Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kids in my rural Kenyan town

Kids here are of course like kids anywhere…they play, they smile, they cry, they whine, etc…. But, their daily activities are much like the way it was for kids in rural America during the first part of the 20th century.  [Of course, for kids living in Nairobi or one of the other large cities, life is infinitely more 21st century] People like my mom, for instance, grew up on a farm, worked in the fields, walked to school and all around the area near her family home, read by lantern light, etc…  Same is true here now in the rural area…you often see a single or groups of very young kids walking by themselves or even a girl about the age of 7 who is carrying a baby in a sling on her back (the baby almost seems too big for her to carry).  Many young boys will be seen tending to herds of goats or cows (this usually means they are not attending school).  And, teenagers main mode of transportation is bicycle.  Of course, small kids are mostly adorable!  Some still call out “mazungu” (white foreigner) when they see me but others that now know me call out “tee-cha” or “mwalimu”.  Of course I wave and they wave back with big smiles as if I was the funniest thing they have ever seen.  A group of girls (about 8-10 years old) know my name and I can hear them at times from way across the field yelling “Rebecca” in unison as they frantically wave.  THAT IS VERY COOL!  Others (some who are very young) still are a bit afraid to approach me so the cling to the leg of their mother or wave (tentatively) from a distance.  All in all, just like kids everywhere, they are curious and sometimes seem to have unlimited energy as they run around and play.  Praying the world that awaits them will be worthwhile!

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Malindi.... print pictures in seconds. How many seconds? 1000, 2000, 3000....


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  • Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Things I am Looking Forward to in the US of A!

    I originally was posting this as "Things I Miss (about home)", but now that I will be home soon, the title has changed...
    Things I am Looking Forward to in US
    • Dad saying “Beck Beck”
    • Mom’s calm and sweetness *and everything*
    • Drinking water on demand from the tap
    • HOT shower (well, running water in general)
    • Cold skim milk with cereal (Product 19, Capn Crunch, Honeycomb, Kashi, …)
    • English Breakfast tea with skim milk
    • Watching classic movies with a nice cup of hot tea and black licorice to chomp on
    • Apple Pie
    • Mom’s Pot Pie
    • Chatting with my sisters
    • Laughing with my family
    • Weeklong beach vacation with family
    • Jonathan’s live cello music
    • Really clean hair!
    • Hugs from Laura
    • Woody Allen movies
    • Virginia Opera
    • Dinner with friends in Petersburg
    • Planting spring flowers
    • Mowing the lawn
    • Working out at the gym
    • Indoor bathroom!!
    • Listening to Car Talk & What Do You Know while driving in car
    • Wildflowers in a vase on my table
    • Hummingbirds
    • American flag flying
    • Watching tennis (French Open, Wimbledon, …) and playing tennis
    • Ben & Brad’s craziness!

    Things I Don’t Miss (am not looking forward to)....
    Political Stuff (speeches, squabbles, campaign ads), morning TV shows’ self-indulgent programs, any “reality” TV, overabundance of “stuff” that most people have (while still claiming how “bad off” they are), experts in some type of crazy-sounding job (e.g. pet psychologist…oh sorry, animal companion psychologist), women who complain about finances but continue to purchase more “stuff” ($80 purse, $100 pair of shoes, $50 hairdo, …), impatience of those who can’t wait even 10 minutes in a line without complaining, equating successful life with an educational degree or certain position, …

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Is it okay to tell young people they can be street-sweepers?

