Monday February 10
We arrived in Nairobi last night about 8:30 pm and were picked up by Frank at the airport. We spent the night at Brackenhurst near Limuru Town and the next morning went into Village Market to exchange our money and buy some stuff for the trip – stopping of course at Java House for coffee and beans.
We drove through to our first night's stay at Bishop Stam's – a Catholic retreat center around 35 minutes from our first project site – Matete.
Tuesday February 11
We had a serviceable breakfast at the center and then drove to Matete for the first day's work. The first order of business was shifting all the rock and sand by wheelbarrow to the actual work site; and drawing hundreds of gallons of water from a well and storing it onsite for our project. The Kenyans do concrete work a little differently than we do – using manpower instead of machinery so we all got a real good workout.
The first course to the floor consists of a soil called maram that is laid about 3 inches deep. Then the next course consists of large rock, sand, and a thin layer of cement that is laid out on the ground and then mixed together with water, loaded into wheelbarrows and poured on the church floor. The top is left with a rough finish to facilitate the final layer after drying for three days. We were all pretty tired when we got done today. But it was a good day and we all were happy that we finished this part.
Today we traveled from Bishop Stam's to Amagoro to begin the first phase of our second project. This church is about twice as big as Matete and we began by excavating the entire interior of the church. The soil is very fine sand and we created quite a duststorm inside before we were through. Our health and safety expert, Butch, was not happy with the work conditions so we mazungus mostly stayed outside during this phase. But we all got busy as next we filled the floor with the first course of maram.
It was at this time I was informed that we had a water problem – to wit – no water on site. So a plan was quickly drawn up with the local water agency to run a pipe 350 meters to the church. The problem was that a 12 inch wide by two feet deep ditch needed to be dug, and then the pipe laid to bring water to the site. This was around noon today. We needed water by that day to wet down and compact the maram so we had to move quick. Fortunately, everybody responds to the prospect of earning money here so we found seven guys who wanted to work, negotiated a price and they went to work digging over a thousand feet of ditch in a little over five hours – by hand! The water company came and laid the pipe and then the whole thing was backfilled. It was well after dark by that time, however the four of us had gone back to Bungoma by then.
We moved our lodging to Bungoma today because it is really more central to both Matete and Amagoro and we are staying at a lovely hotel called the Elegant.