entered my ticket number but it wouldn’t give me my boarding pass.

So, on to an airport representative who handled everything. It was certainly less difficult and crazy than my experience at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. However, since they only issue the ticket to Amsterdam, I’ll probably have to go to a transfer station to get my Delta boarding passes and deal with my luggage when I get there.

Next, I had to show my passport again to a woman who clearly doesn’t like her job. No greeting, no words, no acknowledgment. She essentially threw my ticket back to me and then my passport after she stamped it. I thought of saying something that might cheer her up and decided against it. She was definitely in a bad mood.

I’m here, it’s 7:30 p.m. and my flight doesn’t leave until 10:25 p.m. I have no idea why James thought he should pick me up four hours before my flight!! It made for a very leisurely trip through check in, but I think this is really over the top. I’ve brought a banana and orange from the hotel, but I’m sure I’ll have to break down and purchase water and something else to eat. I’m hungry just thinking about it!

You hear every language imaginable and see people in all sorts of native dress. I don’t know what nationality the guys in long white robes are. They must be Arab, I now recall seeing similarly garbed men when I was in Jordan. Their robes go to the floor.

There are some people wearing masks. Some misguided preventative Ebola measure would be my first guess.

Arab, French, American, English, Asian, Indian, African in native dress and in very stylish European dress. Young and old, wheel chaired and ambulatory. All shapes and sizes. International airports are fascinating. You can immediately tell the Americans because many of them are wearing shorts or short shorts (the women, not the men so far). They are the only ones in shorts (unless I’ve mistaken Australians for Americans). Everyone else is dressed much less casually.

Although I sit corrected. A group of young men and women just passed me, all in print harem pants. Is that a new fad? Hmm, I notice young women wearing print pants. Something they picked up shopping here, possibly? Yup, I just saw a young woman wearing the same flowing pants with African symbols and pictures of elephants.

I’m wearing long pants, a sleeveless blouse and a long sleeve blouse over it. I have my hoodie in my carry on. It gets very very cold on these long flights. I can bet I will see these folks bundled in blankets halfway through the flight.

The seats are very very hard. I’ll read and then walk, and alternative those activities until my flight boards.

There are a lot of duty-free shops, mostly selling perfume and small bags of chocolate candy. I’m tempted, having experienced chocolate withdrawal this trip. There is a type of open table restaurant at the very end, but I’m not sure I feel that adventurous.

Madison, WI August 18, 2014

Hello.

I am safely home (as of about 1 p.m. yesterday, which was Sunday. Jenny kindly picked me up.

Continuing from my last note, from Kenyatta airport, an Asian gentleman holding a MacBook asked me if I had a charger he could borrow. I was reluctant but finally agreed, giving him a converter as well. Then I decided I had better find out where he would be.

He was quite a way away, standing with a bunch of Asian folks, all powering up their MacBook’s at a power station I hadn’t noticed before. I just sat there, reading. He finally noticed me about 30 minutes later and thanked me again. Later, he came back and asked if he could get me a coffee. I thanked him and asked for an orange Fanta soda. When I had to leave to board my flight, he and several other people thanked me for the loan of the charger. They all were able to charge their laptops up, thanks to me.

That was the first time where being helpful in response to a request turned out very nicely for me.

The second time was in flight (I think from Amsterdam to Detroit). A man asked if I would be willing to move to another seat so he could sit with his family and friends. I agreed, saying that I would need his help to get down my carry on when we arrived in Detroit.

Later, a steward came over to me and told me in very apologetic tones that they had served my low fat meal to my original seat so they didn’t have one for me. I had actually forgotten I had been able to order one. Then he came back with a tray of fresh fruit, wonderful yogurt in a real bowl, and smoked salmon with crackers! This is what they were serving in the first class cabin. So I really lucked out!!

This trip, I had to retrieve my luggage, go through customs and passport check, and then check in again at both Amsterdam and Detroit. My luggage did not go through to my destination at any time. Having the luggage carts made it easier to tote my three bags and handbag where ever I needed to bring them. I still had to pick up the luggage to put it on the cart and take it off the cart…

I had aisle seats for every flight. Thank goodness!

So now I am home. Everything is put away, I’ve done a load of laundry, filled the six bird feeders, watered the flowers in the front and back yards, read through my mail, uploaded the 100+ photos I took of my travels and the class work, paid bills, and finally gotten through all of my email.

Five of the participants sent me lovely thank you notes and one has even provided the new information he learned in his own newsletter! When I wrote to them on Saturday before I left Nairobi, I had told them I hadn’t been able to manage the videos. I asked if they had any suggestions regarding how I should get theirs to them. Sam suggested I upload them on YouTube and give them the link instructions. So that is what I will do.

I still have to send all of the photos and promised resource documents to the group. And struggle again with the video camera. But I’ll wait on the video until I talk with Piotr tomorrow. We have to determine how to handle the 18 other hours of video in addition to the 6 hours of the participants’ facilitation practice.

I’m still tired, even though I went to bed at 8 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 1 p.m. today. I know that it will take me a while before I feel peppy again.

Thank you again for coming along with me.

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