"It's hard to find a private bush."

I'm sitting here with a cat fast asleep behind the laptop screen. On one side the feet are sticking out and on the other is her head and paws. It's nice to have the company as the rest of the household is now all in bed. Outside the night life is singing a chorus to God and on facebook, I notice a few references to Christmas which greatly mystifies and amuses me. Christmas has been a point of much laughter for us here where it is eternal summer. It does't feel like Christmas at all except for the occasional decoration in a hotel. Christmas in the cultural sense is just not a part of our world here.

Even though Christmas as you know it is just not part of my life here, I find I had to come to Africa to rediscover what Christmas really means and it was in an unusual place but then again, perhaps it was more Christmas-like than anything I have ever experienced in the states. Seven of us were riding the bus from Kitale to Turkana, five from the delegation accompanied by Peter and John. John had wisely placed me in a middle seat with him on the aisle. At first, I did not understand why but it didn't take me long to find out. Throughout our nine hours on the bus, two of those waiting for the luggage to be loaded on top of the bus, people got on and off in the villages, standing in the aisle absolutely packed. Emily spent the last part of the trip with a man in her lap. During the last quarter of the trip when we were all hot and tired, a woman with a younger woman and baby got on the bus and stood nearby in the aisle. Having a good view of the baby, I asked about her and John trying to clarify what I was asking inquired if I wanted to hold her. My eyes lit up and I exclaimed, "Could I?" And that is how I spent just about the rest of the trip with a two month old baby girl in my arms. For a while she was awake and looking around, I bounced her and held her up for the three of the women in our group who were in the row behind us. Then Abigail decided everything was all right and she trustingly fell asleep in my arms. I sat there holding her and thought about Mary on another trip in Africa holding a precious baby in her arms adn I wondered if she looked down at her baby's face and marveled at what a gift he was and who he was. Did she sit amazed? What was she thinking as she traveled dirt roads of her own? Holding Abigail really brought home for me that Christmas is all about the gift of a child. It now feels much more like a holy-day to me.

The other news from our bus ride is that John sold me into marriage to a local Kenyan. It's okay though, I was married off first and then had the baby. Several men who were most likely farmers or shepherds, as are most Kenyan's, got on near the beginning of the trip. Even despite being really interested in the book I was reading, I had observed John having an animated conversation with them. When he finished, I asked him what they were talking about. He was very good about filling us in when we asked. He told me the men had asked who all these muzungu women were and John told them they were daughters of men who lived in Turkana and he was delivering us to our grandparents. The man then asked about me and if I was available for marriage and if I could wearing necklaces and carry water. (The necklaces around the neck is a cultural thing.) John informed him that I could be trained and they proceeded to discuss the bride price. If I remember correctly, it was something like 50 cows, 20 camels, 160 goats and a bunch of chickens. With five of us, John should make out well though Eden says I should have gone for quite a bit more. A day or two later, we were talking about a specific marriage and we asked about the number of cows involved which is a perfectly normal question to be asking here. The woman we stayed with the night before last was amazed we go for free in America.

Last night Eden came to pick us up from the host family four of us were staying with and took us to a hotel in Kitale before driving the rest of the way to Kisumu in the morning. She let us sleep in as long as we wanted (till 7:15 for me) and then we got warm showers or baths. It was absolute luxury. After such a full week of traveling, seeing Turkana, and then attending the youth conference of North Yearly Meeting, we were more than ready for some TLC. Now we are with the Graces and enjoying their kind hospitality. We have all loved our experiences among the Africans here but it's nice beyond words to be staying with them, people who let us just be us and not the muzungu guests. Downtime is important when traveling so much.

While Eden left with Ruth for Nairobi, Jim took the rest of us to a place right on Lake Victoria where we attended a farewell party of someone he knows where he was playing the trumpet. It was so much fun and quite a change from what we have been used to. I was just stunned to see other white people there and wanted to shout, "Muzungu!" every time. It was really weird. I've hardly seen any whites whatsoever except those I was traveling with so seeing someone with light skin is quite a double take.

