31 March 2009

Introducing...

Victor!

DSCF0011

Victor is one of the boys who hangs out around our house every day.  We now have two regulars: Victor and Isaac (aka the Camo Kid).  The two are friends and both come by each afternoon to hang out.  They will sit and watch a movie if one is on, will play with the tennis ball or any of the toys we have.  Each of us have taken a personal liking to one.  Victor is my favorite, and I have no problem saying that.  His is 6 years old and in class one.  Since he is here all the time, I figured that it was about time to give you all an introduction.  The picture was taken today as we were waiting out the rain.  He was caught here when the rain started, so I let him hang out with Sue and I to keep dry.  When the rain slowed down, he dashed out and returned with a coat.  Hence the picture.

The group of girls who used to bother us have moved on, now we have a following of boys.  Every day there are a few that stop by to say hello or play in our courtyard.  We have no problem letting them play as long as they do not bother us.  If we are watching a movie, some with trickle in and sit down quietly to watch along.  Of course they like action best because they do not know English well enough to follow a plot that does not have a little action.  James Bond seems to be a favorite.  They all enjoyed watching Diamonds are Forever when Connery is driving a moon vehicle in Vegas.

In addition, they have been our Swahili tutors.  We will ask them questions about what different things are called and they will respond.  In return, we have been teaching them a few new English words.  They do not remember much and neither do we, but it is good to have practice with our Swahili.  To ask them to do something or play elsewhere, we must use the little Swahili we know.

I can't help but think how this whole relationship between us and the boys would not be allowed in the United States.  I am not advocating spending all my time with children, but it is sad to think that this would not be allowed.  Accusations would be launched, whispers in town, awkward looks at the grocery store.  There are a lot more freedoms in this country that cannot be enjoyed at home.  We may have a better system of laws, but overprotection has overridden what used to be a childhood.  Could you imagine the comments that would stir if a parent allowed his or her 4 year old child to walk into town alone and go to school?  Here it is commonplace.  Young children walk in groups.  Some barely above the age of crawling.  Kids go about town as they want.  I do not find it to be something to glorify, rather different.  My thoughts on the matter are far from completely formed.  However, I will argue that a certain amount of freedom in children is positive.

Having taught last year, I had to be mindful of the situations I was in at all times.  I drove children home but had to ensure that they were in the back to prevent a possible problem.  I had to keep my door open when talking to students, particularly girls.  All sensible considering the consequences of a misunderstood comment or action, but a sad way to work.  Often I would feel anxious in situations that I knew could go wrong when I knew that there was no reason for this emotion.  Here I do not even have to consider it.  Children come by and say hello.  They sit in our courtyard and watch me as I wash the dishes.  No big deal.  Today, Sue and I shook the hands of numerous children outside the SJC.  They jumped and danced around when we would wave back to them.  The ability to bring joy to a child by just shaking his or her hand is humbling.  Children will laugh if we goof around as they pass by.  If I did that in the middle of Boston I would probably be chased off.  I'm rambling, so I will put it to an end here.

Goodnight.

30 March 2009

Back to Normal

An average day at the SJC.  Did some work on the spreadsheet, kicked around a ball with Jairus, joked with Neto and chatted with Sue.  The afternoon was nothing special.  I am a bit tired from yesterday's excursion, so I did not do much of anything this afternoon.

Alex, a former teacher and friend of Michael's, came by to drop off some honey "not for money, but for friendship."  He passed through quickly, but left behind a giant bottle of fresh-from-the-hive honey.  It is the sweetest honey I have ever tasted and I was essentially squeezed out of the hive.  I continue to enjoy all the fresh food that we get to eat every day.  Meat comes each morning fresh, vegetables are plentiful, and samosa lady is at the corner each night.  I love that I can decide what to make for dinner at 6pm, walk into town, get fresh food, and start cooking by 6:15.

Neto gave me a lesson in 'Swahili Time' today.  I had read that there was a difference in Lonely Planet, but never noticed it.  He was writing a sign and on it said, "saa mbili asabuhi (8:00am)."  With my improving Swahili, I was able to read that it said, "Time 2 in the morning (8:00am)."  Excited at the prospect of picking up a Swahili error, I asked Neto if the sign was right.  He nodded and kept on writing.  I asked again if he was sure and confirmed if I was reading it correctly.  Again a nod and more writing.  At this point I had to ask why there was a difference.

Swahili time is different than standard time.  The day starts at 6am (standard) and ends at 6pm (standard).  However, the start is indicated as 12 not 6.  Therefore time is 6 hours 'behind.'  Since everything revolves around the sun as opposed to time, the start and end of the day being at twelve makes perfect sense.  For myself that is backwards because my day essentially starts at 6am and ends at 6pm with noon as the middle.  Here the middle is 6, which corresponds to 2pm.  It is important to note that the difference is observed in language.  When speaking Swahili, you would indicate Swahili time.  In English, standard time would be used.  Neto said that if he did not put in in Swahili time parents would not show up to the clinic.  Some people will even set their watches to Swahili time.  This is not a common practice anymore as cell phones have spread and Western business has come to the countryside, but the difference has to be noted. 

The whole concept is funny when I think about what I wrote when I was flying here.  The idea of time was muddled to me as I crossed time zones from -5 in Washington DC to +3 in Nairobi.  Now I am further perplexed by the fact that a group of people can operate on two sets of time standards.  Six hours is an easy conversion, but lead to confusion.  The truth is that time has no significance here.  When I walk to work at 8am (standard time), everything is open.  All of the shops are in full business and selling away.  The work day for these people starts roughly at sunrise, 7am, and ends at sunset, 7pm.  The creation of an eight hour work day does not exist. 

Things stay open for as long as they need to be open.  Children are walking to school when I wake up at 7am (standard time).  Meetings will be set up for a certain time and the person will show up thirty minutes or an hour late.  It is a natural part of life here.  As much as I try, I am unable to divorce myself from time.  I check my phone to see what time it is throughout the day.  My body has certainly acclimated to the schedule.  I am up every morning without an alarm and begin to shut down by sundown.  Power must play a part in this, but poverty is a player as well.  Most people do not own a watch, so time does not matter.  Although I will have to see this to believe it, but Neto said that people can tell the time of day just by looking at the sun.  They will point up and say, "Oh, it is..."  I am going to quiz somebody to see if it works.

Bedtime draws near.  Goodnight.

29 March 2009

Webuye Falls and Jean's Birthday

Being that it is Jean's birthday today, we made a little outing of the day.  Jean, Sue and I all went to Webuye falls to see some waterfalls and then met up in town with Michael for lunch.

