Christmas 2012 news
Christmas 2011 News
Season coming to a close
Starting Year 6!
Belated Happy New Year!
New Season 08 News
End of Season News
A Very Happy 2008 to You All
Brand New Season Begins
Happy New Year!
Kizingo August News
New Season News
End of Season News
No Shoes, Some News from Kizingo Shores
Turtles Hatch at Kizingo
Beached Whale Saved
A Wedding at Kizingo
Firstly Kizingo would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year!
I am sorry for the lack of news from our side, my only excuse is that we have all been rather busy. As a family we hate the predictable and so in June, Mary Jo and Louis moved down to Zimbabwe to start setting up a small letting business in the capital in the hope of capitalising on the boom that Zimbabwe has been on the edge of since the year I was born back in 1980.
While they have been down building I have held the fort here at Kizingo. Thank you to all of you who have been to stay and kept me company. Thank you also to the many guests who took the time to contribute to Tripadvisor. We have now received a certificate of excellence.
The main highlight of our year was the wedding of My sister Emilie to Florien, it was a such a wonderful occasion and a big relief to Hugo their gorgeous 7 mouth old baby who looked suitably pleased when his disorganized Mum and Dad finally got round to saying "I do". My grandmother was heard to quietly mutter "legitimacy at last!"
We held the wedding at Kizingo and seeing that Lamu is a faraway place to come we decided to make it worth the long journey. It therefore had to be a five day event or as some people said a five day rave. I have never really seen the point of marriage but after last week I am a convert. It was such an incredible 5 days, with so many people chipping in to help make it in my view, the best wedding ever. Leslie from Kizingoni so generously offered all sorts of assistance from beds and bandas. Celia was on hand to add that little bit of Sheik Kizingoni magic. Carol from Peponi brought baskets of flowers and then effortlessly turned the Kizingo dining room into the most beautiful wedding venue. The Shales, Masons and Woodcocks all lent us their lovely homes to help accommodate everyone. Thank you to Gemma Hall and Phoebe Vickers who took the photos and that will be ready soon!
Eighty eight people made the journey to Lamu from 15 different countries, England, The USA, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Germany, Southern Ireland, France, Scotland, and of course Kenya.
Many people were doubtful that the van Aardt family could pull off such an event, and they had every right to doubt! Thankfully we have the best team of staff in the world and they know all to well the many failings of their management team, took full control and allowed us to, well in my case, make rather a fool of my self. I sustained one of two wedding injuries. On about day two I decided to go to bed at around 4 am and staggered to my room with the assistance of Salim the night guard, who discreetly guided me back in the right direction with me telling him over and over that I was fine and just a bit tired as I always tell him when I find my self in a similarly intoxicated state. I found that my room door was jammed shut and for some stupid reason I attempted to climb into the window. My room is a good 2 metres off the ground. Well even with my light frame the grass blind came away in my hand and I fell onto my back. I lay dying for what seemed like an eternity while trying to call for help, which is rather hard when you have just expelled your last breath. After some time I realized no one was going to come to my assistance, Salim already long gone in hunt of other guests in need of his guidance. I managed to heave my self up and made it for the door, which I now found, was miraculously open. I am still in rather a lot of pain and convinced it’s a cracked rib. The other injury was a sustained by lady who does not wish for her name or the incident to be mentioned. ;-)
The service was wonderful, my grandmother began howling well before the actual ceremony and I think only stopped when she went to bed at 3 am the following morning, having thrown away her stick in favour of the arm of her many adoring dance partners and the much more supportive whiskey and Ice that has kept her with us all these years.
That special moment came and in walked my most beautiful sister wearing a simple yet perfect Emilie dress, hand made in silk by the one and only Sue Dixon, eat your heart out Sarah Burton. My farther on her arm surprising us all and managing to keep his eyes in a wheeled up state and not completely letting go like he is prone to do even when watching Little House on the Prairie. He handed her over to the dashing kikoy wearing Florain. My sister is the first van Aardt to marry a Frenchman since our Great Great Great Great Grandfather did back in 1730 just before they set sail for Africa.
The service was as expected being Kenya, unique, sometimes awkward, shocking and charming all in the short space of the 15 min that it took to complete the kiss. The D.C a distinguished military man, read out the all important warning, that should Emilie or Flo be wed to anyone else before this day and did not admit to it they would be punished under Kenyan law by jail. He then got on with the marriage ceremony and informed them of the long long road ahead. Finally the service ended with you can kiss each other if you want too, as he turned away!
We all then headed to the beach where Celia had prepared a gorgeous spot for us all to throw back the Champaign and celebrate. Strict instructions has been given to Tom, Alex and Sammy our barmen that my Father was to only be permitted two glasses as at the last wedding we had at Kizingo he had to be carried to bed well before we even sat down for dinner. As this wedding was a little more important as far as his role in it we needed him relaxed but not intoxicated. A precarious line to follow in my experience.
After some hours of drinking, talking and watching the sun melt into the sea, we all returned to find the dining room transformed from a romantic wedding venue into a glorious banqueting hall. Tables fully laid out for 88 people (yes we somehow fitted) and they looked amazing, candle lit and covered in roses, kindly flown in along with two sheep by Gordon and Vanessa.
We then began with the speeches, so as to get those out the way before nerves and drink got the better of the star performers. My father who is not a fan of public speaking, did the most incredible speech and even with the curse of dyslexia, that hangs over every good van Aardt, managed to do parts of it in French for the benefit of our new in-laws. He also thanked Flo from all of my side of the family for brining to the genetic table some much needed height and hair.
Florien’s speech was also exceptional, the highlight was when he toasted my grandfather and made a note to one of his most famous put downs, under every male pony tail is an arsehole. I know my grandfather would have loved to have been alive, to attend his most favourite and only grand daughters wedding and In Florien I am sure he would have made a small exception to that extra long head of hair especially after sampling one of Flo’s delicious cloistral clad French meals that were a favourite of his.
The dinner was incredible Christine Campbell-Clause effortlessly spit roasted two whole sheep to perfection, while still managing to join in the fun. Sarah and Kanchora with the rest of the kitchen deserve all our praise, for all the tasty meals we had over the course of the week.
After the dinner the party then began in earnest with Richard as DJ. People of all ages and abilities danced the night away. I think I finally turned the generator off at about 5 am in the morning. Richard, Camilla and Antonia bravely carried on parting. I think Barbara Hall dragged them to bed at 11 am! Celia and Lesley arranged for the Kizingoni dhow to be decked out with bed and cot for the newlyweds, who at 4 am set sail, out to sea under a full moon and I will leave the rest to your imagination... over tired baby, a drunk Dad and I have got a headache springs to mind ;-)
We have now settled back to a normal Kizingo routine of gently rocking on our Lamu swing beds, eating seafood, and swimming with Louis Dolphins. As you all bunker down for winter remember you are only a night and day away from blue skies and warm seas.
The Kipungani School Trust continues to grow. Thank you to all who have supported this most worthwhile charity especially in such hard times. The trustees have once again visited and must be admired. Mary jo and Cas Donald before the wedding, personally inspected every one of the 16 schools in the Lamu and Malindi districts. This they did alone, in a battered pick up, over rough rural roads in heat and storms. A very stoic endeavour, and one I would never do unless chauffeured in an air-conditioned limo.
Love from all of us at Kizingo
Before anything else I just want to reassure you that I am not writing from an internet café in Somalia begging our most loyal friends and family to help raise a ransom to get me back home! We are in fact all still here at Kizingo continuing to live out our sort of utopian, hunter gather exsistance. I have been away for the last few weeks travelling around Kenya with a friend and enjoying the spare time that only pirates and a free press can bring.
