The first week of October we all headed to Kenya. WorldVenture was having an East Africa Spiritual Renewal conference in Malindi and I for one was excited to be spiritually renewed. God and I had a lot to talk about and I was looking forward to the time set apart to do so.
We had planned to arrive early for the conference so that we would have a day to relax before the conference started. The tide had gone out leaving the coral exposed allowing us to be able to walk around on it. As we walked out onto the beach, a swarm of men came around us, each one wanting to show us all of the different kinds of fish in the tide pools. While they were at it, they also tried to convince us to pay lots of money and go on safaris and boat tours. I quickly realized that I had worn the wrong shoes for this, opting for my zero traction flip flops instead of my lots of traction sandals. The coral wasn’t extremely slippery but walking across it meant jumping over tide pools all on uneven ground. We left the one area of coral and headed down the beach, passing little shops selling scarves and jewelry. We saw a group of people on another part of coral and headed their way. Clearly, they were seeing something cool and we wanted to see it too.
When we joined the others, we saw that they were gathered around a starfish.
There were more Kenyan guides there wanting to show us everything. They brought us to a tide pool with a group of eels, which were creepy looking. I was glad to see them from above and not in the water. We walked on the coral from tide pool to tide pool, marveling over the unique creations of God. It was fascinating!
The guides called to us as they had spotted the illusive lionfish. The lionfish swam throughout the coral tunnels under the water with us going from tide pool to tide pool to keep up with him. I had never seen such a unique and beautiful fish in real life. I couldn’t get a good picture of him because he was so dang fast.
He had swum to another area and Hannah was able to get a good picture of him. I walked over to that tide pool, almost losing my balance at one point. Did I mention that walking on the coral was tricky and uneven, not to mention more difficult by avoiding the open tide pools? Ok, good.
I reached that tide pool and was trying to get a good picture of the lionfish before he swam away. The next thing I knew, I was sliding on the coral into the tide pool with the lionfish. Did I mention that lionfish are poisonous? Luckily, the lionfish swam away and I landed sitting on the coral with my legs in the water. Stunned, I stood up again, wondering what had happened to cause my slide. It was then that I saw that I had been scratched up in the process. My legs were apparently still in shock as the pain had yet to begin. I was feeling pretty dumb at this point.
And then the blood started.
On my first step, I realized that the fall had also broken my flip-flops. I took them off and walked gingerly on the rough coral.
Our Kenyan guides called us over wanting to show us “Nemo”. I told them that we needed to head back to the hotel to take care of my wounds. We walked carefully back over the coral until we got to the beach. I was concerned that sand would get in the scratches. My legs were stinging and my main concern was that we would have to climb a sand bank to get back up to the hotel. I managed it up the sand well and one of the hotel workers saw my wounds and guided us towards the first aid area. We waited for someone to come and I realized that my wounds were more extensive than what I first saw. Somehow, the coral scratches spiraled from my ankle all the way up my left leg. On my right leg, my calf was scratched from my ankle to my knee.
The hotel first aid guy came and unlocked the first aid box. He brought out iodine and started applying it to my wounds to clean them. Oh, that’s when the pain started. I’m not sure if you’ve ever put iodine on an open wound but suggestion, don’t. My roommate is a nurse and later stated that even in the Emergency Room, they delude the iodine, as straight iodine is too caustic. Tears filled my eyes as the cleaning continued.
The days after were filled with pain. It hurt to shower. It hurt to sit. It hurt to lay down. It hurt to do most things which cut out any future trips to the beach or swims to the pool. In ways, this was good. It forced me to have more time to focus on journaling and talking to God. It also allowed me to have good conversations with fellow missionaries there.
(this is me trying to be positive…is it working?)
Healing took awhile and even now, almost a month later, you can still see the scars. I’m hoping those eventually go away. Until then, from now on, I’ll be reealllly careful about walking on coral. You be careful too.