We had been told that the falls were a worthwhile trip.  Jean wanted to go for her birthday and Sue and I obliged her request.  At about 10:30, we set off on a matatu heading north to Webuye.  I had only been as far as the Malava forest before, so it was nice to take a trip further up country and see what the rest of the Western Province has to offer.  One difference is the quality of roads.  Once we hit a T, we turned unto a smooth road with not only lines to mark the middle, but solid lines on the sides.  The matatu clipped along at a solid 80kph to Webuye.

In town we hired a bodaboda (bike taxi) for each of us.  A great idea because it saved us a lot of time, which we learned when we tried to walk back and it took an hour.  Riding on the back of a bike is strange and it took me a few minutes to get used to the idea that it was in fact a taxi.  I was not concerned about falling, but it was strange to be on the back of bicycle.  I could have rode a pickypicky (motorcycle) but decided against it due to the price.

We were left off at the bottom of a hill.  DSCF0013The men said to walk up and follow the path to the falls.  Unfortunately, the top had a fork and we did not know if we should take it.  As we approached the fork, Jean turned and said, "It's there."  I followed her finger and saw what is pictured beside.  The falls were straight ahead, but required a bit of work to make the descent to the base and the climb to the top.  I figured that since a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, that the obvious thing to do would be to walk straight at the falls.

 DSCF0014DSCF0020 

DSCF0021

It turns out that it was a steep decent to make it to the foot of the falls, but a bit of sliding and jumping helped us make it down.  We hoped to cross the middle and make it to the right half, but were unable to find a passable route over the water.  We continued upwards and to the left of the falls with the goal of finding a set of rocks or a narrow stretch of water.  DSCF0029We found no such part, but did make it to a smaller section of the falls with a grassy field (as seen on the left).  Being that it was a hot day and that the water was running swiftly due to rushing water above and below, we jumped in for a dip.  I am not sure if this was the smartest decision I have made in Kenya thus far, but it sure was nice to go for a swim.  Summer for the past three months and I have only seen a swimming pool.  It is just not right to waste an opportunity to go for a swim when the temperature is as hot as it was today.  I was emboldened by the rushing water, but I still know that there could have been bacteria or whatever swimming around with me.  Time will reveal the prudence of this decision.

We dried off, hung out with some cows and children and then walked back to town.  Then it was time to lunch to be enjoyed while it was raining.  So far, I am never disappointed to see rain.  In fact it makes me happy whenever it rains.  Our rain tank went empty again this morning, a little rain today has restored it to working order, but we are far from in good shape.  The drought continues and rain is a necessity.

  

DSCF0008Michael cooking on our grill when we had no gas.

Hamburgers, green peppers and onions.

DSCF0039Picture taken of the side of a building in Webuye, I think it is a funny picture.  Harry Potter graduates from Hogwarts and rides his pen home.

28 March 2009

Unitarian Universalists Invade

Well maybe just one.  Sue, Michael and I had lunch with the Program manager for Rights in Humanitarian Crises for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC).  Sue got a message from home from her parents that Martha, the program manager's name, would be passing through Kakamega this weekend before heading on to Uganda.  Sue got in contact with her and she invited all of us to meet her for lunch in Kakamega.  Sue was excited to hang out with a fellow UU and Michael and I saw yet another opportunity to learn more about a different church.  We have set a goal to learn as much as possible about all the local religious groups in the area, and today was a perfect opportunity.  Also, free lunch is impossible to pass up.

We met at a nice hotel a little out of the center of town and sat down because we arrived early.  There was a white woman sitting on the other side of the terrace, but Sue did not want to bother Martha being that we were early.  We had something to drink and joked about the possibility of the lady in the distance being Martha.  At nearly one, Sue stepped away to call.  She hid behind the corner where we could not see her, but hear.  Our suspicions were confirmed when the ladies cell phone began to ring, she answered, and then the two had a conversation that we were able to hear from both sides.  It was surreal to hear Sue speak and Martha respond across the terrace.  Laughter was a natural reaction.  As I was bent over in hysterics, Michael turned around and waved to confirm that we were in fact the people she was to meet with.

A few quick introductions followed and we were joined by a priest from Kakamega named Pastor Paul (I think but my memory is not too good these days).  They told us about the work that the UU's were supporting that was being done by Pastor Paul.  He is finding people who were displaced due to last years violence and, with the aid of UUSC, is providing help to get them back on their feet.  As it turns out, there is a significant population of Kenyans in Kakamega lost everything last year and have had no way to start over.  This area is severely lacking in NGO's and aid work.  For a country that has a glut of agencies, this region is skipped over.  The region between Kisumu and Eldoret is all but forgotten, especially right here in the middle of the two cities.  We of course enjoyed a great meal.  Rosemary chicken and onion rings, the best meal I have had in Kenya.  No question about it.  That place will be where I will go to eat in Kakamega from now on. 

We learned about all the work that Martha does across the world in areas that were affected by the tsunami, civil war, political unrest and genocide.  The UU's have a group in Darfur right now and have been able to avoid problems by using local foreigners.  In other words, the person in Darfur is Kenyan.  I have not had a chance to look at all of the UUSC work, but the programs that Martha runs are ideologically what I believe to be the best direction for development, locally run and organized.

A Bishop We all Should Support...

(with tongue bursting out of cheek)

http://www.wibc.com/news/Story.aspx?id=1076630

Marabou

0328091508-01

Leptoptilos crumeniferus W 260cm L 150cm Very large.  Flies with retracted head and neck (unlike other storks).  Habitat: dry areas including towns where it can feed on fish, small and young animals, carrion and refuse.

Taken in Kakamega today on a 2mp camera phone.

Info from Collins Birds of East Africa

27 March 2009

Heat, Meetings and Mistakes

It was hot today and it just increases with each day.  There is no point in ever checking the weather here.  The morning is comfortable as the sun is rising.  You can wear shorts and a hoodie and feel relaxed making your way around.  Once the sun hits, the heat begins.  Like a slow building ant hill, the heat grows.  One moment there are a few specks of dirt around a hole, look away and then a hill.  Get on with things and the hill has grown to a mound with a colony running about collecting dirt and food to grow the nest.  That is the heat.  By mid-day it was hot everywhere.  My house has been a usual escape, but did not provide much aid.  Shade is always a good thing, but dead air on a clear blistering day can be brutal.  I am convinced more and more that the rainy season is really a misnomer for the sunny season.  It continues to get hotter without any promise of relenting.  I want to start with this because it frames my day and informs the way that I viewed everything that transpired.

With a parent meeting on the docket, I had my best commute of the year: the house in my backyard.  I waited around until Neto showed up and then began to bring over all the supplies that had been piled into the house yesterday.  The parents arrived, Grace kicked things off, I introduced myself and the meeting went on.  I did not pay much attention because it was conducted in Swahili.  It gave me a good chance to read some of the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated.  Tea break meant that it was time for Sue and I to spring into action and take down registration.  After the flurry and a few cups of chai, we retreated to my house to escape the hot building and spare ourselves from hearing a lecture about Malaria in a language we did not understand.  Jean came back, the meeting ended, packed up, unpacked at the center and cruised the market.