The rest of the family have been here at kizingo. Thankfully some of you have been to visit. In fact we have actually had people staying for the last 3 weeks. Thank you to Barry and Mandy Unwin and Nick and Liz Ann Atkinsons for coming to stay again. Barry caught an Indo Asian Tarpon fish which it is believed to be a world record, however we only realised this long after the fish was eaten. Richard has relentlessly tried to catch another one but with no success. Thank you also to Ian and Sandra Gouth who got married here a few years ago and decided to come back for a week to renew their vowels ;-)
Now for some rather exciting news! Just when we really don't need any more mouths to feed my sister and her boyfriend Florien have announced that they are to have a baby. They say it was planed... Emilie promises to breastfeed for at least a year so not to be too much of a burden on us. We are all so thrilled, and even though they are not married we are still going to except the child as one of us, being the very modern sort of family that we are. He or She is due in April and the plan is for it to be born down in Zimbabwe. It is a great relief to me, the eldest son, as the constant nagging to create a grandchild will now hopefully cease.
We lost all of our bookings for Christmas and New Year, but we have steadily been getting new ones. Though we are not yet full again we are definitely going to have enough people to welcome in the new year! There is still space for anyone that wants to escape the European winter of discontent. We are also still excepting Euros if any of you want to get rid of them before Angela Merkel does it for you.
The Lamu cultural festival took place and was a resounding success. We were kindly invited onto the luxurious and large Tusitiri dhow for drinks which offered a brilliant view of the dhow race. It was great to see Lamu busy again and hopefully it will go some way in helping to return things back to normality.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year
Love from us all at Kizingo
It has been a long time since I wrote a new news letter, the main reason is I felt that there was no way that I could compete with Toms brilliant and exciting letter about his adventures in Cape Town.
We had a great holiday at the end of last season. My parents, Richard, Emilie and Florien drove down to Zimbabwe. I was thankfully able to get out of this family excursion with the excuse that I needed to close up the Lodge and joined them a few weeks later in Harare. Their drive down was obviously eventful with lots of family bickering and vying for the front seat etc. They were held up at the Tanzania border as apparently Mum had driven though a roadblock with out stopping. She swears that she never saw any roadblock but with her track record on the road she probably was talking to much to notice. They had to do lots of sweet talking and apologizing to be allowed to continue on there way.
It was wonderful to all be back in Zimbabwe after so many years away. The country still has lots of problems but like Britain the coalition government between Mugabe and Morgan Tshangari, has surprised everyone by actually bringing about some improvements. The most noticeable is that the country finally decided to abandon the national currency and switch to US $. It is quite strange buying your fruit and vegetables from the side of the road in us dollars with people that have probably never been out of the province let alone the country. There is no us coins in the country and so you can never get any change when you by anything. If you are owed change you are given the option to donate it to the teller or they will give you lollypops up to value of what they owe you.
Harare is still a lovely city but you feel like you have gone back in time. All my friends who never left the country are unburdened by the stresses and strains of the real world. People still don’t seem aware of the link between smoking and heart dieses and the advantages of wearing a seat belt. Pregnant woman smoke and drink with reckless abandon and you have to keep reminding your self that it is 2010 (when we visited) and not the 1980s. I must say that though I don’t condone these habits and behaviours my Zimbabwe friends did seem so much more relaxed about life and perhaps we in the modern world could all do with a little less knowledge and a little more ignorance but of course only in moderation ;-)
We had a shaky start to the season with very few bookings in July and August and in fact we were so quite that we began thinking of all sorts of other business ideas to keep the wolf from the door. In the end we settled on starting up a small Quail farming business. We brought an incubator and then procured 12 eggs from a Nairobi supermarket. At the end of the first week we had turned the incubator off by mistake leaving the eggs cold for well over 12 hours. Louis was furious. We decided to switch the incubator back on and wait and hope. Much to all our amazement out popped 12 little baby chicks 18 days latter. We were grossly unprepared so a frantic rush ensued trying to build a place for them to live and a light to keep them warm. Oh and we had to find some food which we did not have so for the first few days we fed them on a diet of bread crumbs and chicken egg yolk. Amazingly they all surprised except for the one that was born with a doggy leg. The Kenya quail industry though appears to be very interbred and so we brought some more eggs on the internet from a lovely man in Essex. We then got Richard to smuggle them back in the hold on the Virgin Atlantic flight. Amazingly they too hatched even though they were subjected to a high dose of radiation at the airport and then below freezing temperatures in the hold.
So the Quail population is growing fast. So far they have eaten thousands of shillings taken up hours of time and lay the occasional tiny egg. Thank god bookings picked up from September and the season has now turned out to be a great success with the lodge running at near full capacity. Thank goodness for a cold European winter! I want to kill the quail and eat them and announce that the poultry business was a failure but Louis has become very attached to his birds and continues` to believe that we are on the cusp of an egg laying boom!
Christmas and New year was a great success and Richard after much pestering persuaded us to buy two huge and very expensive speakers for the new year Party. So we had a party down on the beach. The speakers were a great success and kept every one dancing tell the early hours of the morning. We have just pulled down Banda 7 and 8 which were the fist two rooms ever built here at Kizingo. The poles for the build have been harvested from trees planted in a partnership with the staff. This will mean that all out Banda's will be brand new for the start of the new season.
The dolphin season has been brilliant. We purchased a new boat and another 4 stroke engine which means we have managed to cut our fuel consumption down by nearly half. Two days ago there were well over 150 all swimming around the guests and of course dad. Richard has been helping out and has done some good fishing trips. A friend of ours managed to catch a 23kg Giant Traveli off the beach with a spinning rod. Emilie my sister and her Boyfriend Florien have moved to Tanzania where they are renting a small restaurant and campsite in the middle of nowhere. They are having to work rather hard getting things set up but seem to be enjoying there new life together. We hope to make the 3 day drive to visit them soon. If any of you are passing though Tanzania and want to try proper French cuisine in the middle of Africa then make sure you stop over at Kisolanza farm just south of Iringa. http://www.kisolanza.com
Boko the boat captain has a huge smile on his face as his wife has just given birth to his second child, a lovely healthy little girl. We are all planning to go to Europe for the closed season and very much looking forward to that. I have plans to go on a hiking expedition in Patagonia next January and so I am trying to get my body into order so that I will hopefully survive the trip. I have given up smoking for the 100th time with the aid of lots of Nicotine replacement patches. I am doing okay but they are defiantly no replacement for a proper cigarette. though I am now convinced that it is some scam and that what ever they claim to replace it is defiantly not nicotine.
The Kipungani Schools Trust continues to grow, a huge "Thank you" has to go firstly to our Chairman John Seagrim, with tireless energy he seems to manage mountains of work, from replying to all our kind and thoughtful visitors in helping the Kst to planning all the new projects. And also to Georgina and Cas who keep coming out to Kenya, visiting all the schools, offering encouragement to the teachers and children and helping with that little bit extra when needed. Nyale our lodge accountant who offers his time to keep the books and money in order. We are all very proud of the KST, but with out all the support and enthusiasm we would not be where we are today.
I think that is all the news from this end. Thank you very much to everyone of you that have come to visit us this last season and who are planning to visit soon.
Love from all of us here at Kizingo.
The following was written by Tom, one of the barmen at Kizingo. His story is inspiring, andmakes you realise what we all take for granted and treat as mundane, is really quite special. Make a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy Tom's remarkable words:
I am Tom the barman at Kizingo and I want to tell you my story, as It was such an experience that I had participating in the 5th Karate World championships in Cape Town South Africa. This was like boarding titanic, heading to America, the ship which had lots of fun on its way and then finally it sank.
Getting into the team was actually tough. In Kizingo where I am working everyone knows me that I am a Karate but the challenge is I am on my own and I have to organise and programme my self which is quite difficult. I always go though due to the Karate courage and fighting spirit. Cause i like Karate so much, not only as a sport but as a way of my life. Everyday i have to practise at least two hours and i do it as tough as my moral can take me.