    “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Martin Luther King

    I remembered this quote the other day when I was talking to one of the former teachers from my school. Somehow, I guess we were talking about the school and how it has changed (somewhat) since we became “an official government school”. I was telling him a brief story about how a local government official (something like a district officer or something) had stopped by to visit the new principal. She was taking him around to the classes to say hello. Of course, these things are rarely ever known in advance….virtually no planning of events, etc…goes on here at the schools. Anyway, I was in the Form 3 class at the desk of a student who had asked me a question. Of course, I’m engrossed in trying to talk to this student and didn’t even see that the principal had come to the door. [Yes, I actually see the students as the VIPS...silly me!] They alerted me and then she introduced this guy, whoever he was. Okay, why am I telling this story?? The next time we had school assembly (maybe the next day), she told the Form 3 class that she was very disappointed that they didn’t all stand when this guy came to this room. Of course, I was thinking maybe that was my fault since I didn’t even acknowledge that they had opened the door. Nonetheless, she went on to reprimand the students and said something like “Who do you think you are? < to not stand when a government official visits >, You are nothing!” Of course, this is not something that I would ever say to any of my students (even the ones that drive me crazy!). So, later when I visited the classes, I told them that before we started class I just wanted to tell them one thing…”You are NOT nothing!” I didn’t say why I said it, I just said it. Later I thought about the quote above (I remember reading it long ago in one of the books I have read about MLK). The teacher and I were talking about how the environment now at my school is more like a “typical Kenyan school” since it has become “official”. Although my school is still fairly “non-typical” (e.g. no physical punishment, no caning) it has changed. The principal and new teachers talk a lot about how the students are much undisciplined. Of course, I have a very different view about discipline. [Don’t want to go into a long diatribe here about the system…it will take way too much time!] The quote came to mind because I have been thinking a lot about what they tell students about being successful. We do the same in America, but slightly differently. We tell them things like: if you just dress correctly, you’ll be successful; if you are disciplined in everything, you’ll be successful; if you just studied more hours, you’d be successful; and so on. While I am definitely not against being well-disciplined in many ways, I think sometimes we have to think about our definition of “success”. I think that we mostly mean you will have a “good” job, the right type of house, a comfortable living, dedicated to working hard, etc… Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, but most people I’ve encountered are not telling their kids that it is okay to be a street-sweeper, if that is what God calls you to do. Maybe if you are a street-sweeper (or similarly low on the totem pole job) you’ll also be told, in this world, that you are “nothing” BUT, if you follow His will in whatever employment, you will be told “well done my good and faithful servant”. 

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Rice Cakes in Nairobi

    Breifly in Nairobi with Zahara and Staci.  I went to the "healthfood" store to buy a Dr. Pepper (see earlier post) but none to be found...but I did find these rice cakes!  Will be so...oooo...oooo good!  Went to see Harry Potter with Staci (since she is a big fan) and took hot showers at the hotel!  More soon.

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    More random stuff -- part 2?

    As usual, I don't have much to say.  But, I will be taking a couple of trips in August, so maybe there will be more to tell then.  So, my only post today is a very short comment from one of my students (I think my sisters will especially like this!) and another list of songs heard this past weekend on Capitol FM.

    Comment by Edison Tsuma
    I was chatting with my Form 4 class ("seniors") and as usual they are very funny.  When I entered the room in which they were, one of the students said "Here's a seat for you madame" and I replied "That's okay, I don't need to sit".  Then, this ensuing conversation with Edison (who is one of the brightest and also funniest in the class):
    Edison:  You need to sit because you are old. [Not sure exactly what he meant]
    Rebecca:  No, I'm still VERY young! [emphasis on very]
    Edison:  Madame, I think you are incorrectly using the word very!
    Rebecca:  < .....laughing out loud !!! >

    It's just like being at home with my nephews....never ending opportunities to make me laugh!

    Short List of Songs
    The only reason I keep making these lists is because it still makes me wonder how these particular songs get chosen for this "radio session" on Sunday mornings:
    • Dream, Dream, Dream -- Everly Brothers
    • You Are Everything (and everything is you) - Stylistics
    • Don't Stop Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
    • Cupid - Spinners [I used to sing along with this one walking down rural Dinwiddie road with old battery powered small radio.....yes, before even walkmans!!]
    • California Dreaming - Mommas and Poppas [I think]
    • Bend Me, Shake Me, Anyway You Want Me -- not sure who sings this; sounds kind of like Monkees but it's not
    • Goldfinger -  yes, the theme to James Bond
    • Live and Let Die - The Beatles!

