Wednesday, 25 May 2011

My Body is Not My Temple

Hoping my email finds you all well,

has it been a week already?  Well Sunday and yesterday were both water days and guess what, we didn’t get any.  Today is salsa day which would entail having a shower but not sure I have enough water for one!!!  You guessed it may have to take another walk to Hotel Merica for a sneaky one!

Since I last wrote to you I have been busy, but not quite sure doing what.  We lost the only key we had to the post box in town (most of you will know we don’t get post to the house you have to rent a post box and collect from there). I had to arrange for a new lock and keys which will take about 2 weeks, until then I have to wait in line and ask the nice lady to check the mail box for me, usually only dust in there, unless anyone wants to write to me:-

Susannah Chandler, PO Box 17224, Nakuru 20100, Kenya

I only get a water and electric bill and dust that’s it!

Anyway have popped to SCANN a couple of times, now there are few boys there during the week having remedial classes until they are able to manage school admittance I think there is now about 8 boys, all the rest are out to school.  On Saturday I walked in early as the air was fresh and walk was good, I wanted to check if the doctor was attending.  It wasn’t until I got there that I found that there were no new cases of chicken pox and everyone else was healthy.  I spent time talking to the older boys who were on work attachment locally and therefore were around at the weekends, they seem to be settling into their relevant ‘jobs’ well and enjoying the experience.  

I spent some time with the sewing lady who is stitching the costumes that I cut out during the week, I want to see what one is like complete before cutting out more in case they need alterations.  She did this between being asked to mend uniforms by the boys which was more important, split trousers for school was not a good thing!I noticed while there that there was a bees nest hanging from the computer room outer wall and made a mental note to report it to Management.  The bees were very active and with so many boys around it probably needed to be removed.

From SCANN I walked into town to hopefully collect my laptop which had developed a major problem during the week, hence no emails.  I couldn’t even switch it on it just made a loud noise and blank screen.  My computer ‘fundi’ Dennis had it for a few days and now its good as new, it felt awful without it as I use it so much not just for emails but for typing reports and information seeking.
Unfortunately, my laptop was not ready, which in hind sight was a good thing as on the way home the heavens opened and I got soaked through to the skin. My light coloured ¾ length trousers became see through which upset me as I was wearing really bright pants underneath and they showed through, at least it was letting people know wearing some.

I jumped into the shower and sat outside in the ‘after downpour’ sunshine to dry my hair.  I was off to spend the night with my friend Cheryl and her family.  Cheryl came over to pick me up as it was over the other side of town to my house.  We arrived and I was greeted by her 6 dogs, the number had gone up since I last saw her!  The place was even lovelier than I had remembered, the single storey home is nestled in the most gorgeous grounds, surrounded by indigenous trees and flowering plants, you wouldn’t know it was there.  On the back of the house is a very large veranda covered in such an assortment of hanging and climbing plants, lots of pots and cactus adorn the place made even better with large wooden sofas and chairs covered in huge cushions, a great place to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

We spent the evening sat catching up on stories from the last year, it was a time just relaxing and enjoying their company. Cheryl’s daughter Emma was staying there having returned from studies in the UK, undecided on what her next move would be, we chatted about the UK and its problems and also Kenya the same. Anthony (Cheryl’s husband) does like a drink in the evening but finds it better when he has someone to drink with as Cheryl doesn’t drink and his daughter slept early.  I joined him in a couple of whiskies and then he said he would mix a drink (can’t remember the name) whisky and ice cream in a blender. Yummy!!

I awoke at 7 remarkably clear headed, dressed quickly, after being given a cuppa in bed (luxury).  Cheryl likes to have me as an overnight guest as I like to walk so we get up early on the Sunday and walk the dogs at the Menengai Crater, today we were joined by Emma which was a lovely surprise.  We piled into the estate car with all the dogs crammed in the back. The walk was amazing as usual, we walked up to the lip of the crater instead of heading to the floor.  The dogs ran around enjoying the freedom and a couple of times were chased by the resident baboons (not something to mess with).  As we walked we collected various grasses, Cheryl makes cards using the materials found at the crater to sell to raise awareness of the nature of the crater and help fund a local Menengai educational centre.  There is a geothermal plant nestled in the crater producing power locally.

By the end of the walk we were all ready for a hearty breakfast, and the truth be known I had forgotten to take a bottle of water with me and my head was throbbing from dehydration from all the walking, we were out for about 2 hours and it was not all easy going!

We settled on the veranda for a breakfast of toast from home made bread, bacon, eggs and tea, just what we needed.  I packed all my wet walking gear (from the early morning dew not the rain for a change), I drank loads of water to try and get rid of the thumping head ache but ended up with pills, I sat on the veranda watching Anthony remove a rockery for the cactus at the side of the veranda as he said it had become too choked and needed extending and thining.

I asked for some cuttings as I have always admired their display of cactus.  I then ended up helping out, you know how aggressive cactus can be. I came away with 2 carrier bags with cuttings in and was thrilled, together with dried grasses and things I had collected from the crater.

