READING ROOM – The Portal: 13 Face to Face

We quickly made our way back to the cave.  It was amazing how difficult it was to determine the opening from the outside, but once inside, one could never tell and may even have a hard time finding it again.  The wolves assured us that the flyers could not pass through if they saw us, but would only get badly bruised heads or limbs if they tried, especially if they try to jump through, as some users like to do.  They recommended that we not imitate the jumpers, since they were experiencing difficulties with the portal at this time.  Once inside the portal, we rested until the others returned, hoping they would not be too long in returning, since night fall was not too far off.

A little while later the professor and Sarah returned with their companions.  They seemed a little exhausted.  <What happened?> I asked.  <They settled down to a meal,> the professor answered, <but they seemed to be in a hurry to eat it.>  <We suspect that they will be here shortly to investigate, since it will be getting too dark soon,” said Sarah.  <We are protected by this portal?> I asked concerned.  <As far as our experience with it has shown, it will be just a boulder to them with no way they can enter,> my wolf companion, Midnight, answered.  <We will soon see.  Here they come!>

face to face
Face to Face

I think we all felt a little worried and anxious to see what would happen, but we placed a lot of trust in our companions.  The men came quickly up from the path that led from the beach.  All four of them came with their machines.  I suspected that they needed higher grounds to take off rather than the beach.  But later we learned that the wind from the ocean was enough to get the lift they needed with these excellent designed flying machines.  Unfortunately, they dropped their machines on the path at the top of the hill not far from us and continued to advance towards our cave opening.  We seemed so vulnerable with the opening right in front of us and facing their advance, that I wanted to run back into the cave, but the wolves stood their ground, not moving a muscle.

Soon they were right before us looking at the ground around the boulder, checking the foot prints of the wolves.  Our companions had tried to walk out the human prints with their own.  At one point they looked straight at us, as though the boulder was a two way mirror, but in the end they could not see us or even suspect that we were inside.  But something told me that they suspected, and all might not be what it appeared.  They were here before, that much was obvious, and maybe they had seen someone or something come out of the portal or at least got a glimpse.  But they said nothing, only staring at the boulder for a long while, then turned and walked back to their flying machines.

<They are beautiful,> Sarah said.  <So tall and lean and well proportioned.  They must fly a lot to stay in such great shape.>  <Is this love at first sight?> teased Michael.  I don’t think Sarah heard, since she couldn’t take her eyes off of our aliens.  They were a sight to behold, but very much humans!  Whatever this planet was before with its alien life, it was now definitely populated with humans, at least four male looking humans.

<I don’t understand, Professor?> I asked.  <Is this portal to another world, or to another part of our planet?>  <I thought it was to another planet,> he answered as he turned to look at the wolves for verification.  <The moons,> Alpha pointed out, <we are on another planet.  At some point in earth’s time, after the Great Disaster, these portals were set up to save as many humans as possible.  Unfortunately, as the radiation levels rose, many of the portals were inaccessible.  Once they are set up, they are hard to move, even though the K-dwellers use mainly their mental abilities to work them.  This portal is permanent, as far as we can tell.>  I had to mention my suspicions.  <I couldn’t help but feel that the young men have been here before, and were curious about our boulder.  It seems that they may suspect something, even though they could not see us yet?>

The young men were taller than humans, but also much thinner and lean.  The gravity of this planet must be much lighter, since we could feel it on our way to the beach.  But that would only partly explain their longer and lighter body frames.  They seemed most adapted to the flying machines, or the other way around.  They were walking back to their machines where they had left them.  Their bodies gracefully covered the distance quickly because of their long legs.  They seemed to be covered in a tight fitting body suit, I guess, to keep them more aero-dynamic, but it didn’t hide anything either.  Their machines were super light as I could tell, as they picked them up by one hand and fitted it over and around them, then fastening a seat with a back that fitted under their crotch and came up in “y” shape tubes that went up and around their legs holding them in place.  That way the wings, which seemed to be operated by a pumping action using the feet and legs, helped to hold them in place, and where they could even get a running start and jump.  This left the upper body free to operate the steering mechanism with the hands and arms.  We could see that the machine was stable enough that one could operate a bow and arrow with enough coordination and practice, as we witnessed earlier.

How easily they were airborne.  One, two, three, four, quick loping runs and a jump, then they quickly put their feet in the stirrups to work the wings, and they were already flying off in the direction of the high mountain in the distance.  I think we all were envious of their flight, and lingered a little longer to watch them fly out of sight.  A little friendly growl from our companions, though, brought us back to the mission.

