Can you spot Kibbutz Masada, from this Earth Obervatory view, where I “worked” on my cousin’s chicken farm one summer long past? You never forget the smell because it never quite leaves you. Speaking of never forgetting read this travelogue. Then listen to the President’s greeting (and I thought he was Irish).
(Nairobi) “This morning first went to a wildlife orphanage, they had 20 baby elephants and the cutest tiniest baby rhino!!! I actually got to touch a black baby rhino! Next we went to the girafffe center where I got kissed by a giraffe (gross–but did you know their saliva has natural sunscreen and antiseptic).”
(Muhuru Bay) “It’s Friday night and I finally have enough time to just sit and write an email with more substance! Everyone has been so busy since arriving in Muhuru, I can’t even imagine that we’ve been here less than a week. But being busy is good, the one slower day I’ve had so far I started to feel homesick. The cure for that was cooking with my new friend Mama Olwen (Mama Eunice-the real mama’s- neice). She showed me how to make mandazi’s, which are made of chipati dough but deep fried in vegetable oil so that they puff up like fried dough. She has a little one year old running around so she was very grateful for my help and recruited me again at dinner when I made Banana stew for everyone! I can’t to wait to make a version for you all at home. This morning after someone got a text about Michael Jackson we had a tribute, playing his music all through breakfast. People in town were sad to hear the news, although Mama Eunice doesn’t know his name.
So far with Eve’s research project we’ve been nailing down the organizational stuff and working mostly on the WISER compound. First we hired ten research assistants, all are awesome, and have been training and getting ready for the mass surveying to come! Today was a good day of firsts to write about. I went on my first motorbike ride this morning, we call them ‘piki-pikis’. Philip, one of the research assistants was a very good driver and since the dirt roads are so terrible we go slowly. It was SO much fun to ride around and see more of the lakeshore and downtown Muhuru which is called ‘Customs’ because it is on Tanzania road, nearly at the border.
We went to the Young Social Entrepreneur center in customs which is full of amazing teenagers, then to two schools. One was a private school—meaning very poor, and the other was the best in Muhuru. I talked to the girls there while Philip and Vivian tested the surveys. I started talking with just four girls who were so fun. They taught me how to count in dhoLuo and I told them about university in America. They wanted to be a Pilot, Doctor, Nurse, and Teacher and told me they’d visit me someday. Within the hour about thirty students were gathered under the shade. They told poems and taught me songs in Luo, so I had to come up with a poem on the spot in return and tried singing the WISER song—it was funny hah.
Tonight we had a surprise fish dinner from Mama Eunice. We eat fried tilapia (tonight I had a tail) with cabbage, fresh sliced tomatoes, raw onions, and Ugali. It is my favorite dinner after Christmas Eve’s…if nothing else because it is so fun to eat—no utensils allowed, you just pick everything up with a chunk of Ugali!
Could go on forever…this was just one day, but I’m keeping better tabs in my journal. For a general flow of my days, I wake up with sunrise (6:30) because Im in the top bunk right next to the window. After I watch it rise I get breakfast and tea then get dressed and put on sunscreen! Some mornings we also go running, which is fun because kids will call after you or chase you! Then we work until lunch around 1 or 2 and then again until sunset and dinner. Dinner is our time to all be together and usually ends in some singing or game.
The stars are beautiful as expected. One night I thought I was seeing lightning or some weird phenomenon in the sky at the equator—then I realized it was a car and since everything is so dark you can see the headlights bouncing from very far away. There’s something really natural feeling about waking up with sunrise and letting everything get dark at sunset.
Construction is going on all around us. It’s so amazing to be in the middle of it, because girls will come and look around and you can feel such excitement. Watching the fifty or so workers you think nothing will ever get done. But then by the end of the day another wall is up, a door put in, a floor painted. It’s fun to watch.
Tomorrow is Sabbath for most people here. The plan is to go to Mama Eunice’s family’s church in the morning and then try the clapping church afterwards—with big drums and crazy dancing included. Lunch should be chipatis at Customs and then we might bring them to “the caves” a clearing at the tip of a small peninsula where you see the lake, and Tanzania, and lots of big rocks…and also monkeys!”