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Random stuff after reading < again > CS Lewis

    I've read many of CS Lewis' books that are mainly thought of as in the genre of Christian apologetics.  Have recently re-read The Screwtape Letters which I've read many times.  The basic idea is that there is a "junior devil" who is in the world trying to convert this guy away from Christianity and we are reading the letters written to him from his Uncle Screwtape who is a "senior devil" and is giving him advice on how to steer people away from "the Enemy" (God).  Thus, simply posting two snippets (among many) that I found worth posting:
    •  Prosperity < as defined in the earthly sense > knits a man to the world.  He feels that he is "finding his place in it" while really it (the world) is finding its place in him.
    • To prevent them < the humans > from turning to God.....turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves.  Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own will. When they mean to ask Him for charity, let them instead start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves.  When they mean to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Listening to the Radio in Marereni, Kenya

    On early Sunday mornings, I usually listen to this radio station that plays "oldies" on Sunday morning.  I'm not sure who picks these songs, but it is always an anticipation to hear the playlist.  [Yes - there isn't much for me to do here, so this is one of the exciting things to do in Marereni!]  To give you a taste...this is a partial list of the songs from last Sunday: 
    • What's New Pussycat? -- Tom Jones
    • Two out of three ain't bad -- Meatloaf (I don't think that is the actual title)
    • (So) Happy Together - The Turtles
    • You are the sunshine of my life - Stevie Wonder (that's a classic!)
    • Say, Say, Say - Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson (remember that video??)
    • We Are the World! -- (Of course, that must be played!  But, still always makes me think of the Saturday Night Live good!)
    On Sunday nights from 9 - 11 as I am going to sleep, the same station plays classical music (sometimes interspersed with musicals...e.g. West Side Story). Sunday is a good radio listening day!  Only drawback is that it requires a lot of battery use.  Awwwwww....

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Brad Pitt and the rest of us in Kenya

    Yes – this looks like Brad Pitt…because it is Brad Pitt (not Brad Alderson). But, alas, not in real life. We met Zahara's visiting brother and stayed a night in Malindi at an inexpensive but nice place called Breezepoint. They have "dorm-like" rooms with bunkbeds (for which we paid about $10 per person) with a type of common room in which there was a TV that had some type of digital signal. There was a channel that played "action movies", so that night we watched the movie Mr & Mrs Smith. It's a bit predictable (no surprise there), but hey, it's Brad Pitt. In my film world, its not nearly as good (not even close) as the same titled movie which is a 1941 comedy with the great comedienne Carole Lombard (directed oddly enough by Alfred Hitchcock). Now, that Mr & Mrs Smith is a true classic comedy!

    Zahara had planned for us to go on Sunday to a place called Mida Creek but because we all just wanted to rest (and take advantage of the showers) we just stayed in Malindi and visited this touristy place that is a Falconry/Snake park. You know how you often don't visit the places closest to you (I still haven't been to Mount Vernon). So, we went off for a short visit which was actually fun and interesting plus it wasn't a really hot day, so it was all good.We saw lots of birds that are "rescued" and are kept here until they can be released into the wild.

    Our guide told us a lot about the various birds but of course I can't remember all the information. I did get a picture of me with this one bird because the guide made a big deal about the age of this bird (36) and of course I felt really old then!! Ha!There were also snakes (sorry no pictures) and the obligatory big turtle mzee (old man). I think the turtle was a couple of hundred years old.

    We had a good time joking as we strolled along the wooded park. If I were more literary, this would be a much better story, but not so much!!

    But, I will end with this beautiful picture of Alli, Zahara, and me! Yes – that is me again with the graying hair. I can also tell that my face is more "full" which means I really should start running!! Just can't seem to get motivated to accomplish that task. Well – there will be time back in the US!
    OKAY -- decided to add one more picture (nothing to do with the bird park visit).  This is my Form 4 class (the first one ever for this school!).  This means that they are the first students from this school who will "graduate" (sit for the national exam).  Pray for the best!

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Blast from the Past

    Got this can of Sprite today with "metal ring opener" ....remember these? We were watching out for these in the 70s so as not to cut our feet as we ran around the neighborhood in our hotpants and halter tops. Oh to be nine years old again?!?

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Watermelon….so good!

    The other day, one of my students dropped by my house and gave me a watermelon!  He said that his guardian told him to bring it to me.  Not exactly sure why…but, it was really good (see picture above!).  I think there will be more in June/July which means I can probably buy them in my marker at that time. 

