06 February 2009

What a day, What a day

A full day and I did not even have to go to work.  This morning I woke up a little before 7am by my own choice.  No alarm was set and I did not have to be up that early, but the sun is out, the cow is mooing, rooster crowing, and day has begun in Malava.  I will admit I am a morning person, but when your nights are restricted to indoors and movies, the day becomes your main focus.  There is plenty of time to sleep when the sun is down, but not enough daylight.  I made some pepper, onion, egg and cheese sandwiches for myself, Michael and Jean.  The laundry goddess came over and did her best.  Judi called at about 8 asking if I would meet her at the SJC to join her on a trip to see the bike man.  I arrived promptly at 8:30, when Judi said to meet, and relaxed with Neto as the volunteers came in for their meeting.  I did not have to go to the meeting because I know only a little Swahili and to translate back and forth would be useless when the meeting did not pertain to me.  I tracked down the elusive Daily Nation man and read the paper as I waited for Judi.  She came, we went and told the bike guy about our plans to make a regular bike stationary.

Once back at home, I watched Turandot while reading Chaucer.  Chaucer is far more enjoyable when I do not have to read him in school.  I appreciated his verse, but never enjoyed his writing like I was able to today.  In fact, I have found that authors that I did not like in school are thought of highly for a reason.  Take Grapes of Wrath.  Hated it in High School.  Re-read it and its a favorite.  Same for Pride and Prejudice.  Maybe my tastes have changed, but reading should definitely be done mostly on an independent basis.

Michael and Jean showed up a bit after noon and it was off to market day.  Michael gave me the introduction to the tire-sandal man and I got myself a custom fit pair of bad ass tire sandals.  I mean he traced my feet and made alterations that I requested.  Pictures to come of these sandals, but they are that good.  We walked around a bit and discovered that we could buy some great shirts.  I am not talking about t-shirts with designs.  You can get quality USPS shirts.  Or maybe you might like Denis's former mechanic shirt.  We did put on our best haggle, but I think we can get them down to 100ksh ($1.50) easily. 

I should mention our greatest purchase of the day.  After our trip into the woods, Michael and I confirmed our need for a good machete.  Not just a little hatchetesque one that does not do much.  A solid safari woods chopping brush clearing machete.  We knew in order to get one we had to put on our best tandem-haggle yet.  To begin was the survey of the merchandise.  We get test prices from some and look at the various quality of blades.  As we got a better idea, Michael would tell the person that the guy across the way quoted a much lower price (not true).  He then asked, "How much will you pay?"  Michael goes way low and says he only has 100.  The guy shakes his head and says he cannot do, 160.  I step in and tell him that I have a little change to help out and give him 10 shillings.  The guy is unfazed and remains at 160.   He reaches out and points to a much flimsier one and says that he can do that for 100.  I give it my best pretend through examination.  I knew that it was far worse and would break in no time.  I bent the blade and shook the handle to show its poor quality.  Michael played along by looking at different angles to inspect it as well.  I handed it back to the guy and insisted that we would only buy the one that Michael was holding.  Then came the crucial move.  I tell Michael something to the effect, "Eh, I think we will have to go back to the other guy."  Michael's hands begin to return the machete to the guy and we hear 140.  Michael digs deep and pulls out twenty shillings and says that he could not make 140.  The man reluctantly accepts 130 and we go on happily with a machete for less that $2.

As if it could not get better, we went to our first bar.  As we waited at the stand behind the house to get bread and cokes, Michael asked what I thought was in the next shot with the curtain.  We have frequented the shop for a few weeks now to get basic things and have made friends with the young man who owns/runs the place.  Next door there is a small butcher kiosk and a shop with a curtain.  It did not look welcoming and I never thought to check it out.  I told Michael that he should go in and take a look.  For I did not want to be the one to venture into the unknown.  After a minute inside, Michael re-emerged and said, "Tusker! Only 75 KSH!"  With the promise of cheaper beer I eagerly entered the fine establishment.  As it turned out the curtained shop was a bar.  On the small television was music videos that included dance versions and video remixes of Rihanna and Christina Milan.  The three of us sat down and enjoyed some beers.  We tried White Cap Lager which claims to be made from the waters of Mt. Kenya.  It was good, not great.  Had a strange vanilla after taste that grew on me every few sips.  One thing to note is that the beer, like all other drinks, was served warm.  Kenyans love warm drinks.  Most, when given a choice between cold and warm, will take the warm water.  Some places will give you "cold" drinks.  All that means is that it is colder than room temperature by at least one degree.

For dinner the Sisters invited us all over to have a birthday meal for Michael whose birthday is tomorrow.  Judi cooked up some spaghetti and meat sauce.  They brought out cake and ice cream, we sang, and devoured.  The night ended with the completion of Sophie's Choice - depressing - and now it is time for bed.  Sunday brunch has been moved to Saturday for Michael's birthday.  Sue will make her "famous" pancakes which are "so good you do not need syrup."  If she is right I will be stealing her recipe.

Good night

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