It never ceases to amaze me how many people Kenyans can squeeze in one vehicle. They rarely say "no" to someone who asks for a ride... In the 7-seater vehicle we came to town in, we had 5 adults, a teenager, a toddler, and about 2oo kg of maize plus humungous pots. Two of our orphanage staff were going to a family wedding and were responsible for the maize for the event, thus the bags.
While I was sitting in the Internet cafe, the power suddenly went out. It was odd looking out over the market and seeing nothing but two little household fires against the hill, and car lights. Everyone sat and waited very patiently for about 15 minutes, until the power went back on. Apparantly it's not unusual to have such power outages.
Some other things I will need to get accustomed to:
- The Kenyan concept of time: Yesterday, while doing home visits in Kipkaren, we were told it will take just 2 minutes for Eunice to make chai. Keep in mind that she has to go and draw water from the river, most likely, since I didn't see ANY other water source. And then she had to find milk somewhere. Can't imagine she got it anywhere but directly from the cow that was wandering around... Needless to say, it was at least half an hour later by the time the chai showed up.
- The Kenyan concept of distance: After walking for about half an hour (or longer?) yesterday, we walked into someone's yard, and I thought, "Ah! We're here!" I asked Peter, the pastor who accompanied us if this is it. I was informed that we're just passing through someone's yard, and that our destination was "just 200 meters from here." Yip. It was again at least half an hour later that we finallly made it to Eunice's house, and we were walking rather fast along the little dirt passage.
- Kenyan ceremonies: Kenyans celebrate whenever they can. They'll have a guest of honor whenever they can. This morning, for example, we had the official dedication of the new orphanage office, and Laban, the orphanage director, was saying, "Actually, we should be dedicating the washing machine at this time, too. But never mind." One of the pastors (a dorm parent) was asked to say a few words. Then Brian, the guest of honor at this event seeing that his church sponsored the building of the office, had to say a few words. Then 2 people had to pray. Then I had to take a bunch of pictures. And finally, everyone was invited to take a tour of the new office. It was a lot of fun. I was surprised that we didn't all have chai afterwards, too! Believe me, I'm not making fun of this sense of celebration. It's just new to me, and something I'll have to grow accustomed to.
Other highlights of today:
- Spending four hours in the Internet cafe this morning catching up on e-mail and paying KES200 for the time spent. That's less than US$3.
- Finding my way around town. I was able to locate the bank and Nakumatt (a grocery store) by myself. (OK, I asked for directions to Nakumatt, but I was heading the right way!)
- Making myself understood in simple Swahili, saying things like "Where is Rochers?" (Wapi Rochers?) , "See you later!" (tutana nana), and "Again!" (Tena!) - for yet another photo.
- Remembering more and more children's names. I love how their little faces light up when I greet them by name.
- Seeing the kids come running to me shouting, "Adele!" when I walk over to the orphanage. I promptly get at LEAST 10 hugs, if not more, and several invitations to come and visit their dorms. I'll go and read some of the girls a story tomorrow night.
Other interesting facts:
- Right now, Kenya has no official parliament. President Kibaki sacked the entire parliament last Wednesday since he and his party had lost the referendum. Kenya had a referendum to vote on constitutional changes. Those in favor of the changes had to mark the banana on the ballot. Those apposed to the changes had to mark the orange. This system was chosen since the majority of Kenyans are illiterate. So now, you keep hearing about the president warning the oranges not to stage any rallies, or that the bananas are upset... The president was supposed to announce a new parliament today, but there's no news yet of any new appointments.
- This time of year is especially important in Kenyan culture. Young men (anywhere between age 11 and 17) go into the fields for circumcision. They spend up to a month in the field, wearing skins and painting their bodies. They learn all kinds of essential responsibilities. Many churches are stepping in and playing a role in this "manhood training" since traditionally, it's not all good. (Traditionally, they are given lots of alcohol and told no woman can tell them what to do now that they are warriors. This leads to many dropouts from high school, not to mention a habit of consuming alcohol at a young age.)
- Similarly, young girls are taken for female circumcision, a sad and unnecessary practice that occurs in east, central and western Africa. Again, churches are speaking out against this practice and doing training instead in femininity.
I'm learning lots, as you can tell. I love sharing this with you as you are part of this journey.