I’m sitting in a cyber cafe in Kisumu with a belly full of pizza and couldn’t be happier. This week all of the trainees shadowed actual PCV’s throughout Kenya to get a better feel for what their job would be for the next two years. I totally lucked out and got to shadow the volunteer I will be replacing, in Siaya! It was AMAZING! Tomorrow we head back to Machakos, and tonight we stay in a hotel here in Kisumu, so my apologies for this being the least detailed blog so far. I’m writing it on a whim and paying for every second I’m typing.
Our entire group went shadowing last week, in pairs to different sites throughout Kenya. We all departed from Machakos together and there were 12 volunteers in our matatu. We had an insanely turbulent matatu ride from Machakos alllllllll the way to Kisumu, which took about 10 hours. I think 8 of the hours were on a paved road. Check out a map and you will see that we trekked clear across the country! The latter part of the trip was the part without pavement, and it was from Kericho to Kisumu. The funny part is that there is a “tarmac,” but it is apparently under construction, so there are signs that say “DIVERSION” and you just drive off the side of the road, through the bush for about a mile or so and then you come back on the pavement for about another mile until you see “DIVERSION” again. It’s much crazier than it sounds, especially at night. We made it to the hotel around 10-11pm, way after dark and only one person puked. Great.
In the morning, my friend and neighbor Sarah and I departed from the group to head towards Siaya on another crammed matatu. I have learned that a matatu is NEVER full. A van equipped for about 12 people had 21 at one point, and the sliding side door was open and men stand with their head in and ass out. We also pass as often as we can, even when cars are coming the other way. I’m glad that I won’t be relying on matatu transportation much. This trip took 1-2 hours, and the scenery was amazing. I think of it as the West Virginia of Africa. There are mountains and lakes, trees and animals EVERYWHERE. Most of the animals are cows and goats, strangely. But we did see one Zebra and a few baboons.
Whitney, the current Deaf Education Volunteer at Nina School for the Deaf met us as soon as we squeezed out of the matatu in Siaya. We decided that since the site is about 10 km away we would spend the night at a hotel in Siaya and go to the site in the morning. We had a fun, easy going night and took our first ride on a bado-bado – which is really just hopping on the back of someone else’s bicycle and cruising. It was awkward, and I didn’t want to do it, but cheap and easy. I better get used to it, looks like I’ll be doing a lot of “bado bado-ing” in Siaya. We also met the headmaster that night – he came to meet us at the hotel and in the morning he drove us to Nina.
The headmaster – Mr. Ambalo. He is AMAZING! I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky I am to have such a great headmaster. I can’t wait to work with him. And he has a beautiful family, which we met. He lives between Siaya and Nina, and he has a car – which comes in handy when your only transport is a bike. But even past that – he is just a truly awesome, trustworthy guy. Whitney told us how great he has been with her, and how much he supports her while still encouraging her to be independent. He truly cares about the kids and his job, and he loves his family. I had so much fun last week in Siaya with Sara, Whitney and Mr. Ambalo.
There is really too much for me to tell right now, so let me work on it at home and get back to you on the details about my site. I can say, though, that I absolutely love this place and as much as I miss all of you at home, I’m absolutely blown away by how much I love it here. Pictures on Facebook and more details to come soon!