Yes, we are attempting one of the many tribal languages that you could learn around here, Luo is the main group here so that is one of the many Luo greetings as greeting people is extremely important.
We have survived another day in Kenya which is no mean feat, I believe. Yesterday, for example, we took one of those 3-wheeled taxis from Rosalia's carrying tools for the garden that we had just bought. I think the driver was angry that Rosalia had haggled with him so that it cost 70 shillings (55p) instead of the 100 shilllings (80p) that he had originally asked probably thinking that he could get a good deal with the mzungus, which is a fair enough assumption. Anyway, we have never had such a wild ride over the potholes as that tuk-tuk drive. He then managed to almost crash into a matatu, the driver of which he got so irate that he was he was getting out of his matatu to fight him. At another point straight after, we were sandwiched by 2 matatus almost hitting another before escaping the hazards eventually. And that was in a 15 minute ride from Rosalia's...
Today, I was riding with the REAP team to do a field visit in another matatu. I was holding on tightly to the seat in front of me, praying and trying to stay calm because of the speed it was going at. While going up a hill, we saw a truck overtaking a matatu that had stopped. However, the truck also had to negotiate the other vehicle in front of us on the same side of the road. The truck had to drive off the road and up the hill a little to avoid crashing. It was suspected it may have had faulty brakes.
All in all, to say that living in Kenya is a little hairy, though the lifestyle can be considered exciting too, as a mzungu recently told me, you are living life on the edge a bit more. He considered that living in the West was too boring...
I really enjoyed getting out to the field with the REAP staff Dom, Sam and George to visit some of the farmers who employ REAP techniques. The visits help to encourage people and motivate them as well as give technical advice or provide seeds and planting material.
George and Sam advise bishop Enoch about planting vetiver (and ask him where he got his colourful hat)
Bishop Enoch and Grace Okani show off their roselle and artemesia
REAP works with some interesting sounding local churches such as the African Israel Ninevah church whose HQ we visited. The high priest who began the church was buried there and there was a shrine there dedicated to him. The lady contact who REAP works with thought I was Roger's son saying that I looked like him somehow. I hope it is just the long hair that is confusing people...
Dom waits expectantly for a motorbike at the HQ of African Israel Ninevah church
Another lady and her husband the bishop from African Devine Church wear green, red and white hats. Invited inside her house, I was pleased to note the ubiquitous ancient calendars on the wall from 2009 or even 1991, though none from 2010. (If anyone is coming out to visit, I'm sure some old calendars that you may have lying about in a cupboard would make a very welcome gift for people). Christmas decorations of tinsel or garlands are also a common sight in Kenyan homes which also seem very out of place (again, there you go, another easy gift).
One of the REAP participants and her husband of Africa Devine Church
One of the problems about being out the whole day in the sun walking place to place is dehydration, so at the end of the day, I was feeling a bit rough. It was a welcome break at around lunch-time when we stopped and had a bit of lunch and a 'soda'. My meal of a couple of chapatis and some chopped kale cost 25p! I enjoy mealtimes with the Kenyans as it is expected that you eat with your hands, you can belch quite happily, and spit bits out onto the ground that may be a bit chewy. At the end of the meal, everyone reaches for a toothpick and enjoys a good prod. Getting told off for halving my elbows on the table seems a bit trivial.
On the matatu on the way back, another cultural norm, being tightly squeezed between a big mama and George who had to get my wallet out for me as my arms were forced upwards. I didn't even have a seat to sit on, I was between seats and so only one butt-cheek was comfortable. The conductor who collects the money was content leaning over the passengers in front of me hitting his head on the roof of the matatu.
When I returned home, Emma had said she had had a good day swimming with her little kids at the Braeburn International school she volunteers at. I found her painting various colours and weather symbols on sugar sacks that she had bought at the market for using at the orphan nursery she helps out at in Orongo tomorrow and Thursday. She has a lot of ideas for using bottle tops and other low-cost materials for producing resources at the very poorly resourced nurseries she is helping out at.
George is coming to meet me to help in our rather good-sized garden tomorrow. He is bringing Dr Rogers the kitten which Em is very excited about. We have small fish ready for it...!
Emma paints nursery resources on sugar sacks
This is Rose - I thought she looked like my mum so I took a photo