I returned home to hang out and got a phone call at about 3 from Judi asking me to come over to the house.  The work I did yesterday had a problem.  It turned out that I entered a set of the data in the wrong account.  I made the correction by changing the heading on each of the individual entries, then double checked to make sure that I was really done.  By the way, I had to walk back and forth in the heat.  It actually was not all that bad, but left me in want of liquid.  Shortly after I arrived home and hydrated, Michael arrived.  We went up to have come chicken at the petrol station for dinner and returned home to watch Bond movies.

So, as I leave you tonight we begin Casino Royal. Goodnight.

26 March 2009

When the President Comes to Town: The Words

Feeling better, I went about my usual Thursday morning at the Honey Drop with the Masai.  I ate my mandazi, drank chai and went to work.  Sue and I hung out in the office, checked over the books and chatted as the few kids played.  Joy arrived at about 9:30 and sat down.  "The President is coming to town today.  Did you see the people getting ready?"  With that a day that was intended to be relaxing was kicked into gear.  She said that he would be arriving at 11 to speak for a half hour.  With no camera, I dashed home to collect my camera and camcorder to record the events.  Walking over, I called Michael and told him to get off work and get back to town as quickly as possibly.  Five minutes later I was at the SJC and Michael was out of the school. 

Upon my return, Judi was waiting and wanting me to come 

with her to do the financial reports for February.  We had been delayed for a few weeks due to accounting issues but I was finally given the go and she needed it done by the end of today.  Upset at the possibility of missing the occasion, I tried to come up with a way to work around the issue.  Fortunately, Joy offered to give me a ride back after the event.  However, she would call her policeman friend to ask when the President would be arriving.

A phone call and a quick conversation revealed that he would not come until 2pm.  With the chance to do the work early, I rode with Judi back to the compound and worked furiously on the computer to finish up at around 12:30.  Sue had come home in the mean time and returned back to town because the President had taken a helicopter to a town 20km north and would be coming shortly.  Frazzled and concerned, I made sure to complete my work but thought of how mad I would be if I was to miss this day.  As if to make me more nervous, I had to go with Judi to have one of the boards I cut set to be made into a table and then back to the SJC to move all the necessary items into my house before tomorrow's meeting.  I was on edge and doing

 my best to hide it.

By 1:15 we were done and sitting in the house.  A bathroom break and a walk uptown put us at the scene before 1:40.  The hot sun forced the girls to shade and Michael and I to soda refreshments.  Two men were performing, one on a single string violin and the other on a tin pan drum set.  The crowd was multiplying around and we thought it would be worth checking out.  Immediately, the man saw us and began to sing about us being there.  The crowd had a few laughs and more came to see not the performer but the mzungus.  Soon they were all gathered around us as if we were the performers.  Eyes fixed upon our shiny whiteness baking in the sun, made all of us uncomfortable.  We stepped away only to be followed by the two men who wanted to introduce themselves to us.  They are featured first in the video and the man's smile is hard to miss in the pictures.

Drinks completed and the time upon us, we jostled our way to get ready.  The police began to move everyone across the street from where the President would be speaking and kept all off the road.  Being tall we were at an advantage, but we were becoming uncomfortably friendly with our neighbors.  Then it was time to wait.  We waited and waited and waited.  My legs were starting to cramp up.  It felt as if all the blood had run downward and left the top to crisp in UV rays.  

Behind my knees was a filling wrench of solid from the ceasing of flow.  I had to march in place and rock back and forth to keep circulation going and not go crazy.

As we waited, the police lined the street in front.  With all sort of variations on blue, white, green and tan, the soldiers stood and chatted.  There was at least one every yard of pavement from the top of town to the bottom.  The crowd stretched down the tarmac like a fairway for Tiger Woods.  We were lucky to be in the action at the tee box area, but hundreds of yards down people waited with the hopes of catching a glimpse of the president.  Behind, people hung from buildings, stood on bikes, leaned on poles, ascended trees, and huddled under the shade.

One police officer came over to say hello, and pulled me onto the road.  He whispered and said that the female officers found both Michael and I very attractive and he would be glad to pass on our numbers.  I laughed and said we were flattered to hear, but would not be giving up our phone numbers.  I returned back to the masses and waited. 

Being that there is a drought, the dust can be nasty.  Today was windy and the fire department had the solution.  Water the barren soil.  People have empty wells, no drinking water, no water for plants, some are starving, but spray they did.  I saw them do two treatments and Joy saw one earlier this morning.  Water put to good use.  In addition, the President needs a red carpet whenever he goes anywhere.  Only the most regal of accommodations can be had.  Also, the carpet must not be dusty.  So have a young boy dust it every few minutes to prevent the President from getting too much dirt on the bottom of his does.  That would not be good, not at all.

Then, a siren sounded the parade of cars that was to follow as a police motorcycle ripped past.  Shortly after, a few SUV's kicked up dust as a group of black Mercedes Benzs slowed down.  From the second emerged a fat man with a white shirt and no jacket.  He hobbled along, clearly overheated after riding a helicopter and sitting in an air conditioned car.  Not terribly tall, the president looked much like the villain the people here make him out to be.  He was introduced, and spoke for a whole five minutes.  From what I am told he said nothing.  He spoke with a slow Swahili that was both political and age-bearing.  His speech was not careful and he had to check his notes as he spoke.  A few jokes/remarks brought about laughter, but he did not bring forth any feeling of national unity.  For a man who is the President of a country, he was an under-whelming figure.  After he left, it was the Agricultural Minister William Ruto who had greater applause when he simply stopped and rolled down his window.  The people called out his name and cheered. 

Kikaki did not thank the people for coming to see him.  He said he had to go and had to be convinced to speak more.  His response was that he promised nothing and had to go to Kakamega.  So off he went in a hurry to his next destination.  There were no handshakes, all business.  He was attempting to rebuild his image in an area that has not been supportive of his administration and he failed miserably.  His visit left people more angry with him and his actions.

When the President Comes to Town: The Video

When the President Comes to Town: The Pictures

IMG_3015DSCF0012 DSCF0014 DSCF0015IMG_2910 DSCF0025DSCF0021  DSCF0031 IMG_2896IMG_2913DSCF0051     IMG_2945 IMG_2954 IMG_2962 IMG_2989 IMG_3004 IMG_3011  DSCF0083

25 March 2009

Malaria: Day 3

I have been improving slightly over the past three days with the medication I have been taking.  The morning is still tough and the evening is not too much better.  However, mid-day today was a great improvement from yesterday.  I did my morning mumbo jumbo and went to work.  Hung around with Neto and Sue until about 11 when I was starting to feel weak again.  I was nauseous most of the morning, but fought through it because sitting at the SJC was not much different than watching a movie at home.

