Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hinda, Sunday, Peter

Hinda, Sunday, Niece Nelly, Brother George, Peter

The Graduate

Sunday at Graduation With Honors Medal

Massai Ladies and Sunday


Very Tall Warrior

Sunday and Warriors

Hinda and Sunday on the Mara

Sunday, Lunch Massai Mara

Massai Warrior

Zebras and Baby


I'm The King

I'm Dangerous

Pretty Cub

I'm Full

Big Yawn


Cooling Off

Cheetah Brother

Cape Buffalo's

Babies and Mom

Latest Blog

Newest Blog
October 30, 2018

Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you know we have been planning a trip to attend Sunday's graduation for some time. Just a few days before we were about to leave Peter ended up in the hospital after having a couple of heart attacks and having 3 stents placed in his artery we did leave for Kenya. We have just returned home a few days ago after a short, but intense trip to Kenya.  While it was a good trip, it was not without incident as you will soon see.

And we will post photos of our trip which we hope you will enjoy.

We went to Kenya, to attend the graduation from college of our "daughter" Sunday who graduated from the First Class with Honors from Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi.

We left Seattle headed to Nairobi on October 16; our route Seattle, San Francisco, Paris, Nairobi.  Well, we arrived in Nairobi after nearly two days of flying, but one piece of luggage did not.  Where was it?  First we were told that it was being forwarded to Nairobi from Paris; then we were told that the bag was still in San Francisco; then it was being delivered to our hotel in Nairobi; then it was had arrived in Nairobi the night before; then there was no record of it; and on and on.  Finally, when we were at the Nairobi Airport, on the way back to Seattle, we were told that the bag had been sent back to our home and that it would be waiting for us there.  The truth:  it was indeed back at out house.  When we examined the luggage tags, we think that it was sent all the way to Nairobi and back again. The bag contained many gifts for Sunday as well as some of our clothes.

Anyway, on Friday, October 19th we watched Sunday graduate along with 2,200 others!  It was nice, and we were proud.  And so many thanks to those of you who helped us support Sunday for these past few years to enable her to attend college while also working full time.  She, and we are very appreciative.  We are very proud of you Sunday!!

On the Sunday after her graduation, we took Sunday to the Massai Mara for a safari.  While it is not that far in distance, it took nearly 7 hours to drive on a mostly unpaved, dusty, and bumpy road to get to the Oldarpoi Mara camp where we stayed for two nights and three days.  The very same road has not changed substantially since we went the first time.  The construction has been going on all of this time, but little to no progress.  I guess that if the government doesn't pay the Chinese contractors, not much happens.  Yup!!We were first there in 2009, and the same cook - Willie was still at the camp who gave us a very warm welcome back.  Actually, this was our third visit to Oldarpoi.

Saw lots of animals and beautiful scenery.  And for Sunday, an opportunity to see a part of her country that she had never experienced before, including a visit to a local Massai Village.  Oldarpoi, is in fact committed to supporting the local community, including providing shelter to young girls and women who are trying to escape FGM - Female Genital Mutilation.  Better for us to use Oldarpoi, than a more expensive safari camp which cost considerably more and goes into the pockets of rich business people without any benefit to the local Massai community.

We also spent time with some of Sunday's family, including sister Pam who we first got to know in Kisumu in 2009.  Very nice.

So, after a short 8 days, time to return home.  Our route back was better:  Nairobi, Amsterdam, Seattle.  After 3 hours or so in Amsterdam, we boarded our flight home.  Speeding down the runway, about to liftoff, we came to a screeching halt - plane shuddering, everyone pushed forward from the sudden stop.  What happened we all wondered until the Captain, announced that the airspeed indicator was not working and needed to be replaced.  Yes, there was one at the Amsterdam airport, but it took 3 hours to get it to the plane and installed.  So here we go again.  Full throttle and LIFT OFF!!  Lots of cheering.

But that's not all.  We got home and Hinda is sick.  High fever, diarrhea, chills, sweats.  Malaria?  Maybe.  But no.  Probably some bad food.

So we're back.  Just getting over jet lag and trying to make sense of the senseless killing  of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh. Our hearts are broken.  What's happening to our country?  Very sad and disturbing.

Our next trip is to Uganda in January to volunteer for 3 months.  See you then and there!

Hugs and love,

Peter and Hinda

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Baku Carpet Museum

Modern Baku

Golden Smile

Lunch, Azerbaijan

Mountain Man, Khinalig

Mountain Woman, Khinalig

Mud Volcanoes

Goat and Guide

Cowboy, Lihac

Mt.Ararat from Yerevan

Armenian Cowboy

Armenian Caucuses Wildflowers

Joseph and Peter

Seth, Kathryn, Hinda, Peter

Blog South Caucuses

June 23, 2018

Blog from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, New York City

Dear Family and Friends,

We just returned from a wonderful trip to the South Caucuses and New York.  We did not have access to a computer or wifi much of the time so writing a blog was impossible.

