Well, I’m sitting in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi waiting for my flight. There are worse place to have to sit.
Today was a very easy day. I was awake early, which I’m sure I’ll pay for later, but it worked out perfectly. I packed my bags last night but got bored so retreated to my bed and got caught up on everyone’s Facebook posts. I finally fell asleep around 1am. My original plan was to sleep until 8:30, have some tea at 9:30, then head to the Masai Market one more time before having lunch with Job and our driver Elli. In actuality, I woke up at 6am, had breakfast at 10am and watched Job and Elli eat a gorgeous lunch at Java.
Before that, however, we went to Job’s place to drop off some things, he’s got the equivalent of an apartment about 100yards from the Peacock, so it was easy. We pulled in and parked so Job could get out. I was going to wait in the car until I heard Job say, “Luke who’s hee-yah?” Sam’s son Ben was standing right next to where we stopped. I got out and said hello and brought him back to Job’s. Job was holding my suit to give to him after I left, but this was the perfect time to make the handoff personally. He grinned from ear to ear and said, “Thank you, thank you,” in very good English. The repeated sentiment was a trademark of Sam’s that probably rubbed off on him. Same could never say anything once. “Karibu, karibu,” “Asante, asante,” Erikomano, Erikomano.” It was all part of his charm and charisma. We walked back to the car where Ben said, “Safe journey,” in his baritone voice. We turned the car around and headed back down Busia Road.
The road was just as crazy as usual… bicycles, motorcycles, cars, lorries, and tuk-tuks were everywhere. I haven’t said anything about tuk-tuks, so I will now. They’re a nuisance. I saw a lot of them in Italy, and I can tell you that when these three-wheeled vehicles are ready to die, they go to Kenya. They’re all part of the unorthodox dance that everyone on the road is entwined in. It’s amazing how close you can come to someone without hitting them. Repeatedly. Nothing, however, was going to keep me from the restaurant.
The two boiled eggs I had for breakfast filled me up, so I had to watch Job eat a pork chop and Elli eat a good lookin’ piece of fried chicken. Don’t cry for me… I had a vanilla milkshake. There always room for ice cream, and there’s even more room for a milkshake. Dear God it was spectacular. So spectacular that I finished it before Job and Elli finished their lunches. Not to be rude, I ordered another one. I’ll probably pay for that later, too. It was just as fabulous as the first one. How did I not know about this place?! I’ll definitely be back with the family when we return. It makes me feel better that Elli and Job had a milkshake, too.
Before lunch, though, we ran to the market to pick up some last minute requests from the US. It turned out to be a bit more shopping than I thought, but I got some things that I’m very excited about. Again, cant’ tell ya, it’d ruin the surprise.
We headed back through crazy traffic toward Kisumu International Airport. It’s a very small airport, but you can get away with calling yourself “international” when you’ve got 5 countries along your border. Elli let Job and I off, and he helped me in with my bags. We said our goodbyes and he ran back to the car. We’ve been in pretty constant communication since we left. He’s recommended which paper to buy, checking in to make sure I was ok, and we’re currently talking about our projects and Sam’s children. The phone keeps buzzing next to the computer as I type. You don’t recognize the pregnant pauses while I respond to him, but they’re there. He just told me that Sam’s boys were all in his “house,” and Ben was crying. When asked why he said, “I am missing Adams.” I miss them, too. After having so many people at your home for so many days, I imagine it has to be difficult when they all finally depart. It just so happened that I was the last one to go. We’ll be back, though, and I look forward to that reunion.
I found myself inside the Kisumu airport waiting for my 2:30 flight to depart. At 2pm I looked outside and noticed there were no planes. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. That’s a problem. A couple minutes later, an announcement came on followed by a representative from the airline coming to tell the people at the gate personally (because you can never understand what the agent says over the speakers – it’s like a McDonalds drive thru) that, “The flight has been delayed. It will now be departing at 1600 hours. Sorry.” There were a lot of “clicks” from the crowd. That’s the normal sound of disapproval if your Kenyan. You press your tongue against the roof of your mouth then snap it down. I was either in a henhouse, or people were pissed. Nobody raised their voice or even questioned what caused the delay. Instead, we all just hunkered down for another hour and a half.
The plan did finally arrive and after a bumpy ride, made it to Nairobi where I am sipping a Tusker and eating chips. Yes, I’ll pay for this later, too. My flight leaves at 10:20pm so I’m hoping I’ll get some sleep on the way to Dubai.