<We need to report into the Global Government,> the professor reminded us.  <It has been several days now, and I am sure they are worried, since this is new territory.>  <We will have to pass through the tunnel again and on to the outside for us to get a good signal,> Sarah said.  <Maybe the wolves can show us a pass through this old roadway tunnel to save us some time in getting back.  I am sure this tunnel will lead us closer to a place where we can be picked up,> the professor suggested.  <I do not think this tunnel goes anywhere you would want to go.  We have explored it ourselves and know that it makes a turn and opens into a new area that no one has explored before,> Alpha said.  <If it is a new territory, I would be interested in checking it out,> Michael said.  <We seem to be getting lucky with aliens and portals so far.>  <This territory,> Alpha warned, <could be filled with mutants.  There is always that danger.>  <She is right,> Sarah said.  <I for one do not want to run into any of those monsters that we encountered on the last expedition!>  <But that has been rare,> Michael sounded disappointed.  <Let us report first,> said the professor, <and let them decide.>

READING ROOM – The Portal: 23 Not Alone In The Grove

grove
The Grove

We relaxed a bit after lunch and discussed with Sarah and the Professor, their theories concerning this mutant valley of paradise.  All of a sudden Michael went on high alert by the looks of his body language.  Even his mental signals were guarded.  Midnight seemed very alert also and put the whole group on alert.  I could only guess what the problem was.  We had worked out this signal for the whole group at the last camp just in case we encountered something that may try to tap into our minds.

Then I saw it for myself, and found myself instinctively trying to act normal or nonchalant.  Jeff caught my eye and casually looked down at the ground behind me while talking in my mind some unimportant topic.  There were foot prints all around us, just barely noticeable and easy to miss, except that the same thing happened to the first team on the other side of the portal, when the men in the flying machines tracked us to the entrance of the cave.  Except that they were our foot prints.  My guess was that there may be a portal nearby for whoever was making these tracks, and that portal could be anywhere.  Like the cave, our portal was only visible to us and not the men in the flying machines.  That either meant that they had only been here a short while and were watching us, or they were able to stay invisible by crossing back and forth between their portal.  The thought of them watching us and following us the whole time gave me the creeps and I am sure everyone else.

The Professor finally broke the silence in our minds, <Sooner or later we will have to communicate. Lets just hope that they cannot read our minds. I remember that we could hear the voices of the aliens from beyond the portal but not read their minds. Maybe it will be the same for us here?>

I noticed the new team members were still in a fog of what was happening but only that they were alerted to danger.  The Professor reminded them of our encounter with the aliens on the other side of the portal and our experience with them.  Sarah suggested that we head back, seeing we had enough data and information concerning this part of the territory, and that we should play it safe and leave now.  We all agreed.  But how does one go about acting like no one was there when we knew quite well that they were still watching us?

We quickly broke camp and headed in the direction of the Tower. But the Professor pointed out that the Tower was in the opposite direction.  <We should be headed in that direction Jeff!>  <But I clearly see the Tower, there!> Jeff said puzzled.  The rest of us, except Midnight, Michael’s companion, could see the Tower also in the direction which the Professor pointed out.  <Who do we follow?> Sarah said in alarm.  <Wait!> I said. <It is strange that the two blue eyes can see the Tower in that direction opposite the rest of us who can clearly see it in that direction.>

Alpha, the companion of Sarah pointed out that the wolves’ noses said that direction, in the same direction as the blue eyes!  We went in the direction of the wolves, trusting their keen senses.  Along the way and now on our return, we felt this dread of the place getting stronger; that sense of trespassing on someone else’s land.  We were puzzled though with the confusion of the direction of the Tower.  It all seemed to make the place more ominous.  By now we were all ready to return to anyplace but here.  The only problem seemed to be this growing sense of loss of direction among us, except for Jeff and Midnight, who were quite clear as to the direction.  Nothing seemed to be right.  It seemed as though we were continuing on in the wrong direction, because everything was new and even stranger in the flora.  Our old trail markers were not there, or were removed. We prayed that any marker would show up just to settle this feeling of being lost.  The fact was that Jeff and Midnight were quite certain of the direction, backed up by the noses of our companions, helped reassure the rest of us.  I am sure the wolves were discussing that puzzled to their senses, but Midnight reassured them.