Cheryl enjoys her coffee and decided we would head to Guava for Sunday coffee, unfortunately the electric was off so the coffee machine was out of action and the coffee was not great. Cheryl wanted to check out a new camp called Punda Milias (means something to do with Zebra) so I went along for company.  This was off the main road but was 5km along rutted dirt tracks with no signage, it had to be new.  We eventually arrived at a large gate which was opened by a friendly grinning man who confirmed we were in the right place.  The grounds looked lovely with acacia trees and many floral bushes and plants.  The place was built with the idea of having overland vehicles with many occupants, the grounds were laid out for camping and they had also built some bandas (these were raised wooden sleeping cabins) actually they were just bedrooms, toilet and washing facilities were nearby but separate.  In our opinion he had built these too close together, and we told him so, when sleeping in these you do not want to hear your neighbours, the idea is the think you are sleeping out in the wilderness.  

The shower block was interesting he had built them without a roof so you showered under the sky or if you were crazy enough to shower at night, under the stars, (ideal food for the local mosquitoes).  Everything he had built was with a great eye for detail and consideration for the environment it was nestled in. The bar/restaurant was lovely with big windows over looking the grounds.
I loved the place but would not be able to visit without a car, he has paid for the overhead electric lines to be put in and the new road is due to be built to his place, a good job as when it rains it would be impassable.

Cheryl and I noticed the black clouds overhead and made a hasty retreat but not before a well needed Tusker Malt and Ginger Ale.  We did a quick shop on the highway and then I was dropped at home. A great time spent with friends.

Monday I walked to SCANN discussed working on doing some painting in the class rooms after the walls were painted, to add interest, numbers, alphabet etc, not that I am an artist, but I know that Cheryl’s daughter is and she is planning on being around until August so maybe able to rope her in to help!!!!  
The ‘home boys’ were busy playing with a ball made from plastic bags so I took out of my bag an inflatable rugby ball one of many kindly given by Jayne from Virgin.  I had given most of them to Mama Sweetie for the children but kept a few of SCANN.  The boys soon saw what I was up to blowing away to inflate the ball, they quickly gathered round me trying the acquire the ball, I gave it a lob and they charged after it.  That kept them amused for sometime.  I checked on the stores cupboards to see what materials we had for arranging an art class with the small boys and to see what paints we had for doing the walls.  All noted, I talked to Mama Zubeda for a while about things at SCANN and then planned to be there Wednesday afternoon to do the art class (mayhem more like) but fun anyway.

Yesterday was Tuesday and I decided to stay home to help Henry. Kim had been continuously getting out through gaps in the hedge caused by my neighbour removing the wood on the other side of my hedge (used for firewood). This wood is not mine but was put up by the council as the area on the other side of the hedge is an access route.  People here take over this land as has my neighbour and it has been planted, but at night they come and remove the wood and use if for their wood bringing water heater!! Henry has been filling as many holes as possible with materials we have round the place but it has now got silly.  I went into town and bought two rolls of wire chain fencing and in order to put this up we had to cut back some of the very spiky hedge before attaching the fence.  In addition to this we decided to dig a big sump hole at the back of the house as it collects a lot of water that sits when it rains.  I started digging at the lowest point in the area with a jembe (hoe) and then a spade, I now have a round hole about 5ft wide by at present 4ft deep, it still needs to go deeper but my arms and hands are shattered!!  We plan on filling this with stones to help the drainage and then cover with soil, obviously the soil will keep sinking with the rain but eventually it will settle and the water should collect here instead of sitting on the ground, well that is the theory anyway.   Needless to say by the end of yesterday I was totally exhausted, with blistered hands and burnt neck, to top it all not enough water for a shower, so washed with a bucket instead, didn’t quite do the job but so tired couldn’t be bothered to worry.  I cooked us a hearty meal of minced beef with rice and veg to make up for all the energy we had used up.  We now have a half dug hole, a lovely new wire mesh fence and a lot of mess to clear up!!

Today is Wednesday, my back, arms and hands are aching like mad, my neck is smarting nicely, I desperately need a shower (will send Henry up the ladder to check the water level in the tank may just have enough for one!) Maji (water) man didn’t reply to my message asking him where the water was and when we would get some…………… my man has been moved to another office and I am not sure this new one is very accessible.  Anyway thought you guys needed an update, lounging on my bed having already leapt out of bed at 7, fed the animals and myself wandered round checking plants and weeding, that is it for today as off to SCANN.  

Love to you all, hope your lives are a little less exhausting and full of happiness.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Evening all, 

As I have been typing this it has grown so dark that all I can see is the laptop screen, that's what I get for too much concentration!! Will have to stumble around the table to find the light switch!

Well I have been busy trying to replace all the doctors record cards for the boys at SCANN from home and to help I have actually drummed up help from Henry.  I am not sure if he has ever used a keyboard, but in order to make the job putting into alphabetical order all the cards in dorm headings I showed him how to type all the names as a list in excel.  It took him so long but it made him happy and he was impressed that with a click of a switch they became in order.

