23-Feb-2007 -- At 7:30 this morning, after a short lesson on GPS navigation techniques, eight of us (two dads with two sons each, plus two others) left on our first ever confluence hunt. Our goal was the Confluence where longitude 35E crosses the Equator. By looking at maps and Google Earth we felt optimistic that we would score!
The Confluence seemed to be located on the steep slopes of the Nandi Hills in western Kenya, on land inhabited by the Kalenjin tribe. From Kisumu, where our "church planting mission" is based, we traveled approximately one hour in a northeasterly direction over rough roads through sugar cane country.
We were within a mile of the Confluence when we parked our vehicle and started walking. Two friendly young Kalenjin boys came along and agreed to escort us up the mountain. Using bits and pieces of three languages, we were able to communicate. They took an interest in our GPS and seemed to understand the idea of getting as many zeros as possible to show on the screen.
We walked along the edge of a sugar cane field and crossed a rushing mountain stream on a sagging wooden footbridge, before climbing up a steep slope. We were fascinated by the small farms and beautiful scenery; so different from the lowlands where we live. Farmers were plowing their sloping fields with oxen and urging their beasts on in a chanting sing-song way. Women were washing clothes in the streams and bathing their children. White people are seldom seen in these parts, especially so many in one group. Small groups of local people watched us curiously from various places. They proved to be very friendly, especially when we gave them reading literature.
As we climbed, I saw that the Confluence would be somewhere in the vicinity of a homestead perched on a knob close to the top of the mountain. As it turned out, we zeroed in on "the spot" just inside the fence of that very homestead, next to a flourishing grove of banana trees. The elevation at the Confluence is 5,634’. From these heights the view on three sides was spectacular! Thatch-roofed houses and terraced fields dotted the mountainsides. Far below on the plains we could see the patchwork of sugarcane fields. We were quite pleased that we didn't have to fight our way through the thick brush in the surrounding areas.
Our guides spoke a few words of explanation to the women that were living there, then sat back and watched with looks of curiosity and humor that said, "What are these goofy white people doing way up here on a mountain taking so many pictures of a little instrument?" We soon got down to business, recording the necessary data and taking the required pictures.
After about an hour, we started back down the mountain. The boys hustled on down the path while the dads trudged along behind. We settled for stories of bygone days when we USED to run up and down mountains with ASTONISHING speed! Arriving at the vehicle, we found the boys enjoying their packed lunches.
Those in our expedition: Aaron Peachey; Mark Kuepfer and sons, Timothy and Titus; Jevon Beachy; Hosea Troyer and sons, Samuel and Jeremiah. Now, where's the next Confluence and when are we going?