Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's official!

Well, today was the day. I'm an official Peace Corps Kenya Education Volunteer, I swore to loads of stuff and ate loads of sweets that I regretted almost immediately after.
I guess I'll backtrack since I haven't updated in a while...
Last week was alot of just last minute training and packing and such. It took forever to get all my stuff packed... and as much as I didn't plan to I did bring my bucket... full of books and PC manuals, 2 suitcases, a backpack and a purse with a mosquito net and medical kit hanging off my luggage. Last Friday we had our host family appreciate which was nice, we got free lunch and made fools of ourselves by putting on skits about life in Kenya for the families. I headed back home with my family and exchanged gifts with them and then started the packing process. Peace Corps luggage pick up began Saturday morning and then I caught a ride with family to our hotel in Machakos town and had a SHOWER and I, Cindy, SAT ON A TOILET SEAT. It was wonderful. That night the hotel arranged a really adorable parting dinner for us, they put candles on the table and tried their hand at American food. Sunday morning we loaded our mounds of luggage into the PC vehicle and grabbed a matatu to Nairobi! We've been in Nairobi since then doing trainings and such.
Yesterday we met all our counterparts for the first time. The man that came for me is actually not from the school but from the Parish... so I don't have much information on what i'll actually be teaching, but he's really nice and he's tried to answer all my questions. Ok, so now i'm up to today! I got up this morning and attempted to make myself America beautiful. We took buses over to the ceremony at the second in command under the Ambassador, the house was beautiful and they had loads of sweets out for us after the actual swear in. We've had the rest of the day off and quite honestly I haven't done a thing. I've  been pulled in every direction since we landed here and for the first time I feel like i'm on my own schedule and no one else's. Becoming a Volunteer is kind of like turning 18, suddenly you have loads of freedom and it's just so nice to know you're allowed to do things now. Tonight will most likely be a pretty gigantic "yay we made it through training" party and then we head out tomorrow morning. I'm so excited about finally seeing where i'll live for the next two years and getting in my house and having time to myself and not live out of a suitcase anymore. I'm also nervous that i'll walk in and it'll literally be a giant empty house and i'll need to buy EVERYTHING.... but we'll see. That I can update you on later, but tomorrow I plan to question the heck out of my counterpart on the way to Sega, on the way to home.
Thanks to everyone for all the support i've gotten through training. All the cards and boxes and blog comments and fb messages are what kept me going some days.
Speaking of mail.... for the time being just hold off on sending mail until I get my new address. If you've already sent mail or boxes don't worry, they'll make it to me, it'll just take a tad longer. As soon as I get an address I'll try to get it up on the blog.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A brilliant collection`

So PST is coming to an end (thanks goodness) and I thought i'd recap with a collection of some short stories that you may not have heart yet. I'm not holding anything back this time, so enjoy!
"No one will catch you"
Piki pikis are motorcycle taxis, you've never heard me mention them before because they are against Peace Corps law. My sister was harassing me that I was too scared to ride one and I quickly explained, "if Peace Corps catches me on one, i'll get kicked out, no questions asked." So the next morning i'm walking to town with her and she gets a piki piki and tells me, "get on, the PC won't catch you." Now for those of you who don't know, I live the furthest out of town and I pass about 5 PC houses on the way in... and oh yea there's only 10 white people here, and oh yea i'm one of only 2 blondes. I think i'd get caught. I politely declined.
"Tuk tuks"
Since i'm on the topic of transportation, i'll tell you about tuk tuks. They're taxis. They look like little tilt a whirls with a driver. You drive it like a jet ski. They're quite ridiculous.
"Compromising the bucket"
Due to various digestive issues several people keep buckets in their room just in case it's the middle of the night and they don't have time to unlock 1,000 doors, walk across the yard and get to the choo. I have one bucket, it's for water purification, so it would have to be the most urgent of emergencies for me to use it because I refuse to compromise it's cleanliness. Well, remember the new bakery i told you about? I made one too many stops there Saturday maybe. So i'm talking to Mom on the phone, "no i'll never shit in my bucket, I use it to purify water." At midnight that very night i'm proud to announce I did not shit in my water purification bucket... I did however throw up into it. At least it made it to week 8.
"Close call"
Since i'm on the topic of bodily functions... let me tell you about the time I almost crapped myself. Yea, about ten minutes into my 3 mile walk home I felt the urge. By the time I actually reached the choo I was shuffling and trying to remind myself I was an adult, adults don't crap themselves. I did make it, just barely, and I was overwhelmed with pride in myself.
"The insanity factor"
My family thinks i'm nuts... and rightfully so. Because of the communication barrier almost everything I say turns into a game of scherades. I also sing along to the Safaricom commercial and have told them numerous times I should have been chose as the lead singer for it.
"The hunger factor"
I'm always hungry here. The food normally lacks nutritional value and therefore doesn't stick with me. It's quite annoying and makes me mad, so people tend to stay away if they know i'm hungry. I turn into the Hulk. This is not an exaggeration.
"So you wanna know about the cow"
So I kind of told you in passing but I got chased by a cow. It was Thanksgiving day and I'm walking down the street with another trainee, Karl, and also flashing someone in America. So i'm counting the rings and Karl is all, "there's a cow on the loose, there's a cow on the loose." He was so calm, so I just ignored him and then hung up the phone. The minute I look up I see several Kenyan children and adults running and flailing their arms in the air, as we cross to the other side of the street I see it. There is a cow on the loose! It's running full speed towards anything it thinks it can trample. Luckily Karl found us a spot on the other side of a drainage ditch that the cow couldn't cross over, but it did head towards us anyway until  it saw the ditch, then it went on chasing some kid that probably instigated being chased by a cow. Anyway, once everything was settled, about 3 minutes later the cow owner comes running down the street, full speed, "where's my cow?!!" Now you know the cow story.
"The new crab chip"
Mom sent Old Bay (Thanks Mom) and people have started trying it and i've been carrying it around with me and putting it on french fries which in africa are called chips. Crab chips.
Old Bay tastes like home.
"Mzungu monologues"
So I renamed my blog. Mzungu is the word used here to describe you or get your attention if you're rich and/or white. We hear it all day long. Most days i'll hear it in the distance, the high pitched yell "MZUUUUNGUUUUU" usually it's some kid halfway up a mountain looking down at me and waving.
"Activities for boredom"
If you're bored and would like a taste of life in Kenya, may I suggest the following activities..
Try to wash your clothes in a bucket
Try to go #2 while hovering over a toilet seat, it's harder than you think, but my legs are getting pretty strong.
Try to hover over a toilet seat, hold and umbrella, hold your skirt up, and not touch anything around you, and oh yea, close your eyes, there's no light in the choo, silly!
"Standards of cleanliness"
So it was evident almost the moment I arrived that things being clean would matter to me less and less. Most of us are happy if our clothes touch a bucket with soap. Once I flipped my sheets over and deemed it clean sheet day. I've also almost completely given up on ever getting my feet clean again.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Down in Africa

