Safari-ing at Mount Kilimanjaro

Hello from Kenya! We made it! Actually, it’s hard to believe we have been here over a week now. It has been one crazy, amazing stretching week for sure.

We are in Mombasa now. We have only been here three nights and, unfortunately, two of those nights were spent in the hospital with Amina. She started getting sick on our safari and I didn’t think too much of it. It was fairly normal and mild. But then she got this fever that was relentless. It just wouldn’t go away and no matter which medicines I gave her, it would not drop. She woke up in the middle of the night on Tuesday and her temperature was 40. I knew we just had to get her to a doctor. We hauled Mercy out of bed and crossed town in the middle of the night to get to a hospital. By the time we reached there, her temperature had gone up to 41. I could see that the doctor was pretty alarmed. Long story short, Amina was admitted. She was so dehydrated and lethargic. My mommy heart hurt and I cried next to her. It took about 12 hours and her temperature finally started to mellow out. Turns out she had a fairly common bacterial infection but her body reacted pretty violently to it. Praising God that we were discharged this morning and she seems to be back to her goofy self.

DISCLAIMER: The rest of this post contains an obnoxious amount of photos of our safari. I really really tried to pick the best of the best but, honestly, there were so many more I could have added.

For our wedding anniversary, Kelvin treated our family to a 3 day safari in the Amboseli National Park. This game park is located at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. Let me just say this now, it is MAJESTIC. The photos we have cannot do it justice. I learned that she (I guess people figure the mountain is female) likes to hide behind clouds most of the day so it’s not easy to get the clearest shot. But when she does poke her head out, it is a thing of beauty. I decided to only give you one of the million photos we took of the mountain. On our way out, we noticed the sky was clear and you could get the most perfect picture of Kilimanjaro.

Mercy said that she wanted to climb the mountain and go throw snowballs at the top with her Grandma. Then she started putting on her Dora crocks.

The camp we stayed in was amazing. It had a platform that was a viewing area for wildlife and Kilmanjaro. Every night we would wander out there before dinner and watch the sun set.

No words.

Look, I spotted a handsome fella!

 

We were very fortunate that on day 1, first thing we saw were lions!! This king of the jungle was hiding out while the females made a kill. We learned that he had a hurt leg as he limped in front of our car to get to the food.

Mercy kept yelling out, “ROAR!” to the lion. It was cute but kind of freaky because the lion was only like 10 ft from the vehicle. Amina kept saying “Paka!” (Cat in Swahili). Although, every animal to her was either a ‘Paka’ or ‘Doggie’.

Can you spot the lady lion?

Staying close to Mama

We are pretty sure this buffalo was the lion’s next meal.

Scraggily mr Hyena.

Amboseli has a lot of swampy land. It was actually an incredible sight. It looked like grass until you saw elephants and buffalos’ knees disappearing into it. This little elephant was trying to get out of the swamp and catch up to the rest.

Up close and personal.

Daddy and his girls hiking up to a view point.

Mommy and Mercy

No words.

Meeners checking out the birds nests.

Stunner.

A little groggy getting up for our early morning game drive.

“I see you”

Ostrich Crossing

Giraffes are so graceful and elegant.

These two cracked us up!

It was the most perfect three days. We had so much fun as a family relaxing and adventuring. I definitely think everyone needs to add it to their bucket list!

All Packed and Ready to Go!

 

Departure day has arrived! Tomorrow morning we head out to start our (long) journey to Kenya. We will be arriving in Kenya on Wednesday morning B.C. time.

These past few weeks have been fun, encouraging, hard, tiring, nourishing, amazing, and so much more. We have been so fortunate to spend quality time with many of YOU! You have given us sweet gifts, encouraged us with words, and sent us out strong with prayers. We are so honoured to be a part of your lives!

We managed to get through the past few days of packing with only a few tears shed. All of our belongings, for our family of four, fit into SIX suitcases. Can you believe it? We can’t either. We also have a number of suitcases of donated items that we are excited to share!

We ask you keep us in your prayers this upcoming week. Pray for safe travels and peaceful hearts (especially for Nikole as she’s a pretty anxious flyer). Pray for the girls and this big transition. Pray for patience and energy and no toddler meltdowns. Pray for our health and immigration. Pray that we would enjoy this journey as a family, drawing closer to Him who has led us here.

We will try and update you along the way but we will need some time to adjust and settle in. February is going to be a big month of starting our new life in Kenya.

Thank you Canada for being so wonderful to us these past four years! We are excited to turn the page of this next chapter!

Love you all,

Kelvin, Nikole, Mercy and Amina

Guidelines to Travelling with Babies/Toddlers

It’s hard to believe this will be Mercy’s 3rd trip to Kenya and she is not even three yet! I actually think that makes us borderline crazy….but off we go again across the world, this time with two toddlers and 30+ hours of travel. Oh Lord have mercy..

