Category Archives: Kenya

August 20

I’m not quite sure what parts of the chicken I ate today, but since I was a guest in someone else’s home I pretended like I was a dinosaur and used my teeth to scrape every last piece of whatever from the bone. I was really just thankful it wasn’t goat.

Isaiah and Alpha also have a tv so we started watching Saving Private Ryan, one of the ones Isaiah got the other day. That was definitely interesting, probably the one time I was happy their English wasn’t that great; I had forgotten how much they used the f word in it.

I really enjoy the Matunge family. There is also a lot of them around Kurikuri. Someday when I live in Dol Dol I hope they will take me as their mzungu son. The father, Manasseh, is a former teacher and now is trying to revive the Yaaku culture and is chairman of the school board. Eunice, the mother, is a buyer and trader of Nesselrode; she has a little shop in town. Alpha had to run and open it today because there were some mzungus there.

After practice today we went with Alpha, Isaiah, Nicholas, and Moses to harvest honey. Getting Franco and Paulo to come along was kind of like pulling teeth; they cab sort of be sissies sometimes –“Sam, it’s getting dark!” “Sam, there are elephants!” Well I have yet to see anything at night to make me feel threatened. Plus, I want to see an elephant so put on your big boy panties and leggo!

Watching them harvest honey was entertaining. They climb into trees with smoking sticks and next thing you know they are throwing their clothes out of the tree because bees got stuck in them. Then, a honeycomb gets thrown down to the ground and it’s like five year older at a birthday party where the pinata gets busted; they swarm just like the bees themselves.

After having our share of the honey it was time to walk through the bush. Of course since it was dark, the scratches on my leg multiplied by two.

At almost 8:30, the usual dinner time, Joseph still wasn’t home from Nanyuki; however we ate, but it was apparently our lunch. Momma had saved our lunch. I didn’t know it was lunch until 9:30 and I was passing out in my chair waiting for the bedtime prayer so I could go to bed.

“Sam, you can’t stay up for dinner?”

“Well what in the world did I just eat?”

By 10:30 if I haven’t eaten dinner, I just don’t eat; it’s time for bed. We finally ate and I waited for Joseph to drink two glasses of tea and say only God knows what for us to pray and finally get to bed…

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August 19

Apparently on the real August 19th I was too tired to actually write. Instead, I jotted down some speaking points that I will now elaborate on.

Cat–apparently eating cat is something that still occurs here in Dol Dol. Shops make people aware that they have by displaying some sort of leaf in front of their store, kind of like a vacant sign at a hotel. People did mention that it doesn’t happen as much anymore, most likely because cats are becoming more and more domestic.

Problem Solving– As we were leaving football today, Isaiah took the volleyball with him without asking. So what does Paul do? He runs after him yelling and throws off his jacket like he is ready to fight. They finally come back down where I am and we work through the situation. It was fun to ask things like “Now how could you have approached that situation differently?” or “What if you had done this?” They both calmed down and saw the error in their ways. Paul has such a quick temper.

Samuel’s Requests– No, not mine, my Kenyan brothers… Samuel approached me in the morning saying he was comfortable coming to me asking for help, his idea of help though was me buying unnecessary things. First, he wanted a cell phone even though he never leaves home… Hmm. He the wanted me to give money to his relatives who a red e rumored to be part of the reason he went off the deep end in the first place. So no, not this time.

Joe Visited — Joe the program coordinator for the program I am with came all the way up to Dol Dol to see what life was like and what I had been up to. It was nice… He met other potential hosts for volunteers as well.

TP — I went through an entire roll of toilet paper today. And no, I wasn’t blowing my nose.


August 18

Youth day. I left very early, though not as early as I had intended (what’s new) to go into town and prepare the spaghetti sauce. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I was very impressed with the way the sauce turned out; it looked great, I don’t know how it tasted though.

Anyway…

Talent show was supposed to start at 10 AM. Yeah…we finally got going around 11:45. Each week the number of youth present has grown, so this week we were expecting 80 (up from 30 last week), but we had about 120; it was packed!!!

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting with the Talent Show, but that wasn’t it. I thought they’d be more lively. It took me demonstrating how to do the Soulja Boy, Stanky Leg, Walk it Out, and 1, 2 Step to get them on their feet. There was a lot of singing. Oh, and a preacher preached /screamed for forty minutes which definitely isn’t what I was looking for.

