I'm wiped. No, really. I can't believe I'm typing an update right now, but while the 1,500 or so photos of the wedding are being transferred onto my computer, I might as well do something productive.
The wedding was really nice. And really long. It started at 10, which really threw the Kenyans for a loop. It was supposed to start at 9, but a wedding that's supposed to start at 9 usually starts around noon. However, this one started at 1o. Many, many of the 1,200 or so guests showed up AFTER the vows had been exchanged. From around noon till 5 (you read right, a whole 5 hours), one line from the program took place. "Community welcomes bride and groom. Gifts." Something like that. One group after another came up. Ladies sang songs. People danced. And over and over Michelle was welcomed into the community. In between all that, people ate. And sang more. It really was an amazingly warm celebration.
Then just 40 or so guests went to Kerio View for a smaller reception. A more Western one, where the bride could have a dance with her dad (and with the groom, of course.) The usually very modest Kenyans really liked the Western tradition of tapping on the glasses to get the bride and groom to kiss. And they, too, danced. Western style. They laughed really hard. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought some people had had too much to drink. But there was no alcohol. Everyone was simply having a wonderful time.
It was 11 pm by the time I walked into my home in Ilula. By 7 am, I headed out the door again. I picked up Mama Chiri and the Sifuna kids. First, we dropped my colleague Juli off at the airport. This in and of itself was an incredible experience for the kids. They saw and airplane land, and kept saying, "Ni mrefu sana!" (It's SO BIG!) And just about every truck we passed, or every billboard, they commented on how very big it is...
They sat in the back of my big car and stared at the world outside. "Ona!" (See!) and smile from ear to ear as they showed one another new things along the way. (See the truck. See the bicycle. See the Masai on the billboard. See that truck is actually TWO trucks (i.e. a truck and a trailer.) See that Kenyan mama drive a car!"
We bought their school uniforms and new school shoes. Their expressions constantly went somewhere between being in total awe at all they're seeing and experiencing, and total excitement about the fact that all the clothes I was buying was THEIRS, and they're going to start school in just 3 weeks.
Then we drove to Poa Place, an outdoors restaurant/playground. While Mama Chiri and I had chai, the three kids discovered for the first time in their lives how it feels to go down a slide, or to bounce on a see-saw. Then they noticed the pool... I think they stood and stared for 10 minutes solid at the pool. "Is that really all water?" They had never seen anything like it. They had never seen anyone swim. They were amazed!
When some ELI staff kids (who just happened to be at the pool) came to ask me about a ride on the swings, I took them all over for the biggest thrill, swinging high in the sky on chain swings. Their mouths were frozen into a permanent smile by the time they got down. This lasted through them having lunch and playing some more before heading back to town.
"What will you be telling your dad and Kiprono?" I asked them. Jemutai's eyes were huge, as if to say, "I have no idea where to start!"
That's kind of the way I feel about wading through all the wedding photos now...