Thursday, August 20, 2009

(marie) day 2 in maseno

(Sent by Marie Harkey to The Crossing community)

Hello all,
Here's today's brief update. There will be pictures when I return (or when I'm paying for my own internet connection and not borrowing). The family let me sleep this morning and sleep I did, until almost 9 am. Then I took a few minutes to pray and journal, so it was almost 10 when I went down to have some breakfast. It was really good - sweet potatoes, bread and butter, bananas grown in the backyard. And although I despise instant coffee in the States, Africafe, the instant coffee here, is a whole different kind of stuff. It was excellent and so I got to start my day with coffee, just like home.
Then Elphas and I set off for Karen, a town very near Nairobi. We walked down Bakala's road, and then down another longish road to get to the main road where we would catch a matatu - a van that runs a certain route. They are usually 12 to 15 passenger vans, but the driver stuffs as many people as possible inside. Bakala lives in Ngong Hills and the first matatu took us to Ngong, a small city. There we took another to get to Karen, just on the outskirts of Nairobi. We walked to a mall to wait for the reporter that was going to interview Elphas. James, the reporter, actually works for a PR firm, but submits education stories to the Kenya times. We had an enjoyable time with him.
There have been some surprises for me. For example, in the matatus people are very quiet. There's not a lot of chatting and talking, and the driver plays music pretty loudly. Secondly, even though Karen didn't seem as intimidating to me as Nairobi, I'm looking forward to being in a more rural area. Never thought this city girl would be longing for the rural life! The city seems very chaotic to me, and I'm surprised by own timidity and by how it feels to be a stanger in a strange land. Imagine the kinds of scenes from movies, with matutu drivers yelling to try to get you to take their van, vendors selling things and trying to interest you, and all sorts of different smells. Everywhere, it seems, there is the smell of something burning. There were lots of wazungu (white people) in Karen, but not in Ngong, so on the road, everyone looked at me. It wasn't unkind, just interested, I think. Third, I notice a very different sort of emotion in myself than the first times I traveled to foreign countries. I'm very conscious of how much I love my "creature comforts" and how uneasy I am without them. I find that I'm a little disappointed in myself, while I acknowledge that it's human nature to be comfortable with what one knows.
We bought some beaded bracelets from Masai women in Karen. They were so anxious to sell to me, and Elphas helped me do the bargaining. He also paid when we took the matatus. He said if I had paid they would have charged me 100Ksh (about $1.50) but for him it was only 20 (about 25 cents). I don't think I would mind paying the difference to help these drivers earn their money, though. Elphas says that they have to pay bribes to the police to stay in business. They also have to have insurance and some kind of business license.
For all the differences, this place is beautiful. We saw one large group and several smaller groups of runners training in these hills. (The same ones that gave me such trouble climbing back up when we returned to Bakala's house.) It is certain that I will be rooting for the Kenyan runners in the Olympics the next time I watch. It is amazing to see how easily they run here. And I have some wonderful pictures from around Bakala's house.
Tonight after supper (yummy, including bananas cooked with tomatoes and onions. They were almost like potatoes.) we watched some of Elphas' welcome home video. Then we each talked about what we are thankful for in this visit, we sang (Gillian, a niece who is staying here, loves to sing). Then as we were standing in a circle holding hands, I prayed. These were truly the most blessed moments of the day.
Love to all,


Blogger theyarnwhisperer said...

Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. Last year Steven went to Africa for business and he is a big guy sporting a mop of gray hair and a matching beard. A friend of his who shares similar physical characteristics was also there working. He said that they got stared at a lot. I'm sure they didn't see a lot of big hairy white men too often. I told him they probably thought they were yetis. Have a safe and fun trip. Scenes from 'Out of Africa' are floating through my mind.

9:45 AM  

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