They Have Square Bread

Square bread. They have square bread. The other is round. I am still figuring this out. They also have a toilet that deserves to be in an art museum. There have been many of these kinds of moments today. In case you were wondering, I slept straight through the night and woke up shortly before seven. And though I'm tired, I think it is more due to a VERY full day! The morning was relaxed as I talked to other travelers around the breakfast table discussing our plans and the Christmas traditions of Ghana. People come from all over the world to be here. When I went to the office to get a taxi, they explained to me that the Friends International Center was just a ten minute walk up the road. Did I still want that taxi? I decided I didn't, that I could walk. It will probably be my one time in all the time I'm here going somewhere unescourted. I got to the Friends Center no problem, it's actually more like a compound with a computer room/shack, a snack shack, basketball hoop, large house which serves as the FWCC office for Kenya (Edith there was wonderful), a play ground and... the prettiest Friends meeting house I have EVER seen. A man there helped me find an open door in the back I could sneak into to take a peak. It has the simplicity that is so classical of Quakers with lots of light and high windows. You can bet I got pictures.

Ababu Samson arrived shortly after that and while I waited in the car, I got a good look at my face in the mirror,"WHAT???" Concerned, I went back into the office and found Edith and she agreed it was probably bug bites from the night before. When I got here to the hostel last night, I dropped my bags off and had dinner outside. Oops. Other guests got it too. So now I have at least three dozen bug bites on my face and hands but I am sure they will go down soon. I bought some cream to help it this afternoon. (Which is SOOO much cheaper here by the way.) Lesson learned. And don't worry, I'm taking malaria pills.

From there we went straight to Kibera which is beyond description. Driving in Samson's car, we drove deep into the slum to the school, with the windows open by the way. People stared at me and no wonder, I stuck out like a white sock in a sea of brown. Children continually shouted, "How are you?!", the only English they know and I responded in kind. There is no plumbing, there is no garbage pickup. That right there should tell you something. I won't ever forget it. The rutted streets, open ditches, their homes, the little booths for stores, the smell, the smiling children and adults. Oh, and the wandering chickens, ducks, goats (had to honk at those to make them move), and dogs. Most of the streets are dirt, and bumpy doesn't even begin to describe them. We parked and walked the rest of the way into the school, Samson paid a man to watch the car. We walked over the garbage, through narrow paths and found the non-descript sheet metal door in a wall. Children were standing nearby when we came in and we walked to the office where the headmaster and two teachers were. They told me about the school, the lack of funding for the feeding program, the kids who go to the school, the testing they go through, how their teachers are volunteer, and how they built the school in the first place. The physical building is NOTHING like you would find in America and the kids are better behaved quite frankly. They want to be there, they want to learn. We went to a class and they sang and recited Bible verses for the "guests". I also got to take a picture with the class. (Their song I recorded.) Samson used to live in Kibera so I got an insiders story on what that is like at lunch. We also saw a building they own (though only the mosques are permanent structures) where they rent out the rooms to help pay for the school.

After lunch, we went to the famous bead shop in Karen and John took us for a tour there. We got to see the whole process of all these single mothers making the beads and they let me take pictures. The artist in me was just delighted to get to do this. Half of the proceeds go back to the women and I loved meeting them. Those beads come in all colors and deigns, it was a wonderful experience. From there we headed to a crocodile, ostrich, and giraffe center. They don't have them yards away like they do at zoos. They are close up. Maybe a yard away from me. I loved looking at the alligators and our tour guide poked at the crocodiles so I could see them react. They were NOT HAPPY to have their naps in the sun interupted. (And yes, it is warm here.) Next were the ostriches, they don't have feathers on the thighs. That surprised me and their feet looked neat. Next were the mating turtles and the male turtle was apparently enjoying himself with vocalization. (I only got a picture of that one.) The female periodically tried to move. Didn't work. Next was the peacock, beautiful, and then my favorite- the giraffe. He was two years old and HUGE! He was so tall! Normally in a zoo, you would NEVER get to do this but I did. I got to pet the giraffe and scratch him behind his ears which he liked. His tongue (purple by the way), wrapped around my hand and he licked it. It felt like sand paper. I LOVED it and let him do it several times.