I went for the second trial held in Mombassa in my holiday. At this moment my training was very serious and tough because I had plenty of time to deal with my self. When training I do lots of imagination that I will take my self all around the world. All sorts of good dreams and finally I found Karate as my staple food. When I take my ugali I never get hungry easily likewise when I practise a lot I never get sick. When I got there everyone seemed to be ready for the tournament. Some where putting on their Karate suites. Others were already jogging I also wore my new Karate suit to get myself in the courage and fighting spirit but it is a law that every participant, he she, has to have all the required protectors. Heike my friend and also a guest of Kizingo had already brought the things for me so I was set
With my courage and the fighting spirit I went through the rounds unbeaten, finding myself winning the competition. At the end of the tournament they announced those who did well, they will represent Kenya for the south Africa world championships. In the two categories that I participated, Kata and Kumite, I achieved 3rd and 1st. I was awarded some trophies and certificate, then we had our Sayonara party as usual, and we all said goodbye.
I went to Kisumu for the finals, I travelled some days before so to cope with the weather also it was my first time to be in that town. All the participants were there on the day of the event, and all was set as usual and the tournament began.
All the players, did their endeavour best, knowing that was the final trial for the world championship. Actual it was a tournament of never say die coz everyone wanted to go to south Africa and I would say it was a war target. At the end of the day, on my side. I thank god, due to my hard and tough training I achieve to produce some fruits. Again in those two categories I was 2nd in Kata and 1st position in fighting. We were awarded some trophies and certificate and they announced the team. I found myself chosen. I came back home knowing that I got some work to do.
I had only 3 weeks to find several things. I was supposed to have a passport also I was to try and get a sponsorship. My employer Mary Jo almost cracked her brain. So she promised to find some sponsors for me.
When I get to Nairobi we practise the whole day. Only we take a break of two hours for lunch and. Actual it was a good place of training also the practises were real tough but everyone had to be him/her self to do what we could.
While we were training, there were some of us who had no passports, so I and others went for the document at Nairobi Nyayo house. I promise you, getting this thing and little document called passport was such a disaster. This was just like a game of hide and seek. We all went back knowing that after 3 days will be having our passports. I took my practise very seriously coz I was now becoming famous. Several radio and TV stations came where we were training to take some pictures for the news. At the end of the day I could see myself in the TV news. Practising which was great for me.
On the third day we went to Nyayo house to collect our passports, but to my surprise I was very shocked about what he told me. All the documents were there accept one page of my file was missing. Someone had stripped one of my paper forms off so I had to fill another one. I asked him what was going on but he said he had no idea, but it seemed like he know what was going on, and because this Kenya he wanted me to do the normal Kenyan way. We were again told to come back after three days .Another dramatic case which was going on was about the 10 air tickets which we were promised by the minister of sport but the people working there had no good terms with our coach and were holding the tickets.
Time was running out, we were meant to be in south Africa a week before the tournament but we wouldn’t coz the government failed to work things on time. It was a shame, it took us almost two weeks to get the passports as a team which was to represent Kenya.
Two days before the world championship was to start we got our passports. To our surprise we were told that the government has failed us with the tickets which they promised, so they wouldn’t deliver the tickets for some complicated and unbelievable reasons. Surely it was so bad, everyone was not happy at all, after all that we have gone through, running to every office, camping and training very hard and all this was in vein. It was only I who can go coz I was sponsored by my employer Mary Jo and her friend and my coach who was sponsored by Mario school in Nairobi. Also a lady who also got a sponsor from her family and friend. It was very sad and demoralizing coz out from the fifteen people who were to represent Kenya for the 5th goju-kai karate do world championship only three went, a very big shame for the Kenyan government.
If all the countries which I saw in south Africa, which were twenty three, did the same as the Kenyan government did for us, then the world championship would have been attended by only ten people. I was very impressed with the south Africa high commissioners with how they are doing their work. This people are really doing exactly what they are supposed to do.
I phoned mama Mary Jo, as all her staff call her, and told her that I was through with everything and I’ll be going, she was very happy to hear this. A friend took me to the airport very early before the reporting time coz I didn’t want to be late at all. It was my first time to be at the Jomo Kenyatta airport and my first time also to be in a plane. My coach came some minutes after me and we all went together through the checking's and all the things we were supposed to do in the airport. We were boarding our flight at 8:10 pm and things were a bit easy coz of Maurice our coach who had travelled on a plane before so he was assisting me with every step I was suppose to do. We looked around the airport where I saw this wonderful thing and stepping on a carpet which I wouldn’t step on, if I couldn’t be a karate kid.
When the boarding time was on dot, another sound came from the building announcing for the passengers who were to board the flight going to Johannesburg. I was nervous coz it was my first time to fly. We got in the plane and I got this window seat 19f with my coach Maurice on seat 19e. I felt like I was freshly born again. They were this small screens above us which came on and they showed us all the instructions and safety. Someone was talking from nowhere telling us to put on our safe belt and we all did, amazingly in a couple of minutes my heart pumped strongly and I griped my seat a bit tight and it was the plane moving very slowly to the running way.
We got to the way and it stopped for a few seconds, and there was this funny sound like strong wind which made my ears closed. I quickly breathed in and when my ears opened I looked out the window and I saw lot of lights under me that is when I realised I was in the air. I couldn’t believe how amazing and wonderful to be in a flight. When I was in the air in the plane and they said we were at almost 6000 feet high. It was at night so I couldn’t really see how far a we from the ground. Some passengers were moving to the back of the plane so I asked Maurice what was wrong and he said they were going for a pee. I also got up and went to the loo and got in, I looked around and sat on the seat pretending like having a pee or something which I didn’t coz I was totally filling nothing but just to see how the plane loo look like. Then I found this little mirror and I was just laughing on the mirror by myself asking it if it was really me and then came out pretending that I’ve used the loo.
There were three ladies in the plane who were serving us some food and drinks. This was the most amazing moment when one of the crew asked me what would I like to drink. And I was very pleased the was she put it, it reminded me the way I attend our guests at Kizingo. Likewise she was impressed with the way I placed my order: ‘could I please have a glass of water thank you.’ this lady bought us some water and a coke for my coach and also she brought this delicious fish and rice with coconut sauce of which I guessed the fish was red-snapper and was just yummy. It was a full meal, main course and dessert and also I had a cup of coffee on top which now really made me to be a guest in the flight.
After the lovely dinner, while we were moving on, we also watch a movie which made me to stay awake. I was very comfortable seated and enjoying the incredible trip the landing also its another experience. The Johannesburg airport is huge and real amazing, it has about six run ways. It was in the night when we descended and we just spent some time there waiting to board the next flight. I went to the loos so that I can at least wash my face and I was real flabbergasted with this amazing tap of water. I was about to open it to get some water and abruptly this water poured on its own without touching the tap and when I finished it stopped by its own again. This was another world.
I was lucky coz I had to board two flights to complete my journey. Very early in the morning we boarded the flight to Cape Town, which was again a day experience, also we had some breakfast, scrambled eggs bacon and sausage, butter, fruit juice and rose bread again it was marvellous. I enjoyed everything in the second plane and it took us again around 4 hours before descending in Cape Town airport. Everything was perfect, the airport, the roads, buildings, the surrounding environment and even the air was total different from our Kenyan atmosphere. When we got to the airport at Cape town, there was a man who was waiting for us with a small sign written Goju-Kai world championship. It was a very enormous shame coz we didn’t have any like Kenyan tracksuit to be identified of which we had to do it by ourselves. The gentleman drove us in this beautiful car and it was just incredible. He asked us how was out flights but so far there was no complaints at all, and this guy drove us direct to where the tournament was held.
My coach and I got in to the stadium and introduced ourselves that we were from Kenya and we were welcomed by this lovely and friendly south African people. The stadium was full of participants as well as supporters and it was quite big coz it had seven rings. The tournament had already begun so I quickly get changed and little bit of warm up to get myself in to the competition. There were two categories for us to participate in which is Kata and Kumite (fighting) In the first category, Kata , I was the first to open the ring which I don’t really want to be the first but it depends on the draw. As always there is a little bit of body tension before starting action in every competition I went before which is normal. I went in the ring with all my courage and mentioned the best Kata that I was sure with and when I perform it I’ll do the best. I did the Kata with power speed as my body and training would able to do it. I was then challenged by this Indonesian guy with a very high Kata which I ever had no idea of it, and he did it perfect which was unfortunate for me because he took me out on the first round, and at the end this Indonesian he achieved first position of which he really deserve it. That I was out I spent sometime there watching and copping the other participants doing Kata.
