Tag Archives: Doldol

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 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.

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 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)

Part Two: Day 3: July 31

Well, the rest of my day consisted of making noises with my mouth to entertain the younger boys and playing “volleyball.” I also managed to work on some English lessons with four of the children.

Playing led to a photoshoot with the children who absolutely loved looking at themselves. I still have so many more pictures I should take, though. In the near future, I want to write a post about each of the members of the family, pictures of course will have to wait until I return to the states…

Dinner tonight consisted of a traditional Kenyan dish, Ugali, and a stew. I much prefer Ugali to its counterparts in Ghana; it was not as doughy or sour as Kenkey or Fufu–more like Omo Tuo (rice ball).

Following dinner, we sat conversing and Joseph brought up his eldest son who’s name is also Samuel (pronounced Sam-well) and mentioned that he is “mental.” When I met Samuel, I knew something was off, but I’m not too fond of the adjective “mental.” Currently he is on some sort of medication (tablets) that are not as effective as an injection he can get at the local hospital/clinic. Having only been here three days, I volunteered to pay for the injection, so hopefully we will notice a change after he gets that on Wednesday. I’m not quite sure why I volunteered to do this, I just felt compelled to help in one of the few ways that I could.

Despite this being such a unique experience, one where I’ve done things I would never do at home (i.e. handle feces), I can’t help but feel that I belong in some weird way–that really says a lot about my host family considering the short time I’ve been here…

Part Two: Day 1

Written July 30th, 2011

Yesterday’s post got interrupted by a conversation with Joe, the coordinator of the Kenya Volunteering Solutions division. He came in and asked if I was ready to go to Maasailand after we had established earlier that morning that we were going to talk about various options around Nairobi.

I asked him where I would be, what I would be doing, if they spoke English, etc. I have to admit, I was a little terrified. I didn’t even receive an orientation, he just took me to get a sim card and mosquito net and then dropped me off to catch a car.

Yesterday was spent on a matatu (public transit here, similar to a trotro in Ghana) practically all day. Joe had made plans to have me sent about 8 hours north of Nairobi into the Bush; I had no idea where I was headed.

The matatu from Nairobi to Nanyuki took about 5 hours and on it I met the nicest woman ever who went by Penelope or Petty. Like me, she was white, but she had lived in Kenya since she was a child and is now a “cit” or citizen. She travels around the country as a freelance nurse doing odd jobs for the elderly. Petty might have also been the fiercest environmentalist I have had the pleasure of meeting. She told me stories of her family’s horse racing days while intermittently pointing out all the sites she knew.

Petty and I parted ways around Mt. Kenya where she was going to settle in the foothills with a woman who needed a little TLC.

Once I made it to Nanyuki, I met Joseph who I soon came to know as my “Kenyan father.” He needed to pick up a few things to prepare for my stay so I sat on another matatu waiting for him and for it to fill up so we could begin the second leg of our trek into the Central Highlands, aka the bush. The road out of Nanyuki was paved for about 15 minutes, but it was so bad people had created a side road made of dirt. We then came to an all dirt road that took us to where I would be staying, Doldol. Upon our arrival, I was taken to a lodge, probably the sketchiest I have ever seen, and greeted by three of Joseph’s sons. Should I even mention that one of the son’s was carrying an ax? The same one that would stay the night with me because it was too risky for me to make the 45 minute walk through the bush to reach their house.

Elephants in these parts are wild and will not put up with human interferences. Joseph was once thrown about 10 feet by one and lost his memory for four hours because he was trying to get one of his property.

The morning after I arrived in Doldol, we walked to their house. There’s a main hut with a kitchen, bedfroom for 8 people, a gathering area, and then a shed, where I would be staying with two of the boys. They have quite a bit of land with a variety of crops and cacti. I guess I should also mention that these are traditional houses made of mud and cow dung. Two dogs, Kurra and Lotto, a cat, calf, and cow that wears a bell also make up part of the family.

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!


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