Friday, November 18, 2011

Just another day in paradise

Hello all!
So I've decided to try and avoid getting so back logged on my blog... blog-logged if you will. I'm going to jot down things I'd like to include in it, add to it through the week and try to post on Fridays.
This way I don't forget about all the smalls things that I don't mention once I wait a month to update everyone! It's a win win and I'm going to give it my best effort!

Cindy Cow
This giant pregnant cow has been grazing all over the church compound for several months, she literally would take up my entire house if I could fit her through the door.... or my window, once she tried to eat my curtain through the window.
Last week she gave birth to two beautiful calves (which will eventually grow older and be ugly normal cows, but for now they're REALLY cute), one boy and one girl. I have been informed that the female has been named Cindy. I now refer to her as Cindy cow so people don't think I'm referring to myself in the third person when I talk about how much weight she's gained.
I had the pleasure of meeting her about 16 hours after birth, that's right, she still had birth gunk on her rump!
I'm her namesake indeed. She is extremely stubborn and loves to eat.... she got a hold of my skirt, which I'm glad to say survived.
Since then, I have spotted the man that cares for the livestock have to physically pick up Cindy cow and move her to where he wants her to go because she simply won't go somewhere just because someone smacks her rear and yells a little. When I see this man struggle to carry this calf, first I smile, because it's just delightful, then I think, I wonder how much longer he's gonna be able to carry that cow. Finally, I wonder, how does he still have all his clothes? I met her for ten minutes and if she'd had her way I'd a left that place naked.

Word Seepage
Although I will be the first to tell you.... scratch that the first to tell you would be my Kiswhaili tutor, I'd be the second to tell you I am not fluent in Kiswahili, or the local language here. Even though I am not fluent doesn't mean that some things don't just seep into my normal conversations anyway. When I write emails or talk to people from home I analyze almost every sentence before it comes out to make sure it doesn't contain Swahili or some other interesting lanugage mannerism i've picked up since being here. These things most often include the word “pole” which means sorry and truly covers the whole spectrum of things from tripping on a rock to the death of a loved one or spilling your milk. It's a great word and eliminates any feelings of awkwardness or inferiority when faced with a situation where you just don't know what to say because you can't relate.
Another thing, I hadn't even picked up on until one of our new trainees realized it is ending almost every sentence or question with “yea?” When he said this we happened to be eating breakfast and quite honestly I kind of blew him off and thought, “i've never heard myself do that.”
…. fast forward about 8 seconds.... I turn to a fellow volunteer, “So it was just the math science people that met for that yea?”
As soon as the word flopped out of my mouth everyone realized how often we say it without even realizing. My current theory is that we are misunderstood so many times that we want to check for understanding or at least make sure a person realizes a question has been posed. Since then I've realized sometimes I give them both options, I'll pose a question and end with “yea or no?”
This is a very limited list of the words that have “slowly by slowly” oozed into my normal speaking patterns and I know I won't even pick up on most of it until I'm back in America saying things like “even me!” or “I'll just pick it later.”

Future Careers
Due to the way our school schedule is set up it allows me quite a bit of free time which I suppose is a blessing and a curse. Based on things I do in my free time and things I do during my school day I believe I would be able to move very laterally and smoothly into the following careers, mind you these are in no special order:
Movie critic
Food critic
Some type of warden at the loony bin
Some type of resident at the loony bin
Corrections officer
Body double
Secret Agent
Designer of skirts that never come higher than two inches below the knee

Dead body day
Okay, maybe not the most diplomatic way to word that, but I found it the most entertaining. Living in a big town has its perks... as i've already mentioned, cereal, and also we have a mortuary. Now I haven't been to a Luo funeral as of yet but I know that they are quite an affair and I know when they come pick the bodies. Friday. The day that normal marks my weekend and puts a smile on my face because I have time to clean and cook good food... on my way home from grabbing groceries or sometime during the school day or even when I'm just at home I can hear them coming. Usually it is one or two vehicles full of the men and women that cared about the deceased blaring music, singing, and beating tamborines to no specific rhythm. They back their truck up into the mortuary (We have a sign coming into to town boasting “Sega Mortuary with freezer”) and retrieve the body. During the process, onlookers crowd the street to watch the transfer until it's complete or until they grow bored and go home. The truck with its singers and professional tambourinists then leaves and carries the body to it's eternal resting place.... actually I think it makes several stops first.

Character Synopsis
I realized I've been here a year and very rarely mentioned the people that play a daily role in my life here. Therefore, I've decided to include a character synopsis each week.
Juma is the cook on our church compound... the cook and so much more. I don't know his job title but he does pretty much everything. He is also more than willing to help me with anything that I need or answer any questions that I have. Also, he brings food to Viper every night. This man is always smiling and always in a good mood and making jokes. I am more than appreciative to have him here because he's the last person I see in my day and he is just so friendly and can usually say something ridiculous enough to make me laugh. He also finds the saga of Cindy vs. goose extremely entertaining. I'm not sure if this story has been told but in the first few months I was here, this is an exact conversation I had with him:
“Juma, that goose is evil and it hates me. I named it Satan.”
“The goose? It doesn't like you?”
“No, it chases me. I think you should kill it and feed it to the priest for dinner.”
“I can't kill it. It's here for security.”
“I thought that's what we had all the dogs for..”
“Yes, but the goose is meaner than any of the dogs.”

Enjoy your weekend and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Scrambled Eggs

I worked on a blog several weeks ago and never posted it so here it is, followed by my new blog. It's been a long time this time.

I remember being a kid. People would say, “I wish I could bottle that energy” or, “If I had even half that amount of energy.” I thought that energy would last forever, as if it were some gift that only I was blessed with. I was wrong. Dead wrong. I find myself wishing I had as much energy as my students... or even half as much... dare I say i'd like to bottle it! What's next? “Because I said so.” I know it's coming.

Shoes... not so helpful
So, several months ago I broke my sandals playing with the kids and began wearing my beaded flip flops. In an intense unit wide soccer game I broke my flip flops too.... worth it (my team won).
I went hiking with a few fellow volunteers 2 Sundays ago. It was a good time but regrettably I fell like 6 times. Tennis shoe traction isn't all its cracked up to be I guess.
On the bright side, all my shoes are fixed now. Thank you, Kenya for being able to fix ANYTHING.

