The recorded ramblings of an unschooled writer, aspiring biologist, amateur equestrian, ardent bookworm, avid music appreciator, increasingly addicted runner and college student spending the summer in Ely, MN.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jambo! Ninaitwa Hillary...

Jambo! Ninaitwa Hillary
Hello my name is Hillary

September 5, 2009

I am writing this as I sit on my host family’s couch while watching a football (soccer) game on today. I am so homesick now that I m ight burst into tears at any moment. I was able to borrow my host mamma’s phone in order to make a quick call home to my mom and dad.

I miss my mom so much I can’t even put it into words. I know that it is pathetic to miss her so much because I am tewnty years old, but in addition to being my mom, she is also my best friend and I haven’t seen her for over a wekk and I haven’t really even had a conversation with her on the phone in almost that long.

Self-pity aside, I’ve had a really intersting day. I feel I should start with just a quick list of the amazing things I have learned so far from my host family.

1. It is in no way embarassing or emasculating for full grown men to sing along with Celine Dion and Mariah Carey on the radio.
2. Hillary Clinton is the most powerful woman in the world and it is indeed a good thing to be named for her.
3. Hillary Clinton is the most protected woman in the world (by the CIA).
4. Nobody cares about Joe Biden (not even the CIA).
5. The beds sold at Tusky’s (a department store) are good for making babies on. (This bit of information was shared with me by my host mama’s brother and I hope was culturally appropriate and informative rather than propsitional in nature).
6. White women spend all day in the gym to be fit.
7. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire would make a nice couple (announced while watching old movie musicals on TV).
8. Young Kenyans have two loves: beer and nyoma choma (large chunks of fried meat).
9. They wer surprised when I told them I do not have an LCD TV in my bathroom. After all, Mariah Carey’s barthroom as featured on MTV “Cribs” has two.
10. My mom was OLD when she gave birth to me and positively ANCIENT for my little brothers.
11. My first name should be Rose as it is right that the oldest girl be named for her maternal grandmother.
12. Driving a car with the driver’s seat on the left and driving on the right side of the road is a concept too terrifying to even consider.

My family is really nice. There is Mama (Susan, 29 years old), Baba (James, 30 something), Dada (Alicia, 8 years old), Kaka (Daryll, 4 years old) and another Kaka (Mungai, 10 months old), as well as a house girl who seems to be just a couple of years older than I and whose name I have yet to catch.

The family (minus the housegirl + baby) and plus George, the kaka to my mama who I find to be just a little too friendly and therefore unseettling came to pick me up.

I had kind of assumed that we would just go straight home, but we ended up heading into downtown Nairobi for a combination “show the mzungu the capital” and “buy baba new office furniture trek”. We parked in a dark and smelly garage and then wandered Nairobi’s city center.

Downtown Nairobi is overwheliming. After shopping several bargain and furniture stores, Baba picked out a desk and chairs and it was time for lunch. In a very sweet effort to feed me an American meal like I would eat at home, they took me to “Pizza Inn”, a subset of the “chicken Inn” fried chicken restaurant popular throughout Kenya. This dining establishment was so huge that it conatained a “chicken Inn”, a ‘Pizza Inn”, a “Creamy Inn” (ice cream) and “Burger Inn”. My host mama bought me my own personal tiny sized vegetarian pizza – I was barely able to eat half of it and felt bad because the rest of the family devoured a large pepperoni and sausage pizza, but didn’t want to touch the one with all of the mbogas (vegetables). Daryll the four year old kept pointing at it and making disgusted faces.

Also purchased for us all to share was the biggest bottle of orange soda (Fanta) that I have ever seen in my life. I never eat food like that (and it has literally been at least 2 years since I last had a soda, probably longer) so my already doxycycline unsettled tummy is still so unhappy! I don’t know if there is anything I can do to avoid becoming fat here as hard I’ve been trying, short of not eating entirely and I don’t want to offend my family by doing that. But, how much weight can I really gain in two weeks? Shouldn’t I be able to starve it all off on the way to Mombasa? I hope so, otherwise I’ll be slim fasting it or something similar upon my return.

After lunch we went to the fish market to buy fish, which was in the muslim section of town right across from a very beautiful mosque and oddly enough sold more chicken than fish.

After that we found our car again and then went off to Tusky’s the brand new shopping mall/center/grocery store to get some more groceries. It was ridiculously huge and the parking lot was right inside the mall – totally bizarre to a mzungu like me! It was werid being out and about without any other mzungu with me. I am really missing Rachel! I got a lot of weird looks. Daryll keeps pulling my hair. Maybe pigtails were a bad idea for the first day!

Next we went to a bakery in Valley’s Arcade where Rachel + I had lunch the other day because mama’s big sister works at the bakery there. She pressed more food on me, a cinnamon/chocolate fritter/croissant thing but I was able to beg my way out of eating it today and say that I was full and would eat it tomorrow. Hopefully it will keep until Monday and I can give it to Zach or Anton or one of the other bottomless pits of the group.

Right now the entire family is watching “Tusker Fame Search 3”, essentially Kenya’s version of American Idol – it is hilarious and all of the contestants are all unbelievably and inhumanely gorgeous, bu also incredibly bad singers. Even worse is the singing along that baba does with most of the acts.

Things to add to the list:
13. When they were given my name my host family didn’t know if I was a man or a woman.
14. “Being from a Catholic family” is quite a good thing (I never lied – never said I was Catholic, but they were so enthusiastic about the idea that my family was that I just let it slide).

I really, really miss riding. I am worried that I will have lost all of my abilities in the time I will be gone! I hope that Spec has been settling in well at his new home and that everything else at home is going well.


PS Spelling on the blogs will likely get scarier and scarier due to the fact that they are now being typed up largely on barely function internet café keyboards.

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