I have been given so much advice from people about travelling with babies over the past few years. Some has been very, very helpful and some just didn’t work for us. I decided that, instead of specific tips and tricks about travelling with babies, I would go into more general guidelines that we have learned during our travels.

Choose your flight pattern carefully. We generally search for days or weeks before we decide on a flight pattern. We calculate things like long layovers, long flights, children’s amenities, food, visas, and luggage costs and then we decide what we believe our family can or can’t handle. For example, I cannot handle being on a plane for more than 10-11 hours. I just can’t do it. Nowadays, there are fairly inexpensive flights through the Middle East where one of your flights is 14-16 hours long. Nope, can’t do it. Sorry, I will pay more money to be in the air less. Some people like to just get it all over with in one flight (even though it still takes 2-3 flights to Kenya even with the long one).  We have learned that if we have layovers more than 6 hours long, we need to get a hotel room somewhere to recharge. For our upcoming trip on Tuesday, we purposely chose a longer layover just to give our luggage a chance to transfer planes because I know what a pain in the pattooti it is to try get missing luggage in Nairobi. Again, it’s doing your research to fit the needs of your family.

Be willing to spend more for the comfort. Tying in with the above point, it is absolutely worth it to spend more money to be more comfortable with kids. 100%. When I was young and single, I would book whatever flight was cheapest and it didn’t matter how long or how terrible it was. I am now willing to invest more to spare my sanity. We also budget more for things like hotel rooms or lounges for long layovers. We love Mercure hotel in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. It’s conveniently located in the departures lounge so we don’t need to go through passport control (which is tough for Kelvin with his Kenyan passport) and it’s close to our gates. We get to lie down horizontally and have hot showers and recharge. It’s a lifesaver for us. It is a pricy comfort, but well worth it for us.

Pack lots of the essentials. Pack light. Sounds like a bit of a contradiction, doesn’t it? There are so many opinions or ideas about what to bring for kids on flights. What I have learned is to stock up on the essentials, whatever that may be for your family. For us it’s diapers, wipes, extra clothes, lip balm, and sippy cups. When Amina used soothers and drooled like crazy, I had soothers and bibs in every pocket. But try pack light. Don’t bring all the things you think you might need. I have learned that my kids don’t need an abundance of toys or snacks. They eat airplane food and Starbucks and much rather play with the seat belts and video screens. We don’t bring books because they are heavy and bulky and we know we might get through one chapter for the whole trip so we might as well just watch movies. Again, these are our personal preferences that you can adjust for your family.

Use all the special perks offered for having children. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Airlines are actually pretty good at trying to make you as comfortable as possible. Use all those perks. Ask for special seats. Go to the front of the lines. Most flight attendants are more than willing to help out with anything you need so don’t be afraid to ask! On our way back from Kenya, I had a small bout of food poisoning and was going to the bathroom every 30 mins or so. Mercy and Kelvin were dead asleep and I had no where to put Amina so I would just give her to one of the flight attendants each time. They loved it!

Bring (legal) drugs, but not the ones that make you drowsy. Flying across the world with babies can often feel like a marathon so you need every ounce of energy you can muster up. I used to love to take Gravol because it calmed my stomach and made me drowsy cutting the edge off my anxiety a little bit. I don’t do that anymore as I need to be as awake as I can to manage my kids. But it is important to bring a few of your favourite OTC drugs in case of any sickness or pain that may arise. You are travelling for 30 hours; that is more than enough time to get a head cold. And head colds can be brutal 30,000ft in the air.

The first few hours are generally the hardest. Those first few hours of the first flight tend to be the hardest in our experience. And you will think it sets the tone for the whole trip but it doesn’t. It eventually gets better as we all get used to our surroundings.

Bring stuff you are willing to lose. Don’t bring your kid’s favourite pyjamas. You may have a major blowout and may just need to ditch those suckers somewhere instead of trap-sing around with soiled clothes for another 15 hours. We lost our stroller on our last trip. We weren’t too bummed as it was a cheap, umbrella stroller. It just meant poor Mercy had to walk all by herself everywhere.

Relax. Breath. Laugh. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Try not to lose your mind.
Honestly, I am a terrible person to fly with. My poor husband has dealt with me at my worst when we fly.  I am anxious and nervous and tense and tired and cranky. I am a terrible person when I am tired. I have had to really try to be pleasant, calm, relaxed when I really want to break down and cry. Kelvin generally gets the brunt of it. Poor guy. Possibly the best advice I have been given is this….The journey ends eventually. I keep that in mind as much as I can, especially after I have changed the 7th poopy diaper 2 hours into our flight. It will end and all will be well again. Try to enjoy it.

Do you have any other guidelines you follow when travelling with babies?