Suddenly we broke through a clearing and spotted the Tower at the entrance of the pass that led out of the valley.  With a sight of relief, we headed up the pass and eventually out of the valley and into the woods again.  The rest of us felt the spell of being lost leave us as the Tower came into view.  It gave us a good example of a window into our mind that could be manipulated.  At least now we were aware and could possibly block it with the help of the wolves from any future experience.  We were not too eager though to test that theory again.

READING ROOM – The Portal: 12 The Flying Machines

Flying Machine
The Flying Machines

In those few minutes while the flyers were gliding in the air above us it seemed that everyone was thinking all at once in my head.  This was the point of our training, the wolves would remind us later, to control and block out any other thoughts that were not under control.  I think the main thing was to not allow others, maybe these flying men, to get control of our minds under stress, especially in a situation we were experiencing now.  And slowly we came to our senses, so to speak, and the voices stopped one by one.  It was a very interesting experience, I guess like someone almost going insane since the panic was very real.  To be caught by the flyers and prevented from entering the portal in time to activate our personal key would be disastrous.

Again the flyers glided in on the wind, coming in low enough to catch the prey by surprise, a little rabbit like creatures but bigger.  Their bows were poised and ready, just waiting to get close enough to hit their mark.  Then quickly in rapid succession the arrows flew true to their mark, each one taking in a creature.  Later we learned that the little creatures were all around us and quite populous in this area.  The flyers glided in to collect their prey and landed softly on the ground while we watched from the distance in the low-lying bushes.  This time we were safely enough away from them but still close enough to see clearly every detail.  Sarah was in rapt attention of these magnificent men and their gliders.

The Professor was also interested, but in the flying machines.  It was a combination of glider and pumping machine that made the wings flap; simple looking enough but not quite easy to figure out as to how they worked.  It was quite a fascinating machine to be able to fly and hunt at the same time.  It must take years to master such a feat, since these were not young men.  By now we were certain that they could not see us, yet we were able to see and hear them and to even read their thoughts.  Fortunately their thoughts were a wonderful mixture of pictures and emotions of the scenes around them, including the emotional high of hunting and catching their game.

Wasting no time, they attached their flying machines to their bodies, strapping into a harness, and took off with a running start down the sand dune and catching the wind from the ocean.  How quickly they soared up into the sky with their prey, that it was absolutely marvelous to watch with a tinge of envy.

<They are so wonderful,> Sarah exclaimed.  I think we were finally sensitive to not speaking out loud that Sarah’s mind talk was almost automatic, since I sensed Alpha nod with approval.  <They are,> replied Michael.  <I wish we could join them.>  <We better wait first to make sure they will not shoot us with those arrows,> the Professor cautioned, <since you could see, they are very good.>  <Lets go back to the beach,> Michael suggested, <I am sure they will head there.>  <Yes,> Sarah said.  <We don’t want to miss anything concerning this new planet.>  Michael laughed, <You mean, you do not want to miss gawking at them.  I thought your specialty was flora and fauna?>  <I changed my specialty when I first saw them.  They are certainly more worthy to study than just animals.>  <I beg to differ,> Alpha said teasingly.  This caught Sarah off guard.  What could she say?  <Anyway, I would like to study their flying machines a little more,> the Professor said, <so let’s go!>

We headed towards the beach.  The men were flying above us now but seemed to be following us.  At first it seemed that they were going to head to the beach as Michael thought.  Maybe they were just gliding above to take advantage of the updraft from the ocean, but the Professor seemed a little too cautious to be certain and asked us to run to the beach and head into the ocean.  He would explain later.

At a fast trot, we quickly headed to the beach and then into the ocean where it was shallow.  Then he stopped and looked back.  <There, look!> he pointed.  <It seems they have spotted our footprints!  I just happen to take a quick look at our feet to see if any footprints were showing up, and they were!  Let’s just hope that our invisibility isn’t going to wear off! >  <Listen,> Michael thought.  <I mean, focus on their thinking.  They are looking for our footprints.  It seems the wolves are one step ahead of us.>  <We noticed it also, and tried to cover up your human prints,> Alpha said.  <Maybe animal prints will not make such a difference.  Keep your thoughts on alert; we do not know these species, they are new to this area.>  <Oh?> Sarah responded.  <What else do you know OR NOT know, that you are keeping from us?>  <Lots!  There is only so much time to expose you to all of this, and it will only be a sampling.  When we get back to the cave we will inform you of more, but we need to be cautious of this group.  You can see, they are fierce hunters and warriors from beyond the mountain!  I do not know why they are here, especially at the ocean.>