At home I watched a few movies, did some reading and made myself lunch.  This malaria thing has not been a bad deal so far.  I have been able to leave work when I want and enjoy my new movies at home.  I think by tomorrow I should be able to handle a full day of work.  I will continue to do as much as possible each day being mindful of my limits.  I am not going to walk all over the place in the sun, but I will go to work as long as I can handle it.  I have been drinking water like a horse and that has been as giant help.

Tomorrow night, the sisters will be hosting a birthday for myself and Jean.  In one more week I will be entering the 'year of Tino' with my 24th birthday.  Jean turns 23 on Sunday.

Entries have been a bit short, but here has not been anything worth reporting.  I have even refrained from any sort of significant thought to preserve energy.  If you know me well, that is how I spend the majority of my waking efforts.

Opening day is in nearly a week!

Kenyan forces deployed for fires

By Peter Greste 
BBC News, Nairobi

A Kenyan park ranger surveys a section of Mount Longonot national park in the Rift Valley, 22 March 2009

Kenya has mobilised 3,500 security personnel to fight a series of bush fires raging out of control in some of the country's most important forests.

The government estimates that more than 4,600 hectares (11,370 acres) of bushland have already been destroyed.

At least 10 people have been arrested on arson charges. Mau - East Africa's largest forest - and Mount Longonot are among the places worst affected.

Some of the world's most endangered species are threatened.

With fires burning in at least eight forests, Kenyan emergency services are already overstretched.

Map of Kenya

Police, the national youth service, forestry service workers - all have been drafted in to help save the bushland in some of the country's most important watersheds.

On Mount Longonot, an extinct volcano to the west of the country, the fires have begun advancing into the crater, trapping and killing thousands of small animals unable to escape.

Some larger antelope have managed to get away but they now face starvation in grasslands already overgrazed in a prolonged drought.

Several rare sitatunga antelope have already been killed in another park.

Although it will take time to assess the impact on wildlife, a spokesman for the Kenyan Wildlife Service said there were real fears for rare and endangered species.

He said at least 10 people were under arrest charged with arson, although honey-gatherers lighting fires to smoke out bee hives and charcoal burners might also be to blame.

24 March 2009

Malaria: Day 2

I went to bed last night feeling a bit groggy and woke up this morning in a hazy state.  I went about my usual morning routine, polepole.  I decided to walk over to work, catch up on yesterday's expenses, and then return home to relax.  I am not good at the whole housebound thing, so I had to feel like I did something this morning.  As it so happens, the morning and the night are when I feel the worst.  Mid-day I feel slightly sick, but alright.  The start and end of the day is just an over chlorinated swimming pool.

I walked over to work and waited around talking with Neto.  Shot into the office, checked the money and changed my spreadsheets and chatted more with Neto.  Sue arrived with a package in hand and a sheet to retrieve more.  Done with work, I went off to get my two packages.  As it turns out, all three were from my Aunt Rose and Grandfather.  They were mailed on March 11th and arrived here yesterday.  This means that packages can make it in less than two weeks.  It is important to note that they were padded envelopes and not boxes.  Boxes seem to be much slower.  In addition, I was not charged any customs fees.  For all interested parties, I will give you what my Grandfather did.

The Postmaster at Thorton, the closest p.o. told me to fill out the custom declarations with the following two words  "media" and
"snacks". He told me that these packages go directly from Thornton to JFK Airport. They are aware of what happens overseas so that you should be as vague as possible in the description.

It was a nice surprised to get some movies, magazines and chocolates when I had to stay home sick.  Needless to say, I was beyond pumped and it made the day go by much better.  Many thanks to Poppy and Rose.

For the day, I sat back and watched more Denzel.  I would say that overall, I feel about the same as yesterday.  I started to get a bit dizzy when I was walking home from town and knew that it was a good idea to stay reclined for the rest of the day.

Malaria is some strange condition that does not seem to be entirely here, but has no intention of allowing me to forget that it is within me.  I hope to start to feel improvements tomorrow.  I plan on going into work early again, if possible.  I hate staying home sick from work.  I am also aware that I must stay and relax, but I am too stubborn to just sit around for the whole day.

Goodnight!

Wildlife trapped by Kenyan bush fire

NAIVASHA, Kenya, March 23 (Reuters) - Game wardens fear wildlife is trapped in the crater of an extinct Kenyan volcano that was engulfed by a bush fire for a third day on Monday.

The blaze at on Mount Longonot -- one of the best-known trekking spots in Kenya's Great Rift Valley -- has sent thousands of animals scampering to safety in nearby villages.

"The fire is still burning inside the crater and we fear that some animals like baboons and rabbits have been burnt as they have no escape route,"park warden Peter Muthusi said.

Several blazes have been fed by weeks of hot, dry conditions in the east African country. Zebras, buffaloes, antelopes, gazelles and giraffes all fled the national park that surrounds Longonot, crossing a busy road to reach safety.

Another fire sprung up at the nearby Hell's Gate National Park and was put out, but only after it had razed 30 acres of grazing land, said the warden in charge, Nelly Palmeris.

Smaller fires were also reported near Mount Elgon, Mount Kenya, in the Mau Forest and in the Aberdares National Park.

Kenya is suffering a drought that has parched the landscape, left farmers facing ruin and contributed to hunger that the government says is afflicting some 10 million people.

Muthusi said strong winds and the very dry vegetation were making it harder to fight the fire.

"It's very smoky inside the crater," he said. "We are determined to put out the fire inside the crater using all possible means so as to save the animals inside." (Reporting by Antony Gitonga; Writing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura)

23 March 2009

I HAVE MALARIA

Yes it is true and not a joke and I am fine.  It is the reason I did not have a post for yesterday (first time all trip). 

Yesterday morning I got onto my usual Sunday routine.  I cleaned and began to cook the ribs that were to be for dinner.  Since we have no oven, I had to start early to boil them.  I made a quick egg breakfast and began to boil at around 9am.  I continued for 4 hours and then threw around the tennis ball with some of the boys.  It felt great to be in the sun tossing around a ball like it was summer baseball.  Tired from the sun and running around, I retreated into the house to watch a movie with Michael, Sue and the boys.  We watched Shrek 2 and 3 as I rested in the chair.  I felt a bit tired, but that was natural due to the running around and sun.  At 4pm it was time to grill the ribs that had been marinating in my bbq sauce.  Another hour of cooking and the ribs were all done.  After finishing I was hit by a wave of nausea and exhaustion.  I sat down for a bit because I started to feel as if I might get sick.  After a few minutes, I moved to a reclined position.  I began to feel better and soon attempted to walk around.  No good.  Again I felt very sick and more tired.  I thought of going to bed right away, despite being before 6pm and skipping a shower.  Instead, I opted for the shower, but shortly after I gave up and went to bed.

