Last night we decided that today would be an easier day. Isaac and Job thought it would be best if we didn’t schedule anything and they wanted me to take it easy. It may have been just what the doctor ordered.
I woke up a little after 6:30am and was grateful to be comfortable. I think the combo of a larger bed and a dose of cipro did the trick. Still, I kept everything in check. Breakfast consisted of an egg and a piece of bread along with a couple cups of tea. I uploaded pictures and wrote some more while I ate outside. The reception seems to be better for uploading – I’m wondering if the iron sheet roof is interfering with the reception. Either way, it helped me get caught up. I posted Thursday this morning and will post Friday as soon as the pictures are done. Yesterday was jam-packed, so there’s a lot to read. That means that you get a rest today, too.
The rain that we had in the morning had subsided and the clouds cleared. I texted Job that I was up and feeling better and Isaac was happy to see me up and about. Although I first saw him wearing shorts, he disappeared to his room for a bit only to emerge in his masai garb. “Are you wearing that to Kisumu?” I asked. He laughed and said, “No.” He has guided people from all over the world through Masai Mara. Today, a young boy from Sweden who went on safari with his parents last year asked Isaac if he would help him with a school project on the Masai. Isaac, being one of the most agreeable people I’ve ever met, said, “Sure.” He had just finished recording a video presentation for him. It’s not the first one he’s done, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. While I we were driving here from Narok on Wednesday, he got a call from a woman in Sweden who said that she had friends in Kenya and their driver had run out of fuel and had no money. Isaac said, “No problem.” Two phone calls later, from the middle of Kenya, he solved a problem in southern Kenya based on a phone call from Sweden… smiling the entire time, and not skipping a beat. The man is simply remarkable.
Our first stop this morning was in Chuolembo to visit the carpenter building new desks for Agulu Primary School. Job told me that they were coming along nicely and I wanted to see them first hand. I also wanted to make sure that the people who donated funds for this project saw that it was progressing. Shamrock Jack’s held a fundraiser while Job was visiting the US, and it was very successful. Although we had hoped to raise enough money for 15 student desks, in less than 4 hours, Mike Petzing and Job raised enough money to buy 50 AND a desk for the principal! If you ever find yourself in Irondequoit, NY, do yourself a favor and seek out Shamrock Jack’s. You won’t be disappointed. You’re also hard pressed to find a nicer family. On second thought, don’t wait until you find yourself in Irondequoit, go there and become part of the family.
Although the shop owner was not there (after all, it is Saturday), one of his fundis was there working on the desks. Wood was drying against an outside wall where 2 desks sat waiting to be sealed. Another 23 were inside waiting the same fate. He informed us that they should be able to deliver these on Monday and get started on the next 25. Although I would love to see the students in them, we don’t want them to rush it. That’s a lot of work to do between today and Sunday. When they get there, they get there.
We left for Kisumu a little after noon with a loose plan for the day. We then headed for one of my favorite places, the Masai Market. Here you can buy Masai made items at wonderful prices; provided you are good at haggling. The shop owners (who are not Masai, rather most are Luo) expect it. You’re guaranteed an asking price that is 2-3 times more than the item is worth. They expect you to haggle. You simply have to! I love it! Seriously, I have so much fun with these people that most of the know me now. John, Beatrice, Luke, Rosita (just to name a few) all greet me with a big hug while the other shop owners call me – “My friend, my friend, come see my shop. It’s is free to look.” I look in most of them just to see if anything catches my eye, but usually it’s after I’ve seen the people I’m familiar with. I haggle with them to; the only difference is that the starting price is much lower. There’s one lady here that I love. She says the same thing every time I counter her offer. If she says 1,000ksh and I say 500, the first thing out of her mouth is always, “Oh my God.” It’s funny because it’s always just loud enough that I can barely hear it and it makes my laugh so hard that I usually give her what she asks just because it cracks me up. I actually told her that today and she gave me a big hug as we laughed. It’s not like we’re talking huge amounts here. Just so you know, the difference between 1,000ksh and 500ksh is about $5. I paid her $10 for a series of small boxes made of banana leaves, a 7” high, hand-carved rosewood elephant and a hand-carved soapstone elephant figurine. I’m not afraid to say it. I love to shop here! Right now, Andrea’s saying, “He’s not fooling anybody. He loves to shop everywhere!” Again, don’t judge.
We left the market with plenty of items for friends back home. Now it was time to find some other items for another pad project at Agulu Mixed Primary School.
We entered Nakumat in search of scissors, elastic bands and Velcro strips. No luck. We’d have to go to a taylor’s shop on Monday. They had the scissors, but I wasn’t confident that they’d be able to cut cleanly through material. This way we’ll get it all in one fell swoop. While we were here, we went upstairs to see what was playing at the movie theater. Nakumat is the largest story in a two-story mall. Along with the theater upstairs, there was an arcade and some restaurants. Unfortunatley, there’s no taylor.
We got to the theater and saw that we had 3 choices: The Conjuring 2, Independence Day 2, and a movie that wasn’t in English or Kiswahili. It was fairly obvious that we had no choice – there’s no way I’m going to see The Conjuring, or a movie I can’t pronounce. Independence Day didn’t start until 4 and it was only 2pm so we went back outside and sat in one of the restaurants.