Monsoon run
I went running with Viper a few days ago and left about a half an hour later than usual but thought it would be fine since I didn't see any sign of rain. Well.... about a half mile from home it started to drizzle a bit but I didn't sweat it because normally it drizzles for a while before the real rain comes. Well.... it didn't. It drizzled for about 3 minutes before just letting it's bottom out. For half a mile Viper and I ran through torrential downpours and returned home soaked to the bone. I literally had to ring out everything I was wearing when I got home. I was pretty okay with it but Viper was a total diva about it. She kept shaking off and making this whining noise. She tried to run underneath of bushes to shelter herself from the rain. Since my Ipod did not get water damage, i'd say it was an amusing and kind of fun experience except the rain pelting against my face and eyeballs didn't feel good and my shoes took days to dry. In the spirit of optimism 2 days later I left almost an hour earlier for a run with Viper ad we not only got hit with rain but with hale.... It's hard to escape this type of preciptation when you're in the middle of nowhere miles from any kind of shelter. Ow.

Exciting new things.
1)There is a new flavor of Sunlight washing powder, mixed berry. I bought it!
  1. A new sponge
  2. Different brand of soy chunks... a lot better!
  3. Chicken flavoring powder is now sold in my banking town except going all the way to Kisumu
Overall, yay for all these things.

Random tid bits:
The man at the post office is out to get me
The right burner on my stove doesn't work. Hasn't worked for months. I tried to fix it several times, by fix I mean set myself on FIRE.
My sheets will never ever be clean.
I will punish any future children of mine by making them wash their sheets in a bucket.
I make a to do list everyday and maybe 1/3 of it gets done.
I feel like all I ever do is dishes.

On to new things:

Out of the closet fan
I've always been a fan of Celine Dion... a lot of people probably don't know this about me, but it's oh so true. In America you are kind of a disgrace to admitting to Celine Dion fanhood. Things are different in Kenya, they worship her here and it's thrilling. I am very out loud about my love for Celine Dion.
When I was in college and would drive home I used to turn on a Celine Dion CD at the Bay Bridge and then I would get home just before the CD would end. Now everytime I hear one of her songs I am reminded of being on my way home and the bridge I've crossed oh so many times and the convenience of driving my own car. I love Celine Dion. Judge me if you dare.

The power of scrambled eggs and toast
As far back as I can remember I had scrambled eggs and toast everytime I was sick. My mom made the best scrambled eggs they were fluffy and buttery and filled with love and pity for her sick child. Anytime I've been any kind of sick here in Kenya (including being home sick) I make scrambled eggs and toast.... still works like a charm.

Matatu Anatomy
I know i've mentioned matatus a few times and any volunteer in Kenya can probably tell you hundreds of matatu related stories. For my next story to make sense however you'll need to know the basics of these matatus. First of all, they are different everywhere you go but here in Nyanza and Western provinces we are known or overfilling them to the point where people are hanging off on the outside which is such a common site that it doesn't even phase me anymore. Generally speaking though, in my area our matatus have the two seats next to the driver and then seperated by a bar is the first row of 3 seats followed by another row of 3 split so there is an aisle to get to the seats behind. The one seat closest to the door is generally off limits because that is where the tout/conductor/the man that snaps his fingers at you for money sits. If you are lucky enough to be sitting in the aisle sometimes they'll give you a board to lay across the two actual seats you sit between to rest your tooshy on, if there is no board you just spread your butt cheeks as far as you an in order to have a part of each one on a part of the seats you sit between. Pleasant. The very back where you lift up what Americans would call a trunk is referred to as the “boot.”
This past weekend I had the pleasure of travelling to a fellow PCV's site for a student's camp to spread our knowledge about various topics. On my travel back I was on a matatu that was what we refer to as a shuttle, this means it has the first row of 3 seats and then the second row of the seats is uninterrupted but the seat closest to the window lifts forward to allow access to the last row of 3 seats. I was lucky enough to be seated as the 4th person in this back row of 3 seats. Once we started moving I realized the tout was nowhere to be found. Odd. Maybe the driver would be collecting our money once we reached our destination? I leaned forward and rested my eyes for a few minutes when I heard a tap on the ceiling... usually a sign it was someone's stop and they wish to alight. I looked around and realized the person who had tapped the ceiling was indeed the tout who had apparently been lying down in the boot of the shuttle the whole time and I just never realized.

So our term is coming to a close. This week I'm off everyday but Friday so the class 8 students can take their KCPE. Next week we will have exams and call it the end of a school year.
I hear a lot of people say they feel like they aren't making a difference or they aren't really needed but I can truly say that in one way or another all of my students have improved since the day I met them. This doesn't mean all of them will be passing this year, but even behaviorly they have come a long way.
I can't believe I've finished an entire school year. It blows my mind that this time next year i'll be packing my bags and saying my goodbyes. It's going to come faster than I realize I'm sure of it. Whatever happens I can say I will never regret being here and when I leave I will always miss it. I will undoubtedly leave a piece of my heart in this house and with those kids.
It's also an interesting thought to say this will be my last Christmas in Kenya. Once we get past Thanksgiving I will have only one more of each holiday in Kenya and when I think of it that way it doesn't seem that long at all.

As I write this....
I used to have this wonderful wicker chair. I loved it and sat in it outside to do work and just relax. Viper also loved this chair.... so much so that she sat in it enough that her evil talon like claws wrecked it completely and it is now missing all the wicker where my butt would be. At the moment I have a cushion from another chair in my house on it.... however I've just realized the back part is just as broken as the butt part. Tragic. My butt hurts.

The major supermarket here in Sega is called “Mamalizz.” Mama Lizz and I have been on good terms since I arrived in Sega. I am always welcome in her store and greeted by her and everyone on staff by my name which is nice. Mama lizz has been expanding her store and has recently been getting in some exciting new products. Within the past few months I've seen the addition of red bull, powder deodorant, chocolate bars, and now that's right CORNFLAKES. I HAVE CEREAL.
The cornflakes just showed up yesterday and I bought them. She asked if I liked them and since it's some weird Kenyan brand I told her I didn't know but I would try them. I was in town today again so I dropped in just to pick up a few unnecessary items and mentioned how nice the cornflakes are. Mama Lizz proceeded to tell me she just wanted to see if she could sell them but if I'm buying them she will keep them in stock.
I've told various people, I think she keeps track of what I buy and for several items in her store, I think I might be the only person in town that buys them... after today however, I may be wrong. One other person in town bought a box of cornflakes.
Any way you slice it, I'm thrilled at her expanding, I'm needing less and less things from the city... and have now gotten to the point where there is almost nothing I can't get in her store... except for white person hair products, none of that YET.

That's all for now, I hope everyone at home is doing well and I am going to make a conscious effort to blog more, especially since my internet has become more stable.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mbwa kai and my new fear

“mbwa kali” is the sign you'd post if you had a dog like.... well like viper. Most people in town are aware of her reputation and steer clear. We were walking through a pack of school kids yesterday and it was like watching the red sea be parted. That being said, the other animals refuse to give her such a wide berth. She taunts them and be it a cow, a goat, or another dog if they take her down, I’ll go down with her. Though I do not look forward to this event, I know its what my future holds.
As part owner of this delightful creature you'd think I’d be used to her but I’m not. The other night when they brought her food I was going to open the gate and she literally ran right into my legs. I fell. I fell HARD. I actually thought I may have fractured my elbow but in reality I probably just landed hard right on a nerve. How do I now this? I have 20 doctors at my disposal...