I was in bed at around 6pm and had chills as I fell asleep.  I woke up a few times feeling very hot, but returned to my dreams quickly.  The sleep was good and when I woke up at about 7am this morning I was feeling a little better.  I was still groggy, but that has occurred before.  Since I only ate eggs yesterday, I forced myself to sit down for a 'big' breakfast.  I shoveled down one and a half mandazis at the honey drop when I was only hungry for a few bites.  At work, I still felt a bit off and decided to take a trip to the hospital to sort out this mess.

Sue gave me directions and I went up to wait.  After twenty minutes of waiting, I got a call from Sr Joy.  She told me to go to the maternity ward and look for a Dr. friend of hers.  I did as ordered and was seen immediately.  He listened to my symptoms and took me to get a blood smear.  Twenty minutes later I was told that I had malaria.  I was given meds and went home.  For the afternoon I have been watching Denzel Washington movies and laying on the couch.  I forced myself to have lunch and dinner because I need food to take the medicine, but I have no appetite.  As for the sickness, it feels like a cross between the flu, mono and a hangover.  My body has minor aches, head cloudy, stomach blah, and everything just a bit strange.  It is very different, but not terrible.  I hope to have kicked this bug in a few days.  The good and bad thing is that the drugs to beat malaria are strong, so they will do a number on me and the virus.  Fortunately, I will be fine but the malaria will not do so well.

Do not worry, I am fine and will be fine.

21 March 2009

And so we paint...

Sue, Michael and I headed over to the orphanage to do some painting.  We threw down some primer and painted along for the afternoon.  It was cathartic to do some mindless physical labor that was extremely simple.  Before and after, Michael and I watched some of our new movies.  A few of the boys who hang around here stood at the window to watch along.  We had no problem because they did not talk and they stayed outside.

After all this, we had an early dinner prepared by Jean and Sue.  They cooked us a steak pizza that hit the spot.  There really was not much to today.  I think that I have truly settled into my weekend routine.  I do not feel the need to have big plans or great adventures.  Housework has been set aside for relaxation and painting.

I am late and short today, but this will have to do.

Goodnight.

The Week in Pictures

Boys dorms of the new orphanage at Tumaini
New sitting room
Girls wing
Michael paints
and paints...
Sue and Michael paint the new orphanage (I was already done)
Green bananas make a tasty stew when made my Sue!
Dead mole
Dr. Seuss Tree no longer

Tiny bowl of cereal with hot milk

Tire Sandal Shoppers

The criss-cross

one strap toe hugger


Double cross strap toe hugger

20 March 2009

Pirates and Masaai

Sue and I went to grab a meal at the Honey Drop and ended up sitting with two of the Masaai.  The place was crowded and we had no choice but to sit with the two.  It was a slightly awkward meal, but an experience to say the least.  I think she will be writing about it soon, so I will leave the descriptions to her blog.

We hung around for a bit and then shot into Kakamega to meet up with Michael and Jean.  They were changing their bus tickets and we were going for the food and the movies.  After the success of Michael's two films, I wanted to gather a few more pirated movies from Kakamega.  It turned out to be a resounding success.  For $15 USD I now own over 60 new films.  They include 28 007 movies and all the Rockys.  Of course a stop for a chicken and chips lunch was necessary.  We bought a few items at the store and shuttled home to watch our new movies.  Once home, we put on a movie, put up our feet, and relaxed.

Dinner was a PB&J sandwich because we are still without means to cook.  I will check on gas tomorrow and fill the tank if possible.  Since we cannot boil the water, I brought out my SteriPen and treated the filtered water.  Hopefully it will take care of whatever bacteria that may have been in the water.  We were running very short on water (down to about 2L) and needed to prepare water for drinking.

I was surprised by a phone call from Sr. Sissy.  It was nice to have a chat to someone stateside.  Despite writing this daily, I forget that people know what is going on here.  I am always confused when someone will reference an event mentioned here, but not elsewhere.  I guess I still manage to detach myself from the public aspect of this when I write about my day and my various reflections.

The weekend should be busy with home projects and other various tasks.  Not too much to report for today overall.  Happy weekend!

19 March 2009

One week later...

and after a terrible end to last week, I have experienced the opposite this one.  Today was a wonderful day and not special in any sort of way.  The morning started with my breakfast at the Honey Drop and ended with dinner at the Honey Drop.  Due to the fact that we have no way to cook a meal, we decided to hit the town for dinner.  For about $1, I had eggs, soup and a soda.  Nearly half of the price was the soda.  Since I did not break my wallet over the meal, a samosa from the samosa lady was a delectable dessert.  Now, Michael and I are watching a group of boys playing tennis ball soccer in our courtyard.  Our new friend, The Camo Kid, brought some friends to play.  They are playing a form of keep away as we chat and watch.  He has been one of the few children who does not beg and bother us.  In fact, he loves to point out what different items are called in Swahili.  I like to call him our practicum teacher, but since he always wears camouflage clothing, he is The Camo Kid.

After a mandazi, chai, and news breakfast, I went to work.  Upon arrival Neto greeted me and said, "Were you a part of the mob?  There was a mob moving up town and I thought for sure you were a part of it."  Confused, I laughed and asked him what he meant.  "Oh, there was a mob that lynched a guy for stealing a cow."  I knew that he did not mean lynch in the sense that I know it.  The news papers will use lynch whenever a group of people get together as a mob and kill an individual for some sort of crime.  Not the best way of justice, but they often catch criminals before the police.  I asked Neto if they killed the man and he said they did not because "in Malava it is too hard to kill someone."  I took that to mean that the police is strong enough to prevent most murders.

The working day went by at a swift pace.  There were a lot of children very early on and the flow was constant until noon.  Sue and I went home with Sister Joy because Judi asked to meet with us at 2:30.  Before leaving, Joy introduced us to her driving teacher who then offered to give us driving lessons.  I do not know how often I will get to drive around here, but I am going to take the opportunity to learn to drive and get my Kenyan drivers license.  At the very least it would be neat to have a license from another country.  On a practical level, it would make proving residency much easier.

Sue and I waited at her house before the meeting.  She cooked a lunch of grilled cheese and tomatoes.  We chatted and prepared for the worst.  Neither of us had great hopes for the meeting, but it turned out to be beneficial.  We were able to talk about how to change things up at the SJC.  I was given the go to come over and do work at the compound whenever I can.  Not a whole lot changed, but it is good to have time to go over how things are progressing.  I feel that we have opened a dialogue that did not exist and we can only move forward from here.

