Well, I promise to finish this blog post. It’s going to be a good one, because today has been awesome. It has been such a great day in so many ways! Right now, I’m sitting on Claire’s new couch, in her new house in Eregi, near Kakamega. We just finished dinner with her headmistress’s family down the road. Let me tell you about my day.
I slept in the bunk beds I mentioned last post at Mr. Ambalo’s house, and this time I situated my mosquito net almost entirely by myself. Sherry came in and tucked it in around my feet, but I made a good attempt. One of these days. Anyways, I didn’t really sleep too well because one of the kids kept talking in their sleep, plus I was really excited about today.
I woke up to the crow of a rooster in the living room at 3:30am. Then the kitten began crying, and one of the 4 people sharing my bedroom got up to shoo the chicken out and hush the kitten. I fell back to sleep briefly, and then the kids were being woke up to get ready for church. I finally got out of bed around 6:30, finished packing and had some white bread with butter, two boiled eggs and some tea. Then we loaded up Mr. Ambalo’s car and headed to town. We dropped off four of the kids at church, then we went to the “bus station” which is a little misleading by American standards. It was just a booth in the market where you could buy a ticket, and the bus came and dumped people while others tried to shove their way on. Mr. Ambalo assisted me with ordering my ticket in Luo, then I said farewell and climbed aboard.
The bus is twice as much as a matatu – costing 200 Kshs. But, the awesome thing is, it carries X number of passengers, and that is all. If extras come, they stand in the aisle, not sit on your lap. And, they have a shelf for luggage or cargo space underneath. It’s great. Today, chickens kept me company in a cardboard box underneath my seat.
About an hour later, we arrived in Kisumu. Like I said, I know I’m adjusting to Kenya because I was able to nap on the ride. The roads aren’t smooth, and we bounce around & swerve a lot, but I’m getting used to it. After we stopped in Kisumu, I started walking down the road with my duffel bag, backpack and blanket. This sounds bad, but it is actually what made my day awesome. I flagged down a tuk-tuk as soon as I got to the street, he didn’t pass me up – and then I told him “New Victoria, 50bob?” and he opened the door. It was amazing. He didn’t try to rip me off, he understood me, and it was easy as that. It makes me smile thinking about it now. It’s the little things. First time alone in Kisumu and I knew what to do, and it was like Kisumu accepted me. It was just weird, like I’m starting to belong and get how to live here.
So, he took me to New Victoria and I was greeted by the same man who was working the last two times I stayed there. I had introduced myself to him previously, and he remembered me – which was exactly what I was hoping for. I asked him if he could keep an eye on my bags while I shopped in town, and he was so happy to help. It was so nice. So he kept my big bags while I walked around town.
First, I went to the cyber café. I came pretty early because the bus only leaves at certain times, plus I kind of needed to get away for my sanity. I got to the cyber and was able to use my own computer and wifi while drinking tea masala. After I finished with my emails and updates, I went to pay and talked with the woman working there for a while. Her name is Asha, and she was so friendly. She told me about a good place to stay at in Kisumu to see the lake and guided me to a few shops where I can find a decent guitar. She also offered to keep my things there next time I am in town, so I’m not carrying anything valuable around. So friendly! Afterwards, I had a real cappuccino before heading to Nakumatt to meet Claire.
I met Claire at Nakumatt and was a little surprised by how excited/thrilled I was to see her, seeing as it has only been a few days since we were together. It was great. We started shopping for things for her new home, as well as food to get us through the week. We then went to Green Garden, a German restaurant in town for lunch. Sitting there with Claire, in Kisumu on our own was truly a defining moment. A time where you realize that you made it through training, you’re a volunteer. The volunteer you’ve been reading about through blogs and Peace Corps articles.
The rest of the day was just as good, but to keep from boring you, I will skim over some stuff. We found a matatu to go to Kakamega, and it was absolutely packed. The tout was sitting on my knee, because my lap was occupied by my big duffel bag and blanket. Then we got off at her stop about an hour later, and found our way about 8km out a dirt road to her school compound.
It’s beautiful. It’s quiet, and green, and there are trees and plants strategically placed everywhere. It is a catholic compound, and at the center there is a gorgeous round church. Her house is past the church, in a secluded area. It’s like a tranquil little oasis. It’s gorgeous. We chilled out for a little bit, then went to her headmistress’s house for a lovely Kenyan dinner. Like I said before, these people are so kind. She was so generous and thoughtful. She had her daughter, Patricia walk us home because it was starting to get dark.
So that’s where I am now. Sitting in her nice house with electricity, listening to my music and charging my phone and laptop simultaneously. It’s just been such a great day and I can’t wait to have my own house to be preparing and cleaning. Ambalo said that he thought it should be OK for me to stay there beginning the 2nd or 3rd. School starts on the 5th. I might try to wait until New Years before going back to Siaya. It’s a little disappointing that I was so excited to go to Siaya.. but once I have my own house I know things will start looking up. Patience.