16 June 2009

Things I See Every Day

I was thinking about all the things that I see on my walk through town to and from the St. Julie Centre that do not even cause me to look twice, but will seem strange to no longer see.  I will also include things said or called out.  I have mentioned some of these things before, but now that I remember that there was a time that it was not normal.

  1. Farm animals walking in the middle of town.  Such as cows, goats, pigs, chickens and/or goats, strolling through the market.  They are seen with and without an accompanying owner.
  2. Street Vendors.  Stalls are set up all over the place selling vegetables, fruit, roasted corn, and samosas.  People walk about with tubs on their shoulders filled with ground nuts and juices.  Men will carry racks of various goods ranging from a bow and arrow to sunglasses, from handkerchiefs to beaded five foot posters of Obama or John Cena or Rihanna.
  3. Freshly slaughtered cow being carried in a metal box from butcher to butcher and unloaded each morning.  Also, the occasional dead and skinned goat will take the ride on the back of a bicycle.
  4. Chickens carried, most often by women, under one arm while the other will carry a child.  Today, a woman rode on a bike taxi with her child and a chicken sandwiched between the two.
  5. Dirt roads.  The majority of the road that my feet touch are dirt.  There is one main road that runs through the middle of town leading to Kisumu in one direction and Eldoret in the other.
  6. Naked children.  They are everywhere and being at the center does not help.  The favorite for young kids is being dressed in a shirt with nothing on the bottom.
  7. Crowds of children walking to and from school in uniform.  Kids walk everywhere, like all people here, but the sea of uniforms is distinct.
  8. Added to the above, children wearing sweaters in 90 degree heat.  They will even play soccer.  If they need to cool off, just take off one sleeve and leave the rest on.  Instant cooling.
  9. Women breastfeeding.  Seen at the centre nearly every day, but there are always the women sitting on the side of the road feeding their children.
  10. Shoeless people.  I am not sure if people here are half Hobbit or not, but they can run around on rocks with no shoes as if it is a fine carpet.
  11. Children and adults yelling, “How are you?”  It happens every day and there is no getting away.
  12. Not having a name.  Some know me as Tom, but most refer to me as Mzungu.
  13. Town drunks.  It is not like one or two people on the corner of NYC, they are everywhere.  In the bars and out on the streets, the men of Malava love their spirits. The men gather around the matatu stand to make some money by loading the passengers.  Breaks are to walk over to drink some illicit brew at a changa’a den just near the SJC.  They will walk over a few times today.  In fact, the man who Michael and I have named “Drunk Matatu Guy” was on his way to the den.  When I asked him where he was going, he replied, “Migingo Island.”
  14. Men peeing outside.  Even better is the fact that boys do it too, but have no inhabitations and will do it anywhere as long as it is outside.
  15. Beggars at my front door.  Many days, we have guests looking for something.  We have had a singer, a woman who is homeless, someone who did not have money to get home and the same old lady who continues to stop and ask for money every time she passes.  We are a favorite place for people who are not from Malava.  I am not sure if people are pointing them to father and they happen to see white and think money, or if they are sent straight to us.
  16. Similar to above, Children at our front door.  There is always a group hanging out in and around our courtyard.  Regulars will come, but friends are always brought along.  Sometimes the friends are not as well behaved and give us cause for a little creative expulsion.
  17. No town lights.  The sun goes down at 7pm and that means it is time to be inside.  Luckily, Neto has been kind enough to escort me to some soccer matches, otherwise it is a big no go.  It is when the ‘bandits’ come to play, thankfully we have a night watchmen.
  18. Masaai.  Once a fascination, they are just other people in town.
  19. Swahili language.  I have noticed that I have become less sensitive to the language.  Meaning, hearing Swahili does not seem out of place.  I think that can be attribuited to my lessons, but also to just hearing it all the time.  I have come to accept that there are a lot of conversations that I will never understand.
  20. I cant think of anything else, but twenty is a much better number than nineteen.  Actually, today I saw a cat on a hot tin roof.  I am sorry that I cannot prove it with a picture, but you will have to trust me.