"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

07/02/2010 3:45pm

Well, yesterday was a bit of a wash. The meetings we had set up in Kisumu never panned out. We were supposed to see the travel agent about the trip in May - they were closed. We were supposed to see a vehicle for Jim to buy - I wish they were closed. We ended up having to drive to where the vehicle was. When we got there, we were told it was someplace else. We gave up.

I did forget to tell you about one of the car dealers that we saw. His name was Mohammed, and was a friend of the family from Mirtha Electric (the company we use for the solar panels). Most businesses are owned by Eastern Indians or Pakistanis... that's just the way it works. Anyway, we get to this guys shop, and it's been completely gutted. Completely. The fundis (laborers) are pouring concrete and soldering rebar... as we enter, they just keep sending us up flights of concrete stairs. On the next floor, same thing. On the next floor, which thankfully was the roof, we found Mohammed. This guy was the equivalent of a Pakistani Will Farrell. I had a hard time not laughing. He actually looked like Will Farrell. While we're talking, his phone rings. "Sama George Bush." ("Talk to me George Bush"). Jim and I immediately started laughing out loud. As it turns out, his cousin has always been called George... they added Bush after a year. He owns about 10 Matatus (those were the vans I was telling you about), and they spent a fortune having them donned with "George Bush." It was funny, but in the end, Jim decided to go with the African Musungu. He happened to be the one that gave us the runaround today.

We had lunch at Mon Ami (a little restaurant behind the big Nakumat) with Feena, and then headed back to Maseno. Don't get the wrong idea, the closest Italian dish on the menu was pizza. We've eaten there before, and it's always been good. The best part about the place is that it's open air, so the breeze blows through constantly, keeping you cool. There's a german family sitting in the restaurant, and their lack of conversation and miserable expressions remind me how most of the white people in this country are not very friendly. I was reminded about how friendly the Kenyan people are, though. Jim was walking into the restaurant, and he bumped into a potted plant, causing him to stumble. Immediately, the waitress (who was 15' away) said, "Sorry." I've told the story about my surgery several times (basically because people want me to have a 2nd beer), and I can't get 1/2 way through without someone saying, "So sorry." It's more common for women to say it than men, but it's a beautiful practice.

They were digging up the road, and fixing potholes, so the traffic back was terrible. Interestingly enough, here's how they fix the potholes. The dig until they hit dirt, pour a binder on the dirt, then they add asphalt. They pound it down with a metal tamper, and that's it. I bet if it lasts a week, they're lucky. We were supposed to meet Job & Sam at the Maseno Club for dinner. Job is an incredibly intelligent and self motivated Luo (the local tribe). Sam Slaughter is a recent Harvard grad that Jim met last year. He graduated, then went to Africa. The young man is incredibly intelligent, and apparently an all-american lacrosse player. He worked at Mbaka Oromo while Jim was in the US, helping to get the solar array set up. Jim got Sam and Job together, and now they are best of friends. In the last week or so, they've started their own NGO. They're providing solar energy to middle class families here via micro-loans. Their work is really amazing. We sat at the Maseno club and talked for several hours. We were also joined by Noel Shinali and Asha and Reena. It was only after 3 hours that we said, "Where's the food?" The Maseno Club is notorious for very slow service. That was when we realized that we never ordered any. It was very dark by this point, so Sam left with Job, and Asha & Reena hopped on motorcycles to get back home. Jim, Noel and I stopped at the restaurant across from the Guest House. Beans and rice for me, Beans and chipati for Jim, and Noel had something beefy looking. We were exceptionally hungry, so our plates were cleared pretty quickly. It didn't take long for me to fall sound asleep.

When I got into my room, though, I learned that I had a roommate.

He's about 4" long (with the tail), and he was quiet enough, so I let him stay. The lizards are noisy, so I try to shoo them into the hall.

Once again, I didn't get a very peaceful sleep. I was tossing and turning, pulling the covers up, pushing them off... not good at all. When I finally woke up this morning, I felt horrible. My joints ached, my stomach hurt, and I was still having hot and cold flashes. Although I am feeling better now, I missed mass and lunch at Kiboko Bay. I decided it was best to stay in and get some rest, so that's exactly what I did. If I have another rough night, I'll go see a doctor tomorrow. Jim said we'd go back to Kiboko on Friday. It's a marvelous little restaurant where we've eaten before. The food is delicious, and more importantly, they have ice cream! Jim tried to bring one home, but they don't do "to-go". The last time we were there, a hippo calf came right out of the water, and was grazing about 10' away from us. I was a bit concerned, because hippos are very protective of their young, but the waiter told us that he was an orphaned calf. He ate his fill of the lush grass, and sauntered back into the water. Here's a picture of him... it was taken about 3 1/2 years ago, so I can only imagine how big he is now.

He was little then, probably tipping the scales at 500lbs +.

I have to remember to remind the nurses to bring flip-flops in May. I forget mine this time, and when you walk around your room in socks, it takes about 3 steps before the bottoms turn an earthy red. I'll have to complain to the management. There are a set of flip-flops in every room, but mine are about 2" too short. I make do with them, though.

Ok, that should do it for now. I hope to have more pix and stories after tomorrow.

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