I have visited my friends, Liz and Stephen Moiko and thief family several times over the past 18 years. They live on a farm-like property near Kiserian, Kenya, about 45 minutes southwest of Nairobi.
On every visit (and when I have traveled with friends to Kenya) I always take time to hike up the hill to visit a tree that hangs out over the edge of the Rift Valley.
The valley below is often lush and green but this time it is dry and brown. There is always peace and quiet there with a refreshing breeze and maybe the tinkle of goat bells in the distance. It is one of my favourite places on earth.
Once again I hiked up to my tree and soaked up the ambiance, reflecting and remembering. And taking the same photo I have taken for years of the tree arched out over the valley like in a group of seven painting.
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For the past 9 years, I have made a point of visiting the Moiko family who live just outside Nairobi on wonderful piece of land that has a panoramic view of the Ngong Hills. I have watched their family grow up and grow in size. Last January when I was at their home, Liz was pregnant and hoping that the baby would come along any day. Little (actually not so little) Charles was born in mid-February and so this past weekend was the first time that we were able to meet. He is a robust, happy, curious child that is well loved and cared for by the extended family that lives at the Moiko compound.
Sandra. a toddler when I first met her, is now a tall 10 year old in Class 6. She goes off to school, six days a week, taking the school bus at 6 am and not getting home until 7 pm. And then there is homework to do. African students spend many more hours acquiring their education than Canadian children do. Education is seen as an important responsibility and opportunity to get ahead.
Another tradition is to hike through the hills to a cliff above Kona Baridi where I soak up a spectacular view of the Rift Valley. There are two trees that I visit there every year and a few minutes spent sitting quietly listening to the wind and the birds and the j angle of distant cow bells is something that I look forward to am would not want to miss. This year I hiked up to the hill with Daniel, Stephen’s nephew who has matured into a responsible young man over the years I have been visiting.
The four generations of this family all living in the compound – from Stephen’s elderly grandmother, Gogo, who still milks the cows to young Charles splashing in a bathtub in the sun in the yard, make me feel right at home. I am privileged to be part of this traditional but progressive and modern Maasai family.