Tea field outside of Nakuru

The Wedding!

Thursday was mainly a day to prep for the wedding. We started with some caffeine at Cafe Guava to perk us up a bit. Then, Laura and the girls went to get manicures and pedicures.

Kahenya, Shan, and I snuck off to do some manly things. First, Kahenya took us to his work. he runs a seed factory where they prep maize seed for delivery to farmers.

First, they contract with farmers to grow them rows of male and female corn. Then, they take the kernels that result, remove and bad ones and debris, coat them with a fungicide, and then sell them to a distributor. Most of the separation is done by a shaker machine, but the final stage is a large number of women who pick through the kernels and remove anything bad.

Kahenya's plant processes 200 tons of seed a year, which he says is quite small for a seed company.

Continuing our agricultural theme, we drove about 15 miles out of town to a coffee and tea farm. They offered to give us a quick tour (Kahenya says that having two white guys with him really opens doors). We walked to a tea field and learned how they pick t (two leaves and a bud). Then she took us through the coffee production process.

First, red berries are picked from the trees. Then they're run through a little mill that removes the pulp. The ones that sink in water after that are considered best and are separated out. They go into a little pen for 72 hours to ferment. This rids them of the slimy stuff that coats the beans (2 beans per berry). The beans are then laid out in the sun in long troughs to dry. They're raked and flipped and spread by hand until they are dry. The farm then grades them and sells them, usually to be roasted elsewhere.

After this adventure, we ran some more errands and went back to the house where we proceeded to get a bunch of things packed and ready for the wedding. Eventually we went up to Kembu Camps, the campsite and resort where the wedding would take place. We found ourselves (me, Michele, Shan, and Burgen) staying in an awesome cabin. It has a full kitchen, fireplace, two huge bedrooms each with a huge bathroom, and a great porch overlooking the farms. Laura and Kahenya had their ow cabin, as did the best man Jack and his wife Wangari.

The 8 of us sat down to a nice dinner served by the resort staff. Laura had ordered pizza for us, but they made a beef stroganoff-like dish for us. (“This is not what we discussed” would become a refrain for Laura throughout the wedding process.) It was delicious though. That night we slept like logs in the pitch black, awakening to the sounds of birds outside our cottage.

Lone old acacia at Kembu camp

Lone old acacia at Kembu camp

Wedding day is hectic, especially for the girls. They have a hair appointment at 7:30am in town, so we're up early for breakfast.

Things start going wrong for Laura almost immediately. They leave breakfast nearly 30 minutes late. Then their hair takes forever. In a salon full of workers, one woman did all three of them in succession.

Shan and I take that time to have a leisurely coffee, walk around the farm, get dresses, sit on the porch, and make sure we have hot water (there was none last night).

Shan and I take that time to have a leisurely coffee, walk around the farm, get dresses, sit on the porch, and make sure we have hot water (there was none last night).

Andrew (owner of the resort/wedding photographer) told Shan and I the history of the farm. His family had once owned a different 400 acre farm between Kikuyu and Maasai territory. The tribes liked them there as a buffer, but they also happen to sit on a plot of land that essentially controlled the water supply of Nairobi.

At independence, the government decided that they couldn't have that, so the farm was seized and eventually swapped for a different 800 acre farm where it sits today. This location was once part of Equator Ranch, Lord Delamere's estate. It was taken over by a Sudanese retiree after WWI and eventually became owned by the bank.

It turns out that this piece of land formed part of the border between Delamere's land and the Markham farm. Beryl Markham's sits 300m from our cottage.

While he was telling us this, the girls had returned and were a whirlwind of activity. Laura was getting ready in our cottage since the wedding was just off the porch.

Then the zipper on the wedding dress broke. We tried to fix it, but failed. Eventually we just sewed Laura into the dress.

Then we found that the florist had only delivered two bouquets instead of 3. Luckily, they were yellow rose bouquets and have some yellow roses in our rooms. We made a third bouquet, held together by a zip tie, and it matched perfectly.

Then there were the missing poems. Shan was running around looking for poems that didn't actually need to be found. I was searching for someone to escort Michele. Megan was looking for Shan because he had Michele's poem in his pocket. Basically, it was nuts. But Laura held it together and the ceremony went off without a hitch. Except for the many things that happened but weren't planned. But no one in the audience was any the wiser.

With all of the running around, the ceremony was an hour late. Apparently no one in Kenya cares though; people were still arriving. And the caterer hadn't shown up with the food. But we had juices and a few finger foods, and all the women sang and danced a procession with Laura and Kahenya.

The food finally arrived and it wasn't really what Laura had ordered, but everyone loved it anyways. Then the emcee announced “the climax” of the day: the cake cutting.

Things were closed out with a short speech by Kahenya's dad and a prayer. It was a beautiful ceremony, a gorgeous day and setting, and a darn good time.

After the ceremony, we all went and relaxed for a few hours. Then we met back at the littel bar at the campsite for drinks, a lot of fried appetizers, and a little music and dancing.

A great time was had by all even if everything “wasn't as we discussed.”

The bridal party at Kembu camp

The bridal party

Wedding ceremony at Kembu camp

During the ceremony

Wedding ceremony at Kembu camp

During the ceremony

Wedding ceremony at Kembu camp

During the ceremony

Wedding ceremony at Kembu camp

During the ceremony

Wedding ceremony at Kembu camp

During the ceremony

Makeshift bouquet at Kembu camp

Makeshift bouquet

Dance at Kembu camp

Michele dancing

Mother of the groom at Kembu camp

Kahenya's mom

We had a relaxing Saturday, starting with a brunch for all the friends who had stayed the night.

Sadly, at noon, we lost Shan and Burgen. Megan drove them back to Nairobi to catch their flight home. Seems like we just got here.

Michele, Laura, Kahenya, and I have a leisurely afternoon. We drive back through Nakuru to take Michele and Laura to the coffee plantation we visited the other day (Berea Farms, run by the Anglican Church of Kenya).

The same lady gives us a tour. This time she also takes us to the tea plant nursery. It takes three years before they can harvest from a plant. The field we visited was planted in 1979.

We stop back by their house (still no water) and then come back to Kembu for a beer and dinner.

Tea field at Berea Farm outside Nakuru

Tea field at Berea Farm outside Nakuru

Tea seedlings at Berea Farm outside Nakuru

Tea seedlings

Coffee beans drying at Berea Farm outside Nakuru

Coffee beans drying

Train tracks at Kembu camp

Train tracks separating two farms outside Njoro