Kenya, Africa

I’m writing about my mission journey to Kenya, Africa. I traveled with a Christian medical-mission group to Kenya!

We first arrived in Nairobi and as a newbie to Africa, we were approached by many different people wanting to help us with driving us to our destination and with our luggage! You have to be single-focused as you arrive in some foreign countries and make sure that you are holding onto baggage, etc. until you know your plan!

In Nairobi, we stopped at a mall to exchange some of our US dollars to shillings. At that time (06/2014), the exchange is Kenyan Shillings $87 to $1 US Dollar. Today’s rate (03/2019) is $101 Kenyan Shillings to $1 usd.

Our destination was Sakwa, a small village northwest of Nairobi, Kenya. Our drive was one of the most interesting drives I have ever enjoyed. We stopped to see the “Great Rift Valley”. Along the way, we saw baboons, geece, turkeys, zebras, deer, cattle and donkeys. We went through towns like Kibera, Mai Mahiu, and Kericho. We stopped at a little market on the way and I had the first experience of using a squatty-potty! So, tip number #1: Keep toilet paper in your backpack, as well as wet-wipes to keep your hands clean.

As we continued in our drive, we stopped at the point where the north and south hemisphere meets (the equator) and ended up in an area where women would sell their beautiful wares. We carried on and passed tea plantations. Beautiful countryside! Some years back, the tea factories brought in machinery to harvest the tea, but the people revolted to this. Of course, they would – this was their livelihood! The people in the countryside have the attitude “eat together, be hungry together.” I thought that was beautiful. It’s important to remember that .25 cents could mean the difference between life and death to many of these beautiful people.

We made our way to Sakwa and our missionary host, Roberta, was so welcoming, along with her African teachers and students! “Jumbo” in Swahili which means “hello”, was said often, and Roberta being one of the first white women to the area – suddenly there were six of us “mzungas” (white people)! I fell in love with these beautiful children. They thought our skin was like paper 🙂

Our medical mission was successful, clothes delivered to the local orphanage and our time with the students was so very rich. Many of the children wore threadbare clothing and their shoes old, but their big smiles and big hearts reminded me that they had remarkably happy lives. Kids really only need love, food and shelter – but my heart wanted to clothe them all!

Our missionary host planned a safari visit for us, which was a treat! We went to Masai Mara, the southern part of Africa, near the border of Tunisia. Our drive took 5 1/2 hours and we stopped at a trading post on the way that had “real” toilets AND a mirror! haha We got settled into our tents and I enjoyed an ice cold shower after an evening safari. We had ridden for hours on extremely bumpy and dusty roads. So, tip number #2: Bring a mask and glasses to protect your lungs and eyes from all that dust!

The camp where we stayed employed Masai warriors, dressed in their beautiful clothes. I was also reminded that technology reaches even the Masai, as I captured one warrior on his cellphone :). On safari, we saw hundreds (can you imagine, hundreds!) of zebras, hundreds of wildebeests. We saw a male lion and two cheetahs, and beautiful giraffes in the wild. It was something out of Lion King! It actually made me think that this was what the dawn of creation must have looked like! It was magnificent! That night in our tent, we were instructed to lock up any snacks or food, as the baboons may visit us! I heard lots of noises through the night and was actually glad when morning came!

And then our final journey back to Nairobi. We had a medical clinic planned, which went well. My journaling notes of Nairobi had these descriptions of the city:

  • Poverty
  • Dirty
  • Pollution
  • Traffic
  • A mix of old and a mix of new
  • Beautiful apartments with laundry hanging out
  • Motorcycles and cars
  • Bicycles and police
  • Gates
  • Some infrastructure
  • Buses
  • Billboards
  • people, people
  • Horns
  • Smog
  • Flora and fauna
  • Hilly
  • Mansions and remnants of splendor
  • Locks and bars
  • Roasted corn

Our final stay at Sandavy B&B in Nairobi was delightful. We had lukewarm showers (yay!), pizza for dinner and I learned so much more about culture and people. What I come away with after visiting any country, is that people are essentially the same. They love their families, they enjoy laughter, good food and fellowship. I came away loving the beautiful people of Kenya.

The Oregon Coast!

We had the great opportunity to fly out to Portland, Oregon and rent an Airbnb on the Oregon Coast.  It was a chance to spend time with our 2nd son and his family.  Little did we know how absolutely breathtaking this part of the United States would be!

We stayed in a reasonably-priced beach condo in Rockaway Beach, out of season, so our prices were very good.  It WAS cold and rainy much of the time, but we found that we had a blast! The condo came with a fireplace, so we enjoyed the experience even more!

Because we stayed in the smaller community of Rockaway, prices were better, but it’s important to note that we were limited on choice of restaurants and grocery stores.  However, Rockaway is in the perfect location of being only 20-40 minutes North of the some of the most beautiful places on the Oregon Coast!

Cold weather didn’t stop the kids, as we discovered another Oregon Beach!
Some views along the Oregon Coast!