Some common sights here in Kenya-

-Donkeys or cows pulling carts. Men do this too.

-Homes made of branches and mud.

-Buildings plastered with advertisements.

-1,200 Quakers gathered together. The talk went really well by the way.

-Baboons

-Cows walking through town. This includes Nairobi.

-Bugs I have never seen.

-Open markets

-Bikes carrying an astounding amount of items.

The title of this post was something that Eden said earlier today in reference to finding somewhere to go to the bathroom and is now my quote of the day. With her, we usually use hotels for bathroom breaks, but there have been many times during this trip when I would have much preferred a bush. But as Eden says, it is hard to find a private bush where we were traveling. The hotel bathrooms though, have been pretty good. The privacy is more away from the Kenyan's not each other as we have no personal space left. Our modesty with each isn't there anymore. You travel so much with one another, it happens. One of the things I am going to miss the most when I return back to Oregon is them. I am used to being surrounded by people I really enjoy all the time, I will really miss that when I get back.

I will post a more thoughtful post tomorrow. We are at the Grace's home now and are enjoying time with them before we fly out. Tomorrow should be a great day.

365-09 #355

Labels: ,

Walking the Sea: "It's hard to find a private bush."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"It's hard to find a private bush."

I'm sitting here with a cat fast asleep behind the laptop screen. On one side the feet are sticking out and on the other is her head and paws. It's nice to have the company as the rest of the household is now all in bed. Outside the night life is singing a chorus to God and on facebook, I notice a few references to Christmas which greatly mystifies and amuses me. Christmas has been a point of much laughter for us here where it is eternal summer. It does't feel like Christmas at all except for the occasional decoration in a hotel. Christmas in the cultural sense is just not a part of our world here.

Even though Christmas as you know it is just not part of my life here, I find I had to come to Africa to rediscover what Christmas really means and it was in an unusual place but then again, perhaps it was more Christmas-like than anything I have ever experienced in the states. Seven of us were riding the bus from Kitale to Turkana, five from the delegation accompanied by Peter and John. John had wisely placed me in a middle seat with him on the aisle. At first, I did not understand why but it didn't take me long to find out. Throughout our nine hours on the bus, two of those waiting for the luggage to be loaded on top of the bus, people got on and off in the villages, standing in the aisle absolutely packed. Emily spent the last part of the trip with a man in her lap. During the last quarter of the trip when we were all hot and tired, a woman with a younger woman and baby got on the bus and stood nearby in the aisle. Having a good view of the baby, I asked about her and John trying to clarify what I was asking inquired if I wanted to hold her. My eyes lit up and I exclaimed, "Could I?" And that is how I spent just about the rest of the trip with a two month old baby girl in my arms. For a while she was awake and looking around, I bounced her and held her up for the three of the women in our group who were in the row behind us. Then Abigail decided everything was all right and she trustingly fell asleep in my arms. I sat there holding her and thought about Mary on another trip in Africa holding a precious baby in her arms adn I wondered if she looked down at her baby's face and marveled at what a gift he was and who he was. Did she sit amazed? What was she thinking as she traveled dirt roads of her own? Holding Abigail really brought home for me that Christmas is all about the gift of a child. It now feels much more like a holy-day to me.

