Hongera (Congratulations) Mamma!

Too much has happened in the last week and a half since I last wrote – I actually typed them all out on word but then it went on and on for two and a half pages L So I will try my hand at précis writing which, by the way, I swore I would never do after the 10th grade final exam. Oh well, here I go.

Homesickness: It’s leading into the third week which means I have been lonesome for home. Those of you who travel for longer periods will know this. Why the 2nd slash 3rd week? When you’re in a place for over a week, certain things that were new and exciting suddenly become familiar and you slowly observe a routine forming.  New routine = struggle to break with your old routine = nostalgia. And that is exactly the trouble with memories -they can’t be ignored easily.

Spoilt Brat: I miss taking bath in water I can see through, water without dead insects. I miss eating food that has been cleaned so many times and then cooked beyond recognition. I miss being a brat with water and electricity. I miss my bath tub and I books and I miss reading for hours in the loo. I miss twitter and my twitter buddies. I miss obsessing about facebook on internet so fast it’s beautiful. I miss Google! I miss sleeping in and lazing in front of the TV. I miss taking things for granted. I miss you … madly.

Solution: What I usually do is immerse myself in activity so that the only thought in my head, when the sun sets, is sleep. So far I’ve finished reading about 4 books – one called the Black Mamba Boy that really struck a note with me. I’m also teaching myself Swahili because the girls are too shy to have a conversation beyond a “Jambo, Habari za Asubuhi?” To help me in my endeavours (and I’m one persistent girl) I’ve started to follow the girls around just to annoy them enough to poke a reaction out of them – to leave them no choice but to talk to me in English or bitch about me in Swahili – that way I can pick out a few words and learn faster.

Activity One: I helped out in the kitchen – we made cabbage and ugali and beans, chicken and passion fruit juice. I have cooked in the big kitchen in Taize but this is completely different – I’m trying not to be TOO germaphobic 😉 You’ll see what I mean when you look at the pictures.

Activity Two: The windmill broke down – this means we had to walk 30 minutes to fetch water from the well and then walk back. To get enough water – we had to do this around 5-6 times. HOLY &*^%. Enough said. Despite me discovering muscles in places I never thought possible, I hope I can sleep okay tonight. I’m crossing my fingers. I learnt today that that means a TOTALLY different thing here and I had to stop doing that before somebody decided to take me up on my offer 😉

Activity Three: Nothing like a long drive in a 4WD roughing it out in the heart of Africa. I went to Issuna which is 30 kms from here. The sisters run a vocational training centre for girls there.  Tailoring, knitting – the kind of thing that will help them get money in the area. 13 girls will graduate next week. I hope I can go – if only to see them in their bright orange bridal gown type graduation dress.

Activity Four: I’ve taught 2 English classes for 30 girls so far – totally different from each other.  They seemed to have enjoyed it but I think all the loud laughter from the group annoyed the mother superior into thinking I was not being serious. I really should think of a way to show her how now all 30 of them now know how to introduce themselves and hold a conversation with a stranger.

Intermission: HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLY MOTHERBOARD *&^*^$^%&*%* A mouse just squeezed through the tiniest little gap in the door and went straight for my suitcase! Kebab’s anyone?

Activity Five: I figured that since I had to go to church on Sunday, I’d rather go to the church in the village rather the one here. Last Sunday I almost fell off from dozing. Major snooze fest J But the village church did NOT disappoint. I mean, I’m still wide eyed thinking of it. First of all, the choir – they were dancing and ululating and clapping and you couldn’t help but join in. Then the priest comes in, big charismatic man – moves away from the altar into the crowd and he was moving around and making people laugh and I have no idea what he said but at the end of it, I wanted to turn activist for the good old Jesus man. Then in came this skinny fellow in a pink shirt and spoke so passionately and people hooted and whistled for him too. I started wishing my catholic upbringing was in this church.

I later found out that just after mass has ended, the village leader comes up and makes announcements. This time, the priest and the village head were calling the nun’s and the villagers on a couple of issues. The priest told the sisters that just because they had now finished taking their vows didn’t mean their work was done and that they had to stay inside the gated community. As Christians, they were to make sure to go door to door and see if everyone was okay and if they needed any help – especially the children. Because life here is very hard, many of the children migrate from place to place and have no roots. He urged the sisters to see what can be done since they have the means – and by ‘do something’, I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean catechism classes 😉

Activity Six: Well, this is not so much an activity as much as it a description of my Rafiki, my 7 year old bodyguard, Armando. He follows me around everywhere, talking constantly and giggling. He has the sweetest laugh and sometimes I take photos of him and show it to him just to hear his “tehehehe”s. It’s addictive, I’m telling you. He tells all his friends about me being his guest and when I was working in the kitchen, they all came to the fence separating the community I live in and the kindergarten. It was hilarious – like I was the exotic new zoo animal.

Armando wears this HUGE rosary and says he wants to be a policeman and protect children from bad people. He is also very good at reading the environment. Two days ago he told me that the first clouds would form in a day or two. Sure enough, I woke up this morning to grey skies. I really hope it rains. He also showed me how all animals now travelled in pairs – because it’s “wedding” season and they are building their “first homes” as “husband and wife”.  It’s true. You can see birds carrying twigs and always as a couple. I really love the way the African people explain things.

Activity Seven: Bird watching has been fun but yesterday I saw those animals, 0:00:43-0:00:44 in the Lion King (I forget their names – the look like stretched out rats with long tails and they stand up, always travelling in twos or threes), right outside my window. I was so excited I could barely sleep.

p.s. I later found out that these animals are called Ratels or honey badgers – apparently even the lions fear them and give up their food if a pack of Ratel’s come hunting! J

Activity Eight: The most miraculous thing about this week was delivering a baby at the dispensary at 5 in the morning. I know little less than my basic first aid but the sisters needed all the help they could get. It’s totally breathtaking to see the mad rush, the pain, the stress, the relief, the mess and the smile on all the people involved in bringing a child into this world, especially the mother. A little baby girl to a 19 year old mother. As strong as my personal beliefs are about babies – this was so magical it made me speechless. Magical – there is no other word.  Within 8 hours, there was another li’l girl born. This one was the 4th child, the first girl after 3 boys.

So much for keeping it short huh? J I’m sorrrrryyy J But I promise that’s all for now from the heart of the world. Until later, BIG hugs!

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