My refusal to believe science teachers are not doctors
My apparent requirement for medical professionals is that they have some science background. No matter what category medical issue I have, I decided which volunteer (if they were a doctor) has that specialty and give em a ring and expect a diagnosis. Usually I call Ryan because she worked at an animal hospital. QUALIFIED! If you can surgerize a dog you can certainly diagnose my symptoms over the phone. Yes, several people have expressed to me that just because they teach science it doesn't mean they know medicine. They're lying. I keep calling.

Strike off
As some of you know, Kenya’s teachers went on strike for the first week of the term. I thought that meant I’d get stuff done. I was wrong. I accomplished approximately nothing. We;re officially back now but as far as my class is concerned we won't resume classes until next week when I have all my rugrats show up. I have a new discipline chart for this term that I have high hopes for, I’ll let you know how badly it crashes and burns.

Fair price
Going to town is not normally the highlight of my day. There's always kids being rude and lets not get into the issue of the blazing equatorial sun. But! The other day I was there with my new market lady and she gave me everything for local price AND gave me two free limes y’all! I love her. Seriously. I almost cried.

Kenya's Alaska
we have a volunteer from Alaska and I went to her site in the Rift Valley for a week of language training. I didn't know Kenya could get so cold. I froze... the whole week. Do you know how bizarre it is to be able to see your breath in Africa? Really bizarre.

A heartfelt farewell
It's hard to imagine or explain being such close friends with people I haven't even known a year yet. I feel like I’ve known some of these people my entire life. Some argue seeing other volunteers helps them keep a grip on their sanity. Seeing other volunteers helps me cling to my insanity which is exponentially more important in my eyes. Anyway, when they leave it sucks. A good friend of mine left last week and I’m jealous America gets to have him now. Without this kid I’m not entirely sure I would have survived training. Anyway, to Karl: you'll be sorely missed by all. See you on the other side.

A few quick thoughts:
  • the other day I was almost done hanging my laundry and the entire line snapped in two dragging all my clothes into the dirt.
  • I took Viper to the lake to rinse off and when she got out she was at least twice as filthy as when she got it.
  • Did I tell you a red pen exploded on my bed? My sheets look like a crime scene.
  • Lime makes everything better
  • I think my students consider gym class to be punishment for something. It's funny.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Hello All! I'd like to start by wishing my Mom a Happy Birthday! Sorry I'm gonna miss this one.

I'm sure you're all just on the edge of your seats to hear about my vacation. Buckle up! This will probably be one of the longest blogs yet!

So in a very serious attempt to save limited vacation days I chose to fly from my side of the country out to the coast to meet my visitors from America. It was a very nerve-wracking trip as I've never really had to navigate any Kenyan airports. I survived though. I arrived way before I needed to at the Kisumu airport which is approximately the size of my gynecologist's office and waited patiently before it was time to walk out about the distance of a football field to board the aircraft. I will say, the Kenyan flight attendants give the most accurate demonstration of flotation devices and such, so I appreciated that.

In true Kenyan style, we left late which means we arrived late. Originally I had a 40 minute layover in Nairobi before my flight to the coast to pick up my checked backpack because the airport staff in Kisumu didn't think the bag would make it on to my next flight in time. When we landed I was 15 minutes into the boarding of my next flight. I anxiously tapped my foot on the floor to will my backpack to show up on the carousel and once it finally did I grabbed it and ran like a maniac and immediately boarded my next flight.

Once I arrived in Mombasa I had about an hour before the other flight got in so I sat down and had a sandwich and admittedly went to the bathroom and primped so people wouldn't know I came straight out of the village (not sure it worked, but the effort was there).

Their flight was delayed. Big surprise.

After about 2 hours their flight landed and I was the first person lined up outside the international arrivals door as people flooded past one by one reuniting with family and friends. I continued to wait as the flow of people came to a slow trickle, convinced every person coming through the door was there to see me, but none of them were. The airline staff came and closed the arrivals door. I literally had no words,I just stared at the door in enough shock that it made the man ask me if there was a problem. I looked up at him and asked “Is that everyone off the plane?”
“Yes, ma'am”
“Everyone? Like, there is no one left?”
“Yes, is there a problem?”
“Yea, my friends were supposed to be on that flight”
“From Ehtiopia?”
“Yes from Ethiopia.”
So I sat for a hot minute thinking of what to do since I have no contact information for anyone and just as I give up hope they came walking through the door. Apparently, one of them had left duty free alcohol on the aircraft and needed to go back and get it. I won't mention names.

Anyway, I brought them to one of the fancy (and by fancy I mean a total dump that is affordable to volunteers) hotels in Mombasa for the night and we toured Ft. Jesus which was pretty interesting.

The next day they got their first taste of Kenya, we ventured out with all our luggage to find a matatu to bring us to the resort they had reserved which none of us had a clue to it's actual location. Turns out there are about 80 roads that lead to this place and 2 different signs. We learned fast from our mistakes.

The resort was beautiful, but we spent most of our time out and about so they could get a feel for what Kenya is really like. We did snorkeling in Watamu and took a trip to a local town so they could try Ugali and Sukuma. We were also able to take a quick trip and visit a friend of mine in Kilifi and have dinner on the Indian Ocean. Overall, that week went by waaaay too fast. I probably could have just lived at the resort. It had a bathtub! And two bathrooms! It was wonderful and I was not too thrilled to leave.

When we did leave, we took a luxurious (and by luxurious I mean crappy) bus to Nairobi. I think in total it took us about 10 hours and a ton of music to get there. On the bright side, I haven't heard much new music from America, so Steets was nice enough to let me listen together with him on his fancy whatchamacallit that's a phone and a music player and I'm not sure what else, but I asked and it does not make belgian waffles which was a pretty big disappointment.

That night we ate a famous restaurant called Carnivore which is a lot like that brazilian place where they basically just walk around with meat on sticks and plop it on your plate. YUM! We had tons of different kinds of meat including camel, crocodile, lamb, pork, chicken, ostrich etc. Regrettably we all ate way too much but it really took it's toll on the two of us girls since neither of us were hungry when we showed up. We paid for it later. Actually, in the middle of the night Lindsay got in bed and said, “I just threw up 3 times.” In the morning we were trying to decide if she had thrown up or if she had dreamt it. Apparently, it did in fact happen because Steets checked the door and all the locks were locked by the door wasn't shut all the way.

