January Village Update from Sam A

Jambo!

Wishing all a blissful 2015 and hope your start to the year was either celebrated in style or relaxing, depending on how you enjoy it. I woke up to the New Year with the sight of a cow being slaughtered. Knowing that only special occasions warrant such a task, I promptly find the nearest person to find out the gossip. I am told that a large party has been planned in the compound with many within the surrounding village area being invited to celebrate the New Year. The day consisted of food preparations on a large scale and general preparations for the party. Through the preparations, I managed to have my first driving experience on Kenyan roads. It became apparent that driving a hatchback vehicle on dirt roads is much different that on tarmac roads. A few tricky encounters occurred, but we made it to our destination and back with myself and my 10 passengers unscathed. Yes, you read correctly- there were 11 people in this small hatchback, though ¾ of them were children, who require less space than an adult would. My attendance at the party was minimal as I had plans to watch a Premier League game at the local video house. The local video house, which is a 30 minute walk from the village is a mud brick house swarming with Kenyan males sitting on pews watching one of the two screens available- me being the only female in sight, a mazungu female at that- you could say that I stood out a little in the crowd.

Safari Tanzania! This month I travelled down to Tanzania for a short two week holiday followed by a two week Permaculture Design Course. Due to the much cheaper price tag and wanting the adventure, I opted to board the 8 hour bus from Siaya to Nairobi, camp in a hotel overnight to board the 6 hour shuttle from Nairobi to Arusha. After receiving blessings from the family for a safe journey and my pikipiki driver arriving 30 minutes late nearly resulting in a missed bus, I was on the road. There was nothing unexpected during the travel as we sped on the wrong side of the road past truck accidents along the way- travel by road in East Africa is not for the faint hearted. With the amount of cars around and a visit to the local Nakumatt (a big supermarket chain through East Africa) resulted in, although I had travelled to Arusha previously, a little culture shock. It appears just after three months, I have adapted well to the Kenyan village life. This became evident by the homesickness for the village I experienced during my stay in Arusha. This was cured with consuming the ample variety of fruits available in Tanzania that are not available in Kenya. I was so thrilled to have eaten my first mango of the season, albeit two months late.
The plan was to stay with a friend for two weeks and then stay with fellow participants for the course. Due to other commitments, I ended up in a hotel after three nights. Having been to Arusha twice before and not really knowing anyone else in the town resulted in a rather boring few days and nights. Though, the positive side was that with half decent internet, I managed to catch up on not only the news I had been missing from around the world but also work. The PDC course was excellent and now I am qualified to design gardens in an earth-friendly sustainable way. I could not have asked for a better group of people to share the learning and experience with. The participants were a spread from many countries and climates- Australia, Congo, Austria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, England, America, DRC, Algeria, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania. The knowledge I learnt from the course will allow me to assist my fellow Kenyan villagers to be more self-sustainable.

During my stay in Arusha, I went on a road trip with a new friend, F— to his Moshi village home of Kilimanjaro. Such a beautiful place and people. Here I met another new friend, D—, a Masai from Ngorogoro that the Father has taken under his wing to educate so he can provide for his family in the future. The trip there and back was rather amusing as we randomly picked people up along the way (a great way to earn extra money- taxi people), two of which were police officers. I am also quite certain I have received some car-window-hit brain damage due to the belief here that speed bumps are for exactly that- speeding over.

Amusing-in-hindsight African moment this month that my parents will not be happy to hear involves driving home on the back of a motorbike in the dark with no headlights- only in Africa. Went on a long safari when in Kenya to quite literally the middle of nowhere with a friend on a loaned motorbike that wasn’t in the greatest of conditions. At one point, the bike didn’t have enough power to get up a hill so I had to get off the bike and walk up. The safari back was a bit slow due to me wanting to relax and take it easy. My friend was being rather adamant that we start going home and I couldn’t understand what the rush was to get me back home before dark, thinking he was worried about my welfare. It wasn’t until we got on the motorbike at dusk that he mentions the headlights and I understood the concern, perhaps this was lost in translation earlier? To compensate against the lack of lighting, my dear friend thought it best to go faster in order to get home quicker, I wasn’t so convinced on the theory. Especially when I got airborne because we went over a speed bump or two at high speed.

Kwa heri, Sam xo

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The content of this post forms part of a series of email updates from our In-country Coordinator (Kenya), Sam A. Sam A is staying in the village to assist with the implementation and evaluation of Community Classrooms programs. These updates are Sam’s personal account of her experiences in Kenya. Names and other identifying information about particular people have been removed prior to posting.

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