Following the show we broke into gender-based discussion groups. For the girls it was women’s rights, early marriage, female genital mutiliation (FGM), and sex. We men pretty much stuck to sex and making wise decisions. I was really impressed by the complexity of their questions. I can tell they had/have been thinking about things relating to this topic. It is also obvious that a lot of them aren’t really sure what to believe; a lot of the questions related to fact or fiction.

We were two hours late for lunch. Duh. And we ran out of food before 35 of the small children got to eat. Ay yi yi. It was of course my responsibility to go buy something for them to eat… I didn’t even eat the lunch I had made. When dinner came at 9:00 PM I was starving! All I had had was a cup of chai at breakfast, bottle of water, coke, and a piece of andazi. As Alpha said so wisely, “You say you are okay, but really you are empty inside,” he knows me to well.

Today was Kurikuri’s first football match. Trying to organize them to play was one of the more stressful things I have ever done. Everybody thinks they’re amazing and deserve to start the game. I took one kid (one of my bros) out after five minutes and he yelled of corruption after putting all his clothes on and walking away. He doesn’t know it yet, but he won’t start the next game either. Big baby.

We lost 1-0 to a team that’s been playing together for years. I was impressed with how well we played together, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. They run around in packs like five year olds, or wolves. Oh, and they just kick the ball and hope someone gets to it. All of that can be improved upon though… I’m confident that we will smash the town team sometime in the near future.

We didn’t leave for home until very late, well 7:00 PM, but it was very dark and I couldn’t see a thing. Walking on the “road” was fine but when it came time for the paths I had the hardest time. At one point there was a rustling in some bushes and I froze and nearly pooped my pants. We decided to go a different way.

After making it home, it was obvious that I couldn’t see where I was walking. My legs were scratched on all sides from walking right in to thorn bushes and having to then spread my legs and hope it goes between them and I continue walking. Maybe someday my eyes will adapt like theirs have to the darkness.

Oiy! I almost forgot to mention that we relocated the door to the house–you can do that really easily when they’re made of mud.


August 16 & 17

Today is a city day so I got up at like 7:20 and had an egg and chai and then went to pack my bag.

Last night Isaiah, Alpha and Benja’s brother, asked if he could accompany me to Nanyuki and since I didn’t have a problem with it I stopped by his house this morning to pick him up and confirm with his parents that it was in fact okay. There was no Isaiah at home, but there was a Lilian, Alpha, Moses, and Eunice (the mother). Apparently Isaiah had already made his way into town to meet me; he didn’t follow instructions. Franco was also meeting me in town, so this was about to get awkward.

Franco has been wanting to go to Nanyuki with me, but Isaiah asked the most recently and I haven’t really connected with him yet. I also think Isaiah has a lot of potential, he just needs a bit more confidence. Franco never mentioned that his dad, Joseph, was going to give him some money to accompany me until we were ready to leave. I’M SORRY I’M NOT A MIND READER! I thought he was going to cry when he found out Isaiah was going; I felt terrible, but I can’t satisfy everyone all the time–being white is a genetic thing, not a super power.

John, the same person that brought me the last time, brought both Isaiah and me this time as well, on his bodaboda (motorbike) of course. We had to stop in Il Polei to fix the shock and then twenty minutes later we pulled off on the side of the road for the two of them to pee.

There was a bit of a communication barrier between Isaiah and I. Eventually after we did our own things for the afternoon we met back and checked into the hotel and watched some of the worst soap operas I’ve ever seen, among them was The Young and the Restless. We didn’t watch that, apparently Isaiah prefers Spanish soaps that have been dubbed over in English. However, if we are being honest here…I got sucked in. Between Soy Tu Duena, Tahidi High, and Spider I couldn’t keep up with it all as hard as I tried, but I was entertained.

Dinner took place at Nyama Choma, the same place we had lunch, but that was fine; I tried something new–BEEF STEW. They told me it was all actual meat so I took their word for it.

That night I fell asleep to yet another soap and woke up around 3 AM to BBC World News and watched two rounds of that and finally fell back asleep. This boy, he woke up at 6:30. Me oh my. I slept till about 7 AM and then got ready. I think he would have sat there all day watching television if I had let him.