In the evening it was our time of Kumita which I was real looking forward to knowing that was the last chance to prove myself. This time again I was opening the ring against South African , the hosts. Because it was a world championship every participant had to have all kind of protector and fortunately this nice lady from south Africa went up quickly and bought me one guard I was set ready to go. Got in to the ring and we started fighting actual this was the easy fight I had. I first got a point and he also equalized, the fighting lasted for three minutes and I won by five points by two, which made me to go for the second round. Winning the first round got me in to the courage with fighting spirit, I won the second fight again by 6 - 3. The third round was against Iran, which I won, but with only one point and when I went to the fourth round this was like a final which I used all my fighting ability and experience against this Indonesian who was much better than I was and I lost by 4 - 2 points. I was so cold after loosing but because of the guys who were cheering for me, said that I have really tried and did my best at the end of the tournament this Indonesian who kicked me out he became 3rd position.
We all went back to our five star hotel called Stay-Easy. This was very impressing after being served exactly how I serve our guests in our hotel Kizingo. And I would keep my orders how I copied from the guests in the place I work and I would say, ‘could I please have’ and put thank you very much at the end. Life was very easy staying in the hotel, coz I wasn’t using my earnings at all. The doors are just opening by its self and the stairs moves like current water which I felt like am born again. There was also a swimming pool, I went and laid on the sun bed enjoying the environment and the fresh air which was very different from our county Kenya.
The next day was the ladies competitors and we had a lady from Kenya who was to compete. It was unfortunate for her because she missed the first category which was kata and when she got into the Kumita (fighting) she didn’t have a mouth protector and she was disqualified. All the participants who won were awarded with gold medals, silver and bronze. After the awarding we all went back to the hotel. At around seven in the evening everyone was ready for the Sayonara party, which we had in the night club very pretty and well planned with good waiters. We got to Katanga quite early because we were suppose to have dinner there, there was different types of food and it was a lovely buffet. The food was delicious and everybody enjoyed it. I enjoyed the music the DJ was playing for us and when the adult time came all the children under age were sent home and then it was time to party. After having the castle larger they wanted someone to open the dance hall, beside me I was seated with this gorgeous white south African girl, whom I’ve been introduced by her father who is a Karateka as well and since she was introduced she didn’t want to move even an inch from me, with the Kenyan stories I was charming her with. They wanted the Kenyan to open the floor. I jumped n the dancing floor with several back flips and all were cheering up while I was dancing with all my styles then I was joined by this young girl, and everyone went Zulu, Zulu, Zulu, meaning Kazungu my second name. and then we were joined by everyone, danced for a while and then went back to my seat with this girl, she didn’t want to drink but to look at me drinking.
At around midnight the beautiful girl was tired and she was taken back home by her parents, and they left me with the south Africans whom I met at the tournament, buying some beers and wines trying to piece me off. My coach who was also with me didn’t drink any alcohol but he took a couple of sodas. At the very end the nice south Africans managed to make me drunk but I would say I also enjoyed myself. My poor coach Maurice had to drag me back to the hotel, then through the moving stairs up to our room, where I went straight to the bed. The next morning we were to go for a meeting and I couldn’t make it coz it was already four in the morning by the time I went to bed. Early that morning Maurice tried to wake me up to attend the meeting but I couldn’t move my head even an inch coz I was still unconscious, so he had to go on his own.
I slept the whole day through, but at around noon woke up and I was so hungry so I went to have lunch. And amazingly I had this Indian curry which was very hot but it was good with the hangover. After lunch I went to the swimming pool on the sun beds and chilled myself for a couple of minutes, then went back to my room for another sleep. My coach came at around seven in the evening from the meeting and he had already organised someone to pick us up the next morning coz we were reaming with a night to say goodbye to Cape Town. The night was a bit very short than the other ones I have been there and we got up very early in the morning.
The boarding time was six thirty, but we were there on time ready for action. We did the checking and everything, then we boarded our flight for the second experience to be in the air. This time on my way back now I had a little knowledge with the safety belt. we took off up in the air, as usual again we had lovely and delicious breakfast on the way to Jo-burg. After enjoying the south African air flight we landed in Johannesburg to connect to the Kenya flight. We were in the air again after spending a couple of hours at the airport in Jo-burg. Everything was just incredible, the food, the staff and the service also was brilliant. At around half past seven in the evening we landed at Jomo Kenyatta international airport, but not as big as the south African airports. Again we filled up these cards and also went through all the necessary things, and finally we were out where we met our fellow karate as who came to welcome us back. We drove to town and then my friend whom I was staying with went strait to the house coz he couldn’t wait to hear what happened in south Africa. I told him everything and he was so pleased and happy for me.
I phoned Mary Jo and told her that I am back. We talked a little bit on the phone about how I preformed and also the amazing trip I had, she was very happy and congratulated me but she couldn’t wait to see me back to work so that I can tell her more about how I saw South Africa. All my fellow staff would ask me to keep retelling them about the world champions. I am very happy seeing that what I did lifted me to the other stage and that everyone is happy for me. I feel so proud of Kizingo. I can, with the experience I achieved from South Africa, I am sure I can do better. The whole experience of being in the air, the amazing country and participating in the tournament still lingers in my mind with much to be desired.
It is the start of Kizingo’s sixth season.
We all had a good time away but are also glad to be back safe and sound on the island of no news, where at least one can pretend that nasty things like recession does not exist. Kizingo is looking good and has been undergoing a makeover of sorts, but like all things on lamu the makeover is a slow work in progress. The ultimate aim is to have rebuilt all the bandas by the end of next season. So far 3 Bandas have been completely rebuilt. For those as conservative as me, do not worry we have not made very many changes at all other than move them a little so as to fit into the ever changing and shifting sand dune. They all have new and improved views of the sea and I have altered the bathrooms a little. My father, believe it or not is even more conservative than I am when it comes to change, and feels that even these minor alterations are way to radical for Kizingo. So its up to those of you that have been before to give your stamp of approval when you next visit. The bar as a lot of you will know was rebuilt last season. Since then we have rebuilt the main showers and Loos and we are in the process of rebuilding the staff accommodation. We have a new tailor, Odiyo who has joined us from upcountry and he has been expertly, re doing nets and cushions and is able to copy any garment perfectly, so the shop is looking great with his new range of clothing.
We have brought 200 new chickens to keep our organic egg supply going; Louis is going to fence a large area off for the chickens to stop them laying their free range eggs too freely around the camp. Some have even laid eggs on some of the staff beds. The old layers are slowly being killed and made into Sunday curry and so the circle of life goes on. Louis' vegetable garden is bursting with Rocket, Basil and Mint due to all the rain we have had. We just need a few more of you to come and help consume it!
My parents have had a good year, They went to Nepal to trek the Anaperna circuit with my sister. They eventually had a great time but leaving the island as some of you know is never easy and there were no exceptions to this rule. I breathed a sigh of relief when they finally managed to actually get to Lamu airport and fly to Nairobi. I was amazed that they then made it on time for their flight to Nepal. I was not really that surprised when at 4am Kenya time I received a rather distressed call from my mother explaining that they could not talk for long but that they were in the process of being deported back to Kenya under armed guard!. I began the task of trying to locate my sister. She was waiting patiently for them in another part of the airport having flown in from Ireland. I managed in the end to get a message to her to carry on without them to Nepal and find a place to stay and wait for her parents to eventually get back to Kenya to get a visa of which they had not obtained and then find a new flight back to Nepal. The parents did arrive back in Nairobi rather exhausted and mum managed to bulldoze her way into the Indian High Commissioners office and beg for a fast track visa. luckily the High Commissioner was a smoker and was so impressed when mum asked if she could share one to calm her battered nerves at 9am that he granted it immediately. They left again that evening and I made sure I went to bed with my phone turned off.
