Thursday, May 1, 2014

Africa: Kikuyu & Mombasa, Summer of 1999

My first sketchbook.

In the summer of '99, after graduating from college, I went to Kenya with five classmates to work at a mission hospital in Kikuyu, near Nairobi.  Before I left, a friend gave me a large black sketchbook.

We brought donated medical supplies with us, shadowed physicians during rounds and procedures, and helped with clerical work around the hospital.  We were there for six weeks and were able to travel around the country, as well.

The Green House, a prefab metal clad structure brought over by Scottish Presbyterians around 1910, was the men's residence where three friends and I stayed.

Guard's house behind the Green House

Inside the Green House.

Porch of the Green House.

Van ride back from our photo safari in the Masai Mara and Serengeti.

In mid June we took a train from Nairobi to Mombasa on the coast.  On the 14-hour trip I read The Man-eaters of Tsavo.  Written in the Victorian era, it tells the story of lion attacks on the worker camps during the rail's construction.

We stayed in a beachfront resort in Mombasa for a few days.  Most of the tourists were European, and of them most were German.

Camels for hire, and an ever-present and watchful policeman.

Entrepreneurs on the beach.  Men selling everything from boat-rides to photographs and trinkets.  Anyone of them could speak a handful of languages, and would try them out on you until they got it right.  German was usually their first try, and English came in second or third.  I showed this sketch to a few of them, and they appreciated the policeman with his back turned.