I bet you can’t guess where we had breakfast. Oh, that’s right…Nyama Choma…again. It’s really okay though. We followed that with a trip to the super market so we could buy as mcuh there as possible so I wouldn’t be taken advantage of. They didn’t have spaghetti so we went elsewhere. I found the nicest woman who found 20 kgs of spaghetti for me and then gave me two suckers for free because we bought so much. Honestly, we probably paid as much as she makes in two days.

I tried buying pork sausage at the butcher, but he was almost impossible to communicate with. He opened his freezer to show me beef sausage and my gag reflex went into action. There was unpackaged meat frozen to the sides covered in frost bite. Plus there was the smell. I followed my final gag with, “That’s not really what I’m looking for, but thank you!” So we went back to Nakumatt, the supermarket, which is basically made for westerners in the area and bought nicely packaged and labeled pork sausage.

Going to the super market was a really neat experience because I don’t think Isaiah had ever seen anything like it. He couldn’t believe all the flavors of yogurt! We left with 15 thick sausage links, mango juice, a new volleyball, water, and two Mars ice cream bars. Great success.

After buying what we could where there were set prices it was to the actual market we went. Mangos, cilantro, onions, passion fruits, green onions, garlic–nom, nom, nom.

The ride home on the matatu solidfied my distaste for them. We waited about two and a half hours for it to fill up, the drive drove at the speed of light there every possible hole in the road, we picked up every single person on the side of the road even though we were already five people over capacity, AND there was a goat whose smell was nauseating. Oh, my window wouldn’t open either so if I had thrown up it would have been all over me as well as the Maasai woman and baby next to me; I can’t even begin to imagine what she would have done.

I was so thankful to be home. Isaiah and I rushed up the hill and then to our respective homes to change for football. Paulo and Franco had already left so Joshua walked me. He doesn’t really comprehend English at all. I had our neighbor tell him that we had to stop by Isaiah’s to get him… We get to Isaiah and not only is he still there, but so are his brothers and cousins…Practice started two hours ago…


August 15

Monday Funday.

Yesterday I was in desperate need of some toilet paper or tp as it is commonly referred to here; desperate times call for desperate measures–you don’t even want to know. I also needed some water that didn’t taste like milk or my grandmother’s pool. So, there we have it–three excuses for me not to work in the shamba (garden).

Franco and I headed into town and dropped my phone and camera batteries off to be charged. We then went for tea and andazi at another chief’s shop. From there, Franco was in dire need of a haircut, his Yaaku curls were getting a wee bit long. While at the barber, or kinyozi, I decided to have him shave my face since it too was getting a little scraggly. Of course all the boys in town had to line up at the window to watch throughout the entire process. He threw so much methyalate on the razor I could feel it being soaked up by my pores which resulted in a undesirable burning sensation. It took kinyozi longer to shave my face than it normally does myself. Once done he rubbed the liquid methyalate all over my face; hey, if it means that I don’t get an infection of God knows what kind, my face can burn…

We then stood outside chatting, most of the boys were an hour and twenty minutes late for a meeting at the Baptist church. Regardless, I invited them for a snack of tea and andazi and they accepted. Duh. Conveniently a few others showed up just as we were ordering.

At one point there were forty people playing football or volleyball as well as those just standing around chatting. It makes me really happy to see them all come together and enjoy one another’s company.

Alpha had this ring on that I asked to see, so he took it off and placed it on my pinky (the only finger it would fit) and told me to never forget him. He really is one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met; he’ll be a very fine leader one day.

Then came the trek home where I pointed out to Paulo each time he was gossiping and did my best to explain how that went against his Christian values–I don’t think it worked.

I had forgotten it was “Man Night in the Kitchen,” until my Kenyan mom came out and sat in the gathering area and looked me in the eye and said, “Jii Koni (Kitchen.” Whoops. It was a lot of fun to be in the kitchen, which was unfamiliar territory for us as men in Dol Dol. I was, of course, corrected every time I did something in a way that seemed foreign to them even though my way worked perfectly fine. THERE ARE DIFFERENT WAYS OF DOING THINGS!

The evening ended with discussions regarding the future of Dol Dol’s youth and me being told to get inside because it elephant was nearby. Well, it’s not in my immediate vicinity so I’ll continue peeing, thanks!