After this normal Van Aardt start to a holiday (how on earth we are trusted by all of you to manage your holidays I just don’t know!) They all were reunited in Nepal and had an epic trip. Mum even managing to face her fear of heights by crossing the Anaperna pass. Amazing that after 30 years of marriage dad can still somehow persuade her that 'this trip will be easy' and she still believes him.
At the end of the season I went to America and met up with an old school friend from Zimbabwe. After I worked with him on a ranch in the Rockies to pay for some of the trip, we set off on an amazing road trip up in the north west of the country. I then met the rest of the family in France where we embarked on an epic climb in the Pyrenees. Mum managed to escape to London and went to pretty much every show on offer in the West End. I joined her and Richard for one at the Royal Festival Hall. Richard hated it, and suggested we all leave and go for some beers instead. Mum and I were loving it but at the interval we foolishly let Richard dash outside for his much needed cigarette. Unfortunately for us all we lost him and decided to return to the performance, we tried to go back into the concert hall however we were told that the doors had been closed and we would not be allowed back in for the second half. We were now locked out of a show we loved and guess where Richard was..? locked into a show he hated!
I came home a month early to start opening the camp which was a wet and windy experience. The folks managed to miss their flight home as they had gone to the airport to catch a 10pm flight only to find that they had misread the ticket, the plane left at 10am. luckily Heathrow is as disorganized and jinxed as us and that afternoon the main baggage conveyor belt had snapped causing chaos at the airport and so they were given a free flight back to Kenya the following day because Heathrow believed they had missed the flight due to their error, my parents have all the luck!
The staff all went back to their homes and had good rains and so were able to grow a good crop of maize on their farms. They have been much luckier than a lot of Kenyans where rain has been very scarce. Abu's and Boko's babies are now crawling all over the village. Alex has started taking guests on bush walks up into the dunes and his tour includes an education in the art of palm wine making and as a true barman his tour includes a free palm wine tasting. Fredrick has been promoted from working in the laundry to working as a room steward.
As some of you know we have bought a plot of land on the mainland and set up a cooperative in which staff can volunteer to put some of their salary and tips into growing trees that will eventually be harvested and used in part by us at Kizingo for building and by the KST for school building and this will give everybody a healthy pension fund. The rains have really helped to get the trees to a very descent height, much to the delight of everyone especially Sammy who is a born farmer and given half the chance would be very happy to run the tree farm full time but breakfast would not be the same with out him.
The KST Kipungani Schools Trust is as busy as ever, and this is all due to the very generous help we receive from you all. John, Georgina and Cas are still coming regularly to visit the schools and enthuse all those they meet.
We now have 12 schools between Lamu and Malindi, with the possibility of further projects on the go for this year. Despite the recession, we are still receiving such support. Thank you everyone, a new KST website is about to be launched ...watch this space !
We are a little worried about how the season will turn out and our bookings do seem to be down on last year. Luckily for us a lot of you have booked to come and visit us again, for which we and all the staff are extremely grateful.
Once again thank you to all of you that have been to stay with us and to all of you that plan too.
Best wishes from all of us here at Kizingo,
Kizingo really is the no news lodge; I think it was about 5 months ago since the last newsletter was written!
Firstly 'Happy New Year' I hope 2009 will be a good and prosperous one for us all. Oh stupid me, prosperous really can no longer be used; in fact I have heard that the word has been completely removed from the Oxford Dictionary and burnt outside Canary Wharf. So lets just hope it is a happy and healthy one for us all, and fingers crossed ‘prosperous’ is reinstated in time for 2020.
Like some of you I am sure, we have felt the bite of recession but I suppose at least we are all in the same boat. I plan to try not to let it all get me down too much, after all many of lives greatest pleasures are for free or so my grandmother used to say.
I can’t pretend I will not miss the good old days when MasterCard so generously funded my life style; I really believed those golden years would last forever.
I am relieved to hear that “Flash” Gordon has it all under control and I must say I do like his hair of the dog tactics of using the very thing that caused this recession (debt to cure debt) in the first place to cleanse away the pain, but even mere mortals like us know that though a breakfast Bloody Mary does help to ease the excesses of the night before by lunch time most of us have to throw in the towel, and realize that the only way to escape that stonking hangover is to just lie back and let it run its brutal course. I suppose the only other option is to join Obama and “HOPE” like hell.
Seriously I hope that all of you are managing okay. We have no idea how things will be for us. It seems no one is booking very far ahead which is understandable. So far we have managed to get some good late bookings, hopefully this will continue. We have also had many of you who have stayed before, returning to visit which has been brilliant. Thank you.
We had a great wedding here in September, Nancy and Bruce two great friends of mine from Zimbabwe kindly decided to get married here after being together for 15 years! They came all the way from Australia along with 25 or so friends and we had brilliant week. The wedding ceremony was very simple and easy. Bruce the groom was kept waiting as is custom by his beautiful bride, but it was the District Commissioner who really got the blood pressure rising, upstaging Nancy and arrived about an hour later. The service was very romantic even if the DC was a little mechanical. He read the rights diligently from placards, making sure that Kenya’s position on polygamy was driven home, “does any one know if this couple are already married… (very long pause) because if they are they will be punished by jail under Kenyan law”. The good thing about Kenya is that laws are never taken too seriously and many people here take on an extra wife or two, so any prospective couples that might choose to be married here, please don’t let the polygamy thing put you off.
We had a good Christmas and some of our guests managed to get everyone doing some very complex Scottish reels. They were very good at it, the rest of us looked a little ridiculous but it still did not stop some of us getting very involved. New Year was also a good night with a lot of table top dancing and the now traditional rope climbing and swinging from the rafters. The only noticeable person absent from this activity was the founder himself, my father who as some of you may have heard fell from the roof changing a light bulb or so he says. He actually broke a rib or two and had to be flown to Nairobi. Luckily it was not as serious as it could have been. The good thing is we have finally tested out the flying doctor service and they were brilliant.
My sister is back in Kenya with her French boyfriend Florin, who also happens to be a brilliant chef, which has been great for the kitchen! She had to be quarantined soon after her arrival due to catching Mumps on the plane! Luckily her face has now deflated back to its former pretty self. Richard came home for a short break and is now back in Barcelona teaching English and doing well.
We have a new bread oven made from mud and clay that my father has been working on for some years. This is the third attempt and it actually works so I can no longer tease him anymore. All our bread is now made in it and it does taste pretty good. It will also save us a lot as we no longer need to use any gas.
Banda One is being rebuilt and should be finished in time for Carys and Wallaby to christen it for us when they visit again later this mouth. It has been moved a little and now has an even better view of the sea.
The turtle project has been going well. A few weeks ago I was called down to the beach to release a turtle. It was a meter wide. It took 5 of us to get it out of the boat and onto the beach to measure and tag it. As some of you know we pay fishermen to bring us any turtles that they catch in fishing nets. In the past they may have been killed for food and as a way of getting cash to repair the nets as they get quite badly damaged by the turtles. We pay according to size, which can get quite costly when you have one that measures a meter wide! We relay on donations to fund this project. Christopher Shale a friend of ours, who has a house up the beach has come up with a brilliant way to help fund our project. He keeps a secret stash of cigarettes which can only be acquired for a staggering 1500 Kenya shillings (20 US$) The proceeds are then kindly given to the project. Luckily for this extra large turtle Christopher's cunning plan came to fruition. He had a friend staying who ran out of cigarettes one night, and in desperation procured a pack. The proceeds of this pack where solely responsible for the release of the above lucky turtle. Thanks to you both! Thanks also to Ulli who was staying at the time and took some great pictures which should appear along side this newsletter thanks to the masterful Helen who has the unfortunate task of running the Kizingo website.
The garden has been doing well but recently a plague of aphids have been devouring their way through the tomatoes. Louis is back from his break and at this moment is trying to regain control of his turf.
The dolphins have been out in force this season. Sarah Deed has kindly come back to help me out in my parent’s absence and has been doing the dolphin trips which she does brilliantly, her hit rate so far has been 100%. She has also been getting involved with the ever growing Kipungani Schools Trust. Last year saw the opening of two new schools and an update of all the KST news will be added shortly. Click here to check: Kipungani School Trust.