We started the next day bright and early... earlier than planned actually. The safari was due to pick us up at our hotel at 7:30 and they called at 7:00 to tell us they were waiting outside. Lindsay and I were still moaning and groaning in bed. After shoving everything in our bags and shuffling outside we headed off for our safari!

When we arrived at Masaii Mara we had an hour to settle in to our tents and meet back for our night safari. The tents were very spacious and by very spacious I mean not spacious at all but surprisingly no one in our group complained... including me! It was basically I small army looking tent but they set up real beds in it which really cut down the space, but we were able to throw stuff under the beds.

Luckily we were teamed up with 4 real cool Canadian kids who have been volunteering here for about 6 weeks and were about to go home. By the time we left for our safari it was raining which made it really difficult for picture taking, but we did see a myriad of animals including lions! Yea, we practically stalked them.

We started our full day safari the next day and saw tons of other animals. The weather was absolutely beautiful and in total we saw all the big 5 except for the leopard. Also, since it's August we're in the midst of the Wildebeast migration so there were MILLIONS of wildebeast just hangin around all the time. We also came right up on a cheetah that was just chillin in the sun. We were about 10 feet away from it in our vehicle, apparently though, the animals are so used to the safari vehicles coming through that they just act like giant house cats... though none of us ventured out to pet it or give it kibble.

After a morning safari the next day we headed with a different group of people for a short excursion to Lake Nakuru which was absolutely beautiful. The views were just beautiful and there were monkeys all over the place. We actually witnessed a woman get bit by one which was probably the highlight of the day. Do not feed the animals. Monkeys are cute, but i'll be honest, they scare the ever loving shit out of me. They are bold, and carry rabies ya'll. I'm not taking any chances thank you, I'll keep my distance and use the zoom on my camera.

And so we started our travel back to Nairobi and before they could even leave I missed them. I begged them to stay. They declined, but did offer me a space in their giant yellow suitcase in case I wanted to escape, I declined. They also both vowed they wouldn't eat Chipotle until I got home which I thought was a very sweet gesture because misery loves company :-). Maybe it will be even harder for them since they actually have access to them? We'll see.

Anyway, we ran into a few volunteer friends of mine in Nairobi and went out for Ethiopian which turned out to be a bigger hit than I expected... thankfully.

The following day their flight went out in the afternoon, so before they left we squeezed in breakfast and a trip to the giraffe center. I got a kiss from a giraffe! I was told that was a possibility but I kind of just thought they loved humans so much they'd just lean over and kiss me, but there's actually quite a bit of bribing involved and you have to hold a pellet of their food between your lips and they grab it out with their enormous sandpaper tongues. They were soft and looked just like the one from toys r us. It was wonderful.

I left the two of them at the airport after several more failed attempts at getting them to stay and headed to the train station for my ride home.

Now. I've never taken the train before and new forms of transportation make me anxious (which won't be an issue anymore now that i've traveled by every means possible in this country) and therefore didn't really know what to expect or how long it would take. The bus takes about 9 hours so I figured the train left at 6:30 pm and we'd be there pretty early in the morning. I was wrong.

I decided to travel first class which is something I never do, but I figured it'd be a nice way to end my vacation. It took me about 20 minutes to get myself on the right part of the train in the right compartment and it's not like there's anything to do so I just kind of sat there... with the door like half open. I don't know the protocal, obviously. Anyway, the train manager came in to inform me it would be 15 hours of travel and dinner would be served at 8. Thanks. I did everything I possibly could to keep myself awake until 8 which turned into 9 which turned into me almost smacking my face into a plate of food out of exhaustion. After I made it back to my compartment and got the door locked I slept pretty well except I kept dreaming the door kept sliding open and shut because the lock didn't work (which was not true, it was pure paranoia). We also stopped at every single station between Nairobi and Kisumu which made sleeping slightly difficult but I did feel somewhat refreshed when I woke up. I was able to walk from the train to the bus station and catch the next ride to my site.

Finally, i'm home and I haven't done hardly anything. I thought I was kidding when I told my friends I was going to sleep for a week after I got back. It took me almost twice as long to get about half of my laundry done because there was so much of it. Beyond that I haven't done much that I would categorize as “productive.” Oh well.

The running water here is still non existent which is confusing considering how much it's been raining, but those 2 months of running water were wonderful while I had them. I have just about 2 weeks before school starts again and I'll be spending another week out of site for a language immersion that I'm actually pretty excited about, except for having to be away from my site... again.

Alright well if you made it through that whole thing without sleeping, congratulations and as always thanks for reading!!!

Also, thanks again to Steets and Lindsay for coming to visit, I had a great time and I'll see you at Chipotle in a year and a half!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yep, I'm still in Kenya

Um, hey! So I am still alive! Again, i've been collecting blogs like smashed pennies and here they are, most of them are short. I've got another coast vacation coming up so stay tuned, i'll try to document this one better, I promise! Hope everyone at home is enjoying your long awaited beach time!
Bathus Interruptus

Since Viper technically belongs to the Catholic Church, the cook on the compound normally brings dinner for her between 8 and 9. I either bath before or after this hour so I can be ready when the cook comes to open the garden gate. The other day I chose to bathe early around 7:15 because we lost electricity and I didn't think we'd get it back. Once my hair was fully shampooed and my face was fully face washed, I hear Viper making her usual ruckous because the cook had arrived with her food. I threw a robe on and proudly walked out covered in soap so the dog could have his dinner. I went back to bathing in the dark and about 20 minutes later the electricity came back on.

Land ho

So our little Unit was able to buy the land we wanted! On the last day of school we took the kids on a field trip to check out their future home. It was so exciting for everyone, it was like watching dreams come true. This is such a huge step for the Deaf community in this district and I can't wait for further progress! To finally have a place to call our own I think changes everyone's attitude about things. They've told me they're going to name a dorm after me... I hope that's not true. I've heard tell of one girl who had her whole face painted on the side of a building. I'd rather not deal with either of those things.

Grey Goose
The goose and I are still not seeing eye to eye. That's all I'll say. I'm the bigger person.

African Sunset
So I have the pleasure of seeing the sunset in Africa everyday, because, let's face it... I cannot drag my butt out of bed early enough for a sunrise. Normally in the evening I take Viper out for a jog and once I get about 2 kilometers out of town we take a turn onto the path that goes around the airfield. In the distance are the most beautiful mountains being lit by the most beautiful sunset.
It's tough to be here, but everyday that something bad happens i experience at least one beautiful or awesome thing that turns it around again... just like anywhere I suppose.

