Monthly Archives: August 2011

August 8 & 9

With my ankle still swollen, I need a reason to not have to hike around the bush. After receiving yet another hot water massage, I am in need of a break. I asked Joseph about the possibility of taking a motorbike into Nanyuki since it was then 11 am and I had missed the 6 am matatu by about 5 hours. To be honest, I didn’t really want to take a matatu anyway. We went into town and Joseph called a few of his pastor friends to see if any of them wanted to make the trek into the city.

Eventually, someone I knew walked up who I knew owned a motor bike–John Seleon. I was happy that I knew the person driving, although I felt bad that he was taking me for only 1000 Ksh when it normally costs 1500 Ksh. He came and got the money so he could buy some fuel and then pulled up on his bike. Before spreading my legs (get your mind out of the gutter) to get on the bike, I looked him in the eye and said, “You have to be careful. If something happens to me, my mom will find you.”

I thought that I had exhausted all of my bad luck for the summer, but when Mother Nature started peeing on me I knew I hadn’t. However, seeing three giraffes grazing in one of the parks on the way and then about 50 zebras made up for it.

We arrived at the Ibis Hotel and he helped check me in for 1000 Ksh (about $11) and then had the most expensive tea in Kenya (40 Ksh) and walked around a bit. John hated for me to be lonely, hence his accompanying me despite him becoming later and later for his classes at the local bible school. John’s English is also sub par so me telling him that I was okay and he could go was a waste of my breath.

After he left I continued walking around and stumbled upon Nyama Choma Village for dinner, the nice place I came the last time I was in Nanyuki.  I ordered Chicken Choma (roasted chicken) and chips (Fries) and a massive coke because they were out of fresh mango juice. The waiter here was super friendly, partly because they had a smile that went from ear to ear.

I have yet to really master the eating of chicken here. I’m having a hard time deciding between using my fingers or a fork, but either way it’s good. The chips also provided a nice reminder of home, even if what I thought was ketchup turned out to be sweet and sour sauce.

Following dinner I searched for an open bookstore that had a “Swahili Phrasebook,” a task that would carry on into the next day since most of the stores had closed at 6 pm. The internet was also down so I just went back to the hotel and sampled of few of Kenya’s fine beer offerings (Tusker, Pilsner, and White Cap) and talked to Humphrey, the waiter.

Bed came early, around 9 PM to be exact. I think I’ve adjusted time wise because I woke up every hour just about. It seems that some people in Nanyuki never sleep. At 4 AM there were still people outside yelling and carrying on. Going to bed early means waking up early. At about 7 AM I got up and flipped the switch to turn on the hot water and got back in the bed for about 20 minutes to give it a chance to warm up. The hotel provided shower shoes, but I couldn’t get my fat feet in them–that’s not good for the ego. Forget the shoes…that shower was amazing. I really took advantage and washed every nook and cranny of my body…several times.

For breakfast I went to this really “white,” or Western (to be PC) place. I had a mocha (OMG good), a ham and cheese omelette (a real one, not a flat egg w/ a piece of swiss cheese on top), roasted potatoes, and toast! Can you say breakfast of champions?

The rest of my day was similar to the day before except I used the internet and got some blogs posted. I also bought my first Maasai shukka (a big piece of fabric morans wear when herding and around town), as well as some mangos, and all the food for the youth event on Thursday.

I thought that I had exhausted all of my bad luck but on the motorcycle ride home when Mother Nature peed on my yet again, I was reminded that my bad luck is inexhaustible. This time there were three of us on this motorcycle and we were completely drenched! We made it back to Doldol and a friend saw me and took me up the hill on his motorbike. He showed me our house from several kilometers away and handed me the car battery that powers our TV and I was on my way. I got lost twice… I thought it all looked the same without the rain, but with the rain the trails were nearly impossible to see. I would get frustrated, set the battery down and stand in the pouring rain looking up at the sky hoping for some divine insight. Luckily I saw one of the sisters and was so relieved my heart nearly skipped a beat.

Home at last, soaking wet, but home.


In my head…

Since being here in Doldol, I have truly missed certain aspects of home, specifically the music. The most random assortment of songs have been stuck in my head since being here: Here are some of them:

  • Dirty, Christina Aguilera (most likely because I’m filthy)
  • I Want it That Way, Backstreet Boys
  • Some song by 98 Degrees
  • The song from the Lizzie McGuire movie
  • If U Seek Amy, Britney Spears
  • Shout to the Lord
  • Jesus, Lover of my Soul
  • Stikwitu, Pussycat Dolls
  • Delta Dawn

Day 8 & 9: August 6 & 7

Two of my biggest fears are coming true:

  1. Having cankles and
  2. Being a burden

The last two days have been a lot of fun. I’ve finally figured out what my volunteer work is going to be. As I mentioned I am forming a sort of Youth Union through the churches here. Basically, I’m mobilizing the youth and empowering them and kind of being a mentor.