Although my stomach felt okay, I wasn’t about to tempt fate. Their weren’t many items that I felt safe with, so I went for a plain pizza. Although it’s similar to the pizza in the US, it’s just not the same. It is, however, a safe bet. I ate a couple small slices and sat back to wait for the other shoe to fall. It never did. Job and Isaac got beef mixed with rice. I’m not sure what else it was seasoned with, but I definitely smelled curry. Our leftovers were given to some children playing outside the arcade across the hall.
We walked into the theater at 3:45. My two companions were full so a water and Sprite were enough. Although I eyed the popcorn (they even had freshly made caramel corn, but I’m a purist), I chose discretion over valor. I did the same with the M&M’s, Twix and Bounty (Kenyan equivalent of a Mounds bar). The individual ice cream containers caused me to question my valor, but in the end it won out… my valor, not the ice cream.
There was plenty of room because we were the only ones there! We chose our seats directly in the middle of the screen. The seat backs had some give in them, so we leaned back and talked while we waited for the show to start. The music playing in the background sounded American. It singer sounded like a cross between Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra – not so much when he switched to Kiswahili, but his English was spot on. The background vocals were all in Kiswahili and it had a nice melody.
One preview (The new Ice Age movie) and no snack bar commercial, just on with the show (which, by the way, was in 3D – you gotta dance with the girl that brung ya). I put my glasses on and immediately took them off. I though it would be a good idea to remove the lip print in the middle of my left lens. No, these weren’t individually wrapped recycled plastic. They were sitting in a small plastic bin outside the theater. We returned them to the same bin after the movie.
15 Minutes into it, everything went black. In the dead silence, Job said, “Karibu Kenya.” (Welcome to Kenya). It took another 15 minutes for them to get things up and running. Another 15 minutes later, Job nudged me and nodded toward Isaac. I leaned forward to see Isaac sound asleep. We both smiled and went back to the movie. Truth be told, I had the nods myself. I have to say that Independence Day: Resurgence had so many cheesy lines that I think it made me lactose intolerant. “I’m not doing this for the world, I’m doing it for you.” Ugh. Seriously, there was one about every 10-15 minutes. I imagined a US crowd moaning with each one. Spoiler alert! The father made the ultimate sacrifice, the two boys mended fences, the girl was reunited with her fiancé, and the good guys stop the destruction of the earth with seconds to spare. Whew.
When we left the theater and headed back toward the entrance, you could hear the rain falling. Everyone in the mall appeared to be waiting for it to blow over, but the sky had different plans. It was only 6pm, so it should have been relatively light out. The clouds were so thick an the rain so heavy, it looked like we should have brought a boat. “Where did you park?” asked Job. “Just there,” Isaac said extending his arm to the right. Again with the, “just there.” I laughed and said, “OK, I’m going to buy you an umbrella and we’ll wait here for you to pick us.” Job thought that was a good idea so we ducked into Nakumat and emerged with a green umbrella. I thought that was a better choice over the pink “Frozen” one.
It was only a few minutes before Isaac came to the front and we quickly hopped in. The raid slowed a bit, but the wipers were never shut off. I was then reminded how much I dislike driving at night. I’m happy to say that I felt like Kevin was driving. Isaac was very cautious and managed to navigate through the Kisumu roundabouts without being hit. They are the most dangerous spots as piki pikis (motorcycles), bota botas (bicycles), matatus (livery vans) and personal vehicles all try to squeeze through. It’s like trying to drink water from a fire hose. Throw in the occasional commercial truck and it’s a recipe for disaster. Mixed with rain and darkness, it the closest thing to a roller coaster in Kenya. The slow climb is when you approach the roundabout, and the rapid descent happens when you enter. You’re upside down as the piki pikis drive at you against traffic squeezing between oncoming traffic. It’s a wonder how anybody still has side mirrors on their cars.
The rain had been reduced to barely a sprinkle as we arrived at the Peacock. As soon as we opened the door, the loud, heavy bass was unmistakable. When it rains, people usually take shelter. Duh. The Peacock fit the bill for a lot of people. The Peacock is also a bar. The rain may have stopped, but there was still a chance for drunk and disorderly. Although the music didn’t stop when I stepped inside, most of the conversations did. I got a few “Karibu” (welcome) as I walked by, but that was about it. I got my key and went to my room. After dropping off my bags, I asked Job to see if he wanted to head back outside for dinner. Job didn’t like the idea. “Adam, please, kindly stay in your room. I don’t want you to go back out there.” Drunks have a tendency to pick on the white guy in the room. I was tired and wanted to get caught up on this blog, so I obliged. Sadly, the pictures were still taking forever to load so I fell asleep. When I woke up this morning (Sunday) the same 3 pictures were still loading. Ugh! Now I’m sitting out front and it’s moving a little faster. Hopefully by the time you wake up (it’s about 1am back home), Friday and Saturday will be posted and I’ll be back on track. Keep your fingers crossed.