August 14

I was almost on time to church today, but leave it to Joseph to ruin it…

We’re ten minutes from the church which would put us there right on time and Joseph says, “Sam, let’s you and I go to that church to make an announcement about youth events this week.” My heart literally sunk; it was like everything I had been working for all day had utterly failed. I really shouldn’t have been upset though because when we showed up at church 20 minutes later we were two of the five people there. The preacher was dressed kind of like a pilgrim, must be an Anglican thing. Today was my first time ever to take part in an Anglican church service and I had no idea what was happening. The preacher marched in. We stood up and sat down and read Swahili out of tiny blue books, but it was a lot of fun. Thankfully Alpha was there to help me know when to do the standing and sitting and the praying. I was confused a lot of the time, but I’m getting used to that.


August 13

As I mentioned previously, today we were to go to the Ranch Council meeting at 9 AM (Joseph is the Chariman) and then to a wedding at 10:30 AM. Here’s how the morning went:

8:05 I come for breakfast

8:10 Have tea; Franco, Paulo, and Joseph go to work in the Shamba (garden)

8:25 I have my second cup of tea

8:40 I join them in the shamba to plant beans

9:01 I start my fifth row of beans

9:10 I sit down, soap up my hands, and try to get my bangles on

(Notice that we are already ten minutes past meeting time)

9:15 I lay in bed and write; Franco bathes; Joseph visits with a neighbor

9:30 I get dressed

9:35 Have another tea and one chapati

9:40 We leave the house

9:45 We stop at Francis’ to chat

9:50 Stop at another house; I see a Kenyan midget

9:55 Stop at someone else’s house

10:05 We see someone walking and stop to talk to them

10:20 I learn the meeting is no longer happening because the members aren’t there. (They were probably there an hour and 20 minutes ago when It was supposed to start)

10:35 We’re sitting in town talking to a shop owner

(Five minutes past wedding time)

10:45 I learn the couple isn’t there yet

11:01 We go to another pastor’s home for my fourth cup of tea

11:30 The bride arrives at church (how we found out I have no idea)

11:45 We arrive late, of course

See…scheduled times mean nothing here, even for church on a Sunday.

The wedding was interesting. About four different phones went off, one multiple times, and one was the grooms. Children all sat on one side and adults on the other. I had my own special seat on the front row–benefits of being white. All the preachers in town were in attendance, or at least I hope they were because if not they may outnumber ordinary citizens. The preacher also gave a sermon which took just a few minutes shy of an hour. I seriously almost fell asleep five times, partly because I had no idea what he was saying or why… I don’t really know what to say about the wedding without seeming like a douche. How about you ask questions and I’ll reply! 

Following the ceremony we walked to the reception at the family home. I got to sit under the tent with all the pastors and a few very well put together women. Lunch was provided and included rice, potato, and goat. I’m a vegetarian here in Kenya. I just can’t bring myself to eat it, especially goat. The other night I was given the stomach and intestines  so I handed it to the child next to me. Believe it or not, the inner organs are more expensive than the meat itself here.

Once it started raining, I was pushed into a five passenger car with 15 other people by Joseph. I’m not even exaggerating; we were packed in like sardines. It honestly was kind of painful.

While waiting for the rain to stop, I had my fifth and sixth tea in a shop owned by one of the area chiefs family. This huge person walked in and I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman so I asked… It was a man and he’s apparently a famous gospel singer. As soon as I asked, the chief ran and found his CD and played it for me.

It finally stopped raining and we walked home and have just been doing the usual since being here. Tomorrow I am going to the church Alpha and his family attends–the Anglican Church of Kenya; it’s where the wedding was today.


August 12

Hopefully all of this rain today will wash some of the donkey dung from the road. With it being one of two market days for the month people were taking every donkey they had to pack whatever they bought back into the hills. I bought four big bangles that the warriors wear, but none of them will fit around my fat wrist. I might see if Sarah can make some that are larger.

I also got picked up from the market by Julius on his pikipiki  to go the Children’s Resque Center and meet four mzungus that just arrived from the Czech Republic. They told me about their program and opportunities to get more involved with it, all of which I will pass on to you in a specific post.

