Kenya

No. I love it.

No. I love it.

May 7, 2020
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I have to say, those 30 minutes of daily gardening, have proven to be something that’s truly turned into a wonderful gift. For myself.

And I want to do it, but I don’t have to do it. It is a choice, one I’ve made, and I don’t have to remake it every day, but then again, if there’s neither room nor energy for gardening, then I will not beat myself up for skipping a day.

I know I am Champion of Runstreaks (2090 days of Seven-morning workouts in a row, is all the proof I need; not that I need it) and hence, the 30 minutes of daily gardening doesn’t have to do with that. But rather… ever since my ex-husband and I separated in the fall of 2016, the garden has fallen into greater and greater disarray, as he was the one who spent a lot of time tugging at weeds, cutting the miniature lawn and trimming the hedges. Last year when I thought to ask Mr D if he wanted to assist me in cultivating my garden I had also promised myself not to vacation away from home… which definitely isn’t how it turned out. Instead, I spent 10 days in Kenya and 12 days touring UK, Belgium and the Netherlands… not to mention working like crazy.

Orange = radishes. Blue = carrots. Green = spinach. Pink = leek. And the cherry blossoms scattered like snowflakes all over.

This year, I will spend my summer here. At home. Which is just what I want, and have wanted for a couple of years, and finally will have the opportunity to do. I made myself the promise to not leave home come the summer of 2020, and on account of the pandemic that’s a promise I can easily live up to… but hey, if I can find something positive in the current situation, that’s a good thing, in my view. So I won’t beat myself up over that either.

And I enjoy it.
Sticking my hands in the dirt. Sowing a row of carrots here, a row or two of radishes there. Watering the prepared beds, tugging at some weeds. Getting rid of last year’s rasp- and blackberry brambles, starting to attack the wild roses going rogue at the front of the house. 

Being bathed in the soft evening sunshine, listening to the birds chirping away. Now and again sharing a word or two with my lovely neighbors, or for that matter, passing seedlings back and forth across the fence. Sitting underneath the apple tree overfilled with blossoms, talking to and petting Pop the cat, coming to keep tabs on me.

All the while, supported and aided by Mr D, either here, in person, helping me dig, plant, prepare, telling me what goes where, and in what combinations. Or there, online, cheering me on when I send him a daily text with photos, sharing my daily gardening-session with him. 

I enjoy it.

No.
I love it!

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What is it you found so funny?

January 19, 2020
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What is it you find so funny, the man in the car asked, as he stuck his head out the open window by the driver’s seat.

What he wondered about was me and my three friends, busy taking pictures of a dilapidated shed, locked down, closed, with no activities anywhere near it.

The name, we said, and he nodded.

The name was God’s favour cafe, and the shed might have been three times three meters, the front of the building (if it can be called a building? What is the actual definition of a building, I wonder…) painted a lovely turquoise color, and above the sturdy (?) and padlocked door, handpainted: God’s favour cafe.

I’d seen the shed the day before when we arrived at the Ideal Palace Hotel in Mwingi, while visiting tree plantations, partner farmers and a microfinance institute supported by my savings in trees, in the rural areas of Kenya, NorthEast of Nairobi. I’d seen it, and a bunch of other absolutely hilarious and funny and often surprisingly witty and imaginative names, on everything from hardware stores (Paradise Hardware), to hotels about the size of God’s favour cafe, like Glorious Hotel, making me wonder where potential guests stay. Perhaps room only for one guest?

Tipsy Wines & Spirits. Investment City. New Age Electricals. Plan B Bar & Restaurant. Grace of God shop.

So many wonderful names, spotted off the side of the road, as I crisscross the countryside by bus. Too quick for me to manage to snap photos of them all, which somewhat takes away part of the full experience of the combination of these glorious names with the buildings themselves.

So while on foot in Mwingi, me snapping a picture of God’s favour cafe was a given.

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Follow up – December 2019 – As I am.

January 7, 2020
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I intend to go through my intentions for the year at the end of each month. This gives me a monthly reminder of my intentions as well as ample space for reflection and possible adjustment.

December. The time of Advent, Christmas, New Year’s. A month filled with all sorts of undertakings, a new job assignment taking off properly in conjunction with other assignments to put to rest over the holidays.