I made my favorite walk home and arrived just before our Swahili lesson.  We learned some new tenses and verbs.  I have noticed a rapid improvement over the three weeks of lessons and I am happy that we made this arrangement.

To make it all better, I had a very hot shower just before dinner.  We added water into the already hot bag.  I had a long (solar shower standards) and hot shower.  All of this before our dinner and right now.  A mild night and a great end to an improved week.

Happy Birthday Kiirsten!

18 March 2009

A Day of Recovery

I woke up feeling a little groggy, a few drinks here hits me like a truck.  I went about my morning routine, grabbed a mandazi and went to work.  What was touted as a long day turned out to be slow and average in length.  I did my small office tasks, played with Duncan and chatted with Sue.  I was open to the slowness today because I felt like I was moving in a slower gear.  When I got home, I washed the dishes from last night.  The process took and hour and with no pressing needs, I relaxed to a movie.

Sadly, we have no way to cook anything.  That means a cold dinner for tonight.  I will check to see if there is gas at the petrol station tomorrow and hopefully refill our gas tank for the oven.  A former teacher and friend of Michael's named Alex stopped by.  He left the school because he had to tend to family obligations.  Some time soon, he will be flying over to Boston to stay with his brother.  He is Baha'I and taught Michael and I about his faith.  I have enjoyed experiencing new types of faith and Baha'I is a new one.  I like a lot of their core beliefs.  Particularly the fact that they do not simply talk about morality, but live it.

Random Things

  • I had a pickle today and it was pretty good.  The process was simple and the product was tasty.  I will continue to work on making pickles in the future.
  • As I walked out of the SJC to go and get a paper I was hit by an Oz like feeling.  It was like opening the door of the black and white house to a world of color, munchkins, a yellow brick road, and witches.  It was aided by the Pink Floyd song Money playing in my head (of course anyone knows that this song starts at this moment of the movie when synched).  I mentioned before that I will have moments where I say, "I'm not in Kansas anymore."  Today was unusually striking and brought forth a specific image.  It has become easier and easier to get by with the days and sometimes feel like this is home, but it never will be.
  • I had never thought about or really discussed some of the situations that present themselves at the SJC.  This is in regards to the clients.  I see them weekly but never take time to process what passes before my eyes.  I view them as clients who either need to pay, or return a toy, or get transport.  Maybe it was a sort of mechanism to keep distance between myself that the reality of the center.  I have begun to recognize names and faces, but not much beyond.  We were talking about one of the children whom I had visited with Joy.  He is an infant who is from a very poor family and sleeps outside on rags.  In the time since our visit, he and his mother have come each week.  We have given her food to give to the child, but there has been no improvement.  As we discussed the child, I casually commented that I did not think the boy would live for very long.  It is a statement that I believe to be true, but had not considered.  There are many children that come to the center who are literally dying.  I am not trying to be alarmist or shocking, but some are in very bad shape.  Infants who are malnourished and digress each week in health.  The service we provide at the SJC is a great help to the community, but there is far too much to address.  We do our best to encourage parents to take better care of the children, but it is obvious when a parent does not care.  I have seen parents who bring a child for treatment, but show little affect at the situation.  They will put the child down and sit to wait for their turn.  Playing has to be done with a staff member.  It is probably the one day out of the week that the parent gives any attention to that child.  I am glad that the child is not staying at home all week.  However, just coming does not mean that he or she is not severely neglected.  This realization has made me rethink the way that I see our clients.  I has made me notice many more subtle things that I had ignored before.
  • Thanks to my Grandfather, I have completed my bracket.  I will share my final four and on.
    • Pitt, Oklahoma, MSU and Uconn
    • Pitt over UConn 78-73

SJC Needs

Since people have been asking what to send, I figured that I would list things that are needed at the St. Julie's Centre.

  1. Balls - particularly durable ones that will not break of fall apart when taken home
  2. Needles to pump up the balls
  3. Small games or toys - Anything that required physical or mental work.  The more simple the better, that will make it easier to show the children.
  4. Glue Sticks
  5. Pens
  6. White Out
  7. Masking Tape
  8. Baby dolls or Barbie-like toys (no Mzungu ones please aka don't send white ones)
  9. Small stuffed animals
  10. Anything and everything, there are too many needs to come up with.

17 March 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

So I have celebrated my first St. Patrick's Day outside of the US.  This morning I woke up and made myself an Irish coffee.  Usually the fun has begun by 8am and Boondock Saints by 9am.  Today, I was at work at 8:30, but I will not make any major complaints.  It was an average day, young kids.  I spent time checking on the registration and transport, like I do every day.  In no time it was nearly noon and then the day was over.  I rushed out to begin my preparations.

With Sue as my assistant, we made the rest of the feast.  Corned beef, cabbage, carrots, onions, green peppers, and potatoes.  Peeling and cutting took up the majority of our time before the monthly meeting.  Of course I was able to drink a Kenyan Guinness in between to make sure to keep pace with the day.  We then had our unnecessarily long meeting.  I swear that the majority of the time is spent reviewing the previous meetings minutes.  I understand the necessity to review, but it is still long.  After sitting and talking for nearly three hours, it was time to go.  Michael was already back and finishing up the cooking.  Sadly, our gas is empty and now our grill is broken.  We were able to do all our cooking before a broken grill, but we are now without means to make hot meal.  This means that tomorrows dinner could be peanut butter sandwiches.

As we finished cooking, Neto, Nancy, Angela,and David arrived.  With a complete meal, we all shared a fine St. Patrick's Day meal.  I wish that I did not cook the meat for as long as I did, it was perfect by this afternoon and became a bit too soft by dinner time.  However, I would consider it to be a successful attempt.  I think that everyone enjoyed the strange meal with meat that had sat in a fridge for 10 days.  I think that I will attempt corned beef again and slightly alter the recipe.  Salt was a little high, but the texture was right on.  It had that stringyness that allowed everyone to use just a spoon or a fork.  Then it was time to drop a few car bombs, drink more Guinness and revel in the company of guests.  Sue and Jean stayed until 8 and then it was Michael and I with the stars.

Overall a great day.  You can never have anything less than a wonderful day when it is March 17th. I know that the day continues at home, have fun.

Happy Birthday Chord!

16 March 2009

Pickles Away Before St. Patty's Day

I am going to skip the work part of today, because it was not much different than any other day.  Sat with Sue and chatted while the babies were being seen by Angela and David.  However, I will note that I had good fun teasing Neto throughout the day because of his teams loss.  We shared a laugh when we read in the paper that people took to the streets in Mombasa to celebrate the loss of Man U.  Needless to say, it was a big win for Liverpool and Chelsea.  It must have been like in Boston any time the Yankees lose.  I swear the Red Sox fans get more joy out of a Yankee loss than a Sox win, but that is my theory.