Just driving on the Pacific Coast Highway, be prepared to make many stops at the many viewing stops that Oregon made available, to be able to take photographs or just stop and enjoy the view!  While driving, we happened upon a herd of elk right by the road; another picture-perfect moment!

Oswald West State Park, Oregon

Our first stop was Oswald West State Park.  We had our little grandchildren (ages 2 & 4) with us, so our hikes were shorter but we enjoyed a beautiful hike to Short Sand Beach.  This beach was absolutely gorgeous and a perfect place to search for agate rocks, if you happened to be there at low tide!

The hike from Short Sands Beach, Oregon
Short Sands Beach, Oregon

Our next day, we parked at Hug Point State Recreation Beach.  This was a lovely place where we brought a picnic lunch to enjoy with our grandkids.  They had a blast, searching for rocks and just enjoying being in the beautiful sunlight that came out!

Unprepared and without rain gear, we went to the Dollar Store and spent $20 on umbrellas & plastic rain gear! Nothing stopped us from our hike and it ended up being a beautiful day!
Even a two year old can enjoy a cold day and brisk hike to the Oregon Beach!
Hug Point State Recreation Beach, Oregon

Our last day, we traveled to Cannon Beach, which was a wonderful must-see.  This beach took more effort to get to because it is a popular tourist attraction.  At low tide you may be able to see tide pools.  Bring a kite, shovel and buckets for the little ones to enjoy!  The whole experience was incredible!

Cannon Beach, Oregon

After spending such a wonderful family time together, we determined we will make a trip back in several years with the WHOLE family!

A few things to be aware of when traveling on the Oregon Coast.  Certain areas are considered tsunami risk areas and certainly this region of the United States is at risk for earthquakes.  Always have an escape route planned.  Some areas are out of the risk-area for tsunamis, so that is also an option.

If you ever get a chance to plan a trip to somewhere absolutely gorgeous and magical, the Oregon Coast is a win!  We will be back!

Cruising with Norwegian Cruise Lines to Italy, France & Spain

We are all about making the most of the time when we take a trip. Our journey started from JFK Airport in New York. We had just arrived and took a flight from Florida to JFK in order to make our flight to Rome. We flew with Alitalia, which was absolutely wonderful EXCEPT that you need to make sure you have enough time to go through security in JFK. We made it in time with 20 minutes to spare to catch our flight! We arrived in Rome, took a bus from the airport to our ship in Livorno. After relaxing a bit, we had our itinerary pretty much lined up prior to going on our trip.

A couple of tips that were helpful to us. First, be sure and save EVERY receipt! Secondly, it was wise of us to get Travel Insurance. The company we used was CSA Travel Protection, 1800-541-3522. Because of a delayed flight, we did end up using our travel protection.

See our article “Top Items to Pack for International Travel” for best items to take.

Our first stop was Livorno/Florence, Italy. We took the Florence/Pisa tour through seeamalficoast.com. This is a pricier tour, but well worth it. Our tour guide picked us up in a Mercedes and gave us a perfect tour of Florence. He asked if we would be interested in seeing Michaelangelo’s “David” and yes we would! He managed to procure tickets and seeing the Accademia Museum in Florence ended up being one of the highlights of our trip! We also got to enjoy the drive in the “Tuscan” region, catching a few great photos!

The Tuscan Region

Michaelangelo’s David in Florence. A picture can never do it justice.
Docking in front of Ile Saint-Marguerite

The next day, our ship docked at the port of Cannes, France. We researched what there was to do in Cannes, and found a little known half-mile ferry ride across the port to Ile Saint-Marguerite. This was an incredible visit! We visited the Fort-Royal Museum of the Sea. Most of this was built in the 17th century. The “Man in the Iron Mask”, made famous by Alexandre Dumas and Voltaire, was the most famous prisoner of this old fort and prison. This island and fort holds much beauty! At the opposite end of the fort is a Sailing school and if you walk the grounds, you will find a bird sanctuary and a pristine beach area with gorgeous “umbrella” pine trees. It was absolutely breath-taking. Ile Saint-Marguerite was a gem to visit!

Bird Sanctuary on Ile St. Marguerite! Stunning umbrella trees!
Ile St. Marguerite
On Ile Sainte-Marguerite, dining at the pizza restaurant, overlooking the French Riviera!
For real!
The beautiful cobblestone streets of Ile Sainte-Marguerite

Our 3rd day, we traveled with the cruiseline to the scenic villages of Palma and Valdemossa. This was a lovely visit and the scenery was beautiful.

Following our visit to Valdemossa, we cruised to Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona was a busy city with gorgeous architecture and many sights, sounds and smells! We took the Viator “Early Access Montserrat” tour, which was absolutely a must-see! Everything about this visit was remarkable! The photography opportunities were amazing, the cathedral was gorgeous. You could even enjoy a hike a near the mountain. And interestingly enough, it was here in this beautiful place and my husband and I got into a fight! In my notes I wrote, why is it when we are so blessed, we let irritations find their way to us? Good news, is, we made up! haha So, my other tip is make sure in your travels you take your vitamins, eat healthy, and still get enough rest!

