Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday morning

As I walked to my house from the office where I had been working till late, a soft rain was falling. Crickets were singing and it was as if the earth was singing hallelujahs.

I am not exaggerating. Having an intense drought currently, there's nothing like a soft, penetrating rain shower. In South Africa there's a special term for such rain. It's called kiza. I bet there's a special Kalinjin or Swahili word for it, too. I'll find out.

I need to head to town today to buy milk.

Seriously, some days I smile at the journey to get something simple such as milk.
The first 3 kilometers (about a mile and a half) is the challenging part with deep ruts in the gravel road and in some places, large rocks. To get to town, you drive north, past the school, past Mama Chiri's shamba, past Ben's hut (a Kenyan runner who competes internationally), past a gate and a hut where the kids run and wave every single time you drive by (I think it's their daily entertainment), past a big house owned by a Kenyan who works for a big NGO, until you reach the end of the road where a footpath trickles off to the east (along this road lives several of the older ladies from our church) and there's a small road heading further north to a person's farm.

You turn left (west) for a pretty bad stretch of road. Past the worst part of the road is a really smooth stretch which I love. It's the only spot where you can speed up a bit. I'm told that smooth stretch becomes treacherously slippery during the rainy season.

You cross a little bridge of sorts and turn north again for a very bumpy stretch of road, past a really big house with a really high security fence. I think it belongs to an Indian. Now you have to make sure you stay on the high road--there are ditches everywhere. You slow down to a crawl, and once again kids come running, waiving and shouting "How ah youuuuu?" in unison. I always wave back and smile. You keep going till you reach the end of this road, where someone is digging out huge rocks on the side of the road. Rocks I'm contemplating getting for my rock garden. But that's another matter.

Once again, you turn west, and along this stretch, there are almost always sheep grazing in the road. At the end of the 200-meter stretch is a large ditch on either side of the road, and I always wonder how you get past that spot when heavy rain has fallen.

As you turn north, there are several homes since you're getting close to the main road. There are also several churches, as well as a little shop where a lady sells some vegetables and cans of coal for fires. The road widens as you approach the tarmac and you have to wind around rather big rocks. To the east is a patch of papyrus grass and a swampy area where you can have your car washed. Since there are also rocks, it's safe to drive right into the water and take a big step onto the nearest rock to get out of the car and watch.

Just another 50 feet or so, and you're on the main road. Smooth tarmac all the way into town.

Obviously, you plan town visits carefully. It's not a simple "Will someone run to Hy-Vee to pick up some milk?" if you forget something...

If there was something like Papa Jon's Pizza out here (which there isn't), I don't think they'd deliver to our village. If they would, every pizza would be a calzone by the time you got to Ilula.

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