Waka Waka!

I have been a soccer fan for a long time.  I love watching the sport.  I love cheering for it.  It’s so fast-pasted.  It’s intense.  It’s a bit over-dramatic, I’ll admit, with all of the flops and falls after being tripped.

Winning the World Cup, 1999.

We all know their names.  Mia Hamm. Julie Foudy.  Brandy Chastain. We all remember watching them win the World Cup in 1999.  We all stood in our living rooms cheering out loud that the US was the World Cup Champ.

Then, in 2010, we waited with bated breath through 90 minutes of the US vs. Algeria.  Through the annoying droning of the vuvuzelas (those plastic horns that were deafening after a few minutes), our US team won in the 91st minute of the game led by Landon Donovan.  The theme song for the World Cup in 2010 was Shakira’s Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), which became the theme song for our time in Watamu.

The Safari gang arrived at the Coast, in one piece.  Some in better shape than others, naturally.  I swear Lucy and BZ skipped off the Vomit Comet, while the Carney Kids were moving much slower, some of us in wheelchairs.

As we drove to the Coast, I was marveling at what a different world this was than the one I know in North Wales.  There are people everywhere.  On the streets walking to work.  On the sides of the streets working to sell their produce they have grown.  Everyone is walking or riding bikes.  And the cars motor like maniacs, my brother included.  I swear the speed limit was 100 mph, and everyone is honking and swerving.  Remember, we’ve just gotten off the Vomit Comet, so this sort of driving is pretty unfriendly to my tattered system right about now.

Simply Amazing.

As we drove from the Malindi Airport to Watamu, the papparazzi in me was taking pictures non-stop.  I was doing so because the landscape was so beautiful, and yet it was entrenched in deep poverty.  People with no shoes on.  Kids wearing tattered clothes.  Everyone walking somewhere because most don’t have cars.

At first, I felt shame for taking pictures, but now am glad I have them as it humbled me tremendously.

A Humble Home.

There are people with no running water, no electricity, no prospects of leaving home to make a better life for themselves.  Yet, as I got to know these Kenyans, there was this absolute and utter kindness and hospitality of these simple people.  They may be poor, but they are proud.  They may not have high powered jobs, but they believe in the power of educating their youth.  They are there to serve you, yet they do it without expectation or exception.

They are beautiful people.

My Closet.

I was humbled.  Immediately and forever humbled.  I have a good paying job.  I have a beautiful home.  I have a body that I am working hard every day to get healthy again.  I don’t feel guilty about what I have, as I have worked so hard to achieve this.

What I do regret taking it for granted as most of us do.  I moan about not being able to drive long distance yet, but at least I have a car.  I complain about not being able to wear my high heels again, but I have a closet full of options.  I groan about having to drink tons of water to keep my healing body hydrated, but I have a Brita in my fridge.

I have been given the chance to do whatever I want to do, achieve lofty goals and become whatever Suzy Carney wants to be.

I have CHOICE.  These people don’t have much choice.  They are proud of the work they do, and they do it with care and precision.

The Beachcomber.

This is the second time in a year I have been truly humbled.  First, when I was diagnosed with GBS and lost the ability to walk.  Now, seeing the beauty of the human spirit despite poverty.  Wow.  All of this while driving the 30 minutes to the beach.

The white sands at the Indian Ocean.

As we pulled into our driveway, I looked up at our temporary home, The Beachcomber.  I walked around the house, excited with each new room I entered.  I was given the room downstairs with the air conditioning!  See, GBS does have it’s perks!  I walked out onto the porch, and out to the Indian Ocean.  I felt an instant sense of calm.  I met our home caretakers, Jacob and Mary, who would be with us all week to make sure the Carney Kids were well cared for.

The fridge was stocked with Coca Cola (4 cases to be exact) and Tusker, an East African lager, with a taste slightly stronger than Miller Lite.  The house was bright, clean and well-kept.

I walked down the path in our backyard and immediately into the ocean.  I hadn’t felt the ocean water on my feet since Memorial Day.  I thought about the sandy beach alot when I was sick, and standing there, toes in the clear blue water, I was instantly relaxed, and grateful.

The few days leading up to the wedding we spent at the Beachcomber was non-stop action.  Sleep in.  Eat Breakfast of eggs, mango and coffee on the terrace. Lay by the pool.  Eat lunch of chicken, salad and mango on the terrace.  Shower.  Dress.  Party.  Repeat.

Each night we had an event.  Non-Stop Parties.  Tons of new people to meet.  Several new venues to explore.  Many new Tuskers to drink.  The nice thing about the Tuskers is that you can get a nice, civilized buzz on, without falling over like you do when drinking Franziskaner Hefewiesen, the banana flavored beer that David likes.

A Typical Breakfast.

Tuesday Night was the Welcome Reception at the Eastwood’s home in Watamu, which was a nice was to get to know people.  And, it was great seeing the Vomit Comet-eers looking refreshed.  We met and mingled, and got to meet all of the people we had been hearing about for 5 years from Bobby and Claire.

Sunset on Mida Creek.

This is where we were first introduced to the Dawa.  It’s a sundowner made of Vodka, Honey, Fresh Lime on the rocks with the glass trimmed in sugar.  It comes with a Dawa Stick so that you can crush the fresh lime to your liking while enjoying the cocktail.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but is quite delicious.  We’re bringing the Dawa to the States, so you can all enjoy them with us!

Welcome Sign at Pili Pan!

Wednesday Night was the Hen Party (aka Bachelorette to us Americans).  It was a Trip down Mida Creek on the Dhow, an old-fashioned boat, furnished with food and cocktails!  Dinner followed at Pili Pan, then dancing at Ocean Sports.

60 people came to celebrate this with Claire!  What a lucky gal to be so loved by so many!  I won’t tell you anything about the Hen Party, as is per tradition.  But, there are some great shots on my Facebook page, if we’re friends!  The boys joined us by night’s end, so the entire wedding was there, dancing the night away.

Drinks Specials!

Thursday Night was the Rehearsal followed by the Rehearsal Party back on the Dhow.  We met at the wedding venue, Tethy’s House, which luckily for me, was right next to the Beachcomber.  I was counting my steps at this point, as my energy level, because of non-stop action and the heat, was starting to wane.

After Dad's Toast.

We made our way to the dock, as we did for the Hen Party, and took the Dhow out for a sunset sail down Mida Creek while getting to know the extended Eastwood family, and closest friends.  Dawas All Around!

My dad, who doesn’t like boats, let alone boats in water, managed to not only make it through the trip, but was able to stand and give a touching toast to the bride and groom.  I think I saw those sea-sickness patches behind his ears like he wears on the cruise, but, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!

We ended the night with dinner at the Luckhurst home on the Creek.  I feel very lucky that the Luckhurst family has come into lives.  Not only did they treat us to the most spectacular, life-changing safari, they hosted a beautiful dinner so that they too, could toast Bobby and Claire.

At the end of the night!

To be surrounded by so much love did my heart good.

I’ve made it this far, now I’m in the home stretch.  I’m literally cruising on fumes from the flight to Africa.  The safari.  The Vomit Comet. The parties.  The Tusker.  The Dawas…. Time to get to bed and rest up for the big day!

Tomorrow, my brother marries the love of his life.  And I’ll be there, to honor them both.

Next Stop, Marriage!

Thank you for joining me on this journey.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Fran sutherland on March 27, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Beautiful Suzy, what a journey!!! Hope you’re doing well and getting strong!!!
    Fran sutherland


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