Another compromised bucket
Normally after bathing I bring my bucket inside, but for whatever reason last week I left it in the bathroom. I was extremely grateful for this laziness on Thursday because it was the first time in a very long time that i've needed a toilet and a bucket at the same time. Yet another bucket compromised. P.S. i use the previously compromised bucket as a trash can now.

Shout outs!
To Aunt Janice: Thank you so much for all the cards and pictures! I love them! Some of the pictures in the last batch I was thankful for the commentary on the back because they kids have gotten so big I didn't even recognize them. Anyway, it always puts a grin on my face to open my mailbox and see a few letters from you! Thanks for still writing and keeping me updated!

To Niki: I LOVE the postcards! i think I'm going to hand the MD one in my classroom so everyone can see it. I appreciate your constant and truly entertaining letter writing. I thought my life was ridiculous. I have nothing on you.

To Bev: Thanks for all the reader's digest pages. I cut out the quotes I like and cover my bookshelf with them! Also? I've already started using the things you sent me, the tote and notepad and such!

To Mom: I miss broccoli salad, and chocolate chip cookies and hot taco dip.... and YOU of course. Thanks for all the good stuff that you can send!

To Steets: Thanks for spending a probably absurd amount of money on calling cards to listen to me talk about how insane my life is.

To my church at home: Thank you again for everything you've done for my students! Everyone here, including me is overwhelmed by your generosity. You made a difference that will last long after i'm gone.

To all my readers: Thanks, as always for still reading!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chicken is what's for dinner

Why did the chicken cross the road?
The age old question, has more answers than you might thing. Having the opportunity to observe free range chickens in their natural habitat i've come up with the following reasons:
because there's corn over there
to escape an african mama with a knife and a hunger pang
to have relations with the chicken on the other side
because the dirt is always browner on the other side
because its chicks have wondered off and need to be rounded up

in short, chickens cross the road for pretty much the same reasons humans do.

Matatu Slalom
Someone once told me kenyan roads are shoddy. No one has ever been more right. Just since I arrived on this side of the country the condition of the roads has gone downhill fast. Now, matatus feel more like roller coasters since they're forced to swerve around potholes and giant pieces of road that are just inexplicably missing. I think we officially spend more time on the “shoulder” than the actual road.
While i'm talking about transportation, my favorite bus company got a new bus which is exciting until you realize: shocks not included. Speed bumps are kind of fun, but potholes are terrifying.

In other news:
This term is already almost over! We're working on making and printing exams this week and then testing next week. The following week we'll be there for about 3 days and then we're done! I can't believe how fast this one went by and I'm sure the next one will go by even faster!
Tis the season for visitors. I have someone coming in August and December which covers my next two breaks from school which is really exciting and gives me something to look forward to.
For the fourth of July i met up with some other PCVs in Kisumu and we took a boat ride on Lake Victoria and were lucky enough to spot a ton of hippos!!! Pictures to come on facebook!
Other than that, all is well here. Everyone is excited at the prospect of a new school and so am I!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chicken Bouncer

Due to extenuating circumstances I am staying with my new Peace Corps neighbor for a few days and have had a pretty nice stay so I thought I'd update my blog!
I arrived here Friday afternoon and had the pleasure of teaching a Deaf Awareness class to her Form 3 (Juniors) kids which went over really well. I think the kids learned a lot because at the beginning of the lesson I asked what they knew about Deaf people and there were A LOT of misconceptions that I was able to clear up.
Friday night we made soy tacos! Thanks Mom and Niki for sending seasoning packets!! They were delicious! Saturday we went to the local village's market and just browsed around. I picked up a few pencils for my kids because they almost never have them and I'm excited to return to site and hand them out! The walk to and from the village is about a twenty minute trek down a really beautiful path but is, no lie, pretty exhausting since I walk about ten minutes on flat land to get to my market. For dinner we made Indian food and ate it real proper on banana leaves and sat on the floor, the whole 9 yards! The food was beyond delicious, one of the best meals I've had here, hands down!
I've had the opportunity to see how another volunteer lives which is fantastic! She lives on a family compound where the chickens roam free and quite often into the house and we've had to shoo them out several times. She is very lucky to have me around so that while she did dishes outside I could fulfill my life long fantasy of being a bouncer by waving a mop at the chickens to keep them away. I'm very confident in my chicken bouncing abilities and have already added this newly discovered skill to my resume. Her neighbors here on the compound is a wonderful family, a mother and father with their young son who has come in to visit several times, and only peed on the floor once. The mom is also getting ready to give birth to another cutie and I'm excited to come 5008back and visit the baby!
Today we went to our banking town to find a hospital for one of the other volunteer's students and then headed back and tried to get some relaxing done.
Good News!!! My church at home has decided to sponsor my school and pledged all the money needed to buy the land. Don't worry! You can still make donations! We still need dorms and a kitchen and beds and such so whatever you send will definitely be put to good use!
Thanks for all the support from home it is much appreciated!!!!!!!
As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ah real children!

So the Unit has a new addition. She's tiny and adorable and i'm glad she's not mine. Today she graced us with the wonderful talents of her tonsils, almost all day long after her mother dropped her off. I had to laugh to myself because both mine and my supervisor's class continued completely ignoring this screaming child and her crocodile tears. When she finally stopped I literally thought I went deaf.
I got indoor plumbing yesterday... so basically I can flush my toilet without dumping a bucket of water in the toilet tank. My sink is bathroom size and is doing just above a dribble, however the Germans' house has a faucet that can fit a bucket and i'll be able to get water from there so I won't have to pump water anymore and I won't have to carry it nearly as far. i expect to gain about 15 pounds with this lack of exercise.
Not too terribly much going on here, we unfortunately lost a really fantastic Volunteer this week to America which was a disappointment to all. Beyond that it's pretty much the same ole same ole in Sega with the exception of a giant upcoming project. We're gonna give turning our Unit into a school a good ole college try. We'll need to fundraise money to buy the land and then after that we can hopefully find Kenyan organizations to build and find people willing to donate their time and skills. Hopefully once we get the land bought it'll all be downhill from there. It's gonna be a big project but i'm really excited about it. Currently most of our students walk at least an hour to get to school and home which cuts down their learning time. None of their parents/guardians are able to sign with them so they don't get education or language from home at this point. I've also learned recently we have at least 12 deaf kids in surrounding villages that live just too far to come to school at all. With a boarding deaf school in our area we'd increase our population tremendously and the education would just be better in general.
More to come on that.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another exciting compilation!

Hello world! We haven't spoken in a while, I hope all is well with you! So back in training I did a blog that was a clump of short stories and I think that is the best way to manage my blog negligence. Sorry about that, but it was an exciting month! Lucky for you I'm typing this blog in advance so you'll get the best of the best stories of sports, vacation, training, and the beginning of term 1 (you deserve it for having to wait so long)!

