Gabriel and his family (including Gabriel's wife and two children as well as his father, his 5 wives, and their [combined] roughly 40 children) live in the small village called Nainokanoka, home to roughly 3,000 people. There are so many things that I could say about our trip. I could talk about the village itself which, standing at 7800ft above sea level and situated among rolling "hills" just below the rim of one of the lesser known craters, Olmoti, had no paved roads, no electricity, and herds of goat roaming through the center of town; about the smell of the kerosene lantern that lit (and somewhat warmed) our bedroom at night; about watching Gabriel watching, with pride, his herd as they were milked or grazed; about morning chai (tea) which is made with black tea, half water half milk, masala spice, and LOADS of sugar (it is delicious!); or about the graciousness and generosity that was shown by Gabriel's wife (and whole family, actually) to the three of us during our stay with them.
I could talk about the quiet calm that I felt standing on the rim of Empakai Crater, where there is not a sign of civilization (save the road that brought us there); about Gabriel's three room house, and how the living room furniture- the couch, two wooden and one plastic chairs, coffee table, TV shelf and wall cabinet- nearly completely filled the room and partially blocked the doors into the two bedrooms where (in one) Gabriel and his wife and (in the other) Gabriel's two children, one nephew and one niece slept; or about the kitchen, a separate building entirely made from sticks and mud, the walls of which have been completely blackened by coal soot and which now serve as makeshift chalk boards for childrens' drawings.
Or I could talk about the children themselves who, although initially shy to the point of being scared of us (especially Eleanor), gradually warmed to our presence, and greeted us each morning with "shikamoo" as they bowed their head to meet our hand (elders touch children's heads and reply "marahaba" as a show of respect by both parties), shared their toys with Eleanor, laughed (hysterically) at Tim's amazing ability to create a wide range of sounds using just his hand and mouth, danced to his guitar jams, and posed (wild with excitement at times) for the camera.
My thoughts and descriptions of each of these things could easily fill pages: their impressions are deep and lasting.
Gabriel, on Olmoti Crater rim above Nainokanoka.
Hiking, under the shade of an umbrella.
Eleanor enjoying the scenery...
..and the wind in her hair.
In the kitchen doorway.
Posing for the camera.
Boys will be boys...
...but Irene, believe it or not, was the most wild of the bunch.
Goofing around with buckets...
The children under Gabriel's care (l to r): Irene, Rickson, Calvin, Freddie, and Glory