We then went shopping at a market where the aisles were so small, I don't think two people could walk abreast. And EVERY owner emphatically invited me in to look at what they had. EVERY shop keeper. I did a little shopping there and every time, Samson was the one who did the bargaining. The shop keepers were NOT happy with this arrangement. He knew what things cost and demanded they give him the Kenya price, not the tourist in. He later told me the shop keepers were mad at him as if he was betraying his kind. I just quietly stood there and let him go at it in a language I did not understand. He was pretty happy with himself when we left. I also got to see the mall which was also interesting. We stopped for tea there. I have had A LOT of tea. I like it. I got his story in between activities and we talked a lot about Kenya and the culture. Then when we bought water, I got to wait in another line, how fun. You wait a lot here. Speed is not one of their values.

People walk a lot here. They walk everywhere and that includes in traffic. I got to be in a traffic jam tonight on our way to show me where Samson works and lives. There were cars in the intersection trying to go every which way. The driving is crazy. I was warned on this by a fellow traveler so I wasn't surprised, but when they go and how they go is definitely a new experience for me. Is a car pulling out in your path? No problem! Just keep going. Squeeze past that bus moving in your lane. No problem, just keep going. I have to say, I was very relaxed about it all. The other thing that was interesting for me? I saw eighteen other white people the ENTIRE day (except for the hostel). Everyone else is black and I saw A LOT of people. I stuck out of the crowd like nobody's business. I've been in a presentation like that but not most of the day. Muzungu is here. Check her out, size her up. A saw a woman look me up and down this morning at the Friends Center and I am sure it went on from there. I was even blown a kiss in the slum. I waved back.

Tomorrow the safari company is picking me up so I won't be able to write again until at least the fourth but I am sure I will have some good stories by that time. I hope you are all doing well. Kwaheri! (Goodbye)

365-09 #344

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Walking the Sea: They Have Square Bread

Monday, November 30, 2009

They Have Square Bread

Square bread. They have square bread. The other is round. I am still figuring this out. They also have a toilet that deserves to be in an art museum. There have been many of these kinds of moments today. In case you were wondering, I slept straight through the night and woke up shortly before seven. And though I'm tired, I think it is more due to a VERY full day! The morning was relaxed as I talked to other travelers around the breakfast table discussing our plans and the Christmas traditions of Ghana. People come from all over the world to be here. When I went to the office to get a taxi, they explained to me that the Friends International Center was just a ten minute walk up the road. Did I still want that taxi? I decided I didn't, that I could walk. It will probably be my one time in all the time I'm here going somewhere unescourted. I got to the Friends Center no problem, it's actually more like a compound with a computer room/shack, a snack shack, basketball hoop, large house which serves as the FWCC office for Kenya (Edith there was wonderful), a play ground and... the prettiest Friends meeting house I have EVER seen. A man there helped me find an open door in the back I could sneak into to take a peak. It has the simplicity that is so classical of Quakers with lots of light and high windows. You can bet I got pictures.

Ababu Samson arrived shortly after that and while I waited in the car, I got a good look at my face in the mirror,"WHAT???" Concerned, I went back into the office and found Edith and she agreed it was probably bug bites from the night before. When I got here to the hostel last night, I dropped my bags off and had dinner outside. Oops. Other guests got it too. So now I have at least three dozen bug bites on my face and hands but I am sure they will go down soon. I bought some cream to help it this afternoon. (Which is SOOO much cheaper here by the way.) Lesson learned. And don't worry, I'm taking malaria pills.

From there we went straight to Kibera which is beyond description. Driving in Samson's car, we drove deep into the slum to the school, with the windows open by the way. People stared at me and no wonder, I stuck out like a white sock in a sea of brown. Children continually shouted, "How are you?!", the only English they know and I responded in kind. There is no plumbing, there is no garbage pickup. That right there should tell you something. I won't ever forget it. The rutted streets, open ditches, their homes, the little booths for stores, the smell, the smiling children and adults. Oh, and the wandering chickens, ducks, goats (had to honk at those to make them move), and dogs. Most of the streets are dirt, and bumpy doesn't even begin to describe them. We parked and walked the rest of the way into the school, Samson paid a man to watch the car. We walked over the garbage, through narrow paths and found the non-descript sheet metal door in a wall. Children were standing nearby when we came in and we walked to the office where the headmaster and two teachers were. They told me about the school, the lack of funding for the feeding program, the kids who go to the school, the testing they go through, how their teachers are volunteer, and how they built the school in the first place. The physical building is NOTHING like you would find in America and the kids are better behaved quite frankly. They want to be there, they want to learn. We went to a class and they sang and recited Bible verses for the "guests". I also got to take a picture with the class. (Their song I recorded.) Samson used to live in Kibera so I got an insiders story on what that is like at lunch. We also saw a building they own (though only the mosques are permanent structures) where they rent out the rooms to help pay for the school.

