Thursday, November 16, 2006

There is too much; I will sum up.

I'm overwhelmed with all the things I want to write about. It feels like every day here is actually three days. I am completely submerged in a foreign place and everything I see, taste, touch, smell and hear is slightly different (or sometimes worlds apart) from what I am accustomed to. I can't possibly capture all of it, but I can offer are snapshots that I hope will capture the essence of my life here. I realize now that I will never really know what it is like to live in Kenya. I remain an outsider; insulated from the real expirience here. This is partly due to the best intentions of our hosts who want to see us well taken care of and want to offer all the best that Kenya has to offer. It is partly due to my white skin which immediately sets me apart. And it is partly due to my own other-ness (which I try to overcome) but which reveals itself in strange ways, during grocery shopping or conversation or reading the local paper. I can already feel my perspective shifting, my self evolving. I am numb to the changes because of the overwhelming circumstances I find myself in. There are too many things to be taken in from the outside to be concerned with the effects on my insides. Its a relief somehow, after all the preparations and waiting.

We went to Embu to visit some of the more far flung CFW shops and to take in some of the community outreach meetings being held there to alert the rural people about the changes in official malaria control policy and to teach them about the importance of re-treating their bednets. Again, the temptation is to write it all down, but I am not even sure I am ready to let it all out yet. Here are some snapshots instead:

Speeding along one of the main thouroughfairs in all of Kenya, the road was quite good, well paved. Along the way we zip past men pulling wooden carts, the better off ones have an ox or donkey to pull it, their hides raw on the left and right were they are constantly being whipped with a little switch. The buildings all brightly painted with advertisements; Celltell and SafariCom are currently duking it out to determine who will be the main cell phone provider here in Kenya. Here you buy a phone for $30 and buy minute cards as you need them. Their kiosks are everywhere, and you never pay for incoming calls.

Embu is famous for its bannanas and there are trees everywhere. The whole countryside is green from the short rains. The short rainy season is really very lovely. As it gets dark, the rain comes and all night long you hear the gentle pattering of the drops on the tin roofs and pavement and mud. When we wake in the mornings, the sky is grey and eventually it breaks open to reveal a gorgeous blue sky and the sun pours down drying everything and warming the air. Embu is higher ground and the rains seemed to come during the days as well making a terrible mess of the dirt roads. It takes 45 minutes to go 10 kilometers because roads are washed out or there are giant puddles. But beautiful varied countryside filled with coffee plantations, pineapple farms, mango trees and macadamia trees. Children shuffling along in their battered school uniforms, the lucky ones with flip flops. When we got out to greet them, they were shy at first, but soon they were shaking our hands and smiling huge gorgeous pearly white smiles..glowing against their dark skin. Many of them had fungal skin infections making mean little itchy circles on thier cheeks and foreheads. Their feet were covered with mud and who knows what else, and their clothes were grimy, but mended carefully. Again, not sure how clearly I can write about any of this yet. What suprised me was the way they carried themselves. There was no shame or apathy, just curiosity and concern for their brothers and sisters.

The computer I am writing on belongs to someone else, and he is here needing to get work done for CFW, so I will sign off and continue to write in my journal. Certainly, there will be more to say very soon.

4 comments:

tangata said...

Mrs b,
So good to see your lovely face on the "slide show" and hear your voice even though the skype connection seems bedeviled at times. I finished "Capers" and am on to your next reccomendation after I cram in as much Plato as I can before the inagural meeting of my mini book club (me, john ibes, and a couple of his friends)I have the next pick and he has promised to vote for Capers too. We're reading Republic. First meeting is monday after a full day at nordy's and the gym. ack. I emailed your link letter to a partial list of my acquaintances and have recieved some nice emails back and a few more book reccomendations. I am so proudt of you guys! How lucky I am to have such great human beings in my family! I hope you continue to keep your artistic,inner eye open and "seeing" even though it costs to do it. loves, mamag

tangata said...

Mrs b,
So good to see your lovely face on the "slide show" and hear your voice even though the skype connection seems bedeviled at times. I finished "Capers" and am on to your next reccomendation after I cram in as much Plato as I can before the inagural meeting of my mini book club (me, john ibes, and a couple of his friends)I have the next pick and he has promised to vote for Capers too. We're reading Republic. First meeting is monday after a full day at nordy's and the gym. ack. I emailed your link letter to a partial list of my acquaintances and have recieved some nice emails back and a few more book reccomendations. I am so proudt of you guys! How lucky I am to have such great human beings in my family! I hope you continue to keep your artistic,inner eye open and "seeing" even though it costs to do it. loves, mamag

Anonymous said...

i check the sites (blog, wanderworld) every morning, and the words/pictures are truly amazing. it seems like we were just in your living room, talking about the whole trip hypothetically, and then today i see a picture of you in front of an elephant.

i'm so happy to hear that things are going well. keep on updating!

love you all

chris #2

Jake said...

Love the pictures, Eric's beard is coming along nicely. I'm hoping it reaches Ben-Hur proportions ere I come visit.

Please say hello to both Eric and Chris.

Take care.

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