Tag Archives: life in the bush

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…


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.


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 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 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 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.

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)

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!


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


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