2019. The year when I will…

* have my bodily wellbeing in focus by:

  • continuing with my daily Seven accompanied by burpees: ✅
  • Headspace Meditate daily: ✅ 159 days with Wim Hof deep breathing.
  • run a minimum of  75 runs –> run-when-I-feel-like-it-intention: Not even once.
  • take cold (outdoors) baths as often as I can – and add to this by taking cold showers: Finishing off strong with 8 days of colkd bathing in a row, and with a total of 13 cold baths (or showers) in December.
  • dance Lindy hop as often as I can (taking a class during the spring, and then there’s the social dancing as well!): No dancing in December, but have been accepted to the D-class beginning in February.
  • continuing to ride my bike and walk as much as possible: walked 55 and biked barely 400 kilometers. 77 days with “at least 10 kilometers in my body” at that!

* have my mental and spiritual wellbeing in focus by:

  • reading at least 75 books, of which 12 in Swedish and 12 in English already have been chosen. These 12 + 12 I will be blogging about: When December came aknocking on my door, I had ten books left to read, which honestly gave me a bit of a fright… but, I made it, amongst other things thanks to finding a few classics as audiobooks on Spotidy to listen to. 76 books under my belt in the goodreadschallenge for 2019. I also managed to finish my twelweth Swedish book Du sköna nya värld (book 12 of 12 in Swedish) as well as the remaining two English ones Homo Deus (book 11 of 12) and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (book 12 of 12).
  • learn at least five songs by heart including lyrics on the guitar, which will be made possible by my aim at ten minutes of guitar playing on a daily basis: Have played every day, for a total of 67 days in a row.
  • I will let the wonderful book The book of Awakening by Mark Nepo be my daily companion: Yes! The book is finished, and I even brought it on my New Year’s retreat in the woods outside Motala.
  • hold digital 24-hour sabbats at least twice a month: In December I held two digital sabbats, on 13-14th and 24-25th.

* have creation in focus by:

  • booking at least four two-day writing retreats during the year: These are the dates: 13-14 September, 28-28 October, 11-12 November, 9-10 December. Here I am, in the forest outside Motala, not really writing anything more than the usual ”fare the well” and ”welcome” blog posts for the year that has passed and the year that is commencing. But on the other hand I am writing them. And on a spiritual level, it’s most definitely a retreat well worth its weight in gold, thanks to my wonderful friends C and D.
  • keeping up with daily Facebook Lives for as long as there’s energy in doing it:
  • blog daily: YES! I was in a dismay after November, but on the first of Advent, I came up with the idea to do an English Advent Calendar here, with images and stories from my trip to Kenya, and since then I just kept going, so I’ve actually blogged every day in December.
  • start to pod: I recommend that you check out the pod Fria Barn (in Swedish), and wait until January for the other pod I am a part of. When it comes to Doing gentle with an edge I will simply have to get back on track in 2020.
  • release (at least) 4 e-books in 2019: There is a started ebook on my computer, but nothing else has happened.

* have financial husbandry in focus by:

  • sowing, sowing and sowing a little bit more; on a weekly basis intentionally work on my various income streams: ✅
  • keep tabs on my set invoicing goal on a monthly basis: ✅I reached my set goals in January, March, August, October, November and in December! Whoop! Did not in February, April, May, June, July or September.
  • keep an accounts book on private income and expenses: Remains to be done for December, but I will. 

And finally – on all levels – experiment and play, experience pleasure and exploring and challenging myself, all the while being gentle to myself: A month with the Advent calendar here that’s been very rewarding for me, a way to revisit my summer trip to Kenya. My youngest surprised me with making home made ravioli, while the oldes has been a sheer joy to have at home (imagine, a kid who helps around the house without any nudges. If ever there’s proof for a kid being ready to leave the nest, that’s it!). Wonderful nature experiences, with cold baths as well as ocean- and forest walks, the Stina Wollter-exhibition in Borstahusen with Heléne, and a lovely Christmas holiday. And to top it all off, a retreat in the woods outside Motala with C and D. What a lovely month!

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Good bye 2019!

December 31, 2019
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This year with the intention As I am has truly been a most wonderful, challenging and rich year. So much has happened, so many meetings have taken place, so many insights and lessons have come my way. 

Monthly follow-up of the intention of the year: As I am
Continuously following up on the fairly detailed ambitions I set within four areas (bodily, mental and spiritual wellbeing, creativity and financial husbandry) has been a very interesting activity, helping me to remain focused, as it has given me at least (!) a monthly reminder on what it is I want to focus on.