This job has spread over 3 days between trips to town etc, but finished it today, now I need to find a box big enough to hold the cards as they are big ones, using my bread box at the moment to stop them getting out of order.

I popped to SCANN on Tuesday to pick up the cards and drop off the costume templates for Saturday stitching managing to avoid contact again with Moses Kombo.  The smallest new arrival Peter, who I think is 3 or 4 was in such a bad way, he came down with the chicken pox but had additional virus his eyes were so puffy and runny and he had so many blisters in his mouth and a very high fever. I was pleased that Anastasia had made sure he went and was seen by a local doctor as he needed meds in addition to the usual panadol and piriton the other boys were receiving for reduction of the itchies.  I sent him to his bed and covered him with a cotton sheet as he looked as though he was about to fall off his feet, he slept soundly and I was told awoke eager to get up and ‘play’ with the other boys, at his age we couldn’t really stop him.

I have been doing medical cards ever since, they were out of order, many scribbled and messy. New cards now should make my job easier on Saturdays.

I have had a couple of beers with Tim who is a tour guide who was trying to get Kimberley and I to visit Masai Mara but told him not somewhere we would want to go as it was a long and tiring trip.  He knows that I need work and money and has, as he did a year ago, offered for me to learn his tour guide business so that I can help him promote and go on safaris and get a cut of the business.  Do you realise how much info I have to learn about the safari areas, the land, the animals, migration, sustainable tourism, etc etc etc……… he sent me loads of info on his business and the trips to ‘learn’.  Not sure I will be able to manage but thought it worth a try.  I think he thinks that by having a mzungu promoting and on the trips will reassure the punters.  Who knows keeping my options open on that one.

Well, yesterday was fun, I promised the old lady who’s shack is behind my place that I would pass by and say hi.  She lives in the small wooden enclosure beside a huge monstrosity of a house on the other side of the road that I pass every time I walk from home to get a matatu.
 She invited me in to see the place the other day, her shamba is so full of everything, including strawberries it is amazing, she told me to go back and visit so she would give me some strawberry plants, as an exchange I gave her some of my tomato plants that were growing, fair trade I thought.

In the small space that she lives in she has a wooden room which is the kitchen and one room half the size of my family bathroom in which she lives. She sleeps on an old sofa and she is 70 if she is a day.  She has some hutches in which she raises rabbits for market, together with chickens, a goat and a calf.  Makes my efforts pale into insignificance. I have no idea how she manages when it rains! 

After the visit I went into town with Henry determined to buy enough chain wire fencing to stop Kim from getting out through the hedge, I am sick of it and also there is now a pack of dogs who are coming into my compound (garden)  at night….I am so angry!  My camera’s battery died so had to be replaced, NOT CHEAP at all, also got some white cabbage seeds for planting and Henry some gunboots his had huge holes!!  
I got Henry to get a tuktuk home and I stayed in town to get ready for the possibility of salsa....... yes I said SALSA in the evening.

I had run out of water at the house, no idea how that happened, think maybe Henry forgot to turn of the valve after the tank was full and it slipped back to the people who supplied it originally and today there was so little pressure in the mains that there was no way even with the electrical pump that we would get any more.  With no other alternative other than wet wipes  (no good for washing hair),  I headed to town with a change of clothes and shower things in order for me to sneak into Hotel Merica for an illicit shower, it was a laugh.  I felt bad walking in with the sole purpose of using the shower. The pool guy was no where to be seen and I strode into the loos and piled into a shower realising I had forgotten to bring a towel with me.  It took forever for the water to get hot but when it was it was amazing, I showered and washed my hair then set to trying to dry myself with my T shirt and then wrapped said T shirt round my head like a turban to keep the water from dripping.  I walked out of the shower stall to be met by 3 nude Sudanese women who obviously were not happy to be unclothed with me there.  I left quickly although I had hoped to be able to apply some makeup as I was wearin none.  When I walked round the pool, I came nose to nose with the pool guy who gave me an enquiring look to say ‘have you been swimming’ I pursed my lips and shook my head and continued walking.  I think that the dripping wet hair may have been a give away as to what I had been doing but what the hell. I walked from there straight to Guava as I was not appropriately dressed for afternoon strolling, (leggings and the bright dress top I sometimes wear to salsa) I even draped a long black salsa cardi over my shoulders to hide my discomfort! I only had a 3 hour wait until salsa but not worth the hastle of going home and trying to get back in the evening. I sat and chatted with friends.

Salsa was interesting and I had arranged to meet Danielle (from Guava Cafe) who wanted to come and see what Salsa was all about.  She met me in the bar where I was sitting chatting to Tim, he got invited to come along to Salsa by Danielle (I was trying to avoid mentioning it to him) . Off we went and when we arrived there was no one around other than the bar staff at Enigma.  We asked if the salsa teacher was coming and she said she didn’t think so, Danielle told her that she should phone the teacher and let him know there was a mzungu who was waiting for him for salsa.  She went and phoned him and we were told that he would be half an hour (actually an hour but who is counting).

