Living in Naivasha was an adventure. We had rain for a few days, so our well water was low and dirty. I hand washed a few items, which ended up crunchy because there wasn’t sufficient water to rinse the soap. I also went 3 days with no shower. I washed my face by pouring water into my hand from a water bottle and recycling that water into a bucket to use for other things. When the donkey hauling a tank of water came, even a splash bath sounded good!
This water only lasted a couple days and ran out again the day before I left. I’ve never been so thankful for water, and it made me think of all the time I’ve wasted it.
Falling asleep in Kenya was challenging. My house family has four dogs that bark at everything until midnight. The rooster next door starts crowing at 5. A man out front starts washing tents at 6:00 am. The other night however, I was reading trying to fall asleep and my house dad, Wallace, was rocking out to “Bad boys, bad boys whatchya gonna do? Whatchya gonna do when they come for you?” followed by “you dropped a bomb on me, baby.”
Despite the loud dogs and lack of water, it was an authentic experience getting to stay with my host family, and I am grateful for all they did and for opening their home.
Customer service is non-existent in Kenya so far. They don’t come check on you until you wave them down and often it’s a surprise what comes out. I am not sure if it’s the language barrier, but I’ll give you some examples. I was at an Internet cafe and ordered a piece of apple pie. The gentlemen said,”We are out. How about an ice cream sundae.”
“No thank you. I just wanted to try the pie.” I replied.
A couple minutes later, he brings out a piece of apple pie. It is not at all what the menu described as a warm piece of pie with ice cream on top. I need to warn you, I am not a person who send things back, but in Kenya you have to be honest because you will end up never getting what you ordered. I told him of what the menu said about the pie.
“We are out of ice cream,” he informed me. Why was he trying to sell me a sundae earlier? Some other volunteers were there and I looked at their table. Steinar, a guy from Iceland, had a piece of apple pie with pink ice cream on top. We both laughed and said our usual phrase “this is Kenya.”
Let me give you one more example. I ordered shrimp cocktail one afternoon thinking it was out of my price range, but I was really craving it and would be sitting at the cafe for awhile using the internet. The menu said it has a choice of cocktail, plain, or avocado sauce.
“I’ll take the shrimp cocktail,” I stated.
“Ok, thank you,” the waiter replied.
“Wait! It says I get my choice of sauce. Is the avocado sauce good?”
“Ok, I’ll take that.”
About fifteen minutes passed, and a sliced avocado comes out with some sauce drizzled over it.
“Excuse me. Where is the shrimp?”
“You wanted shrimp?” He asked confused.
“Yes, shrimp with avocado sauce.”
A few more moments passed. (I didn’t just order an avocado!! I can get that for 10 cents at the markets!) The shrimp came covered in some other sauce. I gave up and ate the avocado and got charged for both.
On my second to last night in Naivasha, I took a matatu (mini bus taxi) to a place near the lake to meet up with the guys. Riding in a matatu is always an adventure. It legally fits 12 passengers, but they add wooden planks in the gaps and force you to get cozy with the people next to you. On the ride back into town, the driver was blaring Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, and George Michael while squeezing 21 people in the matatu on a 40 minute ride. I think the driver was trying to get everyone in the cozy mood with the music. Most rides are like this: smooshed, hot, and nauseating.
My time in Kenya was going by so fast, and I continued to work on being in the moment. I got the opportunity last weekend to volunteer at a slum in Naivasha called KCC. All the guy volunteers I’ve met in Naivasha are working on this project helping build new facilities for the kids at a school there.
I helped hammer, dig out wooden stakes, cut sheet metal, and mix mortar and concrete. Well, I only helped pour water for the mortar and concrete, but it felt really good to do some physical labor. I even got a blister from hammering. (Steinar saw it a few days later and said, “I see you were hammering,” because everyone building there has blisters on their hands) I took a walk through the slum and immediately felt convicted. It looked just like the slums in the movies. I had been thinking of my petty problems the last few days, and they are so minuscule. How do you focus on yourself yet put others first? Where is the balance? I am doing a lot of self-discovery that literally unfolds day by day.
The kids on Monica Memorial taught me more than I taught them. I love how they would say, “Teacher! Teacher!” I’d turn and look at them, and they would just want me to watch them play. One of my favorite little boys would give me random gifts in the schoolyard. He would run up to me saying, “Teacher! Teacher! Look!” He would hand me a piece of scrap metal filled with dirt topped with a few blades of grass. I would thank him, and he would smile ear to ear and say “yes” with his lisp that melts me. His reply to everything was “yes.” I would smile every time he said it because he hardly ever used the word at the right time, and he always said it smiling.
The last day there, Harp and I put money together to get the kids new school supplies. They came up one by one to receive their notebooks, pencil, and eraser. It was hard to say goodbye. When we left they sang us a farewell song. In 10 years they will not know me, I will be just another volunteer, but I will always remember my time in Kenya with them.
Thanksgiving morning I fixed breakfast at my host home for Walker and Harp. That evening, I was able to FaceTime my family from the airport where my flight was delayed 6 hours and I slept on the ground behind some chairs. I finally made it to Cape Town where I would be couch surfing the next five days. Couch surfing is a network where you request to sleep on people’s couches to avoid paying for a hotel and hopefully get some tips on the city. I did it before in Thailand but this is my first in Africa. (Mom, don’t kill me. I haven’t told you yet. Love you!!) My host was so kind to even pick me up from the airport. I feel like I hit the jackpot with this stay! A comfy bed, my own bathroom, and a beautiful view! Talk about a huge change from what I just had, but I can’t get too cozy because I am planning an adventuring along the coast, which will be full of shared hostels and dodgy showers. There is a hop on, hop off bus I’ll be taking all along the tip on South Africa. I’ll fill you in on Cape Town so far and what happens next in my next blog!!!