Serve to Change Lives Rotary 2021

The water in many areas of the world has too much fluoride. As a dentist, I am, or maybe was, a believer in fluoride. Fluoride was first put into the water as a cavity decreasing method in Grand Rapids Michigan. It had been researched and studied in Colorado that the small amount of fluoride decreases dental decay. The optimum amount is 1-1.5 ppm, a very small amount. There are fluoride belts geographically, most notably India, China Africa and even the USA . These “belts” contain naturally occurring amounts of fluoride that are thousands of times more ppm than optimal.

We are driving to a Primary school in Bahati near Nukuru. We took an Uber to meet the van driver. It’s an old rickety van with broken seats and ill functioning seatbelts. The roads have a lot of pot holes. Traffic is busy with semis and other large trucks driving north and then south to Uganda and Sudan. It’s a three hour drive.

I am reminded of the book, “Learning to Breathe,” by Alison Wright. She survived a logging truck hitting the bus she was in. She escaped through a bus window that she happened to open. All of her organs that were supposed to be on her left side were forced into her right side. This happened in one of my favorite cities, Luang Pabang. It’s a great read. I have been trying to get her to speak in Coronado. She had some connections there many years ago. She is a phenomenal National Geographic photographer.

So the van we are in is a little rusty and the roads are bumpy. It’s will be a threeish hour drive.

These cargo containers are used for small stores
Rift Valley
Road side shopping
Busy roads
Zebras and monkeys along the way

We finally arrived at the school.

The Primary School

This school has 3000 attendees from ages 4-13. They grow food and harvest water.

Head masters and Joe

One of three de-fluoridation tanks at the school, although one is currently broken. These treat a fraction of the water that is needed per day. The two tanks produce about 400 liters of de-fluoridated water each day, and the school estimates that they need approximately 28,000 liters per day to feed the children and teachers, use for cleaning rooms and sanitation, and for watering crops made on site for the students. They also harvest rain water, which is lower in fluoride amounts, but still not at the recommended levels.

The problem with the excessive amounts of fluoride is due to expansion of the area. A 40 year resident told us that when he first was in the area, the water came from the surrounding mountains. Eventually there were pipes to collect, retrieve and use the water without the long journey of walking to get it. As the area developed the need for water increased. Water bore holes solved this problem. The holes that were shallow were ok for awhile, but the deeper one has to drill the more fluoride in the water, way too much fluoride and this is when the problem of fluorosis began. No one checked the levels of fluoride. Fluorosis is deemed a disease. It affects the hydroxyapatite in the teeth and bones. This starts in utero, in the womb of a woman bearing a child. The disease begins when the mother is 5-6 months pregnant, as this is when the permanent teeth begin to calcify. Once the child is about 6 years old, no more fluorosis of the teeth occurs, but the excessive fluoride also affects the bones. This part of fluorosis affects the joints and long bones, causing more fractures than a normal person would have at all ages. In the areas of the greatest amount of fluoride in the water, younger people are knock-kneed and older people turn into crawlers, just like those stricken with Polio.

Sunday in Nairobi

It’s a beautiful day in Nairobi. I slept well. Ready to begin. We will have breakfast then go to the Giraffe Center. Can’t wait to take pictures for my Mother

The Giraffe Center is pretty much in our host, Janet’s backyard. We each received a half coconut filled with pellets to feed the giraffes. So much fun!!

I was nearly head butted, licked and one bit me! The babies were adorable.

Next stop Karen Blixen museum. The stone house was used in the movie.

Coffee tree
Old wagon

Nairobi to this house used to take 6 hours by cart, now 25 minutes. Getting to Mombasa took two days by trains, not an hour fight on a small plane.

Coffee roaster with Hyrax

We had time to stop for a beer before our working lunch

Safe travels , some confusion but all in all easy Arrival in Kenya

We were happy to sit together on the long flights. Food wasn’t so great. Slept in between books and movies. Dreamliner on the last leg. After we got off the plane we had to show the QR code and some lined had their temperature taken. Then the usual passport checks. Long lines, typical people shoving and bing for a better position. Eventually we made it through and as we walked out of the terminal, a sense of sadness and fear overtook me. As we searched for our names, in the crowds, I will never not remember seeing two signs with my name on each of them held by two different men. When I chose one he told me that my father had expired. I thought that he was lying, but he wasn’t.

Janet found us immediately. She guessed but we fit the mother/daughter duo. She introduced us to the President of her Rotary Club. He had just come from a western Kenyan Rotary meeting. He came to great us and we will see him later.

Janet drove us to her beautiful home about 20 minutes away. She is from Jamaica and has also lived in Canada. She and her husband have two children. We ate a delicious snack about midnight, of Spicy chicken and rice with a salad and some carmodan tea with milk. We each have our own bedroom and bathroom. Time to sleep.

It’s late on the Airplane.

I should be sleeping but I can’t. Had some red wine a couple nibbles of Ambien. I watched the movie, “The Pig,” staring Nick Cage. Powerful I will need to see it again. Very interesting. Read a few books. One is interesting called, “People we meet on vacation.” I have others too.

Natalie is on this trip and I think she will have very open eyes in Kenya. She has been to Marrakech, but I think Nairobi will be like Kampala, Uganda was to me in 2002. Busy, crowded, scary, hot, dry.