Slowly 3 Kenyan women arrived who looked like they were also waiting for the dancing.  When the guy arrived I found that it was a beginners class and the level of the teachers was not high but it was full of enthusiasm.  I joined in giving tips, one woman had high heeled slip-ons we were dancing on a very slippery tiled floor, not ideal and so so slippery, she had such problems trying to keep her shoes on I worried that she would break something!

I got lots of encouraging ah’s from the ‘teacher’ who looked about 18 years old. Our group increased by 6 when Ben (Danielles brother who runs Guava Bar) and his followers showed up, they sat around watching and drinking and no matter how much I encouraged Danielle she would not join in.  She and the other girls she knew well, decided they would go to the classes held at a new place run by the same guys who were running this Wednesday evening event but the classes are 200ks and no way was I paying to learn beginners level.  The girls just wanted to know a bit before they danced in a bar.  What was missing was NO MEN IN THE CLASS!!  The guys not only taught basic salsa, they did bachatta and cha cha too.  I think for a beginners class this was rather too much confusion.  After the classes I asked one of the two teachers to dance and it was a bachatta, but he was doing the cart wheeling arms and legs too, bit crazy, I told him that if he kept his arms moving I could not tell what was a lead and what was not…… um that went down well!

Anyway bothteachers individually came to talk to me, one of the teachers who did the chacha and bachatta was a Sudanese, he was extremely tall and did huge steps, I didn’t fancy dancing with him but he obviously ‘thought’ he was fab. 

Anyway I had a couple of dances with the short teacher and it was a bit difficult as the leads were so weak and they actually hold your hands instead of just palm to palm so makes moves difficult.  I think after a while I will get the hang of it, it is always difficult dancing with strangers and boy were these strangers.

They said we should ’hook up’ next week, probably means they like the fact that I will bring others, including more men to the bar on a Wednesday as other than us there were 4 others in the bar! Wait and see if the word gets about for next week.

I enquired about the fact that there were no other men for the woman to dance with (and me) how many were there at their other classes. I was told in total there were 4 men in Nakuru who could salsa and I had just met two of them!!!! Got to remedy that somehow, maybe if I start wearing revealling tops etc it will attract more.... kidding!  

There maybe a possibility of me helping them out but who knows what and how they teach here.  NO LADIES STYLING FOR A START and although I hate it, seeing these ladies dance with nothing to do with their arms it looked awful, maybe Susannah's Styling Tips will have to start not that I know many!!  I may also suggest that they concern themselves with one style of dance only until the basics are achieved because three dances for beginners is CRAZY.   I wont be getting any good dances in the foreseeable future!!!! Wait till I hit Nairobi - sometime or never will have to find their clubs as no salsa dance satisfaction as yet in Nakuru. Forever hopeful.

We will see what happens, so many fingers in so many pies!

Stayed home today as I was busy and determined to finish the doctors record cards so didn't to go to town.  Henry has been helping me again with the record cards and we have finished them which is a load off my mind.  Henry has then been outside tidying the garden, I gave him some money to go and get himself lunch as I have nothing in the house and had some weetabix. It is getting ready to rain now and as we speak the water tank is slowly topping up from the mains as they decided to send me a bit more pressure, even though the water meter is not going round (I am not going to tell)! To make matters even more amusing the water pressure has just been bumped up, I checked the water storage tank and it was filling quickly.  The Heavens suddenly opened at the same time as the overflow indicated that the tank was full, I got soaked to the skin turning off the valve at the tank to stop it filling, irony of complaining of having no water I now have it coming at me from all sides!

I hope those of you going to Tracies Anniversary Weekend for TLC will have a fabulous time, needless to say 'wish I was coming' and know it will be amazing, I want to see photos on Facebook soon.

I have a school teacher who wants to stay at the house for a few weeks but can't I pin her down to dates yet. I also have my friend Ailsa who wants to come during June and Paul who is planning on a visit, anyone who wants to visit please make sure you give me adequate notice of your planned dates so I can work around them and make sure there is room......... not a problem at the moment as I only have paka and Kim (cat and dog) to worry about!

I am meeting Mama Sweetie in town tomorrow as I have managed to get my friend Jeremiah (who runs a tourist gift shop) to sell the bags that the positive ladies of her village are making, she is coming in with more supplies as I only travelled from Kampi ya Moto with one. 
Hugs and wishes to you all

Susannah (Tour Guide and Nakuru Salsa Advisor to add to my many hats!) 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Not So Wet...

Hope this Sunday finds you all well and rested,

Well an interesting week, the rains are still here but not everyday so some days you are in for a soaking another day you will prepare for a soaking and none will come.

On Monday I went to SCANN in the afternoon to see how everyone was and had a nice chat to an older lady called Zepeda (something like that anyway) she was Yasmins cousin and after losing Yasmin wanted to get involved at SCANN during her retirement.  She is a very lovely gentile lady who was so pleased to see me and wanted my help and direction as she had heard I had done so much at SCANN.