I’ve been thinking about he days that have passed and all the stories that I had forgotten about. Now that we’re up-to-date, I thought I’d share them now.
Do Kenyan’s have something against the Irish? I don’t know but they must have chased Old McDonald out of town. One day while I was sitting with John, he started humming, then singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” It was his lyrics that through me for a loop. When he started singing, I joined in but it all fell of the tracks after “Old…” I said, “McDonald,” and he said, “Kacheza,” (Kah-chay-zah). What the heck? I know you guys are good farmers, but Old McDonald’s been around forever. Well, not it Kenya. If it makes you feel any better, Kacheza’s farm is significantly smaller… cows, chickens, goats, and peanuts. I never got to the end of the song to hear what a peanut sounds like. Sorry.
While walking to school one day, we passed a group of very drunk men. Job called them, “victims.” “Victims of what?” “Changa’a,” he said. Then he told me what this stuff was. It’s basically Kenyan moonshine, but that makes it sound harmless. It’s important to note that “changa’a” literally translated means, “kill me quick.” You’re about to find out why. Job tells me that it contains anything from formaldehyde, to “ladies undergarments” and even rats. Yes, I said “rats.” It’s not a typo. Rats will find the stills and climb into the tubs to their doom. Apparently that adds flavor… or something. I’m not so sure that “victim” is the right terminology. “There’s another failed suicide,” might be more accurate.
It’s funny. In general, Kenyans are small people; I’d say a little bit smaller than Americans. I would have to clarify that by saying that the Luo people are a bit smaller. If we were talking about the Turkanans, I would have to say, “They’re a very tall people.” It’s just one of their traits. Now back to the Luo. Whenever I get out of a car or walk past a couple of men, it’s always the same. They mutter something that I can barely hear, and Job starts laughing. “Okay, what did they say this time?” “They said you are huge.” “They said you are big.” “They asked if you are in the army.” When I’m exiting the car and there’s someone standing next to me, by the time I’m out of the vehicle, they look up at me and just say, “Kubwa.” “Big.” It’s certainly got it’s advantages… not too many people want to mess with me here. Now that I think about it, this trip was the only time I had to yell at someone. I can’t remember what was going on, but I distinctly remember gesturing and shouting, “Tokeni hapa!” “Move from this place!” When/if I remember, I’ll let you know.
Although the place I stay is called “Peacock Resort,” it’s not really a resort. I’ve got all that I need, and my needs here are pretty simple; Bed, desk (or something that resembles one), some type of closet and a bathroom. Now, this place is head-and-shoulders above our previous accommodations at the Maseno Guest House, but the bathroom is the part that can always get a bit dodgy. So there’s a European heater attached to the shower head that heats the water – you just have to turn it on 15-30 minutes before you take your shower. There’s also a tub coming out of the head with another little shower head at the end of it that you can open or close; sort of like a shower wand. BTW, the toilets in the shower, too. Kevin’s a big fan. Me? I don’t get it. Anyway, this particular combo had both shower heads open, so I had to wrap the tubing around the larger shower head to try and maneuver it so that all the water was falling in the same place. Difficult to describe, and difficult to accomplish. I managed ok, but the resulting water flow meant that 5 minutes into a shower I felt like I was on the Titanic (towards the end of the ride, not the beginning). The hole in the corner of the shower can only take so much before it starts to back up. Well, most of the time, it backed up into my bedroom. I didn’t have a shower curtain, but that wouldn’t have mattered, the water kept creeping into the room. I knew it was time to get out when it was getting about 3 tiles away. I guess that means I was standing in dirty, dirty water. Not so funny anymore.
Oh! This isn’t so much a story, and as I’m typing this won’t matter to many of you. In fact, it will only really matter to Andrea an me, but I managed to shave off 8 days worth of beard from my face last night. I’ve always waited until I got home for two reasons. 1. I never wanted to have any reason to get water close to my mouth, and 2. I never had a trimmer. Well guess what?! This time I brought one, and it feels great! The hair on my face is predominantly white and incredibly itchy. It always makes it difficult to sleep, and I’m constantly running a comb through it when I’m awake. For some reason it manages to stay sticking straight out from my face until it decides to turn and try to burrow back into my skin. If you want to see a bearded Jablonski, you’ll have to see Kevin.
These stories should have kept you busy enough for now. I’ve still got a couple hours before we board and I want to get this computer charged. I’ll see you all in Dubai!
Oh, by the way. There are no streetlights in the city, so this is what driving at night looks like. I try to avoid it.