Their eyesight must be exceptional, which we knew from their spotting the prey from up above, but it seemed like they have done this before, or they are just good.  The flyers were looking again, only we were the prey.  Somehow we needed to make it back to the cave before they found us.  That meant standing in this water to hide our prints and eventually heading down the beach to come out onto the shore again and back to the cave from there.  It probably would not be good to give away our cave entrance either, which means we would have to hide our prints on the way back.  Eventually the flyers gave up and headed to the ocean.  Smoothly they landed on the beach using the strong draft coming from the ocean landing so softly on the sand.  They prepared to cook their meal and went looking for firewood.  Hopefully the footprints of the wolves helped, or we were sure, they would have continued to look if they had spotted our human prints.

Now that we knew we would soon be visible, we headed parallel to the beach away from our flyers to keep some distance away from them.  Fortunately the water was warm, but the wolves were definitely uncomfortable and were looking for a place to get out.  The professor signaled to the wolves, Michael and I, to leave and head back to the cave, while he and Sarah remained for a little while longer.  We gladly headed down the beach and left them to their gawking, since they were more interested in further study of their respective disciplines.

READING ROOM – The Portal: 11 Through The Portal

through the portal
Walking Through The Portal

Eventually, we got up the courage to make a short exploration trip to the ocean and see what we could find there, since we were all anxious about keying ourselves with the Portal on time.  The path was an easy slope down sand dunes like topography on earth, winding down to the beach.  There was much plant life all around, very thick, almost jungle or rainforest like growth.  At the top of the hill the plants were much smaller, but grew taller as we descended to the beach.

The place was beautiful and looked almost like any place on earth.  I thought out loud if this was earth at some other time or were we transported to another place on the planet.  <You are on another planet,> responded Diamond.  <Look at the moons.  We believe that they may have something to do with the portal, but the K-Dwellers are very secretive about the whole thing.>  <All we know is that the keying to our bodies do not last very long outside the portals,> offered Alpha, <except for Midnight.>  That was Michael’s companion who had blue eyes.

<Maybe the color of his eyes has something to do with?> I asked.  <Could be, but the K-Dwellers control the portals, that we are sure about, and they do have green eyes,> she said.  <And we do know that the blue eyed ones have special powers; but not on earth as far as we know.>  <Well, we will find out what powers they have on this planet,> Michael seemed eager to find out.

We investigated the beach area but did not find much except for a fire pit; we hoped that it was not used very often.  Eventually we walked up the beach; looking out from the cave towards the ocean that would be to the right, heading to the south.  There was not much in way of land formation except for a small hill formation heading out into the ocean like a natural breaker to the waters.  What lay beyond that would take too much time to explore, especially since the best route would be to cross over the small hills or dunes to get a better look.  As we headed back to the place where we came from, we all noticed something very strange; we left no foot prints in the sand!

<Look!   Where are our footprints?  This is very odd!> the Professor exclaimed.  <Maybe we are not yet adapted to the planet yet?> Sarah offered.  She was the most excited, especially when it came to something new, but she was also the closest to the mark when trying to figure things out or come to conclusions.  <We have noticed that before, but never made the connection until now,> Midnight mentioned.  It seems his gifts did not include making connections.  <What do you mean,> Sarah asked.  <From our home planet,> Midnight said, <we noticed that this happened after we had been on earth for a while, but did not notice it until much later.>

<After a while our prints became clearer, almost like we had gained weight and the impression became deeper.>  Diamond also added, <But it is hard to tell when one first arrives unless you walk on mud or sand.>  <It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few days,> the Professor said.  <I take it that we will be staying here for a few days?> I asked.  <Just long enough to take our bearings.  But we will be back.  There are too many things going on here for only us to investigate.  We need help from the other teams,> he said.  On the way back to the cave we were constantly checking out our footprints, but nothing was happening yet.  They were clearly not making any impressions.  Slowly we climbed back up the sandy path to the cave, trying to find an easier way up the path.

All of sudden we looked up and spotted four young men in gliding machines heading our way.  It seemed like they were trying land on the flat area at the top of the dunes that led to the cave.  We quickly jumped out of the way so as to not be knocked down.  We were all thinking at once, <What was that?> and <Don’t want to be seen.  Was it too late?> and <Don’t want to get caught outside the portal since we do not how long the keying will last on us humans and the wolves.>  After we ran for cover, we noticed that Sarah was still standing and staring at them.  That is when we noticed that they were naked, almost naked.  We were sure they saw Sarah, but seemed to take no notice of her.  Finally she ran for the cover, but almost casual like.