Is it over yet?
Unfortunately, I found myself asking this question several times during sports week. I started out so very optimistic but after a stressful and crowded travel to the the host school it seemed like the whole week was engulfed in a dark cloud. Upon arrival we learned their school had a water shortage (who doesn't?), so for the week we bathed in river water which was fine. The following day we learned the host school didn't have their own field and that we would need to be bussed 10 km down a “road” to another school's field. The bust drivers were unaware of this arrangement and went on strike Monday morning. Tuesday morning the bus drivers went on strike … again which pushed sports back from 8 am to about 1 pm. They had gusto those bus drivers.
After rooming with Kenyan women in a dorm for the week I learned the following inexplicable things: if there is electricity, they will sleep with the lights on, and nothing can stop them from waking at 3 am and in the process waking everyone else.
Although our kids didn't break any speed records in any races I was really proud of them just for participating.

A reunion
I headed to Nairobi to meet Ryan for our “fly by the seat of our pants vacation” and ended up meeting up with several other PCVs and was able to catch up over dinner and drinks two nights in a row! It's always great to see people that you don't expect to see.

Let's rewind
On Wednesday of sports week my body started rejecting the change in food and I struggled with diarrhea which continued through Nairobi (this is important for the next stories).

I feel I should talk about this individual before I continue to describe our ridiculous and exciting vacation. She is one of the coolest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Actually, she was the very first Peace Corps person I met, we messaged on facebook and made a plan to meet at the Philly Airport and share a cab to the hotel (we hit it off instantly). Anyway, she teaches secondary school science so she's ridiculously smart and used to work in a Vet Hospital so she knows an absurd amount about animals. She also language trained with Kiswahili which is a vital part of our tag team bargaining schemes. I think everything she says is hilarious and she thinks everything I say is hilarious, in short, we get along great but come from pretty much completely different worlds.

The wheels on the bus
Bravely Ryan and I ventured out into Nairobi to grab a bus going to Mombasa (easier said than done). After having several different bus representatives battling for our money (it was slightly violent, someone got pushed... anything for a commission) we chose our bus and boarded, finding our seats directly on top of the back wheel well. Although the ride was bumpy and hot and we were both exhausted from our failed attempt at pulling an all-nighter the night prior, we kept our spirits high.... until we got far enough in this bus ride that crapping my pants seemed inevitable. For the rest of the 7 hour trip I spent 100% of my energy NOT thinking about my bowels.

One of the PCVs we ran into in Nairobi gave us the key to her house in Kilifi so we crashed there for the whole week. We went snorkeling on the first day with a group of completely belligerent Germans that were pissed that we bummed their “private tour” even after the Captain told them several times that it was a public boat and he would take whoever he wanted. That's besides the point. We went to a desert island and enjoyed fresh lobster, tuna and coconut rice before throwing on some embarrassing masks and heading under water. The view was beautiful and a crazy dark purple fish with neon blue spots swam right up to my mask like he wanted fight.
Another great thing to enjoy in Kilifi is dinner at a restaurant with great food right on the Indian Ocean, we went there more than once, mostly for the view.
There are also several stores in town so we got to cook for ourselves stuff that we wouldn't get normally at our sites including the ever so fancy macaroni and cheese with cut up hot dogs.

Malindi is a town about an hour north of Kilifi that has tons of cool historical stuff to see so we commuted there a few times. We saw the Vasco De Gamma pillar as well as the Gede Ruins. Most noteworthy (surprisingly) was the Malindi Falconry. Ryan and I scored our own private tour and saw loads of not very exciting snakes until we moved on to the owls of every make and model. It was unbelievable to see so many owls up close up and shove my camera in their faces! We also got to pet one which was pretty much the highlight of my vacation.

Abuko Sakoke Forest
In an effort to continue our completely unplanned vacation we looked at the map and found a national forest to visit one day. Upon arrival we met a great couple from Colorado who acted as our parents for the day (at the end of it they advised us not to put our drinks down in bars... they didn't wanna see our faces in the newspapers). We spent the entire morning touring the forest and seeing endangered species and weird trees that look like they came right out of a Seuss book.

The people on the bus go “ow”
Unfortunately the bus ride back to Nairobi was no better than the one that had brought us to Mombasa.
Boarding this bus without assigned seats we ended up in the last row in the middle. About an hour into the bus ride the driver (possibly related to the Captain of the Titanic) didn't even see the speed bump that he went flying over at about 85 kph. Everyone on the bus came flying out of their seats and back down. About halfway through the bus ride we gained a few extra passengers which forced our row to hold more people than it should. Ryan and I moved over to the seats next to the window but due to lack of space I scooted up on the seat to allow more space. Suddenly the bus swerves to the side of the road... there is no crash or bang sound but all traffic stops and drivers get out. Our driver knocked the mirror off an oncoming vehicle because he was too far over the center line. After everyone settles down... KERPLUNK!!!! Speed bump... again at about 90 kph this time. Due to my new position in the seat, my head crashed into the overhead compartment and came back down and smashed my nose onto the seat in front of me. After confirming with Ryan that my nose was not bleeding I continued to complain for the remaining hour or so of the ride, which for whatever reason was highly amusing to the passengers around us which is adding fuel to the fire for me.
Upon our early departure the other passengers asked us why couldn't we go with them the rest of the way? We explained to them that we like living, but that we would pray for their safe travel. They agreed they needed this prayer and waved politely as we deboarded.

Watch it.
So as some of you know, I came to Kenya with a watch which was unfortunately stolen with several of my other items. This event forced me to purchase another watch in Kisumu. Apparently, I wore that in one too many bucket baths and successfully blew out the motor of the thing. On vacation in Malindi Ryan spotted a man peddling watches and I bought the coolest of cool yellow levi's slap watch that lasted about 22 hours before I lost it in the great Indian Ocean.

Nothing especially noteworthy here other than WOW the food in Nairobi knocks my socks off and I miss it on a daily basis. Leaving Nairobi was almost like leaving America all over again. Tragic.
It was great however to see everyone and get to spent two entire weeks together hearing about their sites and ridiculous people and things they have encountered over that time. I learned a lot and was bored a lot.

Luckily my golden birthday landed on the first Saturday of training and everyone was more than willing to celebrate it with me. Admittedly, I started celebrating before everyone else (guilty). The plan was to leave at 8 for Ethiopian food and then out dancing. During a call to my Mom I was rudely interrupted and told that we were leaving a half an hour earlier which forced me to kick my preparations into high gear. At 7:30 Ryan and a few others and myself started heading out to the main road... the rest of the group had left us behind to go wait for the taxis (how rude, but I wasn't too bothered due to my lack of sobriety). Ryan wanted to stop into the dining hall before leaving to get her water bottle and wanted me to come with her even though I resisted. Once we got up to the hall I saw all the lights go off and then come back on when I came in. All of my fellow Volunteers were crowded around to sing Happy Birthday and share an ice cream cake that was actually just straight up delicious ice cream! As far as the rest of the night, we ate till we popped and partied till we dropped!