Timetravel
The invite to T and Hs 100-year party in Stockholm gave me a day (or two) of time-travelling. The theme of the party was the 1920s, and with my soul sister S and A I was given a chance to truly travel in time. As if I simply stepped outside of my ordinary life during these days… magical!

Cold baths
I started taking cold baths at the end of November 2018, and took it to new heights during 2019, ending on a high with 8 days of cold bathing in a row. Thanks to the deep breathing-practice that’s taken a firm place in my life during 2019, I’ve given up the quick ”in and out”-dips of before, in favor of five-ten minute submersions in cold water, thanks in large part of breathing and focus. It’s absolutely amazing and definitely something I will continue doing!

Coach Dave
In December 2018 I hired coach Dave for a year’s worth of coaching, at substantial cost, a tad more than 100% more than I’ve ever invested in myself before. When the time came to pay the second installment, my Jenny (who does my company finances) if Dave was worth it. My answer was fairly illuminating: No, Dave isn’t worth it, but I am! It’s been a fantastic journey and I have learned a lot, but perhaps the most important insight is just that one. I am worth investing in!

Podcasting
I have released one round of my own pod Doing gentle with an edge, and have twice as many episodes recorded but as yet unreleased. I will, in due time! I have taken part in Caspians Ett samtal (for the second time round; in Swedish) and have, thanks to Caspian, moderated the pod Fria Barn (in Swedish) released in the fall of 2019. Together with Caspian and Mr D I am also busy recording a number of episodes of a new pod in English which will be released in January. Finishing of the year with a couple of days of New Years retreat with those two gentlemen – what a wonderful way to end a year and a decade in!

60 hours of tankespjärn
For many years, tankespjärn has been my companion, as a word, as a concept, even, when I started to reflect upon it, as my life philosophy, since long before the word revealed itself to me. During the year the idea to host 60 hours of tankespjärn was born in a conversation with coach Dave. That’s what happened and there will be more, mark my word, in years to come.

Pecha Kucha and TEDxSlottsparken
As I so often do, once again I say: Thanks to Caspian I did a Pecha Kucha in Lund in April headlined How I broke up with my inner dictator, and that experience in contrast with my June experience as a moderator at TEDxSlottsparken was enormous. I was very nervous to do the Pecha Kucha, whereas I, moderating TEDx felt calm and collected. The difference? My Pecha Kucha was written in advance, and had me timing speech with 20 slides for 20 seconds each, while as a moderator I could act in the moment from what was, which (apparently) suits me much better!

Kenya
Nine days in Kenya after midsummer turned into one of the most rewarding experiences of the year. It’s given me so much, in so many aspects, such as an increased understanding of the tree-savings-scheme I have as a part of my (and the kids) long-term savings since 2015, to an increased network and a very close friendship with my roommate Lena. I finished the blog-year with a 25-days advent calendar here, with images and stories from the trip, something which deepened my gratefulness for going, even more.

Mastermind-pilot
Another thing was born during a coaching conversation with Dave, when he gave me 15 minutes to “do something”, which resulted in my sending out an invite on the fly, to a handful of chosen people, to participate in a Mastermind-pilot. During thirteen Tuesday evenings starting in August, had me spending an hour with four participants and me as the facilitator. What a journey that turned into. A pilot that definitely has me wanting more!

Culture
It’s been a year of many lovely cultural experiences of all kinds. With Heléne I have experienced Patricia Piccininis A World of LoveGuds olydiga revben, sing-a-long to Rocketman på Spegeln as well as Stina Wollters exhibition in Borstahusen. Add to that a fantastic production of Mozart’s Requiem at Malmö Opera with Skånes Dansteater, yet another sing-a-long with Dirty Dancing on the big screen and last but not least, performing Stabat Mater over Easter, the first-ever performance of Missa Brevis at All hallows eve and the choir trip to Jämtland.

Goodreads reading challenge
I set a goal to read 75 books during 2019, and finished my 76th book on New Year’s Eve, so mission accomplished. I also have the 12 Swedish och 12 English books I chose at the start of the year, to read and blog about on a monthly basis. Ever since I invented this challenge in 2018, when I chose 26 + 26 (which was a bit too much) I have realized this to be an excellent way for me to ensure that the books I buy “in order to read” which then end up unread on a bookshelf, actually get read. So I will do the same for 2020, 12 + 12.

Ready to leave the nest
My firstborn headed off to Australia on adventures in January, coming home end November, just having turned twenty. 10,5 months on the other side of the planet, and if I had any doubt before the trip, by now I am 100% certain this kid is ready to leave the nest. This makes me very happy and grateful because this is what parenting is really about, making kids ready to fly on their own!

