Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oh the life and times

I board a matatu first scoping out my favorite seat- it is taken this time, so I settle for a window seat. As I sit a crowd of grown men gather and start tapping at the window. Tap Tap "Hello Sister" Tap Tap " Mzungu" Tap Tap " Promote me today". At this point I realize I will never own a fish again. The tapping reminds me of playing with my Beta fish Fred, trying desperately to get a reaction from him ( sorry Fred, R.I.P). After living (close too) this town for one year, I imagined this would stop; it has not. The town is just too big, and mzungus too few ( I've counted 12 in the past year, most just going to the supermarket) I am a main attraction. I have learned to take these reaction with a grain of humility and humor, but it is still difficult ( I have had my first gray hair to prove it)!

As we begin the journey multiple people are literally breathing down my neck, I become a contortionist, as I twist a turn, fitting more and more people into the vehicle. Arms tucked in, neck turned to one side, balancing my bananas on my leg, matatus are never full; there is always room. I look out the window to the rolling mountains and changing sky. My mind runs through a labyrinth of thoughts, my eyes traces the shambas, the mountains, the jacaranda trees, the maize stalks, the clouds, I am in my own world, fully present but magically gone. The driver stops in front of the sign St. Luke's Special School and again somehow weave myself out.

Here it is among the watchful eye of Mount Kenya looming in the West tucked in between the hills in the distance, my own personal slice of happiness. The students perched on top of a termite hill point and sign my name, the race begins. Three young boys race to help me with my bag, Ken the fastest little kid always wins out, but I always find something for Paul and Martin to carry. I always pass Bernard sweeping the dirt, his smile would melt even the hardest heart.When we reach my house the crowd has formed- asking me to play frisbee or catch or color or read. I tell them in a bit , and hurriedly unpack my things and head out.

Jackline and Faith spot me in the distance and they come running towards me with arms open hugging my legs as I approach. Rebecca and Stella now spot me and each grab an arm, I twirl them in circles until the giggle with dizziness. Others join we play, we dance, we climb trees, we practice sign language, we practice spelling, we throw balls, we chase, we fall, we are happy. The wind whips through the grass and it tickles are feet. The evening is approaching and we watch the sky change colors.

My one year in Kenya has been a tapestry of thoughts, stories, feelings, awareness, but the common thread of happiness has been my students. They define every moment, this school has given me, a place to be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I am not a farmer, but I pretend!

Sarah: The kids have no pencils.
Me: I just gave the whole school pencils a few weeks ago!
Sarah: They probably ate them, these children eat everything.
Me: A whole pencil...they would eat it.
Sarah: Yes.

This was not a signed conversation but I thought it was amusing; in fact I have many of these conversations through out the day which are always funny!

So the rains have begun, finally after nearly a year of living in Kenya I have yet to experience the full rains...until now! Everyone is very happy, and are even thankful for the tons of mud stuck to their feet! I told my students how in America we sing song for the rain to go away! A few of my students were curious to know the song, but others refused to sign the song because rain means that food grows, without the rains there is no food, its interesting the lesson you are taught by a 10-year-old.

Since everyone in my area is busy planting and tending to their farms I decided I should do the same. I am currently attempting to grow tomatoes (Nyanya), green pepper (Ho Ho) and cilantro (daniya). So far the chickens have learned to scale the gate I built in August, although I did not see the chicken myself the children reported back to me; Ginnie: 0 Chicken:39,876. I love eating chicken now but merely for vengeance! We will see how or if I get any food from this shamba but working with the kids with it has been fun at least.

Another result of the rains is having no dry clothes! I have been attempting to dry my jeans for 3 days. Today I just got greedy, the sun was shining and the birds were singing, they were basically dry except for a few inches, I thought " hey why not", torrential down pour...that is why not! So I guess it is getting another rinse, along with all my other clothes!

The rains also bring bugs, so many bugs, good thing my bug tolerance is at an all time high, now I days I casually pick the beetles off instead of flailing to get them off. Of coarse at first when I jumped from a beetle attack the kids laughed and then ate the beetle, go figure. Catching flying termites is the new past-time at my school. The termites come from the ground and normally the kids just find the hole and pop one in, just like a candy, right? There is also a method of hitting your sweater against the ground which somehow gets the termite? I have to be explained this again, I think. I will fully admit I have eaten termites myself (this somehow reminds me of the 2nd grade when people use to tease "Ginnie eats bug" now I can say yes I do) they are not bad, kind of taste like fried eggs.

The term is wrapping up as we prepare for the KCPE, the final exams, essentially. I am busy with reviewing, and also trying to pull things together for the new group of Volunteers coming in tomorrow! We are planning an HIV/AIDS camp and 4 of my students are going! I am very excited to meet the new group, and have my kids participate in the camp!