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!!!!