<I don’t think they can see us!> she thought excitedly.  <Maybe it is like our footprints, we just are not visible yet.>  <What is going on here?> the Professor thought out loud.  <I can hear them in my mind, my thoughts, but they are not talking, or I can’t hear them yet.>  <Now you know what you sound or think like to us,> said Alpha.  <Remember, words are just vocal symbols and do not necessarily give the whole or clear picture.>  <Wow!> was all Sarah could say.  I think she was still caught up with the sight of the naked men in their flying machines.  <I can hear them think, but it is like thinking in pictures,> she thought in her reveries.

It seemed like they were hunting for small game, because they all carried arrows and they each had one arrow ready.  I was hoping that something would come out of the forest just so I could see them in action; flying and shooting arrows would be quite a feat.  But eventually the wind caught their sails and they gained altitude and they just circled around.  I was hoping they would be waiting for more game to show up or come out of hiding and then swoop back down for another try.

READING CHAIR – Missionary: 8. “Mombasa”, Kenya

8. “Mombasa”, Kenya

Mombasa City
Mombasa City

Every August after the second year Novices have moved on to the Scholasticate (a house for further formal studies), and the first year Novices are on home visit, we the Staff head out for a week of relaxation in Mombasa.  August is also a great time of the year for Mombasa since they experience the coolest weather this time of the year, relatively speaking!  Sometimes we take the train and other times we take a bus, and even rarely we drive.  The train is slower but a different kind of experience.  Naturally we would have to take public transportation to get around in the city, but that is also a different kind of experience too!

This year we decided to take the train again.  Usually the train leaves at seven in the evening out of Nairobi and generally arrives in Mombasa the next morning around seven.  If we would have taken the bus, it would have been a seven hour trip and five hours by car. The public transportation system is very reliable and it is better to leave the car at home, even though it is more convenient.

There seemed to be very few travelers on the train these days, but not surprising seeing how much time it takes for the train to get to Mombasa, and the service has not been as good lately.  The train is old and small grade tracks, which means that it rocks back and forth from side to side a lot, almost like it is going to tip over.  However, the food service is great and we look forward to our turn at meal in the dinner-car.

Once we are settled in our cabin, we spend the time chatting until meal time.  We were able to get two cabins that connect by a sliding door, with two beds in each. That way we are all together and it is a great way to travel without worrying about the road.  There are four of us this time: Steve, Tom, Patrick, and myself, Mike.  Three of us are American missionaries, the fourth, Patrick, is from Kenya. Steve and I have made this trip before by train, bus, and car.

Our meal ticket has been called out and we headed to the dinner.  The dinning car was beautiful and antique looking, like a trip back in time. he fine dinning linen and china have been laid out for us and the menu included delicious tilapia fish or chicken.  We begin with beer, Tusker, an excellent Kenyan brew. Unfortunately, it has already gotten dark because Kenya lays near the equator and the sun sets around seven thirty during the summer months which begins in mid-December.  We are coming out of winter, but August is still warm for us northern climate folks and the sun still sets early.

The meal was fantastic and we lingered in the dinning car since there were not many other travelers staying for more drinks. After a while we headed back to our cabin and prepared for the evening. Already our beds were made up and ready for us if we wanted to sleep, but everyone was still chatting and having a good time, excited about our arrival tomorrow.

We awoke early since the beds are not the most comfortable, and I was on the top. I had to go to the bathroom several times during the night because of the beer.  I was ready for breakfast and ready to reach Mombasa to begin our next part of the trip.  After breakfast, we returned back to our cabins and enjoyed the countryside as we slowly made our way down from the plateau to Mombasa town.  The train makes several switchbacks with great views as we begin our final descent to the outskirts of Mombasa.  One notices the proliferation of palm tress and coconut trees everywhere.

old city mosque
Mombasa Old City Mosque

The houses in the villages here are still simple, made of mud walls and thatch roofs, until we reach the outskirts of the Industrial area of Mombasa.  Here and there more and more brick and block houses cut from coral or made from cinder blocks are beginning to dominate.  Soon we make our way into Mombasa City Center and arrive at our destination, about nine in the morning.  The city of Mombasa has a distinct Arabic architecture and Arabic flavor to the food.

