One of the things we like about our "jobs" here is the walking. It gives us the opportunity to meet several people including the families of students that attend the schools we've built/rebuilt. It's a part of who we are. As we walk ("tutambaya"), we'll here people yell from their shambas (gardens) "Jamo Jemo!" Many will come running towards us to shake our hands and welcome us back. We ran into Lawrence as we walked. He was actually on his way to Huma to enroll his neice. Lawrence's brother and wife died, and Kenyan tradition puts the daughters welfare in Lawrence's hands. This is very common, and I've never heard anyone complain about the certain financial burden that accompanies such an "adoption." As always, things are, "Nzuri sana." (Very Good) He's the head of the school committee at MOPS. It's always amazing to see men dressed suits in this heat. Lawrence is no exception. If the suit wasn't enough, he also wore a hat, one that I've never seen him without. I believe that might be his trademark. We're having a meeting with the school committee on Wednesday at 10am. If we can keep William Kabis from talking too much, it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes.
Also along the walk, Daniel was driving by with some women from the local church of Israel. Daniel is Samuel's ("My height")brother, and another member of the school board. He stopped to say "Jambo, karibu!" (Hello, welcome). I couple of quick handshakes and he was on his way.
We arrived at Mbaka Oromo, and things were very quiet. When the students are in their classrooms, the only thing you hear are the birds chirping and the occasional cow or goat. A bell will be rung periodically for what amounts to recess, but shortly after we arrived, the bell was rung for lunch. Children spilled out of their classrooms, and the majority headed home. Many, however, stayed. It could be due to the lengthy walk, or it could be because they are orphans whose caretakers now work at the school. Either way, it was a chance for some photos.
William was busy enrolling additional student for the new secondary school, so when he came out of his office we informed him of our school committee meeting. As always, he wanted us to stay for tea and ground nuts (peanuts), but Jim was still feeling ill, so we started back home.
Samuel was working outside, so we stopped to say, “Jambo.” Once again, we were greeted with strong hugs. This time, however, I was smart enough to keep my backpack on to lessen the blows. Mission accomplished. We talked for a short while, told him we’d be back on Wednesday, and, “tutaonana” (see ya later). We were off again. Samuel pulled me back for a moment to tell me something terrible had happened. William had already informed me of the situation, but I let Samuel tell me anyway. The phone I had given him 3 years ago got wet. Water = the global kill switch for cell phones. At a whopping $30, I told him I’d take care of his problem in May when I return. He was very excited to hear that my “first born” might be coming with me. Everyone expects our children to be tall. Won’t they be surprised! She’s going to be a hit here! Here are some pictures of Samuel… he’s rather tall for a Luo. You can see why he calls me, “My height.”
Samuel's an interesting man. He refers to his garden as his office. When he's in his front office, he's growing corn and avocados. In his back office it's potatoes. He's the only one that I know of that refers to his shamba that way. It's funny to hear him say that he's been, "working hard in my office."
We were back on our way again. This time, shortly before we reached Chulambo, another Matatu stop, we saw John Ogongo. John was the previous headmanster at MOPS, and is just a wonderful man. He’s got to be at least 65, although he looks like he’s 50. He acts like he’s 20! He’s always willing to help building by carrying bricks. He once accompanied me to the top of the mountain behind MOPS. Yes, it’s a mountain, and don’t let anyone tell you different. After the 3rd false peak, I was forced to try hard at not showing my fatigue simply because John looked like he could make the same trek 5 times before breaking a sweat. And all this while wearing a pair of torn rubber boots. The guy’s just amazing. Here’s a picture of him with his son.
He, too, is on the school board, and he laughed when we told him that we were going to try and keep William Kabis to a minimum. “He is not very direct, that one,” he said, and threw his head back laughing.
It was a quick matatu ride back to Maseno, where stopped briefly for a soda in the hopes of not only cooling us down, but perhaps helping with our upset stomachs. I’m happy to report that Jim didn’t need to make a pit stop the entire way back from MOPS. We got back to the guest house at about 3:30, and both laid down for a nap. Andrea will tell you that my naps tend to be a bit long. That, happily, is not affected by which hemisphere I’m in. I woke up at 6:30.
Neither of us were hungry, so we decided to go across the street to have another soda. We stopped a new place this time. It was located on the second floor of a building, and was obviously under new ownership. In the past, they only served sodas and liquor, and drunk students would yell at some of our friends as they walked by. Three years ago, I was here with a young man named Sidney who was accosted every time he passed by. It stopped when I accompanied him, and he was thankful for that. Again, it’s apparently universal that big guys are more apt to pick on little guys. I’ve never had that problem here. Anyway, when we entered the restaurant, they were still very busy with Maseno University students, but it was a very peaceful place. The walls were pained a bright green on the top half, and white on the bottom. The tables were spaced far apart, both inside and on the balcony, to accommodate additional chairs. It’s quite common to see a table of 2 or 3 grow to a table of 7 in the span of 15 minutes. All we really wanted was Coca-cola baridi (cold Coke), but they brought us a menu, too. They are definitely under new ownership! The front of the menu had a little caricature of a stereotypical Italian cook. Once opened, it was easy to see why. Spaghetti and meatballs! And that was just the beginning. They served breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it was a full menu. We’ll definitely be back for a meal. We sat on the balcony while we drank our sodas. We could feel the cool soda travel the entire route to our stomachs. It tasted great! Despite the lack of light, the area was a beehive of activity. Women were sitting on the ground and it small makeshift shelters selling everything from ground nuts to popcorn to mangos. There was a constant flow of people, too. Another city that never sleeps perhaps… but this one does it in the dark. While we sat, Jim sent a text to hire a car for tomorrow, and I people watched. It was then that I noticed there was a huge ice cream delivery truck sitting outside the restaurant. 10 minutes later we were eating vanilla and strawberry ice cream. It’s no Turkey Hill, but it did the trick. Karen, who is something of a gelato-spoon collector, will love the ones they gave us. They were blue plastic, and looked like a 3” shovel. It’s already packed.
We finished our sodas and exited. The walk through the dark was a bit unnerving. Although my eyes quickly adjusted to accommodate the dark, I didn’t rest easy until we stood in the shadows of the lights from the university. It’s very difficult to see the rocks in the soil, and they’re everywhere. It’s hard to not stumble, and I can’t imagine what it’s like doing it in bare feet.
We’re both feeling better despite not eating much (except for ice cream) for the last 36 hours. I may try an egg tomorrow, although they aren’t always easy to take. I learned today that they’re cooked in corn oil. I thought it was a margarine-like substance dripping off the eggs. I’m sorry I was wrong. I’ll be happy with some bananas.
Lastly, while talking to Katie the other day, she mentioned how I was living in the lap of luxury. i thought I'd share that lap with you.
There happens to be a mosquito inside my net, and he's driving me insane... part of it's from the buzzing, part of it's because I know he's biding his time, waiting for me to fall asleep so it can take a bite. No thanks.
Tutaonana kecho. (see you tomorrow)