Maai Mahiu -- the town

Click on any photo to see a larger image of it.

This is our first real view of the town "center". Maai Mahiu is at the crossroads of the two main trucking routes through Kenya. It is NOT a tourist destination.
A closeup of the town center. There is an Internet cafe just to the left of the truck. I didn't use it, but did use the ATM at the bank next door several times
This was a fairly common sight along the road from Nairobi. These two men are selling roasted corn. The corn is grilled over a charcoal fire under the "tent". We were told not to eat any of the corn because there was a toxic fungus on it from the wet weather that wasn't killed by heat. It is what we would call "field corn" anyway.
This is a view of the center of town on a different road. These are vendor stalls set up to sell whatever. Obviously this wasn't their main time for selling. This is the ony time we went down this road -- we usually went through the back away from everything.
This is how you get your water if you don't live right in town and have running water, which means most people. Donkeys are tremendously important for moving goods as you will see.
This is a doney cart moving a huge pile of straw. They are right on the side of the road with the big trucks whizzing by. This is right in front of the motel.
This is another shot from in front of the motel. Here the donkeys are carrying wood to fuel fires for cooking. Most people get around by walking, so they either walk on the side of the road, or there may be a dirt path that they use.

This is from googlemaps, and is the view of the town from the air. The dark line is the path we would walk from our motel (lower left) to the CTC's headquarters (upper right).

The green area on the lower right is a family compound, which is walled with living plants and has gardens and houses inside. I'll explain the big white things next.

The white stuff in the previous picture is corn that is being dried in the sun. It is laid out on big long tarps, and left for several days. These women are picking the little bits of corn cob and stones that may have been mixed in during the harvest. The men on the left are walking throught the corn, shoes on, to stir the corn so it will dry evenly. No USDA here. This corn will be ground into corn meal for human consumption.
Every time we would walk through the corn drying area things would look different. After the corn is dry, the men roll the tarps into long cylinders.
When we would come back later the corn was in bags ready to go to the mill. This year the government was supposed to buy all this to keep it out of the food supply, as the fungus is toxic to various body parts and is not killed by heat. We suspect that never actually happened.
This little guy was on the path one day as we walked to the foundation. Everything is "free range" there.
Mommy was not far away and the baby gets nurishment and comfort all at one time.
Here are the resident turkeys with the young ones.
This is another common sight: goats wandering around by the shops. If the door is open, they'll go in and check things out.
We only saw the camel once. This was on our walk to the foundation. We were quite a curiosity for the local people as you don't see very many white people in Maai Mahiu.
One day we went shopping for fabric for African dresses and hats to be made for us. Once you are off the main road, this is what the roads look like. The shop next door to the fabric shop was a grocery selling lots of dried beans. The fabric shop wasn't something you walked in to, you stood outside and talked to the proprietor through a huge window the width of the shop. He would bring the fabrics to us to look at more closely. As we were there for quite a while, we drew a bit of a crowd of school children who hovered 20 feet away looking at us. They'd say "Hello, how are you?" and when we'd ask them how they were they would all answer "Fine!". They were very cute.
Maai Mahiu is in the Great Rift Valley, which is a very fertile plain. This is a wheat field, which looks a lot like any wheat field at home, except for the Acacia trees growing in it. There were also huge fields of corn, and we saw big John Deere combines just like at home.

We spent much of one day visiting the women in their homes. We split into two groups, and I went with the group that would be walking a much longer distance. It was really pleasant walking through the countryside, and we walked about 7 miles that day.

This is a form of giant cactus. Those are goats grazing under it, so you can get some idea of how big this is.

This is a family compound. The sons often stay close to their mother, living in a house on the same property or nearby. The building you see is probably a two family house; this picture was taken by Belinda in the other group. Windows are not very common, and many don't have either glass or screen in them. The floor is most likely hard packed dirt. At least one of our women had lost everything when her village was burned down in the civil unrest after the 2007 election. This would be the kind of housing that they might be able to afford.

Notice the donkey cart (sans donkey) with the water barrel on it. I suspect that you own the cart and hire someone with a donkey to do the delivery, but that is just a guess on my part as I saw lots of carts but no donkeys at people's homes.

This is a more upscale house with stone walls and a cement floor. Everybody has metal roofs.

This is Susan's living room. While small by our standards (3 rooms), it was very neat and everything is covered with slipcovers of some sort. The pictures on the wall are photos of Susan and the other Mums with Denise (our trip leader) from previous trips. The women just love Denise.

This is a nursery school we walked by on the way to one of the women's homes.
The blue house would be your dream house. Concrete block walls, tin roof, real windows, and cement floor. Water and electricity aren't part of the dream at this point.