Warm regards from us all at Kizingo
I am sorry that none of us have been particularly good at keeping the news letter up to date. July was so quiet here that we did not really have much to report and were all a little down. Now that the season has picked up, we have been so busy that none of us have had more than a moment of free time! The months ahead are not looking as busy as previous seasons but still things are much better than we thought back in January so there are no complaints. Kenya seems to have settled into its new political arrangement and it is already hard to believe that January ever happened.
The most noticeable change to Kizingo is our new bar and dinning room which is now up and running. It was a little frantic getting it finished. I think the last light bulb went in just as our first arrivals began walking up the beach from the boat! It is in much the same style as the old bar, but we have made it a little bigger. The views are fantastic from both the bar and the dinning room as we have raised the bar up a little on a wooden deck which we think looks really smart. It will also make a great dance floor for those few nights that we and guests manage to stay up later than 10.30pm!
It is not the dolphin season yet and so Dad has had more free time on his hands and therefore has decided to focus his energies on a new vegetable and herb garden. He has bought over large amounts of soil (or more accurately I have), and mixed it with his own kitchen compost and chicken manure from our layer hens. This is also because Dad finds leaving the island a little too traumatic now days! The garden is already producing lots of rocket, herbs, chilies and cherry tomatoes. We don’t see a great deal of him as he spends all day watering and nurturing his plants. He also spends many hours building an earth Bread oven (not yet in operation) we look forward to the day. Any guests willing or not, are dragged around on a compulsory tour of the garden as Tim and Glyness can testify.
We have had Sarah (mum's sister) helping us, She is a great cook and has spent hours teaching all the cooks new and delicious recipes. It must be good as two of our Italian guests have complimented her and the kitchen and as we all know Italians, amongst other things are famous for there great food, I hope we can keep it that way when she sadly leaves.
Richard headed off to the sunny city of Barcelona where has done his TEFL course and has been teaching at a summer school. I don’t think any of us ever thought a van Aardt would teach English seeing as all of us took so many years to learn to spell our own names and put our Ds and Bs the right way round! There may be some strange Spanish English speakers coming out of Barcelona over the next few mouths.
Emilie has finished and passed her degree so she is greatly relieved. She, like all good van Aardt’s is desperately trying to avoid having to get a real job and has taken a big risk importing hundreds of Kenyan Kikoy’s that she has been selling at all the summer fares and festivals. So far she seems to be doing well.
I had a good break this year and went to America which I loved, in particular Nevada which is a bit like Kenya but with better roads. Mum and Dad decided to delay their holiday and will instead be going to Nepal in October.
Mary Jo has suffered a terrible disaster, loosing half her little finger on a quiet Kizingo night. The main suspects were Safi (on heat), Witu, defending his patch and the neighbours black Labrador on the razzle. A dog fight took place and Mary Jo ever mindful of our sleeping guests, tried to separate them, in doing so lost the top of her little finger. I rushed her to Lamu where Dr. Kezia dealt with it most brilliantly. I am proud to say that at breakfast the next morning, my mother was there as usual entertaining guests with her night’s adventure. Safi and Witu are otherwise well - Safi fat and flourishing, Witu still very much in love with her, sadly for him she still shows no desire to move the relationship to the next stage and prefers to keep things purely platonic!
The turtle project is going well; we have tagged and released some 15 turtles since July. We have had a successful hatch outside Banda 6. Thank you again to all those who have supported the turtle project.
Other than the bar, things are much the same here. We had some rather wet days to start the season off with, but thankfully the weather has returned to what it should and because of the extra rain it all looks quite lush and green.
I hope that you are all well and that some of you will be coming out again soon!
Dion van Aardt
Another season passes us by, and it has not been without its ups and downs. We had a very busy season until the beginning of January, when violence and tension broke out in parts of Kenya leading to a travel ban and large media coverage of the post election disputes. This sadly meant the closure of many hotels around the country and the laying off of thousands of employees in the tourist industry. Kizingo became extremely quiet, although thanks to the support of many of our regulars and intrepid new comers we managed to keep going, keep all our staff at work and only had one night without a soul in camp. Things are now looking up and a sense of normality has returned to Kenya, with the new found friendship between the opposition and ruling party we hope to see peace and stability in the new season ahead.
The dolphin trips have been very successful, the season passed without any casualties which is a first. The only unwanted revelation on Louis' part, was the discovery that his favourite dolphin who he named Lyra after the Phillip Pullman books, is actually a boy. Unfortunately we have not been so successful with our turtle nest and have had only two nests so far. However with our turtle release project where by we pay local fisherman for any live turtles they catch in their nets, and then release them back into the sea, we have had better luck. Salem the crab man made a very successful career out of it, he ditched the crab fishing and became very good at farming turtles. He is now sipping martinis in the Bahamas retired and grateful to all those who supported the turtle trust.
Safi is still at large, still very lazy and disobedient. We have a new member of the family who is doing well to rejuvenate her though. Mwitu (wild in Swahili) is our new pup his breed is a mystery but he is full of character and very much in love with Safi.
We are delighted that Dion will be joining us full time next season helping out his parents who just every so often need a little 'R & R'. The bar and dinning room is being dismantled as I write and a new building will be erected with a similar style and a better view.
The Kipungani school trust continues to prosper with approximately 5000 primary school children receiving an education in schools they can be proud of. Only through the support of every one who has contributed and worked promoting the trust would this be possible. So from all the teachers and children from all the eleven schools we say a big thank you. There is a link on the site which gives more detailed information on the Kipungani schools trust and some of the new projects and solutions we are undertaking.
Mary Jo and Louis will be staying in Africa this off season and will be spending time in their newly built home at Kizingo, and in south Africa with Louis' parents. Dion has set off around the world racking up more debt on his credit cards, in the hope that they will join Northern Rock and go bust. He will be spending time with friends in Australia and the U.S.A. Emilie is about to take her finals at trinity and is then planning to work and travel the world.
And as for me I wouldn’t say I have found my way yet but I am doing a TEFL course in Barcelona next month so that’s a start. Maybe teaching people to speak English will be my calling in life.
So from all of us at Kizingo a big 'thank you' to all those that came and stayed with us this season, and we look forward to seeing you back here whenever next it may be. If you have not yet made it to Kizingo, I hope you to will come and visit us and enjoy a unique experience that I am sure will prove unforgettable.
Richard and all at Kizingo
A HAPPY AND LEISURELY 2008... this is what I said we hoped for in 2007 but
the year did not seem to go by quite as leisurely as we had anticipated,
maybe Louis and I are much more busy, because with age we are less
efficient, forget what we say or where we put things, loose the lists, so
spend many hours trying to find or retrieve the information.
I am reading my last news letter and it seems nothing much has changed in
the Van Aardt Family... Louis and I are still here with Dion helping us out,
Emily is still at Trinity, though thankfully in her last year and Richard is
still finding his way... Lets hope he gets over that soon!
The Kizingo team are also in good health and all still with us, the
excitement this year is the coming Presidential elections, especially as the
country is pretty much divided 50 50, keep the old or go for a new way... which will it be?
Our highlights this year are many.
Louis, Dion and Emilie ran the London Marathon in April, this was a magical
sunny day, London at its best. The more sedentary members of the family were
there on the side walk giving our support, but actually never managed to
spot any of them! They all did so well so very proud of them. A special
thankyou to all who sponsored them and those who were there to celebrate at
Oriels. Louis had to be dragged away as was ready for a big party. However the
next day they were less mobile, Emilie kept all the passengers waiting
boarding Ryan air back to uni as she could not bend her legs!