The year that has passed has, of course, been loaded with a huge number of things besides the few I display here, but in general, it’s been a fabulous year with up’s and down’s, with tears of joy as well as sorrow, with amazing moments in solitude as well as in togetherness, and I am thankful to each and everyone and everything–including myself–that’s participated in making this year so rich.

Finally, I wish for you and yours to have a truly wonderful new year, in joy and love, with warmth and light–take good care of yourself!

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Advent Calendar – December 25, 2019

December 25, 2019
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In the background, you can see people lined up. Our fellow travelers were taking a group photo, one which made its way into a newsletter reporting on the customer trip of the year. Me and Lena… we’re not in it. Actually, there are pictures with us in it as well, we sort of slid in at the very end of the photo session… but those weren’t used. Oh well. We were busy with other things. Important things!

Human to human.
Grown-up to baby.
Soul to soul.

I was in communication with the mother. With the grandmother (?).
But more significantly, I was busy communicating with this little baby.
Three generations in one fell swoop.

Connection.
There’s nothing better!

Not surprisingly, this is yet another one of my favorite pictures from my Kenyan adventures in June 2019. It’s also the twenty-fifth photo I’ve shared with you, here, in my advent calendar. I have more. Many more. But it’s Christmas Day, and hence, the end of my calendar. I would like to say thank you to you who have accompanied me on this 25-day long re-visit to Kenya, I’ve greatly enjoyed it, and I hope you have too.

I hope I have inspired you to start to buy trees or to increase your tree-savings-scheme. Or at the very least, given you a bit of insight into various aspects of Kenyan agroforestry, the economical and ecological importance of trees, and the beauty of Kenya?

If you’ve yet to make a decision (a Yes is as welcome as a No, what I am after is a clearly communicated decision!) on whether or not to start to buy trees, let me know what the snag is. A question you would like answered? More information on how it all works? Whatever it is, reach out, and I will do what I can to help you reach a clear decision. Because I unashamedly want everyone to buy trees, and that includes you!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 24, 2019

December 24, 2019
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This was my first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa (and whatever trips I’ve made to northern Africa were 40+ years ago; water under the bridge!) and even though I wouldn’t claim to be extremely well-traveled, I’ve been to plenty a European country, to Thailand and Malaysia, to India quite a few times while working on a project a decade ago, and to North America.

There’s a feeling to each country I’ve visited. Sometimes open. Warm. Smiling and welcoming. Informal. Sometimes distancing. Reserved. Formal. The warmth and openness of the Kenyan people struck me;  no time during the trip had I any sense that I should keep my distance, avoid looking into eyes, laugh or touch. Not at all. Quite the opposite.

Walking down a narrow trail in the Seven Forks area to visit Simon Mulli, partner farmer of Better Globe, me and Lena came upon two women with babies. We stopped. Communicated wordlessly; gestures, smiles, winks. We asked May we take your picture? without actually voicing the question, and got a positive reply in return. I brought my Nikon to my eye, looked through the viewfinder, and was mesmerized by the piercing gaze that met me there.


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 20, 2019

December 20, 2019
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This is me.
My hands.
Planting a (ceremonial) tree at the Nyongoro plantation, with the help of one of the workers, an older gentleman in overalls.

It’s one of my favorite photos from the journey, one I have as the locked-screen-wallpaper on my iPhone, ever since I got back at the beginning of July. Whenever I grab a hold of my phone – which, truth be told, and likely to no surprise, is something I do quite often – I am reminded of how impactful my visit to Kenya was, and still is, for me. New perspectives, the reality of other people, bearing witness to everyday struggles that I have never encountered living in Sweden, and not least, a chance to meet the people behind the company whose vision I wholeheartedly support: To eradicate poverty and corruption in Africa.

One way to help eradicate poverty is to help farmers keep their soil viable. At 21 degrees Celcius, the soil is 100% viable. At 40 degrees C, only 15% of the soil functionality remains. At 60 degrees… it’s 100% dead. There is no life in the soil then, all microbes have died off. Unfortunately, 40-60 degrees of soil temperatures are far from uncommon in Africa.

Planting trees, not only helps protect the soil from erosion thanks to the root systems of the trees, but the canopy of them literally works like sun umbrellas, protecting the soil from heating to those lethal temperatures from the unrelenting sun. This is one reason why it’s such an improvement of farmers’ situations when they contract with Better Globe Forestry to become partner farmers and plant trees on the very same land that they already – and continuously – plant cash crops on. The lowered temperatures mean that soil of partial viability within a few years bounce back and thrive, giving higher returns on their cash crops. Smart huh?