    Not much news to tell.  School is going along as usual.  We have a new principal (the “official” government principal).  She is fine, but will miss the “founding principal” John Mwendar.  He definitely is the one who kept this community school growing in the last four years.  There are now almost 150 students up from about 100 last year.  My main goal now is to help the Form 4 students score as high as possible on the national exam.  The average math score is normally very low across the country (no big surprise there for those of us who have taught mathematics), so in the least I am hoping to at least get them to not fail the test (a grade of E).  The top five students have a chance of scoring fairly well if they continue to work and not give up before October! 

    I’ll take more pictures soon (not sure how to define “soon”).  Other than this, pretty much routine days.  Still waiting for electricity – but am used to not having it, so all is good.  Bwana Safiweh (Praise God)!

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Girls going to camp

    This is me in my house, waiting for girls going to leadership camp.

    Peace Corps Worldwide holds camps for girls' empowerment.  The camps are called Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) and are held annually.  This year I nominated four of my students and all are now at Pwani University for a week-long "camp".  They are staying in dorm rooms with lights and running water...which in itself encourages them to want to go to the university.  So, I was waiting in my house and decided to take a snap of me in my cool dotted sundress that I found in Malindi.  HERE ARE THE GIRLS!!!

    From left to right:  Alvine, Joyce, Purity, Selina
    The picture above is in Malindi as we were on our way to the matatu stage (the "stage" is what we might call the terminal e.g. bus terminal).  They are so excited to go and of course we are all excited for them!  They will be at Pwani University campus for a week, participating in leadership activities and those related to HIV/AIDS awareness.  Should be fantastic!  Here we are on the campus of Pwani University....I'm the one with the graying hair (yikes!)!  
    UNRELATED OBAMA comment:
    This is totally unrelated to our trip to "camp" but I've been wanting to post this for a long time, so now I will.  Of course, we often get comments here about being from "the land of Obama", or asked things like "How do Americans like having a Luo (kenyan tribe) for president?" and there are many things like Obama pens, Obama shirts, Obama's family pictures, etc... But, this was the best!  I was reading in the newspaper a story about extended longevity of life and how science may now be able to use things like gene therapy to extend life.  The story was especially focused on the extending of the lives of "exceptionally gifted persons" who could be around longer so that society could benefit from the investment of their talents.  [Side comment -- As if the only measure of exceptional life is the "perceived benefit" to the society...which I suppose would leave out most of us who may have positively affected the life of an individual but not necessarily "benefited society"...I digress].  So, you can see where I'm going with this but I know you can't guess or expect this quote from the journalist's story:  "The prospect of Einstein, Issac Newton, or Barack Obama being alive for hundreds of years would make any progressive minded person cringe with excitement." Of course, I chuckled to myself.  Now, whether you love, like, or dislike he really on the level of Newton and Einstein who pretty much redefined our understanding of the workings of the universe??  And what about Mozart or Michelangelo?  Or, it could be that I'm just not progressive-minded enough!??  Nice day!

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    December 2010 Holiday Travel