My son George and his beautiful girlfriend, Grace are in Mexico, right now. lol They planned a great backpacking trip to Patagonia but a Covid wrecked that. They flew into Mexico City, stayed a night and then headed to Chiapas. Looks amazing. They will go to Holbox too. Looks cool. So when I can’t sleep, I read or watch a movie, now Anthony Bourdains story. I liked him. I watched a cooking show earlier and was moved to tears because this female chef was going to donate her winnings to the Lebanon giant blast. It happened after I left. So sad

I really need to resurrect my Middle East trip on the blog. They had too many barriers to post it on Word press

The Why

My Mom turned 80 in 2020. Our family celebrated her birthday in Wisconsin in July 2020, seems so long ago. Some people wore masks, it was outside, we had surprise grandchildren show up, and great grandkids too. Not grandkids that were a surprise but grandkids that surprised Nana. I have three very close friends with surprise relatives. Thanks 23 and me. I had wanted to give my Mother the gift of going to Kenya to see the Giraffes at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi.

So we planned to go to Kenya at Thanksgiving 2020. Shortly after making the plans, but before actually booking tickets, Covid made us cancel the plan. Kenya shut down it’s borders. I was very sad. The very next day, a fellow Rotarian and district governor elect ( a big deal in Rotary) called me and asked if I had any interest in a possible dental project in Kenya?!? Serendipity?

The movie, Out of Africa, has been one of my favorites for so many years. It has given me so much that is my life. It inspired me to take flying lessons, broadened my love for animals, Mozart, the Maasai, and of course, world travel. Karen Blixen, played by Meryl Streep, was from Denmark and had a farm in Africa. The location of her house is where the Giraffe Manor is today.

So, Dan Gensler, the District Gov, put me in touch with someone named Joe. He contacted Dan somewhat randomly and asked for help. His village is three and a half hours from Nairobi and has excessive fluoride in their water which is causing brown teeth and soft bones. Could we help?

Joe is around 20, lost his job due to Covid and wants to make a difference in his village. We have been communicating through text and a couple zoom sessions and random phone calls for over a year. He joined a newly formed Roteract Club and immediately became president.

Sometimes it does take THREE hours to check in for a flight.

Just departing on the first leg to Nairobi. Wow it has been the most difficult process. I bought the tickets this past July on a site called Snaptravel. The tickets were around $700! At present they are $4500. Well the reason they are cheap is because they have zero customer service! The flight wet “disrupted” and that must have slid us into the deep dark corners of their dirty cubby in India, no offense to my Indian friends, especially Shirley.

I have been on hold for hours, endless emails, texts, robot messaging etc. Booked on KLM and Delta. Also hours trying to get a human and I never did. The flights were rebooked so I could print an Itinerary but if I emailed it or downloaded it reverted to the old flights!!!

We also had to get PCR Covid tests, results arrived at 4:30am today! Took the test on Wed as directed. Has to be 96 hours before we land in Kenya. Went through two E-Visa agencies to get the visa for Kenya. First one never came through. Today we arrived very early for check in since we could not check in on line, sometimes it even said that there was no reservation at all! At the ticket counter they found our flights, checked our passports and then asked for the QR for tracing. We had it but they wanted to see our names on it. After spending an hour trying to find the email, reapplying twice, the agent realized that the QR code does t have our maimed on anyway. Wow so disorganized! And no seat assignments, which the agent insisted that we have before we fill out the QR code! They were wrong!

So now an hour and a half to Salt Lake City, hour layover then 10 hours to Amsterdam, three hour layover and eight more hours to Nairobi, arriving at 10 pm on Sat. We will be picked up by a fellow Rotarian

The rest of the trip… before the next one.

We had a wonderful time in Mexico. Such a diverse and exciting country. I may post a few more pictures, but when we got back to the USA, life just got in the way. In two days we head to Kenya for a week. So excited and for a cause, just not sure how it will all work out. Covid test today in preparation. Flying KLM through a cheap carrier. Flights have changed and I am a little stressed about it!

Work tomorrow and some preparations still needed. Love my lists!


After breakfast at the hotel we hired a taxi to take us to the La Gruta Hot Springs it was a 15 minute drive and $10USD. The entrance fee was also $10 USD. There were several pools. We skipped the family pool and went to the adult pool. It was warm not too hot. There was a covered part that was like going into a cave.

Not my pic
Also not my pic
The grounds
Amazing. Mole
Lots of these all over
Walking around

We went back to the hotel, rested and read a little , then back out to see the sites.

Not a lot of blue houses. There are certain colors that can be used per UNESCO
Narrow sidewalks

Stopped in a dive bar Dean Martinis. Met Alejandro

Got dressed up and walked to Rosewood Hotel for the view and a drink.

This hotel is very exclusive and we found out why! The view are incredible and the grounds stunning. Had a glass of rose and some French fries and a Facebook video call with family. My Mom is in the hospital and we all were concerned. Even my niece in Nepal chimed in, but hours later. Gotta appreciate technology.

Love the garden
A bag for your mask! Clever!
The grounds
Here comes the moon!
Gluten free tacos

We heard about a restaurant called LuLu Cafe. We walked past it on the way to Rosewood. We sat at the bar. It was Taco Tuesday. We were told that the kitchen closed in 10 min so we order fish, shrimp and cauliflower tacos on beet tortillas. Very tasty. We talked with the owner Paul. He moved from Oakland a few months before to open this shop. We plan to come back on Thirsady for a Pilates class next door and brunch. Back to the center for people watching.

Magenta tonight!
Photo bomber! Or Waldo?
My Mom hates this word

I realize these pictures are crooked and from the side, but you have to be stealthy in galleries and taking pictures of other people art. Once in Uganda, at the source of the Nile, I took a picture of a metal sculpture and got in big trouble. It finally took a one dollar bill to get out of the trouble!!