Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July July

This month has been flying! The first picture is from another volunteer's Deaf School, he organized a field day and this was the water balloon toss, I was the last team purple standing.I want to organize one of these for my students next term! The rest of these pictures are from my semi-regular bike adventure with the schools watchman. They normally start with a conversation telling me of a cool site 30 minutes away, that evolve into 6 hour epic journeys of pain! I always enjoy myself though! This latest one involved riding through the rolling green hills, Savannah grasslands, helpful watoto (children). The highlight was the view from the top of the exposed rocks. I could see my school, Mount Kenya, hundred of shambas( farms), the sky extending to the ends of the earth. The lowlight was wiping out! The road could only be described as red dust in which my tire dug into, and I flipped over. I have some cuts and scrapes but I kept on going. I have now earned some "cred" with my students for my scars, so its ok!

Teaching the students how to write is still my main focus, and I see progress polay polay ( slowly slowly). I've been also keeping myself busy with upcoming events with the Deaf community. The main one is next weekend is Mr. and Miss Deaf Beauty. The event will be held at the hotel in town. The main goal in all of this is to promote Deaf pride and culture. We want to expose this pride to the hearing community and encourage parent to send children to school. I am also working on a skit or presentation on HIV/AIDS in KSL and English ( for the hearing who will be there) I hope this will be a good opportunity to spread awareness and lessen the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

One of the goals of the Peace Corps is to share American culture with Kenya and Kenyan culture with Americans. I am always talking with my friends here about America and dispelling rumors ( We eat snakes, we leave TV's on the street, everyone is rich) but I feel maybe I should give more detail to life here in Kenya. So here are the most common questions I get about my life in Kenya.

What do I eat? I eat a lot of vegetables. My situation is a bit different then most volunteers because I do not eat a lot of Kenyan food because the location of my school. I live in the middle of nowhere-- the nearest place to eat is about a 2 hour walk. I can take a matatu into town but its expensive and really not do-able unless I plan to spend some time in town. So I cook my own food. I don't have a refrigerator so I tend to buy food that won't go bad quickly so potatoes and onions! I do eat more then just that, but I do have to plan out my meals for the week based on when I will be able to go to town and when things will go bad. I've made some awesome meals, but I am basically a vegetarian again; no butcher around so I'd have to kill my own food, which takes too long. In fact I am slightly vegan no milk is sold around here so no dairy! Although when I go to Nairobi I eat cheese and bacon like there is no tomorrow so I don't know if that makes me Nairobitarian?

How do I get around? Matatu. Oh Matatus. Imagine a van with 14 seats, now imagine 24 people in this van, many chicken, even more babies, and possibly a goat-- tah dah...matatus! I've gotten used to them for the most part, but there is the occasional day where the chickens scare me or I am smooshed beyond belief, that I want to kick the chickens and jump off, but I don't.

What is the weather like? I live in what is considered the central highlands. It is technically mountain climate area but I am on the Savannah the lowest point on the mountain ( can you tell I am a social studies teacher?) Generally my weather is awesome! Imagine a spring-like weather in the morning and a sunny afternoon. We are now in winter, which means for a few hours in the morning I could technically wear a light sweater, but then it gets sunny again!

How is my farm? Farm is not so good. Lets just say the crops were not chicken proof. The only thing that is surviving is onions! I am not much of farmer, but I am going to build my own fence and try again next rainy season.

What do I do? Most of the time I am a teacher. I don't teach all day like other teachers so I have free time to work on HIV/AIDS projects. I try to spend a lot of time revising my lesson plans and evaluating each student on what worked and what didn't. After school is playtime, I normally color, dance, or read books with the younger children( I teach the older ones).I also read a lot, I actually need to slow down because I won't have much else to read. I can polish off a novel in an afternoon! *shameless plug if you would like to send me books my address is on the side*. I also spend a lot of time just maintaining my household; hand washing clothes, cooking meals, attempting to care for my shamba, scaring the evil chicken away, cleaning everything to keep the ants at bay.

The biggest difference is how simple life is. I'm not sure if it is a change within myself, or if it is Kenya, but life is beautifully simple. I have time to think and enjoy things like never before. I appreciate the smallest things like water,electricity, success in the classroom, or a letter from a friend. I hope this gave you a bit of glimpse into my life in Kenya. I welcome more questions too!