Through the donation packages I purchase monthly, I ensure that partner farmers not only get to tend my trees which, as you understand from the reasoning above, is of benefit for them, they actually receive a tree for themselves for each tree of mine. If you want to start your own monthly contribution to this fantastic and life-changing work, start a monthly subscription. And if you need help, reach out!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 13, 2019

December 13, 2019
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I went on a short trek along the beach in Malindi, on one of the two afternoons of unscheduled time I had during the entire Kenya-trip. The beach of Scorpio Villas was like something straight out of a painting of Paradise. To the north, it ended with a small cape, with an alluring Pokémon Go-stop named Vasco da Gama monument. (Yes. I play PoGo, still. And no, I deliberately didn’t purchase a data package for my phone in Kenya, so the only places where I could catch a few Pokémons was when I had wifi, which I did, at Scorpio Villas. I could see the PoGo-stop, from my bungalow, but the wifi did not extend all the way to the monument.)

So I convinced Jonatan to tag along, to see what that monument was. Along the way, we encountered a local fisherman, who was eager to show us around. He pointed down a road, saying That’s there the monument is. It will cost you 80 KSH though, and that’s when I lost interest, as I was dressed in a bikini and a sarong, with no cash on me. Or rather, I wanted to continue north, to the beach on the other side of the cape, to see if the monument was visible from there.

He ensured us it was, and continued with his storytelling as we walked on. He told us da Gama actually did take off from this small cape, upon heading east over the Indian Ocean, only to continue to tell us about the small fishermen’s village we passed to the north of the cape. And yes, as we came a bit further along, I did get to see the monument. But even better, when we got down on the beach, totally different in looks from the paradisic beach outside our hotel, he bent down, placed his hands on the sand, stood still for a few seconds and then brought his hands up, saying This is the Golden Beach.



Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 9, 2019

December 9, 2019
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Meet Joseph Kimanzi, a farmer my two travel companions Jan and Jonatan met when they were capturing the problems of soil erosion. Joseph came upon them, asked what they were doing, and when he heard what they were up to, he scoffed, shrugged his shoulders and said: Come with me, I’ll show you erosion! 

So they tagged along to his farm, which 4-5 years ago was effectively cut in half by the monsoon, using a drone to take pictures from above, clearly showing what Joseph was talking about. I showed those pictures to a friend, and she replied: Can’t he just fill in the ditch? So I showed her this picture which had us both sighing.

This five-meter deep ravine cutting his farm in half is definitely not something one easily “fixes”.

Erosion.
A serious problem.
In Kenya as well as in many places around the earth.
It’s even a problem in Sweden, especially along the coastlines of Skåne where I live, even though that cannot compare with what I saw in Kenya.

So once again, I am filled with gratitude at living in a country where monsoon rainfalls and soil erosion isn’t a part of life, in the way it is for Joseph and his countrymen and -women. But also for having the opportunity to at least using my savings to try to mitigate and minimize something as serious and detrimental as this. Planting trees is one of the most effective ways to combat soil erosion, which is one reason why I do just that, on a monthly basis. I would love it if you would do the same!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 8, 2019

December 8, 2019
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Worker of Better Globe Forestry at the nursery in Nyongoro, which has a capacity of half a million mukau-seedlings a year.

During my visit to Kenya in June 2019, I got to visit two Better Globe Forestry plantations, in Kiambere and in Nyongoro. The latter one has not had a lot of visitors since 2015, on account of being a bit too close to the Somalian border to be deemed safe. A few months prior to our visit, Torgny, a Swedish customer of Better Globe, went there on his own and wrote a really interesting chronicle describing his experience. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs still advises against traveling there, but luckily the customer trip of 2019 had this visit planned, with necessary safety precautions taken. And I must say, I am very grateful I got to visit this plantation as well.

The staff at Nyongoro were more curious about us visitors than the staff at Kiambere, which makes perfect sense. The Kiambere plantation is closer to Nairobi, started earlier (in 2006 as compared to 2012 for Nyongoro) and hence is a good place to bring visitors. This worker reminded me of the Aracuan Bird in the Donald Duck film Clown of the jungle. He was everywhere, wanting to be in all the photos, offering to pose for us, both here and there, which made for a lot of laughs!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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