We chatted for a while about what was needed and planned out program for the weeks ahead.  I said that as it was late in the day I would arrive in the morning and start working my way through the boys individual files to ensure all the documents needed where inside.  The setting up of the files had been a huge undertaking I had completed before I left last year but nothing had been updated in my absence including the new additions to SCANN.

I arrived on Tuesday morning and set to work, I arranged for one of the college boys to assist by hooking out the files by name for me to check what was in and to record on a sheet.  We did this for a number of hours and worked very well.  It became apparent that there was a lot missing including things that I had put in the files initially.  Kombo the Officer in Charge of SCANN had not been around the few times I had visited SCANN so I had not been able to discuss what I was doing, anyway he appeared and hit the roof, yelling and shouting that I had no right to be in the files and demanded that I left the office…… he wouldn’t even listen to me explaining what I was doing, she shooed me out and locked the door.  I was so angry I tried to speak to him but all he did was shout so I left very angry.  

Moses Kombo and I have always worked closely at SCANN since I arrived in 2006 but it would appear he was no longer happy with my ‘interference’. On the walk home from SCANN I called the Chairman and explained what had happened he was not happy and said he would talk to Kombo.  When Zebeda arrived at SCANN the next day and was told she was also livid.  Apparently Kombo is working his notice as he was found to have started his own project in the area and was spending a lot of time there when supposedly out on SCANN business so he was told to either relinquish his chair at the other project or leave SCANN so he is leaving SCANN.  

I think that the timing of my arrival back in Kenya has made him think I am back here to take his job, there is no way I would want it as it is too involved for me to manage with the ‘Kenyan’ way of doing things dealing with colleges and university entrances etc etc.  On the way home I went and did some shopping and treated myself to a beer in Guava Lounge, I met up with a friend and ended up having a few more than one, it turned out that the evening was an 80’s fancy dress evening and whilst I was not in fancy dress I took some photos which were quite funny.

On Tuesday evening I arranged to go a visit Mama Sweetie on the Wednesday, I called a friend and asked if he knew anyone who would loan me a vehicle if I fuelled it.  He did better than that he sent me a van and driver in the morning who took me and the 5 suitcases to Mama Sweeties.  There are good people here, I just don’t seem to come across them often!  Mama Sweetie and I spent the whole day sorting the clothes donations so that each of the children would have a new set.  We also made each of the older children in charge of a suitcase and divided up the smaller children to a numbered suitcase, in this we put their clothes, tooth brushes and soap for each child. The other toothbrushes that were donated from my friends at Tracie’s Latin Club were put in Mama Sweeties store, they will last them a long time hopefully.  The many clothes donated from Marouella and Jayne from Virgin were thankfully accepted along with toys and dolls for the children to play with and a surprise gift of Easter eggs from Jayne.

I asked Mama Sweetie to arrange for her builder neighbour to come and discuss the plans for the building projects that we had in the pipeline, we sat and went through many things in preparation for Ailsa’s visit hopefully next month.

I was walked back to the Matatu and on the way collected a sample of lovely bags that the ladies of the village have been making to take to my friend Jeremiah to see if he will sell in his gift shop. (Hope to see him this afternoon as he was out when I dropped it off with the explicit instruction that we discuss BEFORE he SELLS!)

I climbed into the matatu just as it started raining again, I took the last seat by the door…….. I know why it was free, the seat was soaked through, the man beside me just looked at me when the cold wet oozed through my trousers and I figetted, he smiled knowing my dilema.  By that time it was too late to sit on my waterproof jacket but at least it was long enough to hide my embarrassment as it looked like I had wee'd myself when I got off the matatu, it had stopped raining by then but I still wore the jacket.

On Thursday I was in town collecting my post and pricing up various things that I needed for the house I popped into Guava CafĂ© and had a soda, while there I chatted to Daniella the owner who said that Guava Lounge’s next fancy dress was Latin flavour, I told her that I would be Ok as I had my salsa clothes, she told me that one of the newer bars in town had salsa classes and it was that night.

Whilst Daniella was unable to go I decided that I would go and check it out, I called a friend to escort me and we went, unfortunately we found that Tuesday and Thursday was Karaoke and WEDNESDAY was salsa, we headed back to Guava Lounge disappointed for a couple of beers before I headed home having booked Daniella for the following Wednesday.

Saturday I decided to head to SCANN early as the doctor would be doing his clinic as many of the boys had come out in chicken pox and unless contained they would all get it.  Dr Kuria was so pleased to see me and we had a busy morning seeing 10 of the boys with various ailments but predominantly chicken pox.  After he left I prepared the required medications and updated the children’s medical cards for the clinic, if there is one thing I am glad that I instigated at SCANN it is the visits by the doctor, the children are so big and healthy now.  We have so few stomach problems, hygiene is greatly improved and all due to the doctor coming.

