01 August 2009

Two Days, Two Parts (II)

With a lunch booking and supplies needed for tomorrow, I ran in and out of Kakamega.  In by 8 and home by 10, I worked quickly.  I arrived just as the supermarket opened and found everything I needed.  In addition, I bought, for a whole 20/= ($0.25), a new phone line.  Orange provides cheaper international calling.  Its service has been poor around here, but from what I heard it works better.  With it costing so little, I bought a line and was happy to see that it works at home.  I will put a different post with its number.  I will continue to use my Safaricom line, but will make calls to the states with Orange.

Back in time to relax, I hung out before our 11:30 meeting.  With Sue and Katie in tow, Michael and I locked up and went out to meet our good friend mini drunk matatu guy.  His real name is John, but our nickname serves as an easier way to remember him.  That is besides the point.  We arrived at his place of work, the matatu stand, to find him missing.  We waited for a bit under the shade of a shop.  As we sat, our good friend, James, walked by.  Having just been drinking, he was in fine form.  We chatted for a bit.  He called me Chuck Norris and Michael Rambo.  He rambled on for a bit and then began to hit on Sue and Katie.  After a bit of convincing that they were married, he became less doting and continued to ramble.  Meanwhile, Michael found our other matatu friend, Tyson, and asked him to bring us John.  Fifteen minutes later, John showed up drunker than James.

He slurred his English, but ordered James to mill the maize for the flour.  He then went over to secure some greens and returned to bring us to his house.  Thinking that it would be a quick trip, we set off in good spirits.  Little did we know that we would not be home for another five hours.

The Journey was full of drunk sentences and attempted conversation until a sudden stop.  John wanted to show us the farms.  He tried to tell us what each one had with James as his echo.  Casually, he turned and slapped James saying, “Act like a gentleman.”  James remained quiet for the rest of the afternoon.  We then walked only a hundred yards before we stopped to meet John’s uncle.  The first stop on his family tour.  With a quick hello, we pushed forward towards the homes of his three brothers and nephew.  As we arrived in his home, we were invited to sit down.  Thinking that lunch would be coming soon, we relaxed.

After five minutes, we were back out and exploring the area.  From there we met more relatives, friends, and even his dad’s circumcision classmate (there is really no other way I can think to explain that).  In the middle, we saw the school where he once went and his children now attend and reclined in the field of his church.  Laying down, I was happy to be resting under the shade.  The relaxation did not last long enough and we were back up for the remainder of the tour.

As we walked, we slowly picked up more and more children.  By the time we were laying in the field, there were fifteen children laying down too.  Two of them were John’s daughters.  The youngest, Rebecca, took a particular liking to me.  She walked holding my hand for a bit and I carried her for a good portion of the walk.  The next youngest was fond of Sue and always seemed to find her hand whenever she could.

As we made our final stretch back to his home, John and I walked in the front, hand in hand.  It was strange and awkward, but I tried not to worry about it.  For him, it was just friends walking along and conversing.  Who was I to tell him it was wrong.

Back at his home, we were treated to some greens, ugali and roasted maize.  We ate heartily and were then forced to eat more.  I benefited by being given more of the greens than the ugali when my plate emptied.  Katie was not so lucky and was given a huge slab of ugali as she was at her point of being full.  To make it worse, she was pressured by John, James and John’s wife to eat more.  Attempts to resist were useless as it was made clear that she was expected to finish what was on her plate.  Food eating here is tough.  You are to finish what you are given and when you do so, more is added.  Then again you are to finish and more comes.  Basically, you have to eat until they are done.  When everyone else is done you have to make sure that your plate is finished.  It is not all that bad.  I guess it is better to have a filling meal than too little.  However, it is impossible not to feel guilty knowing that I can easily eat well and they have to struggle for the food that was on the table for us.  I was able to give my last piece of maize to Rebecca.  She clearly wanted it and I was not needing it at all.  So she ate away, enjoying the roasted maize as she sat in my lap.

The meal ended, we left and arrived home by five.  Two tiring and rewarding days.  Tomorrow, we have invited the Sports Plus team over for a meal with us.  We have hired our house girl to make her legendary pilau.  I will be sure to have pictures.