This past Friday we met and had lunch and we’ve been playing football (soccer) and volleyball ever since. Saturday we met at 11am and played straight until 6 pm, only stopping because the sun was setting and we didn’t want to catch an elephant on the path home. For the most part, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, granted I couldn’t tell what they were saying half the time. I let myself get frustrated at the end of the day and looking back it was really immature. A couple of the boys were being selfish with the ball and I made a few mistakes and no one explained what I did wrong, they just stared. When I mess up, I like to know what I did wrong so that I can correct it.

On Sunday I woke up singing the main song from the Lizzie McGuire movie: “Hey now! Hey now! This is what dreams are made of…” so I thought for sure it was going to be a great day! For the most part, it was. I played some volleyball and football with the boys and have now met the cutest little four year old with the biggest lips and chubbiest cheeks by the name of Dixon. It was also a church day…

Church was packed and it was primarily singing. I had to get up with all the “unmarried” to sing a song, luckily they chose one of two songs I know: Doi Boi Yoki (lyrics to come). I also got to sit with the children which was nice. I had no idea what was being said most of the time, eventually a translator came and sat next to me, but he only translated about every five minutes; I probably missed a lot!

After church I was approached by a highly intoxicated individual who swore he had met me previously. I mean, I know white people are rare in these parts, but I’ve got no idea who you are…

Julius, another man who I supposedly met, bought Franco, myself, and Joseph tea–the drunk man accompanied. After tea we couldn’t decide whether we wanted to play football or attend the crusade (The conference thing I mentioned earlier); thankfully we chose playing football. We made the 45 minute trek home, changed clothes, and made the 45 minute trek to the field. Rather than just me, Paulo, and Franco going, we were accompanied by two younger brothers, Manuel and Joshua, and Dixon, the boy I mentioned earlier.

Football was good, except the field is littered with huge stones and then holes where said stones used to be. Knowing me, I was running and turned my ankle in one of the holes and heard it snap. I knew it hurt, but I did what I did in high school and just kept playing, attempting to walk it off. By the end of the game it had already swelled up pretty bad; I had four ankles for my left foot. We had no choice but walk home.

Dixon was still with us so we stopped by his house and were greeted with the usual tea. In the time that we were there, my entire foot swelled up to my shin to the point where I had to untie my shoe (hence the cankle reference). It came time to leave and I couldn’t walk at all, plus it was raining and dark. Franco held my hand the whole way home and kept saying “Oiy! Sorry Sam!” The trek home took a lot longer than usual for obvious reasons. Once home I was greeted by everyone. Franco, then, took off my shoe and sock, boiled steaming hot water and massaged my foot.

“Ay Sam! We can no longer look at your leg! We fear it!” Uh, okay.

“Tomorrow we go to Hospital!” They exclaimed.

“Uh, why don’t we just wait to see if it gets better by itself?”

“You Americans, we have noticed that you fear nothing.”

Well, that’s where they’re wrong. The whole reason I didn’t want to go to the hospital was because I feared going in with a minor injury and coming out with something a lot worse!

I had a bunch of 800 mg ibprofen left over from when I got stitches so luckily I thought to bring that. By morning it was still very swollen, but had begun to bruise which I think was a good sign.

I’ll be sitting out on soccer for a few days as well as treks around the bush…

Heal! Heal! Heal!

Day 8: August 5

I realize I am going to sound like a complete pedophile when I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway…

I met the cutest eight year old today.

I was at this “conference” thing-a-ma-jig where people where singing and dancing in the street, but I needed to sit down and just happened to sit next to Victor, the boy I mentioned. Immediately he introduced himself and started speaking the best English I have heard since being here, most likely because he attends a private school built by the Speaker of Kenya. I promise I am not a pervert, it’s just that the future parent in me sees qualities in children that I want my own to possess one day.

Now, let me regress.

Today started like any other. I woke up before my alarm, had chai and karibu, used to toilet, and changed clothes. Today there was to be a youth conference for those youth in the churches around the area. The conference was to start at 10 am, but we left around 8:20 am. First we went to Pastor Francis’ home and, of course, were greeted with Chai. Then, I had my first unprocessed honey that came complete with the honeycomb and the bees that made it. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to swallow the honeycomb, but I did and was quickly corrected; it was kind of like gum. I don’t think I’m a fan of unrefined honey–way too sweet for me.

