I made it through my first Kenyan Christmas! My very first Christmas without my family – physically, that is. I was able to talk to them on the phone both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning (my time). It will be an unforgettable experience. I spent it at Claire’s house, in Eregi, with her and Cyndi. Christmas here is a lot different from Christmas at home, and the two really cannot be compared – like pretty much everything else done in Kenya. It’s different from Christmas at home, and both are ok, just different.
So, we woke up on Christmas morning and started our usual water for tea. Then our families called, which was a surprise to me because it was about midnight at home and usually we talk in the evening. They even received my package from Kenya on Christmas Eve! Just in time. Perfect. So we talked for a few minutes without shedding any tears, then I finished getting ready for church with Claire and Cyndi. By the time were dressed and our emotions settled, we went to church where there were seriously probably almost 100 people (mostly children) standing around outside. Everyone was staring, so we decided to sit outside on a stone ledge about 50 yards from the church. Close enough to still hear the music, but far enough to hopefully not attract much attention. Wishful thinking. Within minutes, children began creeping closer and closer, and the “how are you’s” began. Two church ushers, probably in high school, came and began to scold the children and redirect them to the church. It happened a few times. Every time the ushers left, the kids returned. Then a very friendly older lady came to greet us – seemed pretty sweet. Then she asked for money, in Swahili, and understood no English. Finally we left.
We decided to walk to the local market to get a picture of the Christmas “tree” they put up, which was really just a bush they drug in. Cute, and a nice reminder from home. The store owner made sure to point out the snow they strategically placed on it’s branches and wanted us to get pictures with it. So, here they are.
We returned home and watched the last few episodes of season 1 of Glee. We have been trying to work our way to the Christmas episode in season 2. A lot of work, but manageable. We took breaks to make cookies and fudge from our Kenyan cookbook – which was made by Volunteers in Kenya over the years. It has a lot of traditional recipes that can be made here in Kenya, using our Kenyan stovetops and jiko’s. We made no-bake cookies, rice crispy treats, and honey/peanut balls. Delish . We made an attempt at fudge, but not much of a success. For Christmas dinner, we made spaghetti with amazing homemade sauce. I ate way too many cookies, which is probably the only thing this Christmas had in common with my Christmases in America. But it was great, and it has been so nice to be here with Claire for the holiday. I can’t imagine spending it alone, or with my headmaster’s family. This whole week has really been great, thanks to Claire and being able to spend it at her house.
So, we ate Christmas dinner and watched part of Love Actually (again), then called it a night. As we went to bed, a storm rolled in and I fell asleep to the sound of rain drumming on the tin roof and mosquitoes buzzing around my net.
Today, Cyndi is heading back to her site and Claire and I are going to accompany her to Kakamega to meet another volunteer for lunch. We will do a little shopping around in town too. I’m going to be staying with Claire until after New Year’s, and will head back to Siaya on Jan 2. I can move into my house on January 3, and then classes begin on January 5. It’s a lot crammed into such a short period of time. I’m looking forward to getting started with the teaching, to build a routine. But at the same time, I still feel like I’m not a teacher, what the heck am I doing taking on such a responsibility? I’m worried about two things. One: will I be a good teacher? I’ve never taught before, and I really am not that great with kids… and it is a new language. Just a lot to take on. And then the other thing – will I like it. I’m here for 2 years as a teacher, and I just want to be good at it and enjoy it. I hope it’s something I like to do and want to do, and not something I have to do. But I’m not going to have the answer til I start, and that will be in about 9 days. And even then, I probably won’t really know the answers until I’ve been working at it for a few months. Who knows. It’s just hard to believe I’m here in Kenya, living like a Kenyan, getting ready to be a teacher.