On May 29th, 2018, we left on a journey to visit the South Caucuses – Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, three former Soviet countries. It took 33 hours and three planes to reach Baku, Azerbaijan.  Were we tired?  You betcha!!

Baku is an extremely modern – 21stcentury – clean, avant garde architecture, along with ancient structures.  It is very wealthy because of the abundance of oil. The most elegant and pricey stores, cars, fashion are all in Baku. People call the expensive fashions and jewelry, Baku Bling.

Azerbaijani is very close to Turkish, and many people there do speak Turkish, and so do we so communication was pretty easy. 

One of the first things we had to address was getting Peter some insulin, Hinda forgot to take his from home.  We went to the pharmacy asked for insulin and they sold us the very same insulin he buys at home but at a fraction of the cost and no scrip needed.

Azerbaijan is about 99% Muslim but few head scarves to be seen. People were extremely friendly and hospitable, anxious to help even wanted to take us places rather than just give directions.  There are many park and fountains, lots of places where pedestrians only were allowed. 

There is lots of animosity between the Azerbaijanis and Armenians so mentioning one to the other was a no no. We visited a moving monument to the Azerbaijanis killed the 1918 massacre by Armenians and Bolsheviks.

One of the most interesting sights was the mud volcanoes, a couple of hours outside of Baku.  These are low gurgling holes in the ground spewing mud.  Extremely sticky slippery mud.  We drove a long time and then left our fancy Mercedes van for a 20 year old Lada for the ride to the volcanoes.  We slipped and got stuck due to rain the night before.  When we arrived, Peter proceeded to try to walk up to one of the volcanoes to get a good photo, but he kept sliding backwards, so the driver and our pretty guide Elnara were holding him up.  On the way down Elnara had to hold tight to him so he would not land in the mud. What an adventure! Hinda was taking photos but laughing so hard she almost dropped the camera.

We visited a small mountain village where Jews used to live as well as visited a couple of synagogues. There are 7000 Jews still in Azerbaijan all the rest have left for Israel or the states.  Oil wells dot the landscape with many of them in the front yard of people’s homes. We watched kids playing ball around the wells. We drove to a remote village, 7700 feet high in the mountains.  Visited an ancient Mosque. Peter was invited to the home of the caretaker’s house for tea.  At another high mountain village, Lihac, the river flooded the road and we had to be ferried across in a very old 4-wheel drive van.  On the way there the road was blocked with sheep, goats and cowboys herding them to high mountain pastures.

Would we go back to Baku? You bet we would!

After 6 days we left for the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia.  We were dropped at the border by our driver and guide.  They neglected to tell us the walk to Georgia was about half a mile uphill in the 90-degree heat.  We walked, carrying out heavy luggage, Peter cursing all the way.  We finally crossed in to Georgia and were met by our next delightful guide.  After cooling off and making sure the AC in the car was at MAX we recovered.

Georgia is about 99% Orthodox with ancient monasteries and churches nearly everywhere.  

One of our first stops there was a visit to a winery built into a long tunnel originally made for the military, it was so cold in there we had to wear blankets.  Just as we entered, we were entertained by a Georgian Folk Orchestra dressed in traditional clothing.  

We visited a summer house in Erekle, home to a Georgian King, and also a residence of the Rothschild family.  While we were touring the palace, Peter wanted to sit and rest, but it wasn’t permitted so the guide found a chair for him and moved it from room to room.  

The next morning, we found that we had slept a nearly 6.0 earthquake.  I guess we are heavy sleepers.

Georgia has the best tomatoes, beautiful mountains and scenery. Tbilisi, the capital is more of what we expected a capital city in the Caucuses to look like – older building, winding streets, old castles and churches, and also some very modern building.

As we drive through the country, we discovered that in some places close to the Russian border, sometimes someone went to sleep in Georgia and woke up in Russia because the border was moved a few feet or meters during the night.  But Georgia did not protest very much because they did not want to engage the Russians.

In all three countries, there was still a lot of nostalgia among older people for Soviet times when there was always enough food, work, medical, etc.  But this was not shared by the youth.  All three countries were extremely clean; gays are illegal, but neither are they open and accepted; and lots and lots of smoking, especially by men.  And the food in all three countries was beyond delicious.

On to Armenia, where you can see Mt. Ararat from Yerevan, but alas, it is entirely in Turkey.  It is about 20,000 high.

We were so lucky to find the mountainsides in Armenia, blooming with the most beautiful wildflowers of every type and color.  