After lunch, we went to the famous bead shop in Karen and John took us for a tour there. We got to see the whole process of all these single mothers making the beads and they let me take pictures. The artist in me was just delighted to get to do this. Half of the proceeds go back to the women and I loved meeting them. Those beads come in all colors and deigns, it was a wonderful experience. From there we headed to a crocodile, ostrich, and giraffe center. They don't have them yards away like they do at zoos. They are close up. Maybe a yard away from me. I loved looking at the alligators and our tour guide poked at the crocodiles so I could see them react. They were NOT HAPPY to have their naps in the sun interupted. (And yes, it is warm here.) Next were the ostriches, they don't have feathers on the thighs. That surprised me and their feet looked neat. Next were the mating turtles and the male turtle was apparently enjoying himself with vocalization. (I only got a picture of that one.) The female periodically tried to move. Didn't work. Next was the peacock, beautiful, and then my favorite- the giraffe. He was two years old and HUGE! He was so tall! Normally in a zoo, you would NEVER get to do this but I did. I got to pet the giraffe and scratch him behind his ears which he liked. His tongue (purple by the way), wrapped around my hand and he licked it. It felt like sand paper. I LOVED it and let him do it several times.

We then went shopping at a market where the aisles were so small, I don't think two people could walk abreast. And EVERY owner emphatically invited me in to look at what they had. EVERY shop keeper. I did a little shopping there and every time, Samson was the one who did the bargaining. The shop keepers were NOT happy with this arrangement. He knew what things cost and demanded they give him the Kenya price, not the tourist in. He later told me the shop keepers were mad at him as if he was betraying his kind. I just quietly stood there and let him go at it in a language I did not understand. He was pretty happy with himself when we left. I also got to see the mall which was also interesting. We stopped for tea there. I have had A LOT of tea. I like it. I got his story in between activities and we talked a lot about Kenya and the culture. Then when we bought water, I got to wait in another line, how fun. You wait a lot here. Speed is not one of their values.

People walk a lot here. They walk everywhere and that includes in traffic. I got to be in a traffic jam tonight on our way to show me where Samson works and lives. There were cars in the intersection trying to go every which way. The driving is crazy. I was warned on this by a fellow traveler so I wasn't surprised, but when they go and how they go is definitely a new experience for me. Is a car pulling out in your path? No problem! Just keep going. Squeeze past that bus moving in your lane. No problem, just keep going. I have to say, I was very relaxed about it all. The other thing that was interesting for me? I saw eighteen other white people the ENTIRE day (except for the hostel). Everyone else is black and I saw A LOT of people. I stuck out of the crowd like nobody's business. I've been in a presentation like that but not most of the day. Muzungu is here. Check her out, size her up. A saw a woman look me up and down this morning at the Friends Center and I am sure it went on from there. I was even blown a kiss in the slum. I waved back.

Tomorrow the safari company is picking me up so I won't be able to write again until at least the fourth but I am sure I will have some good stories by that time. I hope you are all doing well. Kwaheri! (Goodbye)

365-09 #344

Labels: ,

3 Comments:

At November 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM , Blogger Emily said...

Sarah- It's great to read your blog. I'm preparing to leave on Thursday for Kenya, so I will see you soon! Thanks for giving me an idea of what to expect. In peace, Emily

 
At November 30, 2009 at 11:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi from Dad & Mom. So sorry to hear about your bug bites. Be safe and we are looking forward to your next posting. Love you. Dad & Mom

 
At December 2, 2009 at 3:52 AM , Anonymous Jez Smith said...

see you on sunday!

 

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