Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interesting to say the least

Saturday, May 14, 2011
Today was an interesting day. We woke up to begin our Saturday at the open air market in Nyeri. On our way, we stopped to “take” a quick breakfast and morning tea at the Ivory Hotel (Jane’s friend owns the place). It was the first time I had tasted eggs in weeks, it was just what I needed. As anticipated, the market was quite overwhelming. There were stands upon stands of clothing. At each stand, there stood a heaping pile of various pieces of clothing, mostly second hand. Everything was so colorful! We stood and sifted through the many piles of clothing, just looking for something that caught our eye. It was refreshing, as no one here made any issue regarding our picky shopping style. Different from our experience in Nanyuki we were continuously under pressure, the stand keepers at this market were very thankful and polite when we apologized that we were not going to purchase anything, but were merely looking. That was a relief.
Just a small section of the open air market to give you a little bit of an idea.
I was, however, on the lookout for a pair of shoes for Henry. Henry is one of my 14 year old friends who approached me the other day asking if there was any way he could have a new pair of shoes as the ones he is currently wearing are borrowed from a friend in the centre. After discussing with Jane, as I didn’t want to cause any issues with the other children by purchasing something for Henry, I bought him a pair of sneakers at the market. After browsing for a while and taking in the experience, Andi, Jane, and I headed over to a restaurant in town, invited by another one of Jane’s friends (she has A LOT of friends).
Andi, myself, and Jane in a squished taxi on our way to lunch.
We had a very nice lunch sitting outside as we watched some children play on a nearby swing set. We also were very excited to find out that Jane’s friend will be able to take us on a safari this coming week (Thursday and Friday). We were SO excited as our former plan of going with the large group of Penn State students (coming this Friday) fell through. So, to be confirmed, but with high hopes… on Thursday we will be going to Abaders (one national park) and on Friday we will be going to a second park (the name of which currently escapes me). I can’t wait.

After lunch, we headed back to the centre to relax a bit and spend some time with the kids. They are always so happy simply to hang out, it’s nice to spend time with them and listen to them giggle and ask us silly questions about whatever is on their minds. I took Henry aside to give him his shoes, which he very humbly accepted with a simple and sincere “asante sana” (thank you very much) and after I responded with “karibu sana” (you are very welcome), he ran off to go back to his friends with a pair of sneakers he could call his own. Just about the kind of response I would expect from a 14 year old boy :). Although a very small thing, I felt good that I could give Henry something small he requested. I also felt happy to know he felt comfortable coming to me with something he was hoping for. His request was different than some others I have received that were somewhat assuming. Because we are wazunga (white), some Kenyans automatically equate our skin color to having a substantial amount of money. It is conflicting as some requests really are not too expensive, it just comes down to the worry that the requests may simply continue if we consistently agree to provide.
After making and “taking” some Kenyan tea, Issa, Andi, and I met Jane and company (boyfriend, cousin, and friend from Nairobi) out at one of the local pubs. We drank some Tuscar (famous Kenyan beer) and went out dancing. Kenyans never stop dancing. Ever. We had a lot of fun, just dancing around and enjoying the evening. Andi was in the hot seat as men were asking to dance with her left and right. In some instances, it was a bit uncomfortable, as some of the men were much older. Here in Kenya, it is not uncommon to have more than one wife… or a wife and a girlfriend… or an American fling. Okay just kidding about the American fling, but I kept an eye out for her, stealing her away a fair share of times ;).
Andi and I with our Tuscars.
Myself, Issa, Jane (friend from Nairobi), Andi, and Gladice (Jane's cousin) out in Nyeri.
Let me just quickly tell you about Issa. He lives in his own world where all is well and the sun is always shining. Issa was HAPPIEST man tonight and did not stop dancing until we took a seat in the taxi to head back to the centre. At times, he was the only person dancing in the entire place… sometimes with a bob-like fashion, other times swaying with a little knee bend, and most of the time just with his eyes closed and a smile from ear to ear. Through the darkness of the dance floor, at times, all you could see were Issa’s teeth floating up and down, side to side. You couldn’t help but smile and laugh when you watched him dance to his own beat, literally. Well, it is awfully late and I’m enjoying a room free of mosquitoes and flies (so far so good… I got the lone fly I saw, may he/she rest in peace), so I’m going to get some sleep. See you tomorrow!

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