Home sweet home
After all that traveling I'd never been more happy to see my site... for like two days until I realized how long it'll be before I have pizza or Ethiopian food again. However, term 2 has started off really well. The kids and I set up a picture oriented rules sheet and now they are sure of the rules and the consequences. It doesn't even feel like I'm teaching the same 5 kids. I've got a lot in store for them this term and am pretty excited about it.

Rain, Rain, stick around
Most people here are annoyed by the amount of rain we get. Like clockwork everyday between 4:30 and 5:00 it starts raining and I love it. It cools everything off and I can flush my toilet like 5 times a day if I want! The mud situation is truly not that bad.. yet, not sure if it will get worse because it has been wicked hot during the day which dries all the rain from the night before before the new rains come. Fun fact, I did yoga with one of the Germans the other day and since we picked such a convenient time of day we were able to just walk outside and cool off under the African rains.

National Geographic Cindy Style
I have battled more critters than I'd like to admit. Beyond the obnoxious and ever present fruit flies that I have now I've got bigger things on my plate. One night it was Cindy vs. Giant Bee. After about a half an hour of scheming and screaming I came out victorious. The following night I battled a giant moth, I also won that battle after standing on a chair and capturing it in a bowl that I had used to crush tomatoes in for dinner. Classy. Recently I was engaged in a full on war against about 10 flies. Took me about an hour of crashing around my house, knocking things over trying to kill the buzzing menaces. I felt so good about myself until about 5 more showed up to mourn the loss of their friends. I gave up.

Cindy vs. Goose
Yes, the fight continues. It very literally chased me the other day... for no reason I might add, I don't provoke it and I give it plenty of space. Last night I dreamed that it finally bit me. It didn't hurt that bad but I was certainly shook up about it! Stupid, evil goose.

Rats or Bats?
There's something in my rafters. Every night it scratches and bangs at my ceiling as if on a serious mission to come right through and attack. Without actually seeing the creatures it's hard to tell which it is since they both make ridiculous high pitch squealing noises and their poop likes pretty much the same. Oh yea, even though they live in the rafters they manage to leave little presents all over my floor by the window.

That's it for me. That sums up the best of what went on in the month of April, I hope it was somewhat entertaining. I'm toying with the idea of voice recording stories and then typing them because I'm 100 times less amusing through the written word. I'm workin on it for you guys!!!

As always, thank you for reading!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things that go bump/squawk/bark/drip in the night

I've been meaning to get this blog written for a while now and since I find myself with internet and not much to talk about since I just updated i'll let you in on my night time frights.
I have bats. Loads and loads of bats. I don't know how many of you have ever lived with bats as roommates but they are not quiet at night. They live in my rafters and i'm terrified they'll fly out and into my window and I can honestly say my net is used more for fear of bats than it is prevention of malaria at this point.
I also have lizards. They don't bother me so much except I have cards hanging on rope at the top of my walls and if they run behind them it makes the cards bang against the walls and usually wakes me up. They're these weird little nude colored lizards and they normally run on the walls or the ceiling. I've never seen one of the floor. Anyway, a few weeks ago I saw one eat a moth so I like them a little bit more than I used to if they're going to eat other critters in my house.
As you know I also live with a dog. This dog is normally totally quiet all day but after he's eaten dinner this is his time to stretch his little vocal cords and bark at everything and nothing all through the night. It's wonderful.
I've lived with all these critters for a long time so i'm pretty much used to them at this point.... but the things that go drip i'm still not used to.
The Germans returned home last week and out of the kindness of their hearts helped me pull down the fabric from the square that was leaking and patch it up with some super inefficient tape so I wouldn't have to sleep with a bowl next to me in bed anymore.... I still got wet.
Makes life interesting.
This morning I was woken up by one of my students who was standing at my garden gate and got the cook to yell my name out until I got up. I guess he just wanted the key to the classroom but he never said that so I got dressed real fast and went with him about 45 minutes earlier than I would have gone to the school. It was a good start.
Exams finished today for my kids and we'll hand out report cards on Friday. Overall I was surprised by some of their performance and disappointed by others. Either way this will make planning for next term easier... thank goodness.
This Sunday we leave with the Class 2 kids and 2 of my class 1 kids. Homa Bay or bust. All the Deaf schools and units in the Nyanza province are meeting there for a week of sports, fun and nonsense and i'm actually really excited about it. I'm gonna try my darndest to replace my camera and catch my kids looking ridiculous so you can all see them!
till next time...
thanks for reading!!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bless the rains and around the wall in 80 days

I couldn't pick which title I liked better, so you get two!
Hello all! I haven't updated in about a half of a lifetime, and I do apologize for that. I'm trying, believe you me. I hope all is well with all my friends and family in America!
So I made it back to my site safe and sound and it is now officially the RAINY SEASON. The weather has cooled down and there is definitely no lack of water! In general it just makes me happier, except it knocks out the electricity usually at the most inconvenient time such as while make dinner over a hot stove on fire or in the middle of bathing in a bucket, but if things like that didn't happen, I wouldn't laugh as much and wouldn't have as many stories to tell.
Here's a good one for you though. Last week a friend of mine came to visit and observe me teaching and see if she could give any pointers for dealing with the little ones. She arrived Monday afternoon and we went to the market to grab some things for dinner. I began cooking our breakfast for dinner and the electricity went out so most of it was done in the dark. It turned out delicious and eventually the lights came back on so we watched a movie and hit the sack. In the middle of the night she woke up screaming and yelling at me to get a bucket.. turns out my ceiling leaks... in one place.... right over my bed. Since my video I have relocated my bed and everything else in my house, I like change. Anyway, it leaks so right now I sleep with a bucket next to me which will also be convenient if I ever need to throw up in the middle of the night again... double duty! So the following day we got up and went to school and I went with her to her site to pick up something from peace corps and of course our matatu got a flat tire so we sat on the side of the road for a good hour. Oh Kenya.
I did get a break this weekend I caught the same bus as a friend to meet up with some other volunteers in Kericho, a place famous for it's tea plants and nothing else. We made a stop in Kisumu for more passengers and ended up sitting there or 3.5 hours... I gave the people on the bus a good story though. As soon as we started to roll out of the bus park I was the crazy white girl who raised her hands in victory and cheered and shouted "we're moving!!!!" Most people found it amusing. Most also found it amusing when I popped on my iPod and sang along loud enough to drown out the man preaching in the middle of the bus. We eventually arrived and were able to catch up with friends which is always nice.
In recent news... I typed up all the exams or all the kiddos in our unit and since our tests have so many pictures i'm now phenominal at working my way around the paint program as clip art sucks and I didn't have internet access. We started testing today and it's gone well so far but I don't wanna get my hopes up too high.
Once they finish exams we'll be heading to Homa Bay or Deaf sports with all the other schools and units in the Nyanza area. It should be a good time and i'm going to try my darndest to get a camera before then so i can get some pictures of my kids doing some ridiculous stuff. Aftere that, a vacation on the coast with a good friend and then training in Nairobi. So I have plenty of things to look forward to, but also plenty of things to get ready for so this week finds me pretty busy.
Beyond that... oh, our dog bit a sheep and the cook killed it. I tried to convince him to serve the sheep with a side of goose to the priest but he wouldn't do it. Also? about a week ago I encountered the goose (I know what it's like to have a restraining order now by the way) I threatened to take my flip flop off and throw it at him if he attacked me. I turned in victory to head home only to see a group of children standing right in front of me just staring. Not my best moment but... i'm not perfect.
Anyay, hope all is well with everyone, if you're still with me, thanks for reading and sorry this one was so rushed! I'll try to start typing them out first and then just pasting them when I get internet!
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Round Two

