20 April 2009

Back to Malava

and back to my daily routine of posting.

We flew back this morning on a 7:15am flight from Nairobi to Kisumu.  Getting up early was not terribly fun, but the quick arrival in Kisumu made the early start more bearable.  We shot over to the Mega City Nakumatt to pick up anything that we knew we could not get in Kakamega or Malava.  Michael and I stayed to do some serious shopping because we had nothing in our house and a few needs.  In the end, we were able to buy some good cooking items that we had been unable to find anywhere (asian sauces, large size Heinz and French’s, knives that do not break, etc.).  With a large toy section, I loaded up on toys and games to bring to the SJC tomorrow.  We need to improve our toy lending library desperately and I had yet to see any viable toy options in the area.  Nakumatt took care of that problem.  Now the children will have new toy cars and Barbies that are not white.  We contemplated seeing a movie, but decided to get and rug and Michael made the great leap into laptop ownership.  With two important items which could not be left unattended, we set off for home (finally).  Of course, before disembarking, we had our last ‘western’ meal for awhile: pizza.

We took a tuk tuk over to the matatu stand and were attacked the moment we arrived.  There were literally fights taking place as the men pulled and grabbed at our bags (really anything attached or on use that could be held) to take us to their matatu.  Michael was unfortunate enough to be the first one out and the one who had to deal with most of this.  He eyed up the one he wanted and moved as quickly as he could considering the resistance in all directions.  I had to politely decline a few and boarded the full matatu.  Since it was going to Kitale we knew that Malava was likely to be the first stop.  The nice thing about being a mzungu in Kenya is that the matatu drivers will do just about anything to have you ride in theirs.  Kitale is a good 4 hours from Kisumu, a little more than half way between is Malava.  Knowing that they would stop for us, we went for a more direct matatu rather than the ones that service Kakamega. 

Michael and I squeezed into the back with bags on our laps and long legs pushing against the seats in front.  The trip was tight but I think my nostalgia for matatu’s allowed for me to enjoy the majority.  Next to me was a mother and her young son.  As she slept, he bobbed up and down to look outside and see the big white dude sitting next to him.  I will try to highlight his reactions to everything that took place once we hit Kakamega, because I think he summed up my frustrations.

Just short of Kakamega we pulled over because the car was making a strange noise.  The conductor checked quickly and then we went on.  The young boy who was happy the entire time began to grow restless.  He moved around more and was no longer able to stay in a single position for much longer than five minutes.  A few kilometers later the sound was much louder and troublesome.  We pulled over again and this time the driver joined the conductor to have a look.  All I could see was that the conductor was laying down under the car and making some attempt to repair the problem.  They boy began to whine to his mother and beg for something to drink.  I did not help the situation by having a large Pepsi on the side of my bag (that I am currently drinking) (Pepsi is super rare and costs more than Coke, so it is my small splurge considering that I like it better anyways).  His whines turn to cries as he begs and pleads with his mother.  She relents by giving him something to eat.  Happiness is fleeting when given something other than what you really want.  He turned to sobs complaining of heat.  The solution: he stipped down to only his socks.  So next to me is a naked 3 year old crying and eating a piece of bread.  Matatu fixed, driver and conductor back, we pull out and smash.  The quick fix was indeed quick, but not at all a fix.  I came to the assumption that it must be the muffler or something underneath that has come unattached and is dragging on the tarmac below.  The boy cries, naked.  After 5 minutes we pull over.  The doors are opened and a few get out to stretch their legs.  I contemplate putting my bag in my seat, stepping over my bag in the aisle and standing outside.  My lack of decisiveness turned out to be a curse as the door was soon slammed and the car was jacked up.  For some reason it is smart to do this in a semi-full van.  Now more serious repairs can take place and I am stuck in the matatu until they are done.  The boy has not stopped crying as he sits on his mothers lap with only heather grey socks that have three strips: royal blue, white, royal blue.  With a thud the car drops, doors back open, everyone in and onwards to Malava.  The boy stopped his cries and just looked plain cranky. 

Finally back home, Michael and I brought our bags to the house.  As I chatted with the boys, Michael went to collect our house key from Fr. Alfred.  He was asleep but had to be somewhere by 5pm (it was just before 4), so we could get our key then.  We got a few toys for the boys, so I took them out and let them play as we waited.  I showed them how to use the wind up cars by pulling them back on the ground and letting go.  Then we kicked around a new mini-soccer ball that I got for them.  I explained that they toys were meant to stay here and could be used whenever they visit but had to be returned.  I will see how well this all works out.  At around five, Michael went back to the house to see Father.  He came back at 6 with no keys.  It was not until 6:45 that we gained entry into our home.  I have yet to unpack anything and do not intend to do so until tomorrow.

Congrats to Betsy, Katie and all the runners at the Boston marathon.  Looks like USA had a strong showing in both the men’s and women’s races (Kenya did manage to do better).