When I got home it was time for serious work.  I began by washing my corned beef.  It had been sitting for over a week and was ready for tomorrow.  I set it to boil and then began my next project: making pickles.  We now have cucumbers and with my pickling of meat I wanted to try them out.  I bought a large one, found a clean glass and looked up a recipe online.  Right now cucumbers sit in a jar in our fridge pickling away.  We did not have dill, so I had to make do with our spices.  If they turn out to be decent, I will buy dill the next time I am in Kakamega and continue my pickle experiments.  I tended to the corned beef, added more water and a glass of Guinness and waited.  As it cooked I managed to wash the dishes and peel all of our carrots.  Tomorrow I will make a stew with carrots, cabbage, potatoes, onions, corned beef and of course Guinness.  By the time I was done all this, it was time for our lesson.  I turned the stove down, learned some Swahili and checked the meat.

After tasting it, I can say that I have produced a decent corned beef.  I would like to try again with a slightly altered brine, but I consider this to be a solid first attempt.  It was very easy to make and since I control the flavor, tastes the way that I want. 

Tomorrow will probably yield a late blog, due to the guests and festivities.  Be patient, for I will reveal all the great things that will take place tomorrow.

15 March 2009

My Favorite Swahili Gospel Singer Ever....

This is what I hear every day and I am a fan...Rose Muhando is what Neto calls "the best gospel singer around" I will not disagree
Michael and I plan on back up dancer try outs for the fall...







Tumiaini Singing 2


From last week's visit...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RwmvYRmmVQ

Evangelized in Malava

Michael, Sue and I met up with Angela to go to a more 'lively' church this morning.  At 10am we met at the corner of Malava Juu (uptown) and walked to the service.  We arrived shortly after it started.  It was held in a large building filled with rows of pews.  In the front, the pastor was giving his sermon to the small crowd.  He stood behind what was a pseudo-alter.  More like a podium with a blue cloth.  Sitting in the front was a woman at a table with the same blue cloth on it and the chairs.  To the right a keyboard and sound system.  The pastor was giving his sermon with a microphone.  The speakers were set in the back corners with, yup, blue cloths hanging over.  For extra decoration, the speakers had large plastic flowers.  Next to the podium stood two green plants with fake flowers draped.  The pastor spoke in a slow Swahili, which was a nice change of pace from the Catholic church.  After a few minutes, the woman seated at the blue table passed a note to the preacher.  He read it and called for a translator.  Immediately, a man came forward and the pastor switched to English.  The other man took his own mic and began to translate into Swahili.  He proceeded with his sermon in English and threw in a good amount of, "Praise the Lord[s]" to keep us all on our toes. 

As he preached, the congregation listened with great care as they took notes and checked their bibles.  He came to the end of his sermon after about 30 or 45 minutes and kicked off into song.  The initial keyboardist was inept and unable to come close to following the tune.  My concerns were cast aside as the real player came in and joined.  He threw on a beat and played the right chords for the songs.  The pastor was accompanied by a group of female singers.  They harmonized as he sang his praise.  With the people up and the room filling, things got started.  The real service was about to begin, and I did not even know it.

He sang for a bit and then said his goodbye.  I figured that it was a short day and that we got lucky.  Not so much.  One of the back up ladies took over and launched into song.  As the song would progress, she would move away from the rest of the singers and cut loose into her own variants on the notes and words.  Further along, as the song came to an end, she would launch into a spoken praise that would lead to rambling.  Not wanting to be left out, everyone begins to speak out and call great praises to Jesus and God.  Some drop to their knees, head against the floor in great reverence to their savior.  Others looked upwards, arms raised as if pulled up by the holy spirit towards heaven.  They would chant and ramble their thoughts and prayers in a swell much like the Kenyan rains.  She would reign in the crowd and launch into another song that would fall apart into rambling praise and then back to song. 

This hysterical madness of praise continued for about an hour and then another man took the mic to talk about grace.  At this point I was too consumed with my own thoughts and processing of the experience to pay much attention to him.  He went on for awhile and we finally left as he was finishing up at 12:30.  Angela said that it would be a 4 to 5 hour service.  Thankfully we got out early.  Then it was off to her house for lunch.  There we hung out, watched some music videos and ate a great meal.  She made the best cabbage I have ever had.  The majority of the entertainment was provided by her son Gracious.  He was scared of us initially, except for Sue the child whisperer.  He came around after a bit and went around teasing everyone.  He would burst into laughter when Sue would give him a look, fall in hysterics when she would bang her hands on the table.

Then it was back home to relax and watch some more bootleg movies.  Great buy on Michael's part by the way.  Now the thunder is roaring and the rain is about to start.  Yesterday's shower was much needed.  Ah, and since I did not mention this, rain here is perfect for a shower.  Since I was already soaked from the walk home from the soccer match, I decided to put on a pair of shorts and grab my shampoo.  I lathered up and rinsed off in the rain.  Since we did not have a shower ready for the day to save water, it was a treat to have a shower in the rain.  Not a perfect shower, but refreshing and needed.  Maybe I will develop a rain shower system to help preserve water.  It is a bit cold, but nice as you get used to it.

A new week begins and tomorrow my corned beef cooking will take place.

14 March 2009

When the rain falls, we run and hide..

It poured for an extended period this afternoon.  Cat and dog type rain is not even applicable to the downpour that beat against our home.  It happened to start as I was at the I-Max Theatre watching Man U fall to Liverpool.  Neto told me that the match was today and invited me to join in watching it.  I arrived ahead of him and walked into a dark room with a television showing the pre-game show behind bars.  I hesitated and stayed in the back, but then moved forward to find a seat amongst the wooden pews.  Someone called out to me and moved over for me to sit down.  He was not Neto, but I was not going to complain about being given a seat.  Neto showed up shortly after and sat on the other side of the aisle.  I think even before he sat he launched into his great Man U speech.  I, of course, was cheering for Liverpool because a win or tie by them would aid Chelsea.  The men in front of me asked me about who I was behind in the match and then asked me to reconsider my decision to support Liverpool. 

I always thought sport can bring a bunch of men together, but I did see it action today.  Before the match, everyone around wanted to know my opinions and who were my favorite players.  It is nice to have a conversation about sports.  I do miss that.  Neto and I get into it every day, but it is different to be in a packed room with a bunch of people yelling at a television.  There is something relaxing about this atmosphere.  For 40 bob (bob meaning only but used in place of Shillings), I watched the satellite feed of Liverpool thrashing Man U at Man U's home stadium. 

