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!

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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.

August 10

Being completely drenched yesterday has left me with the sniffles; thankfully I am able to blow it out!

After breakfast, the usual chai accompanied by buttered bread and a bit of avocado, I got dressed. Today would be the first time I wore my shukka that I bought the day before. I draped it around my shoulders and set off into the forest in search of elephants. I have yet to see a whole elephant and on this trip all I saw was the buttocks of one (I could tell from the swinging tail).  On this excursion I also learned what porcupine poop looks like as well as a leopard print, which, I might add, was accompanied by drag marks. This hike was quite enjoyable and I was thoroughly exhausted when it was complete; thank goodness we had a massive plate of spaghetti waiting for us when we got home.

The afternoon meant it was time for football and volleyball. I played volleyball and really liked my team; we played very well together. It started pouring so we ran to a nearby home which happened to be Mofat’s, one of the players. This was good for all of us, being in such close quarters getting to know one another.

The rain slowed and they were ready to play again. I was freezing so I borrowed Sumuni’s blue jean jacket, another nice reminder of good old Kentucky. Man, it was so muddy… I eventually just took off my Tevas and carried on barefoot. Meh. My team didn’t win much but we were content with how we had played. Heck, we could hardly stand up.

Today is also the day we were to go to Penina’s home for Meru food! We arrived at dusk and had a delicious black bean mixture that used pumpkin instead of potato. I was really quite surprised by how good it was!

Oiy, after all of this, bed is calling my name.

Talk to you all tomorrow!


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!


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