    I know…Christmas is long past, but I’m just getting to typing this blog (I will try to include pictures).  As you may remember, the school year here is year-round with month long breaks in April, August, and December.  So, we ended the term around Thanksgiving.  From December 4 – 11 we were in Nairobi for Peace Corps mid-service medical (we got teeth cleaned, etc…).  Then the fun started!  I came back to my site and went to do some short tuition (tutoring) with my students and then Zahara and Charlie came to stay for two whole days (!) one of which we used to go to “my beach”.  Sorry I didn’t take my camera to the beach.  There was a type of sandbar we could see from shore which seemed pretty far but I saw Charlie walking out there (he was the only one in the water at that point).  Mind you the beach near my site is fairly secluded which makes it wonderful!  Of course, I’m watching as he goes because I just have that habit of being concerned about “what if something happens to him while he’s out there” as if I could actually do something??  (I digress)  I see Charlie makes it to the sandbar and is walking as if he is walking on water (if you’ve seen a sandbar in the ocean you know what I mean) and then I see him, of all things, diving (like you dive into a pool).  After a bit, Charlie comes back and he says something like “You’ve got to come out to this pool that I found in the middle of the ocean” (okay, not his exact words since it was a while ago and I can’t remember).  So, of course, I say let’s go.  So, we walk down the beach and then out to the sand bar and sure enough there was this type of pool of water that was somehow between the sandbar and the shore but still “way out” in the waves.  You could stand on the edge of the sandbar and dive into this pool of water.  Very cool!  No pictures of sandbar.
    On to the next leg of the trip.  Zahara leaves early on Saturday to go back to her site and Charlie and I left later that afternoon to stay with James and Kenya (and family) so that we could visit their church on Sunday and then head on to Mombasa on the way to western Kenya.  The stay at James & Kenya’s is always a joy because for me it’s like being “aunt becky” again.  Plus, Charlie is like a kid-magnet so worked out great (picture of Charlie, Abigail, and Lydia).  Of course we stayed for lunch (can’t pass up home cooked american!) and hung around a bit but had to leave to get to mombasa before dark.  On the way we hit a “traffic jam” of sorts and it was much after dark when we finally arrived…but now I know the way to the Lotus hotel (where Peace Corps always puts volunteers) so no worries.  The plan then is to spend the next two days in mombasa so that we can catch the train to nairobi on Tuesday evening.  We are allowed to take the train to travel at night to nairobi (we’re not supposed to travel by bus or other vehicle at night).  So, we are in mombasa trying to figure out if there is anything we can see.  There is a place called Haller Park which is a kind of animal sanctuary.  We decided to check it out on Monday.  It was kind of neat…not really a lot there but saw the big turtle and other animals (you can see pictures on flickr site).  Sorry this is not a great use of pictures here, but I’m no expert on posting the blog and don’t have the resources to spend the time to figure out how to make this easier to include pictures.  Anyway – it was a nice afternoon.   
    On our way towards the exit, all of the sudden we see Abigail, Josiah, and Lydia walking towards us then shouting “Mama, it’s Rebecca and Charlie”.  They just happened to also come that day to see the hippo and alligator feeding.  Thus, we stayed longer and hung out with them for the rest of the afternoon….saw the alligator feeding (generally fun to hang out with kids when you’re at a park like that).  The next day we had to find something to do until time to go to the train at about 4pm.  

    We heard from Josiah (9 year old) that there was an awesome water park in mombasa.  We put that thought out of our mind until we started to walk around “just looking” and then found the park.   Kenya told us the price was 800 shillings (about $10) but when we got there it had been increased to the holiday price of 1200 shillings.  Seems that most prices here are jacked up during december holiday!  We kept asking ourselves should we or should we not spend the money.  Maybe you can tell on the picture that those are actual waterslides….so, we decided we had to go.  It was definitely worth it to be covered in cool water for a couple of hours!!  So, that was very cool.  We finally go back to pick our luggage from the hotel and then off to the train.  The train is always kind of a neat trip….not luxurious but okay.   The train travels from Mombasa to Nairobi overnight.   

    Arrive in Nairobi about 11am.  Our plan was to get into Nairobi and buy tickets to take the night train again from Nairobi to Kisumu (which is where we will meet Staci for Christmas).  Well, we didn’t think that the train would be overloaded….but, it was.  There were no tickets for Kisumu (only third class and the lady at the desk said, “I wouldn’t recommend third class”, and then immediately revised and said, “I mean, don’t take third class”).  We had to find a place to stay in Nairobi.  We had to contact Peace Corps and let them know that we were “stuck” in Nairobi for a night.  We went to this place Upperhill Camp which is like a backpackers place.  You can stay there very cheaply (less than $10) and it is clean, has showers, and good food.  You stay in a dorm-like room sleeping on bunk beds.  We were talking to the taxi driver (not Robert DeNiro) and he said he could take us to the “bus area” the next morning and find us a ride to kisumu.  At this point we were trying to prepare ourselves that we might not get to kisumu but instead have to stay in Nairobi until the christmas rush was over.  Well, we did get a bus the next morning.  Rode all day in a hot bus to get to kisumu.  Staci came later that afternoon (she lives only a few hours from kisumu) and all was good!  Here are some pictures:

    (From top to bottom: sizzling brownie at the Laughing Budda restaurant, Staci greeting monkey at the reserve park, car wash (?) in Lake Victoria covered with hyacinth, Becky and her favorite companion)

