We have been having a lot of fun here in Kunya and our project is going very well. I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every week. However, I have to say that many of my favorite memories so far have been from the weekends. We have gone on a mini-adventure each of the past two weekends:
June 1-3: Kisumu
We stayed with Dr. Tina for a weekend is Kisumu. We visited the cyber, Naukumatt, and a restaurant before meeting up with Dr. Tina. We went to her choir concert on Friday night which was very enjoyable! They did a lot of songs from movies and musicals which I really loved. After the performance, the Simba club served their Indian buffet which was absolutely incredible! We got to chat with Dr. Tina and some of her co-workers and friends. We learned that even here mothers use the phrase, “you should finish your food. There are starving children in Africa”, except they’ll be more specific and say “there are starving children in Turkana”. Needless to say, we went home very full and happy and listened to some of Dr. Tina’s stories before finally going to bed hours later than normal.
The next morning we went on a boat ride on Lake Victoria as the sun rose. It was absolutely gorgeous! We had barely left the shore when we came across hippos. We saw lots of birds throughout the morning including king fishers, herons, and egrets. We also had the rare treat of seeing a lake otter! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and taught us about all of the animals, plants, fishing on the lake, and the culture of the area. We enjoyed the cookies we brought along in the midst of a herd of hippos! On our way back to shore after almost 3.5 hours of fun, we came across a black spitting cobra which was the perfect end to a memorable morning. We spent the afternoon using the cyber (we have yet to break our internet and facebook addictions), helping prepare a BBQ and catching up on sleep.
We were invited to a braen (BBQ) at Tina’s friends’ home. They had a shwaenker (sp?) a grill that swings from a tripod over the flames. It cooked the meat to perfection! We had a lot of fun talking to the family and learned a lot about the peace festival they are planning. It was a very enjoyable evening and made two nights in a row where we feasted.
On Sunday, I went to church, while Sarah and Saira walked down to the Impala Park. We spent the rest of the morning helping Tina with cooking lunch and watching the monkeys playing in the trees on the edge of her backyard which is next to the Impala Park. Not everyone can watch BBC and monkeys at the same time, but we were that lucky! After another delicious meal, we headed back into town and used the cyber one last time before meeting up with our translator Tina and heading back to Kunya. The weekend was a great change of pace for us and allowed us to learn a lot from people who have been working in Africa for years.
June 9-10: Mbita and Making the Rounds
We decided to go to Mbita with Judy the next Saturday to celebrate Saira’s birthday. We took a matatu to the ferry port. We took a 45 minute ferry across a small part of Lake Victoria to Mbita which is on a peninsula. It was so nice standing by the railing feeling the wind in my face and gazing out on the shores of Lake Victoria. We asked a man to take a picture for us and in chatting with him afterwards, we found out that he used to work for Mama na Dada in the Nairobi office and is currently working as a psychologist for Doctors Without Borders. It was a crazy coincidence!
Once in Mbita, we wandered to a hotel restaurant, but thought it was overpriced and thought it was strange that no one else as there, so we went a found a cyber, instead of eating. It was unexpectedly fast! After sending a few emails we ate at the crowded restaurant next door. They had the best chapatti I have ever eaten! It was a great meal!
From there we went to the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology. The researchers weren’t working because it was a Saturday, but we could see into some of their greenhouses and artificial environments which were fascinating. Even the campus itself was gorgeous! While walking down to the guest house, a car stopped and it was none other than our friend from the ferry! What a small world! At the guest house, we stood chatting near the edge of the shore, feeling the wind in our face and listening to the waves breaking on the rocks. We found our way back to the ferry and traveled back home to Kunya very content after a day of beautiful views, good conversations, and great food.
Sunday morning was spent cleaning the huts and attempting to go to a children’s club in the HIV center of the dispensary. It started late, while we were back for lunch and was over by the time we got back. We spent the rest of the afternoon making visits like true Kenyans. First, we went to Mama Lois’s house and talked to her about her life as the wife of one of Kenya’s freedom fighters. She not only gave us information about her life and also some really good insights into Kenya’s history and present day issues. We went on a brief walk down to the shore before heading to Dr. Tina’s home in Kunya for tea. There we met some of her friends as well and enjoyed chatting with them. Dr. Tina not only provided delicious tea and biscuits, but also great insight into how to improve our cognitive testing. We hurried back to the compound and just made it inside before the start of a big rainstorm that marked the end of another great weekend!
This upcoming weekend, we will be going to Madiany for a festival celebrating the Day of the African Child. We will enjoy performances, including a poem recited by the daycare kids, speeches, and general festivities. I can’t wait to see what the weekend will bring. If it’s anything like the past two weekends, great things are in store!