The trip back to Kenya was uneventful yet so tiring. I spent two days with friends in Brooklyn Heights before flying to Dubai (12 hours) and a 3 hour layover before the Nairobi flight for an additional 5 hour flight. Both legs of the journey were fine; I even had a seat in the front of the cabin for more legroom. It wasn’t exactly Business Class but it was nice to stretch my legs and smile at the crying baby next to me.
As usual I got in the wrong line at immigration in Nairobi. Every visit brings changes in the procedure and this time I waited in the line for those who had already purchased visas. So, another line and discussion with the Immigration lady about my length of stay. She quizzed me on what people and schools I would visit but I received my three months. Bags arrived – the last ones off the plane I am sure. I took a car to Hillcrest, my home where Ben had arrived hours before and had begun cleaning out the cobwebs and mopping up the considerable dirt and dust.
This is the start of the long rains and it had rained the night before, making the road to my place, through Jam City slum almost impassable. My host in New York had helped me purchase some packets of pre-made tuna salad and crackers, since I didn’t think Ben would bring food and I also knew the cooking gas was low or out. So Ben and I feasted on tuna salad crackers and mango juice for dinner. On Sunday we walked through Jam City mud to the market and bought food essentials and air time for phone and modem. I am all set. It was fun to hand out little gifts and donations I had brought, some from friends. Mwololo came on Sunday afternoon and I gave him his requests from the USA; DVDs from WWE wrestling and a book of Sunday Liturgical Readings.
Not one of our hippos - an imposter.
I have the day off today, Monday, so that I could clean, do some laundry and catch up with days of unread email. Tomorrow, weather permitting, Mwololo and I will meet formally to discuss our goals for this trip and what to do about current issues including a herd of hippos that are destroying crops in our area. On Friday, 6 hippos visited our neighbor’s farm, destroying the maize that was ready to be harvested. The farmer called KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service). On Saturday the KWS spent the day waiting out the hippos but with no luck. One would think that the KWS would know that hippos only appear at night. This same herd came to our farm weeks ago and trampled corn and beans but we dug a 1.5 x 1 meter trench (a moat) to slow them down. So far, so good.
So all is good in Kenya. The weather is fine, other than the rains which we are told will increase significantly this week. I am all smiles. Thanks! More later.
RAIN AND FOOD
Due to poor planning on my part, I have been eating Raman for lunch and using the remaining spicy water to cook rice in the evening. I have been stuck here at the house for a couple of days due to heavy rains that have closed access through the slums down the hill from us. The back way out of here, sometimes able to be used, has been too muddy to go, even by motorbike. No worries. I had enough clean water and pasta and rice – I knew I wouldn’t starve, just not a good diet. Today, things dried up a bit, although the mud road down the hill was being worked on by locals, dumping rocks in the lake the road had become. It was impassable today but there is hope for tomorrow. We went the back way, through the mud and made it to the store to pick up more Raman, bread, juice and airtime for my phone. I haven’t been buying much since I will be leaving for the States on Tuesday. Any perishable food will go to the Masai guards where I live (I am sure they have never tasted Raman). My only concern is that I am going to run out of cooking gas with only a few days to go. The flame is weird and you have to turn it a lot to get it big enough to cook. It’s going to stop soon. Then what? Bread and peanut butter.
Avery Michael Colina
Jonah and Avery
Well, I am officially old. I became a grandfather on Wednesday. My daughter-in-law, Mare, gave birth to a perfect 8lb boy named Avery Michael Colina. I like to think the Michael is after my middle name, but my son Jonah has been obsessed with the King of Pop ever since he could say “Billy Jean’. Then there is also #23 – another obsession of Jonah (and all of us) who watched the Bulls’ glory years. My mom will be happy to thank God that Jonah and Mare gave Avery the name of her special archangel. It is difficult to put into words my emotion at hearing Mare was in labor and then gave birth. Maybe it was harkening back to the births of Rachel and the two boys. Maybe it was just being in awe of young people, like Jonah and Mare, being thrust into parenthood/adulthood. Maybe it was knowing the pain Mare was in and knowing how upset Jonah would be not being able to take that pain away. But all I could do was cry. Lucky to be alone here in the house, in the middle of the night, a million miles away. No one could see me. But I was SO happy and the tears were a welcomed release. So happy.
Seeing my mom and my kids, the birth of Avery, visiting friends who have been working so hard on our behalf – these all make it exciting to come home this time. Things are slow here for me. Schools have been out and will start up again in January. We have completed our construction for this trip and ordered desks, plates, utensils etc. needed. Now it is just a matter of delivering them and paying. I don’t need to be around here for that. But I’ll miss Kenya for a couple months – Mwololo, Benson, all my friends and coworkers. Tuesday afternoon begins another journey from Nairobi through Dubai to NYC and home Friday morning. I’m ready.