In all three countries we saw cowboys and sheepdogs herding sheep, goats and cattle.

Yerevan, like Tbilisi has a mix of old castles and churches as well as modern building, but not nearly as modern as Baku.

People everywhere were friendly and helpful. Armenia is Apostolic.

It was moving to visit the memorials and museums to the Armenia genocide where about 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Young Turks in the early part of the 20thcentury.

So, now we are going to retrace our long journey, and go to New York City to celebrate Peter’s 80thbirthday.  We arrived in NYC a few days before his birthday and spent time visiting some of our favorite places. As we were checking in to our hotel, they asked if we were celebrating anything and we told them we were.  They upgraded us to a beautiful suite on the 11thfloor with a view of Manhattan.  We also went to see the Alvin Ailey dance group at Lincoln Center, that was a real treat, they were wonderful.  We spent one day at the NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx where there was an exhibit of Georgia O’Keefe paintings.  We took a bus up there and Hinda reminisced about the places she had grown up and remembered family outings and friends.  On June 19th, Peter’s birthday, we were getting ready to go out to breakfast early in the morning there was a knock on the door of our hotel room and in walked Seth and his wife Kathryn.  SURPRISE DAD!!!  Boy were we surprised, and it was such wonderful surprise, they best birthday present anyone could have gotten. Later that day, Peter’s oldest and closest friend, Joseph came to meet us for lunch at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Really nice to see him. A day later Saul called and said he was in NY on business, could we meet.  We met him with Seth and Kathryn for pizza before we went to the theater.  

Spent the next few days with Seth and Kathryn enjoying NYC. It is always fun to be back home in NY. But especially when we can show it off to someone, Kathryn who has never seen it before.

Finally headed for home after 25 days on the road. Tired but happy!!!

Best to all,
Peter and Hinda

Friday, August 11, 2017

Young Water Girl

Even Younger Water Girl


Best Way to Eat Fish

Blog 2

Blog 2

Kisumu, Kenya

August 12, 2017

Hi Everyone!

Usually I try to write to you from the office, but now I am writing this from the safety of my house.  Why?  Because I am under house arrest.  Yup, for the last 8 days, most people have been forced to stay indoors because of the Presidential Election tension around the country, but especially here in Kisumu, the heart of the political opposition.

The election was Tuesday, August 8th, and last night, the winner was announced – the current president, but the opposition candidate is refusing to accept the results. Here in Kisumu, stores have been closed for nearly a week, and people are stocking up on food.  Actually, there is only one supermarket open in the entire city and it is nearly impossible to even get into it, and there is not much to buy anywhere.  KMET has been closed since August 4th.  Streets are deserted of people and traffic.  Everyone is frustrated and bored.  On Friday morning, we were told to come back to work, but 2 hours later we were all sent home again because of the fear of violence, but it didn’t happen.  But where I live it is very safe.  We are all hoping that the opposition candidate – Raila Odinga will make a statement asking everyone to be calm, but so far, he has not.  Maye today.  People need to shop, go out onto the streets, go back to work, etc.  There is so much fake news circulating.  Only Trump would like it.  Last night there were helicopters buzzing around and gunshots, but not near here.  Just heard that a very nice supermarket where I often go to shop was destroyed last night.  Why?  Senseless!  Tribalism?  Politics?  It only hurts the people who have the most to lose.

Well, there are other things to tell you about too.

Next door to my house there are 5 large dogs who howl loudly several times a day that it is not even possible to talk on the phone or even to someone in the house.  The owner of the dogs promises to keep them quiet.  I guess you can tell the dogs to keep quiet, but you can’t stop them from barking or howling.

So many of my colleagues from work calling and checking on me to make sure I am safe.  Nice people.  I was even driven home on Friday morning with a “body guard”.  Thanks Monica and KMET.  You are taking very good care of me and I appreciate it.  I only wish we could all get back to work and do our jobs.  Hope by Monday.

There is an interesting program that KMET is involved in called MTIBA.  It is a health care investment plan where anyone can put money into a health account and use it for treatment for anyone in their family.  For each 100 Kenyan Shillings per month that you put in, the investors of the project add another 50 shillings, thus there is a very large incentive to save for you and your family’s health care.  It is a 5-year project.  In each locale, there are several health care facilities to choose from including KMET.

Since I know that many of you know what is going on here with the elections and the fear of violence, this is short only to let you know that I am ok and safe, and well taken care of and am not taking any chances.  Have lots of food and water.  I’m ok.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sylvia, The Schnurman Pharmacy Pharmicist

Reading is Sharing

KMET Buildings Including New Top Floor

Elizabeth Hair Dressing Teacher

New Hairstyle KMET Student

It Takes Three

KMET Cooking Class

Monica - KMET Security Guard