SCANN now also has a Saturday sewing lady who comes and repairs and adjusts all the boys clothes, a job that used to keep me busy most evenings until I could see no longer.  I spent a lot of time with the sewing lady and Zebeda on Saturday as there is a big fundraising being planned for around July / August in Nairobi and there are some of the boys doing some Indian dancing (most of the people who attend the fundraising are Asian business people) I was asked to help with producing the costumes, white tunics and trousers….. In white satin!  Yes I said WHITE!!  We started cutting the fabric yesterday and I have taken some home to cut the designs out of, as Doris will know…. I hate trousers they confuse the hell out of me!   I will be doing this as and when during the week.  Needless to say that although I stayed away for a few days to avoid Kombo he was there all day Saturday, we managed to avoid each other but there was no sign of an apology, maybe I expect too much sometimes.

Today is Sunday, Henry is out at Church (saying a few for me no doubt)  I have been busy fixing some of my wall light fittings that were broken and also my cupboard doors in the kitchen.  Managed a bit of washing, swept the whole house, had a nice hot shower and will be heading into town for a bite of lunch, my treat on Sunday saves me cooking.  

Love to you all, hope you are all well and the weather there is improving.

Susannah, Paka and Kim

Monday, 9 May 2011

Wet and cold... yes I am talking about Kenya

Welcome to wet and cold Nakuru.

(I have had some delays in writing this email to you as for the past two nights we have had no electricity and my laptop battery was dead, so third try lucky...)

7th May, I decided before the afternoon rains came to wander to SCANN today, hoping to find everyone at home, just as I got to the entrance I called Anastasia one of my teacher friends to tell her I am knocking and to let me in……….. she told me that there was no one at SCANN they were all out at a celebration being held at Showground.  Well that will teach me, walked all the way there as well.  I had a brief chat with a lady who is helping as administrator at SCANN she was busy doing paperwork while everyone was out. We chatted about how I can help show her what needs to be done……. Um will wait a few weeks after being at SCANN until I know what is lacking!

On leaving I bumped into two older boys waiting to go back to University after the Easter break, we walked together into town and they chatted about their courses, attachments as teachers and general life issues.  It was a lovely exchange of experiences and lives.  I have been asked as one of my ‘jobs’ to familiarise myself with the University Policy that SCANN Directors have put together, so that I can advise the university boys accordingly, um think it will take some doing as they are already questioning how come it was done without any consultation, think I may have a tough time but will give it a go.

When in town I went to the phone friend who I sent a message to yesterday as my mobile was running out of credit and with the heavy rain was in no mood to travel to town to top up, over here you can be sent credit via your phone from someone else, so I had to go to his shop to pay up.  I find this a great life saver some times especially when I am stuck somewhere and need credit.

From there I went to Top Market and sat talking to some other friends who own a stall, I picked up some vegetables for dinner and also sent him to get me some omena which is a small dried fish (like whitebait) which I buy in a kilo bag and use to feed the cat (Paka).  It smells really bad so I always take a spare plastic bag to put it in and tie it tight or I smell out the matatu.

Whilst at the market the heavens opened, the heavy rain that fell was crazy, Kamau told me to sit on his chair and he ran to get a heavy polythene sheet to cover me with, actually it was so big that two other vendors sat under it with me. We sat watching the pounding rain for about 15 minutes before it let up then started again. I sat patiently watching the people sheltering in the market resigned to wait until the rains finished.  I will never get over the sight of women walking in the rain wearing what we use in the shower to protect our hair from getting wet, they wear these in the rain as rain caps, they also wear plastic bags knotted at the edges like hankies, there is no way that a Kenyan lady will allow her weave or wig to get wet so these sights whilst being surreal are around whenever it rains.  I keep avoiding the men who are selling the shower caps as they seem to think that I really NEED one, I should really get Kimberley to send me a totally funky one for me to wear……. I am sure they would all love one the same.

I left the market with many moans from my friends who were enjoying sharing stories with me, I passed by a butcher on the way to the matatu and stopped to buy 3 kilos of bones and waste for Kim. These also get double bagged and even then the smell in the matatu was not good, mix omena and butchers waste, not nice……. People probably thought I needed a shower.  

The rains were so heavy that the roads were running like rivers with people desperately trying to avoid the waters, I was so wet with sandals on that I just waded through without a care, someone shouted, ‘hey lady do you not see the water’ I replied, ‘yes, it’s everywhere we are blessed’  it kept him quiet.  Over here if you are out you are going to get wet, it is that kind of rain, no avoiding it, none of this drizzle or shower, torrential rain I just love it the energy is amazing.

Anyway after a smelly ride home in a matatu in which we all had our own seat, including the conductor which is totally unheard of, Henry met me at the gate and offered to cook Kim’s meat, hey I didn’t want to argue it would have been rude…..hehe.  I decided that it would be good to cook early as no doubt we will have a power cut as soon as the light declines, this is what has happened for the past 4 or 5 evenings.