Remember that time I was sick? Well right after that I picked up something else in Nairobi.. so i'm still stuck in limbo waiting to be well enough to go back to site... There's not a whole lot of updating to do other than i've gotten to give all kinds of awesome samples of various bodily fluids.... which would have bothered me a lot more in the U.S. but here it's one of those things where you're like "someone has GOT to see this!" and that's the kind of week i've had. Wow how things have changed already. I did however get a new laptop so i'm on the road to putting things back together. While we're on the topic here's some things I did at site to keep myself entertained without a laptop:
Stared at the wall
Read three books
Stared at the ceiling
Rearranged ALL my furniture
Stared at the floor
Toasted a marshmallow over a candle
Took my temperature obsessively
So anyway, that's what's up with me! I should be healthy enough to head back to site in a few days but until then i'll be hangin in Nairobi.
Hope all is well with everyone at home! Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A thief, a fever, and a breakdown

It's been just over a week since I last posted but boy oh boy do I have updates!
Last weekend I was in Kisumu celebrating a friend's birthday and unfortunately someone broke into our hotel room and stole all our stuff... well all our valuable stuff, they were nice enough to leave my underwear and such. There were three of us in the room that all lost laptops, hard drives and cameras among other things including money, a watch, a video camera, ipods, and a back pack. The hotel owner was not helpful nor were the police but we all saw that coming and kept really great attitudes about it.
Coming into the week I had a cold that I thought was finally starting to dissipate, but on Thursday I got hit with a 103 fever and was barely able to peel myself out of bed for the next few days. By Saturday afternoon I felt well enough to pump and carry a bucket of water I decided so I got dressed and headed out to find... there is no water. I calmly went back to my house where I proceeded to break down and freak out that I couldn't bathe, eat, drink, or flush my toilet. I called Peace Corps Medical who told me to pack my things and come to Nairobi. After an 8 hour bus ride I arrived yesterday afternoon. Not sure how long i'll be here... until the water situation gets cleared up and then i'll be headed back, but it looks like i'll have enough time to look for a new lap top which is a plus.
Beyond that, not much else is going on, i'm hoping I can just sit back and relax for a few days and shake off the stress of this week. Our first term will be over in April and i'm really looking forward to the break and being able to see the other volunteers!
Hope all is well at home and that things are starting to warm up a bit!
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We're all in this together

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that think Kenya is a whole nother world. I thought that before I came here, but quite honestly it's the exact same if you break it down. Everyone, no matter who you are, what color you are or what you do for a living is just trying to survive. That statement makes life seem difficult and I recognize that it isn't always that way but everyone goes through times where your main objective is just survival.. "let me just get through this..." Kenya is just like America, the parents just want their children to have what they didn't have. We're all just living, one day at a time. Although everyone on every continent does it differently it doesn't make anyone's way wrong.... makes some people's way more exhausting, that I'll admit. I was at school the other day while the kids were on break and I closed my eyes for a few seconds. The sounds of kids on the playground is international, sure some of them kick around nice fancy soccer balls and other kids play with balled up plastic bags but they just hang around and be kids and have a good time.
That’s my insight.
Moving on… I know I haven’t updated in a while, blame it on my internet and then blame it on me for not having enough credit on my stupid stupid modem. Anyway, this week I started loads of new projects, I’m teaching a computer literacy class for teachers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and a KSL for teachers class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I’m excited and apprehensive about both but hopefully they will get some good information that they’ll be able to use even after I’m gone. Otherwise, my students are getting better, little by little they’re understanding my teaching style  but I’m going to assume the entire first time is just going to be a struggle, but we're halfway through.
Celebrated another holiday in Kenya… Valentine’s day! I went to the market to buy all my food for the week from the pineapple lady… she finally had green peppers and I spent like 200 shillings stocking up with fruits and veggies and then she gave me a free banana!!! I bought a candy bar at the little supermarket that was probably not worth 40 shillings but it made it feel a bit more like Valentine’s day. I also had my kids decorate hearts and hung them in my classroom even though Kenyans don’t celebrate the holiday as enthusiastically as Americans do. I did some yoga, took a bath made dinner and watched Valentine’s Day the movie, all in all I can’t complain.
The gray goose still hates me and I am still terrified of it. Today it was near the water pump and I was so scared it was going to come after me. I talked to the cook about it and told him it was evil, he told me it was good security because if people come on the compound at night it squawks… I told him I thought this is what the dogs were for… he told me the goose was more effective! This means that yes! This goose is more vicious than a DOG! It’s the devil, I’m convinced.
The Germans and I have been running together fairly religiously and I have a bet going with one of them that if I work hard enough will get me a free dinner! Mwahahaha. It finally feels normal living right on top of each other, it’s kind of like living next door to family at this point. I have a new German name… it’s Heidi. I also have an African name… it’s Nyasega Achieng, imagine the number of names I now respond to. It’s hilarious fun!
So i wrote this blog earlier in the week and am now editing this part in:
My Peace Corps supervisor came this week for my site evaluation. Unfortunately he arrived to late to see me teach so that evaluation remains blank. My school supervisor was out of town... kind of on purpose because apparently the two of them have had words. My house definitely passed inspection... he was surprised and amazed at how clean it was. Anyway, it was fairly uneventful and I survived!
Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day! Thanks for reading and thanks if you’re still sending mail!!