Saturday, July 28, 2012
Jecinta is so willing to help in any way. Just 2 days ago I called to ask whether she would possibly be free to be my “bar gain er” in the Maasai market. My time here is growing short and I have been thinking about whether I have enough items to bring home for the sales I do during the Christmas holiday. They generate in a lot of funds for Kenya Help and of course while I am here I keep finding new needs; latest is a bore hole for SFG.
So Friday night Jecinta called to say yes, she could go with me on Saturday. What she didn’t tell me until later is that she had canceled a meeting of her committee to free herself up.
She kept telling me, “It’s no problem.” We get that a lot, even though sometimes I suspect it really is a problem.
Jecinta in particular appreciates what Judy and I do here, which is why she is always so willing. She has even instructed Julia and Agnes to cook for me from time to time. I don’t like to cook and I often get home late and tired, so I always appreciate it.
But she keeps saying to me, “You people do so much for us and I know you don’t eat.”
After thanking her I suggest she take a look. I am not wasting away. I wish I were wasting away a bit, but alas I am about the same size as when I left home. It’s because of the car. When I was walking all the time I lost weight here, but I’ve sacrificed exercise for convenience.
We had planned to leave early, but then I realized I had to change some dollars to shillings and the bank opens at 9. Moreover, I had lent my memory card for my camera to SFG for the video camera and had to go get it. I wanted pix of the market to include in this email. The upshot was that we didn’t get on the road until almost 10. We were in Nairobi by noon, just in time to greet every other conveyance in the country in a giant traffic jam. Our driver was very skillful, but in gridlock skill can do just so much. Finally we alighted in an area Jecinta thought was within walking distance of the market. Sometimes her definition of “walking distance” and that of Judy’s or mine differ greatly, but this time it was OK.
Five minutes after we arrived we were joined by Cyrus, who took a break from his studies to be with us. I was thrilled to see him b/c he won’t have any breaks in school until after I leave and I thought I might not get a chance to say goodbye.
Usually I forget about pictures in my search for treasures, but I remembered. “Jecinta and Cyrus, go look in that stall. I want to get a picture.” And I did. I got 1 (yes ONE) picture and then my battery was dead!!! RATS!!!! Never thought to charge it up. However, as you see, that one picture was a good one, Cyrus looking back at the camera and Jecinta examining a basket.
The day was hot, then cool as the sun went behind a cloud, then hot again. After several hours I began to feel the effects - for me that manifests in light-headedness. It’s enough for me to give up, which I did. However, we bought lots of cool stuff before I threw in the towel. If I could just figure out how to get the bulkier or more fragile things home, I’d by 10 times as much. It’s probably just as well. I don’t really want to become an importer!
We carried our treasures to a small restaurant where we’ve eaten before after such jaunts. It’s just a nothing little place, but afforded us some rest, reliable food and best of all a chance to chat with Cyrus. He’s loving school and working hard. Like young people in the US, he’s experiencing a newly independent life, learning lessons and maturing very nicely. He and I have always had a nice friendship. The word for grandmother in Kiswahili is sho sho. Lots of kids think of me as sho sho and Cyrus is definitely one. He loves to confide in me as one might in an understanding grandmother. Mostly I understand, but there is just so much I can share. I am totally ignorant of so many tribal/cultural mores, rarely verbalized, but understood by all. They explain and I get a surface understanding, but I miss the subtleties.
Nonetheless, it is wonderful to be his sho sho and according to custom he takes very good care of me, and Jecinta too. He carried our baggage back to the stage (matatu boarding area) and waited until we were safely aboard, all the while insisting that Fr Kiriti and I stop to see him on the day I fly home.
The traffic was still huge, but it seemed to be all incoming, so we buzzed right out of town with very little slowdown. Nonetheless, riding in those cramped vehicles, with insufficient foot and knee space is a challenge to my sho sho body and I was very happy to alight at “The Catholic,” which is how one describes one's destination to the matatu drivers.
Previously I had promised one of the girls at SFG I would help her with math, little dreaming it would be after 5 by the time we got back. But I’d promised, and besides I couldn’t let Jecinta go home on a matatu. She lives on the way up to school.
I found the girl and we spend about 45 minutes, but alas the day of her math exam had been changed from next Tuesday to last Friday. RATS! My help was too late. However we did have a long talk about a plan to help her bring up her marks in several classes, math being one. She’ll be fine in a year or two, when some of her deficiencies get addressed. She works hard and is very determined.
Back home I ate briefly and fell into bed.
Today I had 2 visitors. One was Poloma Chlohossey, a former student of mine from Menlo Park who is doing graduate work in Nairobi. She is doing an internship with an agency working on nutritional methods to prevent blindness. She tells me that vitamin A deficiently is the #1 cause of blindness worldwide and that doses just twice a year is sufficient to prevent. She had spent time in Nairobi previously as an undergraduate, working in an orphanage and falling in love with the children there. Through her efforts some 5 or 6 children are now in good boarding schools, with the hope that the girls may some day be at SFG!
She arrived just as mass was out. Neither of us had eaten, so we made haste to my little house where I fixed omelets with wonderful avocados and tomatoes from the market across the road and some of my precious cheddar cheese that I can’t get anymore.
We had lots to chat about while we awaited Dominic Muria, a Ndingi graduate of 2006, now in the seminary. He had written that his superior had given him permission to visit. Then this morning just before I left for mass I got a text saying he couldn’t come because his superior had called a meeting. OH, no! Well, couldn’t be helped. After mass there was another text saying the superior had remembered his request to visit and had said the meeting wasn’t all that important and he could come.
He hadn’t eaten either, so while he and I caught up, Poloma very sweetly prepared an omelet for him.
The 3 of us shared stories and experiences, just enjoying the time together. But both had to get back, Dominic because he had a curfew and Poloma because she wanted to get back to the stage in Nairobi in a timely manner. It’s an OK area during the day, but one wants to be safely home before dark. For her parent’s information, I’ve just called her to confirm that she made it safely.
Before they left, we drove up to SFG for a quick tour. Each had seen it before, but had not seen the solar/wind nor the bakery and were impressed with our efforts to be self-sufficient.
We drove Dominic to the stage, then Poloma and I shopped for bananas, mangos and carrots in the little street market across the road. I thought she would enjoy seeing it — she did, and I needed these items.
Then I walked with her back down to the stage, making sure she got on the Nairobi stage.
Such a nice Sunday afternoon! Hope you’re having the same.
PS Just finished review of this when I sort of “came to” and realized it was raining. We’ve had more rain this year than ever before. So good for the crops and it’s nice that the days are pleasant, the rain holding off until evening.