03 July 2009


The rain remains a part of the afternoon, but an early morning into Kakamega to prepare for our Independence Day Bash kept me busy.  We invited all pretty much everyone we know over tomorrow.  No town characters, sadly, but the SND’s, SJC Co. and Priests should be by.  All in all, it will be a blessed day (I tried).

The shopping part was not interesting.  Although it was a sight to see the fog as it settled at the foot of the ridge line traveling to Kakamega.  In town, I took care of the shopping list and noticed a bunch of fellow whites.  What struck me at first was the fact that there were so many.  Usually, I may see one or two.  Today I saw what must have been ten.  I guess that summer means that it is time for people to make their short term trips to Kenya.  Secondly, I was struck by how much they stuck out.  They looked horribly out of place as they walked around the market.  The hypocrisy did not hit until I was back in Malava and remembered that I too look just as much out of place.  It was a time where I had forgotten that I am very different.  After six months, I still receive plenty of stares within Malava and from people I see daily.

At the supermarket in Kakamega, I ran into one of the rare whites and we had a conversation.  We spoke about nothing.  I know he is from California, but I thought about how nice it was to have a short conversation with someone who I can clearly understand.  Communication can be hard at times, especially when the person does not know much English and my Swahili cannot make up for the fact.  Since I have the three other volunteers I remain aware of the times when I can turn off my Kenyan English and speak normally.  Today, I was caught off guard by talking to a complete stranger and it was comforting.  I think that I too often look down at the other European’s that are in Kakamega.  I am bothered that they have come into MY area of Kenya for no reason.  This feeling is unfounded and is based on nothing.  Today, I spoke to a European stranger and he was nice.  For some reason I was partially surprised, but why?

In Malava, I ran into Neto and he invited me over to his home.  So we walked over and hung out in the single room he rents.  With a bed, a stool, and a radio, Neto is living the life of a bachelor in Malava.  He was very proud to show me his home and the newly installed electricity.  I think it is hard at times to be living in my place and I have had electricity for all six months with my computer, courtyard, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, storage rooms and so on.  Here I have all this space and did not appreciate it.  When I am bored and tired, I can watch a movie or read a magazine.  At night, I can do either because we have power.  That is not a choice for most people.  Just as I begin to think that I have begun to shed myself of what is unnecessary, I am confronted with the reality that it may be impossible.  That is not to complain.  Movies and reading have been my major source of diversion and time killing.  There is not much else to do in my free time.  Housework can be done here and there, but there is always time that needs to be filled in some manner.  It is nice to fill it with less time on my computer and watching movies, but that always remains an option. 

He mentioned that meals were always determined on how full his pockets are.  That is never a concern of mine.  I work hard to be mindful of my spending, but I can go to the market and have whatever I want.  If I want to splurge, I can consider it.  In relative terms, I am living like a king in Malava.  I offer so little and get the same salary as the therapists.  In other words, I have no skills and get as much as our most highly skilled workers.  Hopefully, I am a contributor to the St. Julie Centre.  It makes me glad that we have invited everyone over.  I feel a need to give something back.  I can come here and not worry about money with only a few hundred US$ a month.  It may be part of the reason for inviting Neto to each Sunday brunch.  Here we have a nice meal once a week, why shouldn’t we be sharing it with friends?  That is why everyone will be here tomorrow for the 4oJ.