Oh another story I almost forgot……… Henry went home for a couple of days to visit his parents so while he was away I had the place to myself, you know the thing, dancing round not worrying whether or not Henry was outside watching.  Well as previously mentioned I have been caught out with the electric power failing at dusk resulting in trying to cook by candle and torch light.  Yesterday I cooked early but still got caught having to cook with the torch balanced between my teeth so see what I was doing.  I managed but decided the washing up could wait.  I sat in the lounge with a candle burning on the mantle piece reading a new book via torch light, blanket spread over me to keep warm.  My peace was disturbed by Paka shooting in the opened window, well I couldn’t see that it was Paka but assumed it was, I thought the destination was the kitchen for the milk I had put in Paka’s dish.  No this was not the case, Paka was under the table in the dining area doing something, I got up and shone the torch and found that Paka had come in the window with a huge rat that was at that moment having its head crunched off.  It was disgusting, the sound of all that crunching was making me feel sick.

I blew out the candle and went to my room closing the door behind me to stop Paka coming in with its prize.  I think Paka was making a point ,I had tried earlier to give Paka a worming tablet and Paka was NOT happy, I failed and crunched up the tablet and mixed it with Pakas milk, which was not being consumed, presumably Paka could smell the tablet, to not drink the milk is unheard of.

I decided there was no way in the dark that I was going to attempt to clear up the mess of carnage left by the cat. I sat in bed reading my book by torch light, under the mosi net felt a bit like a child reading under the covers after being told to sleep.

Some few hours later the lights came back up and at that moment Henry appeared from his travels. He had come with gifts from his parents, three chickens.......ummmmmmm.   I told him about Paka and he insisted on coming in a clearing up the mess, why do cats chomp off the head and leave the rest behind, it was disgusting and still warm.  

Ok, I wanted to get this info down before the power went again as I feel it has been a while since I wrote to you.  I am off to SCANN again tomorrow when hopefully I will meet up with all the boys.  Should be good if the response from the two older boys is anything to go by, I know I missed them terribly but they also missed me and keep telling me I make a difference to their lives….. it makes all the hard work and sacrifices worth while.

Ok must go and cook my dinner now that Kim’s dinner is boiled, thanks to Henry, which also means that tonight I don’t have to light the jiko, I offered Henry a hot chocolate drink as I had boiled the kettle for a coffee, so he lit the jiko while I made him a drink, fair swap I think, my jiko lighting skills are thankfully returning after a number of duff tries.

Love to you all,


Please note, I pound these emails out so any bad grammar, incorrect spelling etc I apologise for, that also goes for going off on tangents etc………

PS. The painstaking job of removing with a toothbrush the scale bugs on my rambling rose has paid off, it is looking so much healthier, hopefully it may reward me with some flowers at some stage.  My back as a result of doing this is the sunshine is peeling nicely!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Nearly There... Promise

Happy May Day to all…… enjoy the pole dancing, (Maypole!)……

Almost caught up now….

After getting Kimberley to the airport, remembering that we can only drop off as only those travelling can enter the building, we stood waiting for her to be checked through the door without words, tears welling, we hugged and the security guard asked who was travelling I pointed to Kimberley, he looked at us (and I am sure Kimberley wont mind me telling you this) he said that I could go through with her, I was shocked and said this was not permitted in the past how come….. He said that as Kimberley was a minor it was OK!!! Oops needless to say the look on Kimberley’s face was not a good one. I hugged her and told him she was not a minor, but thanks anyway. We parted and I stood with my nose against the glass watching as Kimberley went through the booking in process to make sure that the change in her flight had gone through ok. She came to the window with thumbs up and then disappeared pleased that all went smoothly.

Jenga used to tears at the airport said nothing as he watched from a distance. He then chatted away on the ride back to the apartment where he dropped me. I let myself into the apartment and dropped back into bed, emotionally exhausted.  After sleeping for a few hours I got up and pottered round, I was feeling rough, the cold that had been hanging round since before I arrived in Kenya decided to hit, I lounged round for the most part of the day, hitting the sack early that night after a long soak in the bath.

On Monday I headed back to Nakuru, was pleased that Moses and Edwina were still around to occupy me.  Meals were great and cooked by Edwina, Moses always washed up, I was enjoying the treatment while it lasted.  Nick was still upset with the fact that requested that his family leave my house bearing in mind they were supposed to be out before I returned, the 10 day extension was me being nice, but not regarded that way by him. As far as he was concerned I embarrassed him and treated him and his family badly after they looked after my home.  Nice that he only portrayed his part of the story to all his friends.  Still if the friendship is to survive it will take time for him to get his head out of  his ………….!

Marouella, my friend from Virgin sent me an email to say she had managed to get on Kimberley’s return flight and she would ‘look after’ her on route home.  Unfortunately, this was the original flight that we had booked, Kimberley had already flown home on Sunday!!!! I know Kimberley was soooo disappointed to miss that luxury trip!  Marouella also said she was bringing some donations with her so we arranged for her to leave them at the hotel in Nairobi for me to collect later in the week.

Wednesday, Edwina and Moses decided they would head back to Nairobi on the night train leaving Nakuru at around midnight.  Edwina cooked a lovely meal and then we waited until 1.30 for the taxi to collect them (well I waited whilst typing my emails home, Edwina and Moses slept on the sofa). When the taxi arrived they said their goodbyes and left. Moses earlier in the day stripped the beds and did all the washing before they left.

