Friday, January 9, 2009

Kenya vignette: November 13- laundry and showing off the mzungus

Today was pretty unusual. To start, all my clothes were dirty besides my two skirts and the white t-shirt I brought, unwitting of the amount of mud there is in Gathiga. I haven’t worn it yet because I was sure it wouldn’t last at the orphanage for very long. Today was white shirt and skirt day because I washed all my other clothes this morning. Ruth and Grace helped me. I was actually glad they let me help at all, sometimes they think we’re more of a hindrance than a help. But I’m really, really impressed by how clean it’s possible to get a pair of pants or a pair of really, really dirty, red-mud-laden socks, scrubbing them with lots of soap and lot of cold water.

The only problem I personally had with laundry was that all the rubbing made my knuckles raw with friction. Ouch!

After laundry, Ruth decided to take us to her village, where she and Lucy grew up. We think it was partly to show off her white friends and partly because she wanted Cynthia to marry her nephew, who lives in the village. She took Cynthia, Eunice, Moses, and I, and we took two matatus through Nairobi and out the other side to get there, as well as a 2-kilometer walk. It was over a 2 hour trip one way. It was such a random trip. We got there and sat in the living room while Ruth and her mother made lunch. Riding on matatus for so long made me pretty tired.

A young man came wandering in and we figured out that he was the guy that Ruth wants to “set up” with Cynthia. He didn’t talk very much, I don’t think the romance will go far.

After lunch, Ruth took us on a little walk to the family garden plot. I really liked the region she grew up in. One thing I dislike about Gathiga is the way the streets are all lined with hedges so I can’t see very far away and it almost feels a little claustrophobic. Ruth’s village is green, green fields and wide open skies. It was gorgeous, like a breath of fresh air. Beautiful. She also showed us a mango tree.

The guy from the house came with us, as well as a little boy, about six years old, I think. At first, at the house, he would barely look at us, although we smiled and waved. Then he randomly decided to show up when we walked to the garden. Then I realized that he was always standing next to me and he was returning my smiles. He didn’t speak any English, but we played some silly little games with running and skipping and making faces.

Ruth picked a viburnum flower and gave t to me. I loved it—it was very bright and much more colorful than viburnum in Utah. The boy noticed this and picked another flower and looked like he wasn’t sure how to give it to me.

We went back inside and the others had tea. The boy brought in a flower and put it on the couch beside me to indicate that he wanted me to have it. I thanked him and smiled and he beamed at me. I put it in my journal to press it. The boy went running off and was back a little while later with a while bouquet of nicotiana-like flowers but that smelled divinely like honeysuckle. I thanked him again and this happened about three more times before we left. Cynthia was laughing that he was going to bring me the whole garden if we didn’t leave soon. Fortunately, we did. As it was, we got back to Gathiga after dark, anyway.

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