Everyone joined together in hating Man U and went crazy for each of the four Liverpool goals.  I think that I sometimes need something to root for.  Something to get behind and support for no thought or reason.  To experience joy and agony in a two hour period that is both fleeting and raw.  Packed in a hot room with no windows, we were all together watching sport.  The heat was terrible but forgotten with the action of the match before us.  Each goal was an exercise in happiness.  After a tougher week, this was the prefect remedy to all my concerns.  Tomorrow the blues will be playing and I may go and catch the match.  I will definitely continue to see matches.  Going today gave the best escape.  One that I thought I did not need, but realized had to have.

Earlier, all four of us went to Kakamega.  Michael and I split off to go to the bank and hit the MPSEA store.  When we arrived to put money on our MPESA accounts I realized that my phone had dropped out of my pocket.  That meant that I had to buy a new one and get a new sim card.  Fortunately, it is really easy to make a switch.  I retain my phone number and money on MPESA.  The only losses are the money, my phone, and numbers on it.  I bought the cheapest phone possible with the thought that if I lose it, that I would not be mad.  All in all, it was not much of an issue.  I got the phone right away and it only cost me about $30 for a new phone and card.

We sat down to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and toast.  In small portions of course, but a nice throw back to diners from home.  We did our shopping and then I met up with Jean and Sue at the pool.  I ate lunch with them and took the best matatu ride ever home.  I had a front seat and the first stop was my stop in Malava.  That meant a fast ride in the best seat.  Front seat of the matatu is great and getting home quickly was wonderful.  Then it was off to the soccer match and now back home to watch some bootleg films Michael bought.

A great day to say the least and an end to a strange week.  Tomorrow we are going to church with Angela and then over to her place for lunch.  The mass will be in English, a bonus, and is supposedly very lively.  If it lives up to Angela's hype, I am sure that I will have lots to say about it tomorrow.

Happy Weekend!

(sadly HC was crushed and is out of the NCAA tourney)  Carrie was the first to respond with a final score....many thanks

13 March 2009

Fridays with Sue

I used the same title for Sunday, but today was really a Sue-filled day.  In the morning she gave me a call to confirm a trip to good old Honey Drop.  She got to meet Honey Drop girl (she wore a dress the other day so I assume is not a girl despite the fact that some parents will put dresses on boys).  We watched a little morning news, some CNN and relaxed on our day off. 

Phyllis called and we had a very productive chat at 9:30.  It was good to be able to express all my frustrations.  It was helpful to talk with an outside person who could offer advice from a different point of view.  Talking things over has made me feel a lot better.  It looks like some things may be changing that will make things better.  I will not say too much because things have to make their way up the chain and there is still much to go over, but I am in a far better mood than I was on Wednesday. 

Sue and I continued to hang out for the afternoon, read the paper, discussed Aprils trip and our upcoming birthdays.  Then it was time to head over for chicken and chapatti.  Sadly, there was no chapatti to have.  So ugali it was.  Now, I am winding down and preparing for dinner.  It keeps getting darker and darker at an earlier hour each day, but not much rain.  The rainy season is supposed to have already started, but Michael and I have our doubts concerning this whole season of raining thing.

Tomorrow will be big day in Kakamega.  We will do a bit of shopping, see the bigger market and maybe go to the pool.  March is flying by and according to Michael we have broken the 20% done threshold.  I still feel as we just got here, so I don't think that doing this four more time should be too much of a problem. 

Sleep continues to be a minor issue.  I did discover that my net had fallen down and was not preventing bugs from entering my bedroom.  Most of my problem has been due to larger bugs flying in the window and battering themselves into the walls.  With that problem fixed today, I think tonight should be a good sleep.  Fortunately, the weekend is when I get my best sleep.  It is also when I stay up the latest, so my problem could also be resting in going to bed too early.  Last night I was up to eleven and there was an improvement from the previous few nights.  A bad nights sleep can catch up to you quickly in this heat.

Don't forget that HC is playing today for a birth into the big dance!  Go Saders!

Happy (belated) Birthday Rose!

I got days confused, but better late than never!

12 March 2009

Go Saders!

HC plays for the PL title tomorrow on lucky Friday the 13th.  It will be on ESPN2.  Whoever texts or emails me the score will be my best friend until the next contest!

An Official Ex-pat

Working permits have come through and have been handed over today.  This means that I am now a resident of Kenya.  Most importantly, it means that I can enjoy resident prices for parks and hotels and I have permission to stay in the country until March of next year.  Not that I plan on staying until next March, but it is nice to have a big cushion after the end of the year.  With the discounts, we can save a lot of money on our trip to the coast in April.  That makes one minor concern disappear.  I was always confident that the permits would come through, but now I do not have to worry about dealing with immigration for the rest of my stay.

Today was a quick and short day at the SJC.  We were gathered, drinking tea and having out weekly staff meeting just shy of noon.  After fifteen minutes Sue and I were out of the building.  The longest day was followed by the shortest, very strange.  Not that I did not have time to examine the walls around me, today was a significant improvement.  Sometimes a little rest and a better sleep can take care of some tension.  Still not happy per say, but in better spirits for certain.  With a Man U victory last night, Neto and David were riding high to overcome staying up so late for the match.  There is another match this weekend and I hope that I can finally go and watch it with Neto.  He asked if I was stirred by the shouting and chanting after the victorious effort by Rooney and Co.  Fortunately, I slept right through it. 

Tomorrow is another day off, so I will be attacking the market nice and early with Sue.  A stop by the Honey Drop will of course be in order.  Four days weeks are the best.  Next week will be another with a meeting on Tuesday.  At some point in the day I will be meeting with Sr. Phyllis to have a check in.  She called today asking to meet with each of us individually to do a check up.  Either great timing or my post yesterday got things stirring a bit.  I look forward to a one on one meeting with Phyllis.  I have enjoyed talking to her on many occasions and I believe a private meeting is personally needed.  In our meetings as a group things have been well, but it is always hard to discuss personal issues with a group that may or may not be at all affected.

Good Stuff (gotta get back to telling positive stuff)

  • Weekly 'breakfast with the Maasai' today.  Same day as last week, and I will keep going early on Thursdays if it means having breakfast side by side with warriors.DSCF0008
  • Went to Tumiani to do some painting at the school with Sue.  Watched Michael and Jean teach.  Got to read to Michael's class, watch them perform and then hear them sing when the teacher did not show up.
  • Michael and I would smear paint on the children gathered round to watch us paint.  It was entertaining to give them a good scare and catch a few with some paint across the forehead.  It became a test of wills to see who could sneak up on either of us and not get painted on.
  • March Madness is about to begin!
  • Baseball season starts soon.
  • Patty's Day in five days.
  • It keeps raining more and more each day....the rainy season is almost here. 

DSCF0014

DSCF0010 (2)DSCF0018 DSCF0009

Permissions