Barcelona, Spain
Montserrat, Spain

Our visit to Naples meant another private tour with seeAmalficoast.com to Sorrento and Positano! These towns are magnificent. Set along the Mediterranean Coast, the mountains are peppered with colorful homes and everything has such an exotic feel. Later we drove to Pompeii. Pompeii was surreal. Finding the National Geographic photos was difficult, as the grounds were massive. Our time of year to travel (June) meant red poppies grew wild on the historic sites. We didn’t have enough time at this site as we would have liked. Something to keep in mind if you have the opportunity to travel here.

A scenic stop near Positano & Sorrento, Italy. Simply gorgeous!
Positano, Italy
Pompeii

Our last day, we arrived back in Rome and stayed at the Domus Terenzio, via Torenzio, 10, Vaticano Prati, Rome 00193, which accidentally put us in the perfect place for a long afternoon/evening walk all through many of the wonderful sites in Rome. We visited the Colosseum (through Viator), St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican, as well as the Vatican. Our walk took us to Castel Sant’Angelo, which was filled with such beautiful art. Our complete trip, including travel, took 10 days. Pretty remarkable to fit in all we did for the price.

Castel Sant’Angelo

Our final tip was to get a credit card with a travel bonus. We had to purchase new appliances anyway and used the card for the 1st $2500 we needed to purchase, and received a $500 credit towards our plane tickets. By checking prices at different days and different hours, we managed to get plane tickets to Rome for $498 each, for a total of $896. Take off our $500 credit and we flew together for $396 total (2017 price). It IS possible to travel internationally! There are many other creative ways to travel! Sign up here for updated articles and we can notify you of new articles sharing new tips!

About Us

We are Rick and Natalie, a 50-60’s year old couple, who have been married nearly 40 years! We have 4 adult children and 4 grandchildren now, ages 6 and under. Rick has been a Pastor/Worship Minister and musician for most of his life, while Natalie has dabbled in many different things, including photography, book editing, laboratory technology and volunteer work with Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian organization helping in world disasters. As our children have grown, we wanted to keep our interests up. We wanted to increase our travel experiences, our volunteer work and to not stop dreaming! And we want to do them together, as time allows!

We believe everything starts with a dream, and that it’s never too late to do the seemingly impossible. Enjoy our blog! We hope that you dream as you read about our trips, travel tips, adventure-finding and products that have helped us in our journeys!

Top Items to Pack for International Travel

Are you ready for your International trip! How exciting! My husband and I have done several trips and being the concise packer I am, we’ve discovered that packing light is the way to go! Here is a basic list that may help you in packing for your journsey:

  • First start with an excellent suitcase. We use Calpak and love it!  Tough, durable and fits easily in the overhead compartment of a plane. Here is a basic idea to help you find what you need: https://amzn.to/2W8iWy3
  • Always take an extra backpack. Our backpacks have gone through several trips. They are made well and sturdy! We LOVE our Eddie Bauer 20L “Stoaway” Backpacks! Reasonably priced, amazon sells them for $20 each! A great deal! https://amzn.to/2ubIQ88
  • Valid passport (email a copy of your passport to yourself as well)
  • Shot record, if necessary & record your blood type if known
  • Airline tickets
  • Debit/Credit Cards (make sure you email account #nos & contact numbers to yourself in the event of theft)
  • Cash, Money Belt or Travel Pouch. We use: https://amzn.to/2ucAm0x
  • Cellphone & chargers. European chargers
  • Sunglasses
  • Ideally pack 2 pairs of pants, 1 pair shorts, 4 solid-coloredshirts, all-purpose jacket, sweater, undergarments, socks
  • Ladies: a basic solid-colored dress
  • Vitamins. We use Garden of Life, which we highly recommend.  For women https://amzn.to/2Y7h6za and for men https://amzn.to/2OdsEME
  • Comfortable walking shoes & some comfortable flip-flops
  • Sleeping clothes
  • Rain poncho/hat
  • Toiletries
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Basic Medical Kit & sunblock (it doesn’t hurt to contact your physician and have a few antibiotics on hand, just in case)
  • Camera/Video/Batteries

The Journey Began…

Thanks for joining geojourney.US!  We are Rick and Natalie, a 50’s & 60’s-age couple.  It’s surreal to type those ages, because we don’t feel like the older crowd!  We want to share our experiences with others, because many of the places we have visited took hours of research.  We spent hours looking for the best ticket prices, best out-of-the-way places to visit, and some of the most beautiful and inspiring places in the world to see!  We hope you can be inspired to dream and PLAN, because dreams really can come true!  As a couple, we never dreamed we could experience such wonderful adventures together!  One things we’ve learned in our journey through life, is that if you dream something – then you can put “feet” to your dreams and dreams really can come true!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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