Fortunately we are not in a rush to arrive at the place where we will be staying, because we have to make our way across town to the Likoni Ferry that will take us across the Mombasa bay.  Eventually we find a Matatu (Nissan van common transport in eastern Africa) that brings us to the ferry.  Several Likoni Ferries service this part of Mombasa, since it is the only way to go south down the coast. Once the ferry delivers us to the other side of the bay, we are not far from our destination.

fort jesus
Fort Jesus

For this part of our trip we have made arrangements to stay at the Consolata Retreat House which is built right next to the Indian Ocean!  Since I teach at the Consolata School I am invited to stay at their Mombasa house.  It is beautiful and the rooms have a view and constant breeze coming off the ocean.  The place hosts a chapel for daily mass, dinning facilities, a TV and recreation room, and a very spacious manicured lawn with a rich assortment of flowers and trees. The only problem is that we have to keep our doors closed or we may find unexpected visitors entering to help themselves to whatever we leave in the open, including the monkeys!  These are the somewhat small light brown monkeys; the males have bright blue testicles that are quite obvious.  They love to enter our rooms looking for anything to eat and tend to leave gifts of poo everywhere.

We have three wonderful days at this retreat place with great meals of fresh fish and squid, plenty of reading and in the evenings movies to watch. The beach is right there, and at high tide the water comes right up to the steps so that one only needs to dive into the ocean off the breaker wall.  During low tide the visitor would have to walk all the way out on the coral reef, about a mile, to reach the edge.  One would also have to wear some kind of shoes because of the long black spiked pin cushion like sea anemones that cover the reef in many areas on your way to the edge. There are also many pools along the way that may harbor deadly sea snakes, which the weary visitor needs to be aware of.  Other than that, the walk is worth the weary traveler because of all the sea life that one may encounter.

What makes Mombasa such a wonderful place to visit is that we only travel there once a year.  Our other brothers that live here year round may have gotten used to the place and the wonder has worn off, or they are too busy to enjoy an occasional visit to the ocean. The only disadvantage would be the weather. Mombasa is hot, hot, hot, and humid most of the year except for a few months of July and August.  During those months, the weather is cool, but never cold. However, most of the people here run around with jackets and overcoats as though they were in the Arctic during those months!  Surprisingly, most of the tourists come during the northern winter months, which happen to be the hottest months in Mombasa!

After a few days in the sun, some swimming in the Indian Ocean so we can write the relatives, a hike out to the edge of the reef, a casual walk on the beach, reading an exciting novel, catching up with favorite videos/ DVDs, even paradise can get boring after a while.  So, eventually we have to head over to our other community across Mombasa, located behind the Bombalulu Cultural Center, and everyone knows that place. Just take the Twapa Matatu from the Ferry and they will drop you off at the Bombalulu Road.

The housing in the Bombalulu area has taken off at a considerable pace.  What was once open fields and mango and avocado tree groves everywhere were now packed with housing development.  Our own house was in the middle of just such a housing boom.  It is a short walk from our house is the local parish that we run, a very large building with two stories to accommodate everyone.  Fortunately, we have planted many trees and flowers and bushes around the property that it now seems like a botanical garden compared to every where else.  There are also several projects located at the parish; a clinic, office buildings with conference rooms, a trade school which features carpentry, hairdressing, catering, computer classes, and metal works.  I was anxious to see what else they may have added.

Bombalulu
Bombalulu Cultural Center

We always enjoy staying at our community in Bombalulu because of the fantastic hospitality and it is much cheaper than the Consolata Retreat Center, but not as quiet and minus the view of the ocean.  I love the laid-back atmosphere of Mombasa because of the heat.  People always dress casual, and with the constant rain, pata-patas (or flip-flops) seem to be the trend in foot wear.

Our stay in Bombalulu quickly comes to an end though, and we find ourselves back on the train to Nairobi, starting out at seven in the evening again, only this time we look forward to the morning approach into Nairobi.  After breakfast, we stand at our windows outside our cabin, and look out at the landscape as we approach the capitol of Kenya.  If one is alert, the well informed tourist knows that the train will have to travel through the very large National Game Park that butts-up right to the inner city, next to the airport.  This time the train stops!  The problem, we learn, is that there are several giraffes on the train-tracks.  Zebras and wildebeests usually accompany giraffes, since they travel together for protection.  Sure enough, as they move off the tracks, the train starts up again and we can see them clearly not far from our windows.  This is a real treat to end our short vacation to Mombasa.  Maybe next year we will be treated to even more.  It is difficult to be a missionary in Africa, but it does have its benefits!

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