Next, we walked through the bush a little more and came to the home of the Chief (area administrator). He owned camels rather than cows so the chai here was made with camel milk. I’m 0 for 2 on trying new things today; I didn’t really like this either :/ It was here that I also got on my first motor bike that would take me through the bush. Now, I’ve been on motorbikes in the states, but I’ve never ridden on trails. One of the pastors that I mentioned yesterday was the driver and he kept chanting, “Don’t worry!  Do not be afraid! We are warriors! Soldiers of the Lord!” Okay…whatever you say boss…

Luckily we made it safely to the church at 10:20 (20 minutes after the program was said to start) and left to have a soda at the house of another pastor.

We headed back to the church just as they were finished the one song I know. There ended up being about 50 youth. We sang, we danced, and ate. Ni (mom here) prepared lunch for everyone which I bought for about $25.

It was a good day. Despite being infested with fleas, I am beginning to get into a routine. I feel like I am truly becoming “a big brother.” I can now be sarcastic and joke, but also have serious conversations with them. I still feel as though the next three weeks may go by really slowly!

We have a soccer practice scheduled for 11 am tomorrow with the youth. It seems as if my volunteer work will be helping to establish a youth union in Doldol; I’m really kind of excited!

Day 7: August _

Alright, I think it’s safe to say that every insect known to mankind has touched down on me: flies, grasshoppers, ticks, locusts, ants, bed bugs, and fleas–just to name a few. I bought this powder today that is supposed to get rid of fleas and bed bugs so I sprinkled just about the entire thing EVERYWHERE–we’ll see if it works.

I forgot where I was…

Two unexpected pastors showed up to stay the night. One was Maasai and the other Samburu; they were both very nice although one was kind of creepy. We talked a lot about their faith and how they got to where they are today. Of course they have very compelling stories, but I can’t help but think that one of them was doing it for show. They also spoke of the challenges they have faced bring Christianity to the Maasai. It is understandably difficult for them to fuse the two very strong traditions together, but I think there may be ways around this.

While Christian Maasai hold onto a small reminder of their culture, be it a bangle on the arm, spear in the gathering room, or, for the elders, a massive hole in their ear, much has been abandoned.

A lot of the Maasai tradition does not fit with Christianity, but some could be maintained if they wanted. For instance, when boys are initiated as warriors, girls will come and “sing” to them and basically offer their “services.” Well, if you’re a Christian Maasai warrior could you refuse the aforementioned “services?” The same with the parts dealing with alcohol… Where I am, they don’t believe Christians can drink, something I don’t necessarily agree with, but to each their own. Even the 18 year old said they could abstain from certain parts of the ceremony if they didn’t agree with them; however, I am led to believe there’s a bit more to it.

This is by no means a fully developed opinion piece and I am sorry to have led you on. Believe when I say that I will post a more comprehensive post on this topic when I return home.

Day 6: August 4

It’s probably best that I waited a day to talk about yesterday; I was beyond frustrated and, quite frankly, ready to blow this pop stand (that means come home).

My legs, right hip and butt cheek are all covered in bites that I believe to be fleas. While the bites might go away, the infestation may not. Having fleas could make this trip feel like an eternity.

Oh, we also got a black and white TV yesterday that hooks up to a car battery for power. They couldn’t understand why the one channel they’re supposed to get wasn’t coming in. I’m sorry, but hooking up a TV from WWII to a car battery doesn’t get you a channel. However, apparently hooking a broken cable from the roof to a metal pan and then setting that on top of the TV does get you a channel (#onlyinthebush).

Other highlights of my day were:

  • bathing
  • chasing a camel off our property
  • almost seeing elephants on our two hour hike and
  • finally playing some football (soccer)

Day 5: August 3

What a day yesterday was. I woke up at 5:15 am to hike into town and catch a matatu to the nearest city, Nanyuki. I had to go buy a soccer ball and some water and also figure out what was wrong with my phone; I hadn’t contacted my parents since being here.

The trip into town took about an hour and a half this time compared to four the last time. I ended up buying  a new phone for 2000 Ksh (about $20), that way I would be able to charge it and everything in the town close to where I live. I bought a “Nokia” that feels like it something I played with when I was three. I used quotes around the brand because I don’t think it is legitimate; instead, I contend that it’s one of many cheap Chinese imitations that have flooded the market. The sides are a bright red plastic and give the illusion that there are volume buttons, but they don’t exist, the same with the imaginary usb port. I can’t figure out how to change the volume, so I just used speakerphone.

We had chai in a really nice place on the second story of a building, but the chai was the same as what we drink where I’m staying. Then, Joseph took me down some kind of sketchy hallway to a place for fruit salad (I hadn’t had any fruit since being here) and fresh mango juice. It was delicious, except I’m not a fan of the avocado texture with the other fruits. The juice was incredibly fresh, literally straight from the mango!

