Monday, June 16, 2014

Umbrella Falls - Traveling With Kids in Kenya

Distance/Time from Eldoret to the Umbrella Falls - 35 minutes, it isn't so much a distance thing as it is a mostly on rough dirt roads thing.  Cost-5000 shillings for a seven passenger jeep and Taxi Max the guy who gave us the tour of the power plant and showed us where to hike.  We split this cost with the other adults in the car.  Cost to us, 2000 shillings.  

A few weekends ago Kristin asked us if we wanted to go to Umbrella Falls with her and group of other people.  She said something to the effect of, "We're going to a power plant on a waterfall but it is suppose to be really cool.  Do you want to come?"  The answer to this after five days of our mind numbing schedule is "OF COURSE".  Seriously guys I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when Kristin leaves next week.  She is sort of like the trip planner of the group.  We are going one one last weekend hurrah with her and she true to form has done a great job of making sure everything was getting planned.  Without her I fear we will just shrivel up into boredom.  We will surly miss her trip planning skills and her company although we forgive her for heading home since she's been here without her husband almost two months at this point.  

Kristin had Max meet us at IU house at around ten o'clock.  Of course at ten most of the doctors were still at the hospital rounding so we waited around another hour before everyone was there and dressed is hiking appropriate clothing.  It wasn't such a bad wait though.  Taxi Max is highly entertaining.  He is the cab company owner we call most often when we need to get around town and while blessed with a shrewd business mind he is playful and full of stories.  When everyone had arrived we all piled into the jeep.  It was not the first time I marveled at how this is the perfect time to be here with the kids (at least as far as fitting into taxis is concerned.  In a few more years we probably wouldn't be able to fit on one bench but right now the kids are small enough that we fit just fine.

The road out to the falls was pretty wild.  In town you get lots of paved roads but out in the country you are dealing with primarily dirt roads.  Max says they grate them down occasionally but there is lots of rain here and they get a lot of traffic from cars, jeeps, motorcycles, bikes, and foot as well as a whole host of animals that use them as through-ways.  Max says the joke is that Kenyan politicians don't ever have to worry about the roads because they just keep getting bigger and bigger cars.  Anyway we eventually made it.

Immediately my kids were drawn to the animals who call the area home and the water.  The adults didn't really want them near the water the animals really didn't want them anywhere near them.  At one point Cheetah was chasing a cow that wanted nothing to do with her and there was also a point we were a little worried a ewe was going to go after her when she got a little too close to her very new look baby for comfort.  Never fear mama sheep, we weren't going to let her get too close.   

This is just an outhouse which I guess I felt the need to document because it had nice purple doors.  

You can just barely see the falls here.
There was a beautiful little valley and on the other side there were some amazing looking more traditional houses.  Seriously those people have a great view from their front door!

Let's go down the hill to the power plant.

These doors hold the generators that for years powered all of Eldoret.  Now Eldoret has it's own power plants but one of these generators is still working to provide power for the people living in the area.  

We had to wait outside for a bit while Max ran back up the hill to get one of the workers to open the power plant up for us.  

The girls entertained themselves looking at flowers...

I just love streams.

In the plant.  There are two huge generators, one of which is still functioning.  These were brought in her using just man and animal power.  In the last few years one broke and they had to get the motor out.  Max said that even with modern machinery it was nearly impossible the thing weighed so much.  It took a crane and then even then they had to roll it up the hill.  

The girls got bored so I took them outside.

This was the first little point where Max took us out to get a view of the valley below.  I was seriously so freaked out by this ledge I refused to go out onto it.  Meanwhile everyone else had to stand out there with my kids and tell them to stop standing so close to ledge.  All the pictures of the valley that follow were taken by Captain E because mom hates heights and is a huge baby about it.  

Then Max had us hike down about halfway so we could get a better view of the water fall.  I was totally freaked out about the whole thing.  I thought I was going to puke and more than one time Kristin told me I didn't have to go through with it, but I was a little embarrassed about refusing to go out on the ledge so I kept following.  Something about when my foot is inclined, my mind just stops working. I for the life of me can't figure out how I'm going to get back up, and then when I do I'm like, "Ok duh, it isn't like you are just going to fall down this huge rock, you can use your hands or press your body kind of forward," but I'm such a baby and when I'm going down I just can never see how I'm going to return.  
This water fall was pretty darn amazing.  There was quite a bit of water coming down it and you could see why it would be a great place to generate energy.  I think in these pictures it is really hard to get a good idea of how tall the falls are but later when Dr. J goes behind them with 3/4 of our kids you can see they are over ten of him tall.

At this point Max took our group behind the falls.  This was too much for scaredy cat me so I volunteered to stay behind with Peach and Cheetah and take pictures of everyone behind the falls.  Of course at this point Cheetah became a total wreck and I was worried about how I was going to keep her safe on the edge of this cliff.  Dr. J to the rescue.  He tied Cheetah on his back and off they went.  At this point I was a little anxious about them hiking where it was wet and step but Dr. J is a mountain goat and figured the kids were probably safer with him then they were with me.   

Somehow Max got them all safely behind the falls and then back to me again.  Gigi and Captain E had a great time back there and were super excited to tell me about how cool the water fall was.  Cheetah got a little angry when they stop moving to take pictures but settled down pretty good after they got back and she was allowed out of the carrier.  Dr. J said it was neat but that it was a little slippery in places.  Our friend Mo told us later that people have actually slipped at these falls before and been seriously injured or died.  This is information I'm glad I didn't have at the time although I remember thinking while I was watching them take pictures that if one of them slipped and went down that they would really struggle to get out from under that pounding water.  Scary!  Peach and I had fun playing tic-tac-toe in the dirt.  This girl is just so easy going and friendly.  I really enjoy being her mother.  That being said, a little Peach story for you, today she was in a grouchy mood and at one point said to me, "I'm not going to be your sweet little baby anymore, I'm going to be a grouchy big girl."  Well alright then.  


  1. Your kids are so funny. I like reading about their personalities, and I wonder how each came to get their blogger nicknames. I hope Peach decided to still be your sweet girl. :)

    Great pictures and commentary. I love reading about your trip!



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