Today was a pretty solid day. I really enjoyed seeing everyone in action. I’m now realizing that Joseph is a little over protective (he got mad when Julius took me to the Resque center even though both of the boys knew where I was going). He sort of thinks everyone is out to get me, which they are with regard to my money but they aren’t going to rob me, just charge me higher prices; however, since I’ve been here two weeks I sort of know what is reasonable and what isn’t.

Another thing, they don’t really understand that everyone gets to make their own choices. Julius, for instance, was married and had a few kids (I don’t know the exact number), but now he is getting divorced and “running away with another woman.” But who told them this? Did he? They then question how he can still go to church having done that… Well Julius is one of the nicest people I have met here so if he was unhappy in his marriage then that’s his business; he had done nothing to me for me to think ill of him.

Okay, sorry about that rant…I just needed to get that off my chest.

Apparently there’s a Ranch Council meeting AND a wedding tomorrow so I’m off to bed.


More from East Africa

Hi Everyone!

This is now twice in one day…what has come over me?

I wanted to take the time to inform you of one of my favorite blogs here in the wordpress blogosphere. It just so happens that the author is based in Uganda, another East African country. His name is Will Boase and he is a photographer… Oh, and the name of his blog is The Mzungu (white person in Swahili) Diaries.

Check it out here:

http://themzungudiaries.wordpress.com/

 

Some of his pictures were also featured in an online exhibition here:

http://mamuga.com/

Enjoy!

Sam


August 11

Let’s just start from the beginning…

Hot chapati and chai–this day has potential.

Washed the privates–this is going to be a great day.

Then it was off to Sarah’s to see some of the beadwork that she does. I left with four bracelets and one ring. That woman is the epitome of Maya Angelou’s “phenomenal woman.”

It was also a youth day so I spent the morning and afternoon in a meeting with them. I wanted to tell them more about myself and see if they had any questions for me. One boy said that he had heard in the news that gays and lesbians had equal rights in America and was curious if I agreed with that sentiment. I explained that yes I did agree with that and how the culture regarding those individuals was completely different in the States. A part of me thought he was hoping for that answer because he might be gay.  In Kenya, homosexuality is still believed to be a taboo invented by Western nations. I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to approach this situation.

We then went to play some volleyball and of course had to stop when our ball got punctured. I have bought four balls here and literally every one of them has gotten punctured.

Fundi, the repairman, known here as an engineer, is usually able to fix them, but he charges 100 Ksh. We decided to have a snack while we waited, but when we went back two hours later,it still wasn’t done. Oh, and it started pouring so we didn’t even play as a team. It had looked like it was going to rain all day so when Moses asked if we would play, I said “I am down to play as long as the rain doesn’t stop us.” He then looked to the sky and then said, “Me, I think it will rain at 4:00.”  Sure enough, right at 4:00 PM it poured buckets.

It turned out that most of team was there waiting for the ball to be repaired so we ran through the rain for some hot chai. Some of them of course tried to push their luck and order more than one tea, but this mzungu wasn’t having that.

Following tea, I was off to the home of Alpha and his family. They have one of the nicer houses I’ve seen in this area, but it was still very basic. They also built two traditional manyattas for visitors to stay in that were neat to see. Despite the rain, Alpha was all about playing football. I, of course, fell in the mud.

Franco and I walked home after saying our goodbyes and arranging a time to meet for tea and football the following day. Paulo had left before us but we found him at Penina’s family’s home and decided it was best not to interrupt–it may be about time to negotiate a bride price.

On the way home, we stopped to gather the roots of this bush that would be good for our colds. We cut it up and put it to boil and then mixed it with our chai. Man was it bitter…We’ll see if it works.

And with that Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m off to wash my feet and head to bed.

In other news:

  • An elephant was found dead so the Kenya Wildlife Service was all over it. However, if a human is killed by an elephant it takes months to have the case reviewed.
  • Some members of parliament are refusing to pay their taxes even though they were the ones who passed a bill saying everyone must pay taxes. The President has already paid his.
  • Two people came up to Joseph saying, “The white man brings kids to play football and volleyball on our land, he must pay!” Um, about eight of those kids are members of your family. I will not fuel your drinking problem. This frustrated me to no end.
  • Five people were trying to cross the seasonal river on the way out of town and were swept away. They formed a chain and three survived, one was found dead, and another is still missing.

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!

aanyafniaz.wordpress.com/

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

Mathematical

Madison's renderings of teaching and learning