"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt...and go out to dance with the joyful." - Jeremiah 31: 3-4

Friday, September 18, 2009

The past two days...

The past two days have been, in one word, awesome!

On Thursday, some of us went to HBF to plant trees around the perimeter. Originally we were going to take a truck there because we had to pick up all the trees, but Daniel heard on the radio that morning that they were arresting anyone without a seat belt. This is Kenya and they can decide what rules to follow on whatever day they wish. Well, since there are no seat belts in a truck bed we had to go in a matatu. So around 9ish Scott, Nate, Mark, Jared, Julia, Steph (yes, there is another Stephanie in the internship program) and I left the compound to start the 25 minute walk into town to get a matatu. After spending a little while in town, Mark hired a matatu and we left for HBF. On the way we picked up almost 700 trees and stuffed them all in the matatu! Now keep in mind that these trees were just saplings so it's not like we had full grown redwoods hanging out in there, but still... 700 baby trees in a matatu full of people is a pretty funny sight. So once we arrived at HBF we unloaded all the trees and got situated. As we were loading some of the trees into the wheelbarrow (that ironically had no wheels) Mark told Nate and I to grab more of the green ones..... Nate and I looked at each other in confusion then looked at Mark. "Really, Mark? The green ones?" All the trees were green! Anyway, it was a good laugh. So then we started digging some holes! They don't use shovels. They use djembes. It's kind of like a hoe, except you use it differently... I'm not the best at explaining this kind of stuff but basically you just swing it down and make holes! Haha, use your imaginations because I can't do much better than that. It's hard work, but it's really fun and rewarding. I have four nice blisters on my hands and I love them because it's the result of a hard day's work.
After a couple hours, it hit me how much I was going against the culture. I asked if it was weird for Kenyans to see a woman doing this sort of work? In response, I was told, "yes, and you're white." The more I'm in this culture, the more I realize how much I love doing the men's work rather than the woman's work. Not that I don't enjoy cooking and cleaning, but it's just not as exciting or rewarding to me as working with my hands and doing manual labor. After planting almost all of the trees, it started to rain like it does every afternoon. This was the hardest rain I've seen yet here in Kenya. It was coming down sideways and the sound of it on the tin roof of HBF was almost deafening, but I never get tired of watching and listening to the rain.
The ride home was probably the funniest adventure I've had so far. We had to take piki piki's (motorcycles) part of the way and then get on a public matatu the rest of the way. We could only get three piki piki's. If you do the math, there was seven of us.. with only three motorcycles. So Nate, Mark and I squeezed onto one and everyone else had just two people on the back. So here we are, a Kenyan piki driver, Nate, me and Mark, holding on for dear life... well Mark was holding on for dear life, Nate and I were too squished in the middle to fall off... riding down a flooded mud road laughing hysterically because we know that we're a sight most Kenyans don't see everyday. Two white people in between two Kenyans. As Nate so perfectly said it, we were a double stuffed oreo. Then we get onto a public matatu and I'm sitting next to a older Kenyan woman who keeps looking at my legs because I was wearing capris that when sitting showed a bit of my knees, which is quite scandalous in this culture. So I was being judged very harshly, but what are you gonna do? The day ended successfully and it was definitely one of my favorites.

Today we mudded a hut at HBF. If you've never mudded a hut before you're missing out! First we had to get in a huge pit of mud and stomp around to make the mud the right consistency. After a couple face plants (accidentally and on purpose) and quite a few mud balls thrown around, we got out and started putting balls of mud about 6 inches across around a hut constructed of sticks. A lot of mud was thrown around and we were all sufficiently covered head to toe by the time we were finished. I could do that every day and be totally happy with my life! It was a lot of fun and seriously rewarding work. We basically built a house. Mud huts are the main living unit of families here in Kenya.
But now, onto the most important part of the day... the eating contest. The other day Andrew saw me finish a whole dish on food at lunch. The food here is very filling and they give you huge portions, so me finishing a whole plate was a pretty big deal. He decides to challenge me to an eating contest next time we were at HBF. So today at lunch, after hours of taunting each other and psyching ourselves up, it was finally time. Lunch today was a mixture of potatoes, greens, beans and maize. Basically, a huge pile of extremely filling carbs and starches. We made sure our portions were even and started to eat. The first plate went down pretty easy, I finished before him but this was a contest of quantity not speed so we got a second plate. I was showing no signs of weakness but Andrew was beginning to struggle. At first I thought he was faking and just trying to get me to let my guard down... but then I realized that he was actually getting full. Surprisingly, I was not. I always knew I could eat a lot, but two plates of Kenyan food seemed like an impossible task even for me. But two plates went down and neither of us were ready to call it quits just yet. So a third plate was started. Still not showing or feeling any signs of weakness, I finished the third plate strong and ready to keep going! Andrew on the other hand... was not looking so good. Haha, so to wrap up this wonderful story... I won. I even finished another half of a plate while Andrew watched in amazement. I don't think he understands how I could possibly have eaten that much food, but my level of food consumption is a mystery no one will ever solve. Mom and Dad, these are the times you should be proud to call me your daughter :)

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