It’s been a ridiculously long time since I last posted, and for that, dear readers, I apologize. I’ve been all the way to the coast and back, spent 10 days in a village, three in a hospital bed, and one in Mombasa, and now I’m back in Nairobi. It’s hard to explain everything that’s happened; it’s been a whirlwind few weeks. Let me expound upon a few choice topics, and maybe that will give you a general idea.
ON HAVING NO TOILETS:
After a few days in the village, I decided I could deal with the heat. I could deal with the food, with eating from a communal plates with dirty hands, with drinking from cups cleaned with dirt and gravel. I could deal with covering my head in public at all times. The one thing I decided I could not live without was a toilet.
The technique for using a latrine, or “squatty potty,” is one that I developed over the course of a few days. I’m not going to lie. I peed on my feet more than once. I almost stepped into the hole. Buzzing black flies zoomed up into my hoo-ha. This happened.
Some strange proclivities of Shirazipeople: Spaghetti with sugar and oil for breakfast. White-bread and margarine sandwiches for lunch. Fried mandazi donuts every morning for breakfast. Milk in my tea that was in a cow’s udder about 15 minutes beforehand. Octopus for dinner. Watching a chicken get beheaded, run around headless for 5 minutes, be chased by my 7-year-old sister with a severed chicken’s head, and then eat that selfsame chicken for dinner. (It was delicious.)
The language barrier did not really faze me at all. I suppose it’s because silence, in general, is something I enjoy. My family and I exchanged perhaps three or four sentences over a meal, and we spent a lot of time sitting outside and watching the world pass by. I really enjoyed the pace of life in the village. Everything gets done, eventually, but there’s no rush to do it.
I returned from the village with 32 bug bites. Oh, livin it. Also, I am proud to be the first person in the group who got a jigger in my foot. “What, pray tell, is a jigger?” you ask. Well. A jigger is a nasty-ass bug that burrows into your foot and lays eggs, and if you don’t remove it with a sharp pin, the eggs burst into your foot. MMM DELICIOUS. Anyways, I got mine removed when it was pretty small. I showed it to my homestay family, and my father returned with a 7-inch knife in his hand and offered to “kutoa funza.” I replied that I was going to “kutoa funza” with my first-aid kit at school, but thanked him profusely for the offer.
ON BABA YANGU:
My homestay father was hilarious. Here’s a choice pic of him that will tell you everything you need to know. And yes, he did wear a towel for the majority of each day.
ON THE MOMBASA HOSPITAL:
My stomach has really great timing, apparently. I was fine throughout the entire village stay, but as soon as we returned to Mombasa, I got sick. Like… really sick. I was admitted to the hospital and spent the next three days watching crappy American movies: Fly Away Home, G.I. Joe, Transformers 2. Kenyan hospitals are not exactly comparable to American hospitals. For example, each time my nurse would take my vitals, she would write my pulse and temperature down on her hand. With a pen. But whatever they gave me worked, because I’m feeling much better now.
So now we’re back in Nairobi for a few weeks, preparing for our Kiswahili exam and working on group projects. It’s nice to be back; my friends and I went to a great concert featuring Eve and Shaggy (Yes, that “It Wasn’t Me” Shaggy), which apparently all the white people in Kenya attended. It’s good to be back.