    It was a nice couple of days in Kisumu (one of Kenya’s three cities).  We mostly just walked around and saw the sites (Staci and Charlie had been there before).  We thought we’d go see The Voyage of the Dawntreader (CS Lewis) movie for our “gift” but there was only one movie theater open and it was only playing Harry Potter, which incidentally I forgot to mention I saw in Nairobi (I know that is a shock to some, but it was with a big group of PC volunteers so it is more about the experience of seeing a movie and eating popcorn).  By the way – I also saw “The A-Team” … now that is a cinematic masterpiece (Ha!  It did have Liam Neesom who is always very cool).  On Christmas eve we went to the roof of the hotel where they have a small dining room.  We were there waiting for our order and it started raining very hard and lightning.  We were getting a bit wet but it didn’t make sense to try to leave since we’d get even more wet (we were under a tarp of sorts).  So, we ordered hot tea which was great!  Then, we finally got our food which was I think the best thing I’ve had since being here in Kenya.  It was like a stir-fry.  I got the vegetarian with rice and cashews and it was FANTASTIC!  Really well done.

    On to the trip back home….we talked to Danielle (who lives about 2 hours from Kisumu) and decided to go stay a night at her house.  She has a relatively big house, two bedrooms, a living room, and an actual kitchen.  I actually had to sleep with a blanket which never happens on coast!!  We had some good food provided be her neighbor and then watched the movie Love Actually (kind of a christmasy movie) on her computer (she also has electricity!).  So, that was a lot of fun.  She even made french toast the next morning.

    Finally – Staci, Charlie, and I are headed back to our sites. Well, Charlie is actually first going back to Nairobi to do some Peace Corps stuff.  So, we all get in the matatu and are waiting as usual for them to actually go.  For some reason this particular tout (the guys who flag you the matatu and take your fare) was really making me annoyed.  It’s pretty normal to sometimes get annoyed when you are always being called “mazungu” (white foreigner), or being asked for money, or you can tell that they are talking about you but you’re not sure all of what they’re saying, etc…. BUT, this guy just seemed extra annoying to me.  I didn’t actually realize how annoyed I was until we were actually on the road and Staci (who is a couple seats behind me) says, “Becky, I think you should just stay an extra night in Nairobi and go have a hamburger with Charlie”.  She said something like, I’ve never seen you so visibly angry.  (Yes – I actually do display a lot of patience and restraint in most cases because it’s just easier to live that way and why should I let someone else spoil my daily living?).  My original plan was to get to Nairobi and take the bus or train direct to mombasa.  Of course, I thanked Staci for being so concerned about me (I must have seemed stressed) and then said, “Yeah, that’s a good idea”.  So, Charlie called Upperhill Camp (again) and got room and we indeed went and had a hamburger and coke (of course!). 

    Well – this is about where the story ends..kind of.  I did get my bus ticket that day so I could leave the next morning.  It was still kind of crazy in Nairobi (just like holiday travel anywhere).  I got to Mombasa that night at the Lotus hotel and ran into a couple of other volunteers (Daniel, Jonathan, and Jeff).  They were going out to eat somewhere so I tagged along.  I ate some kind of rice with something (can’t remember what it was) at an Indian restaurant and then had a piece of chocolate cake at this other place.  I know, it’s terrible (and my thighs can prove it!).  Nothing really unusual except that the next morning I felt a little clammy like I was going to be sick.  I tried to eat some toast and then got on my way to go home.  I’m in the matatu leaving Mombasa and feeling a bit queasy.  I thought I might be okay but about 15 minutes or so I had to actually vomit out of the window (luckily I was at the window).  Another volunteer, Mary, lives in this town Mtwapa which is only about 20-25 minutes out of mombasa.  So, I called her quick and asked if I could get off and stay at her house.  Of course she said yes.  So, now I’m getting off in Mtwapa. 
    Mary is in the middle in the picture that was taken previously when I returned from medical.  She, Nicole (right), her visiting friend Camille, and I took the train back to Mombasa earlier in December.  So, that was really the last part of my entire holiday.  I ended up staying the night at Mary’s place.  I think I just had a bit of food poisoning but it went away by that night.  I’m sure there is much more I could say, but I think this is the end.  Next holiday I will be in US!  THE END.