I closed up the house for the night and headed to bed, about 10 mins later my phone went, apparently the guy at the station didn’t tell Edwina that the night train was booking only and they were unable to get on.  I told them to get back in the taxi and come home.  I madly ran round making the beds and waited for them to return, tired and not happy.

On Thursday morning after a really bad nights sleep the phone range at 7.30am, it was someone from Hotel Intercontinental saying he had some bags for me to collect that day….. Bleary eyed and not understanding him I said that I was in Nakuru and could not collect them that day, he then let me speak to Marouella who was happy for me to collect them later, but he said the store was rather full and I needed to pick within the next 48hrs!

When I eventually woke up, I spoke to Edwina and Moses who decided to head back on the shuttle to Nairobi, I decided I would go with them and collect the bags and return the same day. I sent a text to the guy at the hotel who was overjoyed! 

Now I had been talking to Edwina and Moses about the fact that they wanted to do a promo video to help them promote their act OneFace as they needed work and were tired of being cheated by trainers/friends who were finding work for them but not paying them for it. I thought of a good venue in Nairobi, the offices of my friend Haroon are set in the most amazing grounds, it would be perfect.  After a few phone calls it was arranged, we would travel to Nairobi that day, pick up the donations and go and visit the premises to have a look at the suitability.

Edwina and Moses loaded with their rucksacks and I with my huge empty  (ShoeZone carry all dead body size bag) headed to Nairobi, we met with Francis at the hotel and between us managed to load the 3 smaller bags into mine which left me with a huge suitcase and my bag instead of many small ones. 

Moses and Edwina loved the grounds of the offices, we negotiated the day and left with lots of smiles. All we needed was someone to video, money being the huge issue in this we may end up with doing it ourselves!  I have since provided a good proposal to Haroon and his company and will let you know if it is agreeable before letting you know.

Jenga my loyal Nairobi Taxi driver and friend, picked us and the bags up, we dropped Moses and Edwina in Nairobi and then took the bags to the Mololine shuttle for them to watch until I was ready to leave. Decided to have a couple of beers with Jenga as we had not had time to catch up on news.  After a lot of talking and Jenga giving advice on the Nick issues, I headed for the shuttle, collected my bags and got straight on as there was one waiting for a last passenger, ME!

It was a long ride with 3 tusker beers inside of me, 2 hours on a shuttle, reminded me not to have beer again before I travel.  Due to the lateness of the ride I stayed on the shuttle instead of getting him to drop me on the highway near the house and getting a taxi to pick me from there, not wise at night, besides managing the bags anytime of day would have been a problem.  I got home late, tired and desperate for the relief of the beer!!

Compared to the night before I slept like a log that night, satisfied of a day well spent!

Since then, I spent the day yesterday in the ‘compound’ (garden) making good after the effects of the boys and Nick on it. I have been spreading many of the plants round filling the gaps by taking cuttings.  Henry’s planting of the seeds I came with has proved very fruitful, we are going to be eating salad till the cows come home, especially as I don’t have any cows! I was alone as Henry had some work at one of the neighbours, so managed to get outside in shorts and bikini top, silly really as burnt!! No one to put sun cream on my back also no one to put on the after sun.  I struggled as best I could and in the process managed to rick my neck. Now I know why people get married!!!! Kidding. X

When I returned and checked out the plants, I noticed that the short stubby rose I bought and planted before I left had now covered the open fretwork in the porch beautifully, but was covered with scale and black soot on the leaves.  Yesterday I patiently washed with soapy water all the leaves, removing the worst of them, this is why I got burnt, today I am staying inside keeping busy until the sun has gone, it is now heading towards the rainy season and the storms are hitting us, lots of noise, lightning and little rain, but when it does rain its fabulous and torrential. We are having many electric breaks usually in the evening which is not so good, as candle light really doesn’t help much when it is so dark.  There will be many babies arriving in 9 months, what else are people going to do. I on the other hand just sleep and last night I listened to the ipod Swahili course, well 5 mins of it before I fell asleep! Never was good with languages.

May manage to scrape some of the scale off the rose before it starts raining as the sun has dipped behind the clouds. Wish me luck, nasty things those scale bugs.  Any home remedies for the like would be appreciated. As you can see I have kept myself busy with sorting out house paperwork, checking what has been paid as far as the bills are concerned in my absence and those I need to pay.  I am meeting with Shamsher on Monday, (the Chairman of SCANN) just to see how things are now and how I can help, I am usually given an assignment to manage, not sure what this one will be. I have stayed clear until I was settled so Monday looks to be the day. Also off to Mama Sweeties this week to drop off the bags, was hoping to do it bits but so much will just get a taxi and drop all together will be less hastle.

Love to you all, the thunder is rumbling as I prepare to sign off, just hope the internet doesn’t cut off before I send.  Will do some updated photos of the place soon.

Missing you all, wish you were here.