Hello to all! I finally finished model school yesterday! I think in all I taught 13 lessons this week. It was exhausting but really beneficial, I think all of us are more comfortable with teaching now. So tomorrow begins week 8 of our training. I'm guessing its going to be a variety of information they just forgot to tell us in the last 7 weeks. wow, 7 weeks i've been here... doesn't feel like it at all.
In other news, we just got a new grocery store in Machakos town! It's beautiful! I've been trying to get there all week but I wasn't able to make my first trip until this morning. It's I think 4 floors but right now only the first 2 are open. It also had a bakery!!! When I walked in I could smell it, it smelled just like Mom's kitchen when she makes chocolate chip cookies. I literally almost cried right there in the market. It's like a little slice of America. I got a chocolate muffin, it was warm... still tasted like it was made in Africa unfortunately but it was one of the better pastries i've eaten here.
Before I forget i'm going to add to my list of  interesting things about Kenya list:
They name buses and matatus the way Americans name boats, but weird stuff like Speedbird, and Mac Master
Apparently weddings here last 8 hours. There's no dancing or alcohol so I don't know what they do but when I find out i'll be sure to let you know.
The food/drinks here have far less ingredients than in America. No lie, the ingredients listed on my peanut butter jar are as follows: peanuts, salt. the end.
If you drink beer from the bottle, you're a prostitute
if you wear jeans, you're a prostitute.
i might be a prostitute.
Okay, I also started learning Kiswahili. It's going well so far and it's really helping me communicate with my grandmother at home. That's all I have to say about that.
The plan is to move out of home stay next Saturday and stay the night in a hotel that night and then head to Nairobi Sunday sometime. We'll train there for a few days and then we officially swear in next Wednesday! Thursday we leave with our Kenyan counterparts and travel to our sites!
P.S.- We got our PC cookbooks recently and i've been torturing myself by reading it pretty much everyday, I can't wait to cook my own non kenyan food.
I'm so excited to get to site but at the same time, every time I go home and walk in my room all I can think is "look at all this crap you have to pack up Cindy"
Well that's all for now. Oh! Wait, I forgot to tell you I was chased by a cow, yep, a cow, on Thanksgivng day. Never a dull moment. Hope all is well in America!
Happy Birthday Chuck!
Oh and I titled this blog this because I heard "bless the rains" on the radio in Africa...priceless (Ashley please relay this information to Phyllis, i'm sure she'll think it's funny)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A quick update!

Hello all! It's been over a week since I posted I know! I'm sorry. I'm probably just going to list out how things are going since I'm limited on time today, but I really want to let people know what's going on!

So Thanksgiving was great, we went to Loitokitok and saw the other part of our group which was great! We camped there at their hub location and it poured rain so all my stuff got wet including my camera.... which now is pretty much not functional which is a bummer but hopefully I can buy a new one in Nairobi at swear in. We'll see. We lucked out and got a ride with the pc vehicle on the way there so we only had to pay for the camping and return trip!!!

We started mock school this week. The kids are on break but some of them volunteered to stay behind so we could pretend to be real teachers and actually teach stuff so everyday we've been teaching 2 lessons a day to different levels of classes on different topics. So far i'm finding English to be the hardest to teach and the books here are almost impossible to lesson plan out of, but i'm really enjoying myself and I feel like the kids are really learning something. I challenge myself every class to make sure I have something interactive and something visual. Tomorrow i'm teaching a lesson on personal finance and am thinking about setting up stations where they will spend money and figure out how to budget. we'll see how that goes. Today I did a lesson on Tourism and it's effect on Kenya's economy and they seemed to grasp everything. We also have current volunteers here observing and they've been giving really helpful feedback.

Last night we did taco night at myhouse. I would call it a successful disaster.... tacos were eaten, they didn't taste that great but they weren't awful either. I made baked pineapple, it didn't set properly but it was delicous anyway.

Sorry the typing is awful, this keyboard is ridiculous.

Anyway, all is well here, we have exactly 2 weeks until swear in and i'm going strong, if I can make it through taco night, I can make it through anything.

If you\re still sending mail, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, there is alot I think that isn't making it here so... what we get is already limited sometimes. And to the group that I just found out sent a box THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! It is MUCH appreciated.

And to the people that are still reading this ridiculous blog, THANK YOU for your continued support, the blogs will get better when I have more time to write them before hand, I promise! Happy December everyone!

Thanks for reading! Stay warm!