I managed to get everything I needed after standing in line for the ATM twice; I didn’t put enough zeros–I’ll probably never have that problem again in my life.

In one store I found a “Teach Yourself Swahili” book that I’ve already started using. I also packed my bag with bananas and a pineapple to take home.

I almost managed to fall asleep on the matatu on the journey home until we stopped and someone sat on my lap and remained there for the next thirty minutes; I should mention that it was a grown man. It’s hard to recover from that. He was extremely close; I could have caught mono. There were 15 people, three children, and two babies in a matatu with 12 seats, including the driver.

Ah! I almost forgot to mention that I saw a herd of giraffes grazing with a zebra from afar. I also managed to see an elephant’s ears flopping in the trees. Up close I saw this specific type of gazelle that stand on their hind legs to eat from the trees. All of those sightings were truly remarkable. I think I might have been the most excited passenger on the matatu until we saw the elephant and a few other passengers showed some emotion.

Needless to say, I slept very well last night. I went to bed around 9 and woke up at 7:30. Living the Maasai life, I’d say.

Eyewitness News: Big Foot Spotted

Either every culture has tales of Big Foot or they’re real. Seriously, half way around the globe people are talking of Sasquatches? Now, not only do I have to walk around paranoid of 20 foot pythons and butt-kicking elephants, but also the star from Big and Hairy!

As we were having our pre-dinner chai one night, the boys spoke of a beast that was a giant and part human, part animal. They also noted it being covered in fur. A man of their father’s age-set tells a story of running into one on the dirt road nearby. It faced him from across the street holding the trays of a bee hive. They man then stood in that same place for two days completely unharmed, but in shock of what he had just seen.

Today, the boys claim that all the bigfoots have migrated to Mt. Kenya or are extinct. There have been no sightings nearby for some years. Perhaps, seeing as how Sasquatches eat a cow a day, or so the legends say, they didn’t have enough to survive in this area since so many people have lost cows due to drought.

If the one cow we have “disappears,” I’m really going to be freaked out.

Part 2: Day 4: August 1

Tonight the stars were amazing. I’m pretty sure I could see galaxies. Out in Maasailand it is easy to determine the planets from the stars because ever single twinkle can be seen.

Day Four: August 1

I woke up a little after the sun today and had water waiting for me to bathe. I  decided to just wash my hair since I wasn’t able to the last time due to my poor rationing skills. I poured some water on my head and yelped because of its scalding temperature. Wow, that is not something you expect from a shower in Africa. It was a very kind gesture for them to boil my water and I do not mean to seem ungrateful at all. Now, I know to wait for the steam to settle before touching the water to my bare skin.

There was no wasting time today before getting to the jobs. All the new trees and other crops needed watering before the sun rose to much and just dried it up, a lesson I learned from my own mom. We also had to remove some of the old fence posts. Following all of that, Joseph and Franco took me exploring for elephants, something I was originally excited about until I saw that they were carrying a spear, machete, and cane. I kept turning around to Franco and asking, “Is this safe? Are you sure this is safe?” I was honestly a little terrified. Although I tried to hide it, they could probably smell my fear–you know, one of those special Maasai skills.

Unfortunately, we saw no elephants this time, only the dung that showed they had been there. We did run into some Maasai groups in the process of migrating to another area, one of which had a herd of about 15 camels. They were dressed in the traditional attire, complete with beads, bangles, and shukkas, some even had the red clay in their hair for conditioning. Their dress gave them the appearance of something very regal and truly beautiful. It didn’t hurt that they stood against one of the most beautiful backdrops I have ever seen–mountains that kissed the clouds on which you could see other bright flashes of color where Maasai were leading their cattle to graze.

Even though we didn’t see any elephants, that trek was by far the highlight of my day. Following our walk, we had lunch and then I was told to go rest (still not sure whether or not that was optional). I also went back into the bush to chop down some limbs to reinforce the fence around the property that the elephants had knocked down the last time they came to drink from the watering hole. I’m not completely sure how the twigs we used this time around will stop them either, but maybe the thorns buried within them will.

Elephants hate the smell of their own blood, so if somehow they got cut, they would never come back. Joseph also has a bow and arrow that he shoots them in the butt with if they come around, that way they bleed and don’t die, then we’d have a court case on our hands.

Oh crap, I just noticed I was laying in a baby cow pie. Likes like I’ll be taking a “wet-wipe” shower tonight rather than the morning.

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!

Verbal tantrums of a writer & an anxious spectator of life.


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