Saturday, August 24, 2013

coral reefs and broken playgrounds

Some of the largest coral reefs in Africa are on the coast of Kenya, running the full coastline. In Malindi, there is a marine park. Lots of companies have glass-bottom boats that take tourists out on the reef. There is snorkeling, as well as an island outside of the park where they take the tourists to cookout fresh fish.

Thinking that they would take us around the reef to look at stuff through the glass bottom of the boat, we decided that it would be a cool thing to do with the boys during Nate's school break. Turns out we didn't actually see anything through the glass bottom. It may as well have been a regular boat. But it was still cool.

Even though it's high tourist season, we managed to get a room with 2 beds at a hotel in Malindi. We'd never stayed there before, but it looked nice. They recorded our reservation wrong and only had rooms with 1 bed available when we got there. So we got to have adjoining rooms for a discount, which was perfect. Also, they have hot water.

The boys really really wanted to go swimming. Being a Texan, I'm used to swimming when it's 100 degrees outside. Our highs are in the mid 80's. We swam after nap, so it was a bit chilly to be in the pool. We got the boys floaties (a baby one for Ben with a seat and a ring for Nate). It was so cold that Ben would only put his feet in the pool. He cried when we made him try his float and wouldn't stop until he was out. Nate gradually warmed up to the pool. He didn't want to use his float, despite it being a Buzz Lightyear spaceship shaped one, but he did hang out in the baby float for a while. He doesn't quite get the kicking to propel himself part of the float, so I got to push him all over the pool. What a workout!

We wanted to swim on Thursday, too, but they decided to add chemicals to the pool since there were kids on Wednesday who swam in their underwear. I don't really understand why they didn't put the chemicals in Wednesday after everyone was out of the pool or why underwear are so much less sanitary for swimming than a swimsuit. But anyway. That's what they decided to do. So we went to the beach twice Thursday.

We walked around the coral where we could, checking the pools left by the receding tide. Nate thought it was an awesome adventure. Ben was a little unsure. He doesn't trust the water.

We saw crabs, cool seashells, and lots of weird looking plants (one that looks a lot like bacon). One of the beach vendors found a starfish for us. Rodgers held it for a few seconds before we put it back in the water. It was trying to walk off his hand. The way it moved was so weird!

When we went back in the late afternoon, the tide was in. We watched the waves until it was time to leave for supper. It was kind of cool to see waves and water where we had been walking earlier. We walked far out there. I didn't expect the water to come so far in.

We have often seen a playground on the other side of Malindi. It looks like a mix of modern equipment (slides and bouncy houses) and old stuff (bumper cars, jungle gyms, ride-on things). We were skeptical about whether or not any of it was in working order. We expected we would have to pay to use it. We tried it out, and we ended up paying for nothing because nothing the boys wanted to do was working and everything that worked terrified them.

Nate could handle the big slide that wasn't broken, but Ben was afraid to climb up there, and we didn't really feel like paying to use 1 slide and then taking Ben up the stairs every time. It was almost lunchtime anyway, so we left without officially playing there.

The boat ride was Friday. It would have been best if we had water shoes. We had to walk from the beach to the boat, sometimes through water, from a few inches up to knee-deep. I didn't want to do it in flip flops because they get stuck, come off, and only protect the bottom of the feet anyway. So our shoes need to be washed now. But that's ok.

That's how far we walked. We were the first boat out there that day. Several boats full of Italians followed us.

I don't know if this little boy is the son of one of the guys that works for this company or is just a random kid. He and at least 2 other boys are learning the trade. They do little jobs on the boats. He was wearing clothes on the beach, but gradually took the off as we got into deeper water. He got dressed again later.

They are propelling the canoe with poles because the water is that shallow.

This sailboat is called Sawa Sawa. It made me think of my dad. :)

Ben still doesn't trust the water. He was hanging on to either me or Rodgers the entire time.

Nate loved it. He would have stayed out there all day, just watching the waves. Some of the bigger ones rocked the boat a little too much for him, though.

We fed the fish to attract them. They were mostly zebra fish, though many red snappers and reef fish as well. I don't know that reef fish is the official name, but that's what the guy told us. There was also one bigger fish that was a dark color and had bright turquoise fins. It darted in, then quickly left. I was very sad that I couldn't get a picture of it. It was so pretty!

Since we weren't swimming, they took us over to a little island of sand for us to get out of the boat and take pictures. Nate thought it was very exciting, and he walked in the sand, let his feet sink in, and let the waves lap at his feet. The sand was so much looser than the sand on the beach. Ben did not let Rodgers put him down.

Our mini-vacation was not really what we planned. However, it was great. We will have to go on vacation again sometime...

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