The other news from our bus ride is that John sold me into marriage to a local Kenyan. It's okay though, I was married off first and then had the baby. Several men who were most likely farmers or shepherds, as are most Kenyan's, got on near the beginning of the trip. Even despite being really interested in the book I was reading, I had observed John having an animated conversation with them. When he finished, I asked him what they were talking about. He was very good about filling us in when we asked. He told me the men had asked who all these muzungu women were and John told them they were daughters of men who lived in Turkana and he was delivering us to our grandparents. The man then asked about me and if I was available for marriage and if I could wearing necklaces and carry water. (The necklaces around the neck is a cultural thing.) John informed him that I could be trained and they proceeded to discuss the bride price. If I remember correctly, it was something like 50 cows, 20 camels, 160 goats and a bunch of chickens. With five of us, John should make out well though Eden says I should have gone for quite a bit more. A day or two later, we were talking about a specific marriage and we asked about the number of cows involved which is a perfectly normal question to be asking here. The woman we stayed with the night before last was amazed we go for free in America.

Last night Eden came to pick us up from the host family four of us were staying with and took us to a hotel in Kitale before driving the rest of the way to Kisumu in the morning. She let us sleep in as long as we wanted (till 7:15 for me) and then we got warm showers or baths. It was absolute luxury. After such a full week of traveling, seeing Turkana, and then attending the youth conference of North Yearly Meeting, we were more than ready for some TLC. Now we are with the Graces and enjoying their kind hospitality. We have all loved our experiences among the Africans here but it's nice beyond words to be staying with them, people who let us just be us and not the muzungu guests. Downtime is important when traveling so much.

While Eden left with Ruth for Nairobi, Jim took the rest of us to a place right on Lake Victoria where we attended a farewell party of someone he knows where he was playing the trumpet. It was so much fun and quite a change from what we have been used to. I was just stunned to see other white people there and wanted to shout, "Muzungu!" every time. It was really weird. I've hardly seen any whites whatsoever except those I was traveling with so seeing someone with light skin is quite a double take.

Some common sights here in Kenya-

-Donkeys or cows pulling carts. Men do this too.

-Homes made of branches and mud.

-Buildings plastered with advertisements.

-1,200 Quakers gathered together. The talk went really well by the way.

-Baboons

-Cows walking through town. This includes Nairobi.

-Bugs I have never seen.

-Open markets

-Bikes carrying an astounding amount of items.

The title of this post was something that Eden said earlier today in reference to finding somewhere to go to the bathroom and is now my quote of the day. With her, we usually use hotels for bathroom breaks, but there have been many times during this trip when I would have much preferred a bush. But as Eden says, it is hard to find a private bush where we were traveling. The hotel bathrooms though, have been pretty good. The privacy is more away from the Kenyan's not each other as we have no personal space left. Our modesty with each isn't there anymore. You travel so much with one another, it happens. One of the things I am going to miss the most when I return back to Oregon is them. I am used to being surrounded by people I really enjoy all the time, I will really miss that when I get back.

I will post a more thoughtful post tomorrow. We are at the Grace's home now and are enjoying time with them before we fly out. Tomorrow should be a great day.

365-09 #355

Labels: ,

3 Comments:

At December 19, 2009 at 7:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, Your grandparents in WA are very concerned about the prospect of you getting married in Africa. Soon after your dad read your last blog, he has not been seen for several days. We suspect he is out gathering cattle for your upcoming marital negotiations. Love you. Dad&Mom

 
At December 19, 2009 at 10:13 PM , Blogger Peggy Senger Parsons said...

Stay a bit longer - Europe and the entire eastern seaboard are socked in with snow - you remember snow, right? They have closed the tunnel between England and France because it is too cold to drive on the French side. Washington DC has 2 feet of snow. Airports backed upi everywhere. Supposed to break before mid-week, enjoy the warm while you have it.

 
At December 20, 2009 at 2:24 AM , Blogger Sarah Katreen Hoggatt said...

Dad & Mom, you can stop buying cattle for my upcoming marriage. Here, the man pays the the bride's family for the wife so you will be well off and since you don't have to worry so much about animal raids there, hakuna matata! :)

Peggy, we found that out this morning when we checked the weather reports. Believe me, I would be quite happy to just stay here enjoying the sun. I am flying into Minneapolis and so will check the weather reports tonight or tomorrow morning. Have a great day!

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home