It started over a year ago, when Bill met Konrad on a plane from the States to Copenhagen. Who would have guessed that a foodie conversation about bone broth would have propelled us to visit Konrad in Germany this December, but guess what? When he told Bill to stop in if we are ever in Germany, we took him up on that offer!
Now let’s talk about what happened in Iceland this past October. Bill attended David Asher’s natural cheese-making course and had a blast learning the ins-and-outs of traditional cheese-making along with 10 other participants. They even made rennet from scratch! For those of you who don’t know what that means just know it involves the 4th stomach of an unweened calf (look how happy they both are holding it)! Bill came home totally inspired about what David taught him and literally turned our tiny Ireland kitchen into a cheese-making paradise!! Can you believe we actually had more bubbling white containers on the counters??
The offer was made so . . .
We’re up one night having a glass of wine while I am working on pictures and Bill’s – I’m sure you can guess – making cheese. He starts to tell me about this dynamic family he met at the cheese course – Delia and her parents, Sue and David. He showed me photos of them from the course and then casually mentioned that they are the largest cheese producers in all of Kenya. Wow – pretty cool. He then preceeds to say that they also invited us to Kenya “if we are ever in the area.”
Well now, how many people are “ever in the area” to visit a country in Africa? Well low and behold – guess who was this year?? US! Yep, that’s right! Bill was scheduled to open the first ever experimental archaeology conference in Johannesburg, South Africa in March. The whole family was planning on attending with him (he’s been to Africa before with the show but we never had), but we hadn’t worked out the details.
I still can’t believe this happened . . . . Bill asked me, “Should I reach out to Delia and Sue and see if we can stop by when we are in South Africa?” I casually said, “Sure why not” secretly thinking in my head that there’s no way this family will welcome the 5 of us – 4 of us being complete strangers – into their home in Kenya.
I COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG.
The next day, just a week after returning from Iceland, Bill wrote Delia, Dave & Sue a lengthy email discussing his background, providing links to his research and The Great Human Race and finally sharing the two things he was hoping our family could experience in Africa: 1) a proper safari and, 2) meeting and working with an indigenous group (such as the Maasai) to experience some of their food-making traditions which would tie directly into his sabbatical work this year titled the Food Evolutions Project. In exchange for their help coordinating these activities, Bill offered to provide flint-knapping and firemaking lessons for the family (Delia and her husband, Andy, have 2 sons).
Again, you have to remember that my mind was thinking, “this is never going to happen. There is no way.” A week went by and he hadn’t heard back so I figured it was a done deal, but then an email arrived. Not only was Delia and her family game for the idea of us coming, but she had already started making connections to see some tribes living remotely and her youngest son was busy collecting obsidian to knap! Plus it was spring break for her kids too, so we all would be able to go on safari together! (PSA – safari in Africa means holiday/trip/vacation. A proper safari with animals is called a Game Drive 😉
There were a few emails back and forth, but by November 15th, we had our tickets booked to Africa! Then we got to figure out all the fun, unglamourous things about traveling – the 2 Vs: Visas and Vaccinations! The Tropical Medical Bureau was amazing and gave us all a thorough exam to ensure we had all the correct medical protection from anti-itch bug cream to Typhoid shots to Malaria pills. Plus the Kenyan Embassy was so gracious when supplying our Visas.
Fast forward to March
All packed for both legs of our African adventure with suitcases full of light-weight clothing perfect for safari but also practical for an archaeology conference. We missed our connection in London due to snow in both Ireland and England (still can’t believe that happened), but we finally made it down to Johannesburg . A huge highlight of the conference was a site visit to Sterkfontein Caves at the Cradle of Humanity, plus the morning session on ancient weapons where the kids volunteered to help collect all the ammunition! And of course I can’t forget Bill delivering the closing remarks at the #ACE2018 conference!
Off to Nairobi . . . to vacation with a family we had never met!
Well, that’s not 100% true. Bill knew the Mom (Delia) and Grandparents (Dave & Sue), but that was it. As we were boarding the plane for Kenya, I can remember thinking “what in the world are we doing?” Then we got on the plane and were surrounded – literally – by this fun family from Israel who had 13 kids!! They had just finished a 2-week holiday on safari in South Africa and were flying back-home via a layover in Ethiopia. They asked us where we were headed and it just sounded so bizarre explaining the story . . .
“Yeah, we’re going to vacation with this family that Bill met at a cheese-course in Iceland and then we are going camping with their extended family on safari.” Awkward pause.
Are we for real? Yep – that’s exactly how we roll and I wouldn’t change it for ANYTHING in the world! One of the funniest things is when they discovered that Bill was on TV. They freaked!! They wanted selfies and wanted to see pics from the show. Love this picture of them all but I don’t think the other passengers were enjoying our antics – it was 11:45pm . . . whoops!
Kenyan Adventure Time
As we flew to Kenya from South Africa, we had a layover in Ethiopia. Perfect chance to get a real cup of coffee! Just to illustrate the fact that we really did not know who we were hanging out with for almost two weeks, Delia had to send us a picture so we knew what they looked like when her husband, Andy picked us up!
Looking back at this, I can’t stop giggling!!
3 signs upon arrival that we knew this was going to be an amazing holiday with fantastic new friends!
1. Alex & Kinny have a Nerf Wall!!
2. They Own a Cheese-Making Business!!
3. They have a pizza oven and make everything from scratch!!
Our families’ connection was instant.
As you can see in these pictures, we all hit it off immediately and this was just the first night!
Wait till you see what happens next!
Let’s just say it involves caves, honey wine and a warm blood/milk drink!