Thursday, January 21, 2010

At my "home" in Marereni Kenya

I finally got my netbook charged so I am writing a quick post before the battery goes again. So - I am here in Marereni, about 45 minutes from Malindi (apparently a beach getaway for even famous people like Nicolas Cage). Of course, I haven't seen those places. I am living here in a strange arrangement of two rooms of a 4-room "blockhouse" with no electricity and of course no running water. So, my "bathroom" is like two outhouses next to each other, one for toilet and one for bathhouse. It's kind of strange and hard to imagine but I've already somewhat adjusted. However, my principal is looking at another house for me that is closer to the school and has the bathroom inside. So - I won't complain if I do get moved. But, for now it's just how it is. I usually go to bed about 9pm because it is hard to do work when there is no light. I have a kerosene lantern, but that's not so great for seeing papers or reading. Maybe I'll get another and two will make it better? I do have a headlamp type thing that is solar charged so I take it to school with me during the day and let it out in the sun so I can wear it at night to at least have some reading light. It is actually pretty good. I can't take too much time here, but I will give you a few ideas of my current life in short bullet-form:

  • I try not to go to the outhouse much after dark because there are big roach type bugs that sometimes appear -- yikes!

  • I rode to Malindi last week on a matatu (like a 15-seater van) with probably about 20 people stuffed in and two goats under the seats

  • In Malindi it is a tourist type place (many Italians and Germans visiting the resorts/beaches) so there are these "beach boys" who walk around and try to get you to pay them to take you around the town. I successfully told one in kiswahili that I wasn't a tourist, I was a teacher at a secondary school and right after he simply said "kwaheri" (goodbye). So, that was a victory.

  • My Form 3 class (like grade 11) is mostly boys and very inquisitive. I like that class a lot. One of the boys said he wanted to be president of the US just like Obama. I said, well, you can't because you were not born in the US. He and several others were a bit confused because they said that Obama is a native Kenyan and he's president, so why can't they be? (Many Kenyans consider Obama a native Kenyan and even say he was born here. Anyone want to research that one?? *smile*) So, I told them that his father was Kenyan but his mother was american. And one of them asked suprisingly, "You mean an american woman is allowed to marry a kenyan?". It's really interesting the things that they do and do not know through experience.

  • Another day about four boys were helping to go get this bed frame that I had to have made. As we were walking they asked lots of questions. One asked about if I had kids, etc... I said, no I never had kids. So, he innocently says, "You mean you're a spinster?". So, of course I laughed and said, well, yes we usually don't use that word in the US, but yes.

I hope to share more soon. It's so hard to explain the "town" but essentially it is a small village on the main Malindi-Lamu road so it is easy to get to by bus/matatu. So, that is good. But, it is very simple. People live in mud-houses and have dirt floors. At any given time (even at night) you can hear burros (donkeys) milling around outside and baying loudly sometimes. There are at times goats and chickens walking through my "front yard". But, you get used to it all.

I'm trying to attach a few pictures. I'll take more as time goes by. For now, kwaheri.