Now fit and healthy we flew to Northern Spain and Louis dragged his wife, his
cousin and two sons over the Pyrenees. I have to say the first few days
were very fraught with a lot of dissention in the ranks. We felt Louis was
rather a hard uncaring insensitive chap who refused to allow us to rest
every few minutes. However we soon all adapted to the nomadic life and have
to say in retrospect it was a most enjoyable experience apart from being
lowered down a wet rock face like a sack to the amusement of the family or
being cajoled into crossing steep snow gulleys. I remember one moment, I
felt particularly vulnerable, and mentioned to Louis that if I slipped I
would die, he replied 'I know, so don't Slip!' Looking at the photographs I
can not believe yet again I allowed myself to be part of another mountain
Our prize though was 2 weeks in France at Cas and Phillip's house, what a
treat. Emilie and our favourite Aunt joined us so we had a relaxing time
doing those things you all do when you come to Kizingo.
We opened a little later this year so as to miss the wind. It was so much
better so we will continue to extend our holiday.
We are having a very busy season and so thank you all for spreading the
The KST continues to grow, we are now building 3 more Schools, none of this
would be possible without the generous help we have received over the last
year. John Seagrim has had an endless task of having rather more organising
and management than I think he ever thought would be the case, so we say a
big thanks to John, and his support from Georgina and Cas.
The turtles have not been so many this year, however have really increased
on the Manda beach, so have been liasing with Peponi and seen many
A healthy hearty 2008 to you all
We re-opened the lodge on the 12th July, after having had a fantastic
European Holiday. The highlight for Louis was dragging his family over the
Pyrenees from Spain to France. What a contrast from green rolling hills and
snow capped Mountains to Palm Trees and Sand Dunes.
We have had a busy time and Thank You all for coming to Kizingo.
The great excitement was waking up one morning to discover the spoor of 2
buffalo, who had wondered through the lodge in search of water.
They had swum more than a few kilometres from the mainland, however much to our relief after a few days they had returned to the mainland.
Sadly a dead whale was found on our beach, it had lost its tail and caused
great excitement. At first it was interesting to watch nature start to de
compose some 6 tons of lard, however interest quickly turned to panic as the
tides started dragging the festering mass towards the Lodge.
We are now forced to employ some very brave Kipunagni Village residents
with strong constitutions, and no sense of smell to butcher the carcass into
manageable sizes, thus preventing a mass exodus. It has been a turbulent 2
days but the task is now about done.
Lamu is the same as ever, and as we have only just opened we don't really
have any other news, but do feel Dolphins and whales all in one month is
quite big news!
best wishes from us all at Kizingo
Dion, Louis and Emilie
As the big London marathon day drew near, tensions mounted. By Sunday morning 5am, 3 bodies arose from hell, all blaming any one else, for everything including responsibility for there miserable nights sleep.
The breakfast of oats and blueberries, lovingly prepared, once forced fed and combined with adrenaline soon made them uncomfortable, especially increasing Dions anxiety. This was further fuelled by the late taxi, so we were all greatly relieved to see them finally disappear towards there start line. However once the Marathon began all the worry of fuelling and bowel movements faded with the atmosphere and a perfect sunny day, that many thought too hot, but suited our runners from the tropics.
The rest of the family and friends roared off in the London Underground to all be at the right spots to cheer them on, needless to say we never saw them, but still thoroughly enjoyed the excitement, the bandstands, the good cheer. London had come alive.
Oriels was a perfect meeting point thankyou to all of you who managed to come up to say hello and congratulate the runners.
First at the Pub was Emilie who ran the race in 3 hours and 56mins, and was fine, however she did say the 24th mile took forever. Dion had told her, when desperate to use her ipod, she said she tried, but was too confused to work out how to turn it on!
Next in was Dion, the champion in 3 hours 45mins like a highly strung racehorse! Though we later discovered he was totally exhausted and ended up rather dehydrated but after a high energy drink (rather than alcohol) he soon recovered.
Last was Louis lost on the underground, his time was 3 hours 54 mins and he was completely fine. Drank excessively and suffered no ill effects. However the next few days we all had to endure their painful recovery.
We would all like to thank Nikki Shale and the Macintyre trust for giving us the chance to run the London Marathon and a very special thankyou to Philly Wiggin for her tireless effort coordinating the fund raising. Without her we would never have raised in excess of £12,000.
Lastly a special Thank you to all those friends who so generously supported this very worth while charity.
The Raffle was drawn at Oriels and won by The Kirkpatrick's, who were with us for Christmas 2005, we look forward to seeing them again, when they take up their prize at Kizingo.
Mary Jo and Co. 8.5.07
Always good to start talking about the weather.... we are so hot here, but maybe this is sign of a good rainy season or is it global warming !
We will close this year after Easter, coming over to the UK for the London marathon. The Big Day is Sunday 22nd April, ending at Oriels Bar Sloane Square, near the tube, for a few drinks around 3.30pm to 4pm. Here we'll draw the raffle lucky ticket.
Louis, Dion and Emily are training well, however, conversations are becoming rather repetitive: which shoes to wear, the best socks, which re hydration drink, and then of course the injuries... Louis has a sore ham string, Emily a sore calf muscle and Dion a sore knee, so all in good shape really!
We have raised just over £10,000 which is a tremendous effort. Thankyou for all your generous contributions. This would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Phillipa Wiggin, who took on the task and has out shone us all. Thank you Philly.
Swimming with the Dolphins
The last two months, our trips out to Kinyika island and the dolphins have been really wonderful, with memorable experiences for many. People who are nervous of their swimming ability, particularly in the vast blue sea, suddenly find all their fear and apprehension vanishes as soon as dolphins appear. The dolphins seem to be more accustomed to us and come to entertain us more often. We have also been given an underwater camera and have some wonderful photos which you can view at our Dolphin gallery.
The KST ( Kipungani Schools Trust ) has also had another successful season. We now have 10 schools which the Trust is involved with, this year we got all the schools together and had a inter KST schools sports day, which was great fun, and very competitive, especially the teacher's race at the end.
The KST trustees Georgina Hood and Cas Donald, also bought with them, 2 musicians Jess and Neil and Ian the Cameraman to do a combined music / film CD of all the Schools. We hope to be able to have this on offer to those interested in the future. The trip was great fun, and the singing heart warming.
Kizingo has had a very successful year, thanks to you all who came and supported us, for those we all say a big... "Thank You".
We started 2007 after a very good New Year party , as one should, full of new dreams and resolutions. I was determined to start running again, this year, alas it is already February and it all seems just too tough a job.
The weather.. I know we all talk endlessly about it, but it has to be said this has been a strange year, Kenya has had an almighty amount of rain, Mara and Lewa have had more rain out of season than they can remember.
The coast has also had record amounts of rain, sadly there have been a number of coastal people displaced this year because of flooding. Driving back to Lamu in early December, I saw UN and Red Cross rescuing the Tana River people, because the river had burst her banks. People were being forced to leave their homes and live on the road it was the only high ground available. It was a moving sight. The children in particular seemed to be making full use of the massive amounts of water (usually a rare sight in these areas) to enjoy themselves swimming in the natural pools. It makes one step back as you pass along in your car and see families who have rigged up a small shelter, the cows chickens and goats are hoping to find some morsels of food on the road and the rest of the family are seated chatting, laughing and content, happy they have rescued themselves and family.
We have had some brilliant dolphin trips this year. Louis has finally got an underwater camera and has managed to get some incredible pictures which we will put on the website for you all to see!
The Kipungani Schools trust has had another successful year, John and Georgina Seagrim came to stay this Christmas with the whole family, and it was lovely to socialise and see all the schools together. We have now built 6 schools, and 3 more are in the pipeline.
The marathon training is going well, Louis taking training seriously, Dion has developed a number of new ailments as a good excuse to take days off, Emily is running, but complaining bitterly about the cold, rainy streets of Dublin. They are all getting fitter and I am sure they will make it round the track come April.
All of us at Kizingo say hello and wish all our friends well for 2007.
The wind has changed, and the sea is clearing, so we have now started the popular dolphin and snorkelling trips.
The Turtle Conservation Project is having a most successful season, we have already had 15 nests each averaging 130 eggs. The success is partially due to rewarding local fisherman for releasing turtles caught in their nets, we have already released 37 turtles, which, without this incentive would have died. However I am appealing for any donations so as to continue this project.
Great news regarding the Kipungani School Trust! We have a new water project and have managed to raise enough money to start a borehole at Adu School, this will mean children and parents will no longer have to walk the 6 kilometres to the nearest water point.
We have been given 3 places in the London marathon so will be competing as a family apart from Mary Jo and Richard who say they have more sense! We are running for the McIntyre Trust, which is very close to the hearts of two of our supporters. They have also agreed that any money raised in excess of £3,000 will be split equally between them and the Kipungani School Trust.
As an incentive and a thankyou for your support we are offering 5 nights for 2 people, including internal flights to and from Nairobi. Anyone donating more than £25 towards the marathon, will automatically receive a raffle ticket. The winning tickets will be drawn after the marathon.
We are mid August and the new season is going well, apart from the weather, which for the first time in many years has been cooler and wetter than Europe. However the skies are now clear.
Our good news is, we have had many more turtles coming up to the beach to lay their eggs, and have also had fisherman prepared to rescue turtles from their nets which they bring to us for release. For this we pay a small reward. At the moment we have four nests. Their estimated hatching dates are around the 25th August, the 8th, 14th and 25th of September.
Brent has started Kayak safaris around Kiwayu. Louis and Emily have just returned from their first trial run and came back absolutely enthralled by the experience and feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to see such an unspoilt part of Kenya with someone so experienced and enthusiastic. His website is www.sanddollarexpeditions.com.
So for those who would like a few days of activity in unspoilt wilderness around the Kiunga Marine reserve, followed by a few days of complete relaxation at Kizingo please contact us or Brent.
From all at Kizingo till next time...
Kiting opened on the 1st July, our new season has begun. Despite being a little windy at this time of year, the sun is shining, and the beach walks and sunsets have been wonderful.
Kenya has had good rains this year, so the mainland is green with healthy crops growing. As we are cooler now trips to the mainland, whether in a vehicle or bike riding have been great fun.
The Kipungani Schools Trust is also starting again with ongoing developments at 6 different schools, 2 on Lamu island 2 on the Mainland close to us and 2 in Malindi. We are also helping 8 children attend Senior school, and employing 8 extra teachers.
Kizingo staff are all back, so we all say 'Hello and welcome!'
Mary Jo and Louis van Aardt
Kizingo is about to come to the end of her 3rd season. We would like to thank all of you who have supported us so well, and have come back again to see us. We also look forward to meeting more guest this coming season.
At present the weather is beautiful, very calm seas with wonderful snorkelling and swimming with the dolphins. The weather will start to turn mid April where we hope for some good rains this year as Kenya has been very drought stricken.
Kizingo will be closing straight after Easter, with the team going on a lovely holiday. However, we will all be back refreshed and ready for opening again in July.
Christmas and New Year were a huge success, with Big Ben being duplicated by Louis, Dion and Richard, Will and Nicolas Mason, doing an extremely good copy of Big Ben swinging from the roof top, helped along by their mother Karen Mason in her award winning role in "Bar Dancing". See the other winners from the 3rd Annual Kizingo Academy Awards.
Kinyika Island has given many of us endless pleasure this year, with wonderful snorkelling, huge shoals of different species of fish, and of course the dolphins visiting us on a regular basis. Of all the fish, mammals and urchins in the area, Lyra the Bottlenose dolphin praised all former guests for their consideration and care when snorkelling at the reef and while swimming with her and the other wild dolphins!
The Kipungani schools trust has managed to build 6 schools since starting, and has now launched their own website www.thekstrust.com. They continue to raise money and support for school projects on Lamu and on the mainland. A big thank you has to go to John and Georgina Seagrim and Cas Donald, for their hard work and endless support.
All of us at Kizingo hope that if you are unable to come and see us before the end of this season, you will be with us next season, and once again thank you to everyone for making Kizingo what it is.
Mary Jo and Louis van Aardt
After several false starts, the north east monsoon, the Kas Kazi has finally breezed in bringing warmer weather and clear seas. Louis is again regularly in his favourite element, swimming with Lyra and the numerous other bottlenose dolphins off Kinyika. On days when they have been more elusive guests have had to contend themselves with sightings of beaked whales and hawksbill turtles swimming nearby. The snorkelling at Kinyika and Manda Toto has been excellent with huge shoals of fish round every coral.
The Lamu cultural festival was in full swing last week with the annual dhow race hotly contested among local captains. A great, carnival atmosphere heightened for many by the recent end of Ramadan. Hushed accounts amongst the staff at recent morning meetings of nocturnal revelry with dancers from Zanzibar have been met with the management continuing to extol the virtues of being tucked up with a Sudoka and the World Service.
Katie and David Barfield returned in October for a week's holiday‚ bringing promised medical supplies, donations and determination for the clinic at Kipungani village.
Georgina Seagrim and Cas Donald of the Kipungani Schools Trust spent a week visiting the 6 schools projects. Much appreciation was shown to them by the community with goat stews and the present of a cockerel.
Lastly, our new look web site is up and running and all our thanks to the efforts of Portfolio Design in the UK
Our thanks and best wishes to you all.
Newly hatched turtle
On Friday 5th August Kizingo guests were hurriedly assembled to a known nest site of a Green Bill turtle some 2km along the beach from the lodge. The nest, one of ten which had been carefully monitored by Kizingo's turtle watchmen Abdullah and Mamood this summer had been excavated by the female turtle on 9th June. It was evident that the incubation period was complete and the hatchlings were ready to emerge, nestling at the top of the nest where they would wait until the temperature dropped to signifying dusk before braking to the surface.
116 hatchlings of this endangered species emerged (with a little help from their friends) and instinctively began to head down the beach in the direction of the water. Louis was able to explain to the guests how this very important but often precarious part of their journey increases the chance of survival by helping them to use essential muscles before they start the swim out to sea, and help them clean off the smell of egg sac that could attract marine predators. The journey down the sand would also allow hatchlings to imprint enough information to be able to return to the same beach as a breeding adult many years later. On reaching the sea the young turtles would likely swim continuously for two or three days, escaping any predators in the offshore waters.
The beach at Kizingo is an important turtle nesting area for both Green Bill and Hawksbill turtles. Since the turtle project started over 40 nests have successfully hatched. As part of our drive for community participation in the conservation of turtles, we continue to collate all data on the nests as well as the release information and send it to the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (KESCOM) for recording.
Save the whale...
On 18 March 2005 one of the local fishermen reported a whale stranded on our sand spit. It was later identified as a Beaked Whale, about 6 metres long. Everyone was alerted and before long we had the entire camp, guests and staff, running with high speed along the beach to save our grounded whale. With 24 people in the sea we all tried to slowly move her to deeper water. It was truly amazing, she appeared to have complete trust in us and soon even helped us by lying on her side thereby reducing the drag. Not once while we were helping her did she struggle. After an hour we managed to get her to safe water. She circled us all 3 times before heading out to the deeper water. Was she saying thank you? All exhausted and tired we headed back to the bar, only to be alerted again an hour later. We all felt so sad.
She had once more beached herself but this time in an even more precarious location, further away from the main channel that she would now need to reach to get back out to sea. What was clear was that she knew this herself and was very insistent that it was that channel she needed to reach. So we manovered and rolled her over the shallows, swimming with her where we could in the deeper water (in all taking three hours this time) until we launched her into the deep blue of the channel. Louis hung onto her fin and then let her go as she picked up speed. She immediately stopped, waited until he was safely out of the way of her powerful tail before she continued out to sea. A so, so satisfying end to a once in a life time experience.
In September we had a wedding ceremony at Kizingo. The District commissioner
arrived on the day with his witness. He asked for a witness for the Bride
and a witness for the Groom.
A special license for marrying the couple in situ was required and easily obtained.
The service was short, simple and all the guests and bride and groom were impressed and happy with the ceremony. Straight after this champagne was opened and a very happy and memorable day followed.
Because the wedding was small, it seemed intimate and was a really big success. So anyone considering getting married in paradise, and wanting a small affair why not think about Kizingo, on Lamu in Kenya!