Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our first "African" Day

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to go visit a friends village a couple hours away. We truly experienced an "African" day! Time just was not an issue. To start, we were supposed to meet our friend, Peter, at 8am to begin the journey. Well, we met him on time, but it took about another hour and a half to get on the road. First he had us come see his home here in the city. I would never have found the place, as his home is hidden behind some woodworking and metal shops. We passed many chickens, goats, and stray cats along the way and then literally had to duck through a little tin opening to enter the small alley where his home was located. It was very basic-a small tin building with a living room and a curtained off bedroom. Although Peter is married with three children, he is the only one that lives there. His wife and children live in the village with his family, while Peter stays in the big city to work--kind of sad to me, but they do what they have to do!  

Anyway, after we visited at his place, we headed to the grocery store because I had wanted to bring his family a gift but did not know what they may need. We bought them some items that are not so popular in the village such as juice, bread, and maize flour. Paul and I also picked up some bottled water for ourselves, as we knew we would not be able to drink the village water. 

For the first hour, the drive actually was better than we expected it to be-paved roads and not too much traffic. But then...the lovely paved road came to an end and the next hour of the ride was spent dodging animals and enormous pot holes.  

We arrived in the outskirts of his village around 11:15am, but due to other stops, we did not end up getting to his families house until after 1pm. Shortly after entering the village we stopped to have a coke break at a local restaurant. Cokes are surprisingly very common here and pretty inexpensive. We continued on for another 30 minutes and then took another "coke" stop at brothers shop.    
As we were driving through the village, lots of children were following our "big blue van". Once we stopped, we had a swarm of kids waiting to greet us. 

The local village children were amazed with the "white" baby. When I tried talking to them, they would run away-Peter told us that we probably were the first white people some of them had ever seen. They sure did love Micah though :) They also enjoyed having their picture taken and then looking at it! 

Next, Peter took us by a piece of property he bought and is hoping to move his family to shortly. His two little boys (ages 7 and 10) had walked about a mile and half from their current home, and were waiting anxiously to greet us at the edge of the property. They were precious! The piece of land was rather large and very private. It was about 2 acres, but most of it consisted of maize for farming. They also had some mango trees and Micah was excited about receiving some since he loves to eat mango! 

After touring his new lot, we finally made it to our intended destination-his current families compound which consisted of about 5 homes and was over 15 acres. 

We pretty much met the whole family-wife, children, parents, aunts, nieces, nephews, brothers, etc. What a crew! 

Although the elderly could not communicate with us very well, everyone was extremely gracious to us. We were immediately greeted with lots of hugs and...a third coke :) I definitely was coke overloaded for the day-but not wanting to offend them, I drank one anyway! 

Because of all the cokes we had drank, we had to use the bathroom. Although, I do not enjoy them one bit, I have used several "squatty-potties" in my life, but Paul and I both agreed that this was by far the worst!! The smell was enough to kill you, so I held my breath right away. Upon entering, I was greeted with a HUGE spider on the wall, as well as other creepy little critters. As if that was not bad enough, I then noticed a large swarm of maggots beneath me. SICK SICK SICK!!! I was out of that puppy as fast as possible.

Peter then took us around to explore the property while the ladies stayed and cooked for us. The property was beautiful and had maize (corn) fields, mango and papaya trees, blackberry and strawberry bushes, bee hives, etc. When ducking under a papaya tree, Paul unfortunately was stung by his first wasp ever-his arm did swell a little, but thankfully there was no major allergic reactions. 

(I personally loved how all the little boys followed Peter and Paul around) 
(Peter climbing the mango tree to shake some off for us to take home)
(the kids collecting the mangos-they let us take ALL of those home)

After hiking around their place, we settled down back at Peter's home and had our first Kenyan meal since arriving-and Paul did great! It consisted of chicken (aka rubber!), potato stew, rice, chapatis (sort of like thicker tortillas), beans, cabbage, and some greens. We ate, and ate, and ate...I thought his wife would never stop piling food on my plate! 

Once finished eating, we all gathered around outside while the children danced for us (too bad was camera was dead at this point). While watching the dances, we were served chai and bread. They performed several different ones, and I even joined in and attempted to learn their dances. It was quite humorous, I'm sure :) 

Our day ended with each family member saying something nice to us (Peter had to translate for the most part), and we were given fresh eggs, mangos, and maize to take home. We then were expected to speak in return, and handed each of them the gifts we had brought. 

All in all, it was a rather long day, but we were so glad we were finally able to truly immerse ourselves into the African culture. We were thankful for this opportunity and this is an experience we will never forget!

Kari, Micah, and Peter's wife, Florence, and 6 month baby, Faith


Lindsey said...

that sounds like quite the adventure dear! Honestly my entire visit to Swaziland was much like that one so I know exactly what you mean by the long bumpy rides, bathrooms, pure kindness from the people and cokes, cokes and more cokes :)

Laura Jo said...

Love the photo of Micah with the local kids! Neat how they didn't hesitate to hold him but ran from the adults!

Lauren Williams said...

my goodness! that does sound like a day. so what does micah ride in in the car? you lap? Im so glad that you got to be immersed in the culture though, and meet them all. Could you speak any of their language? is that the language you have been learning? i miss you, maybe we can skype soon? we just bought tickets for next week to tn, way last minute. ill stay up late or get up early to talk! love you

Lauren said...

Kari - Found your blog somehow, and it's great to keep up with how you guys are doing! It looks like Africa agrees with you - spiders and all - although, I about lost it when you said maggots. Disgusting. Anyways, miss seeing you around campus, and I hope your African adventures keep on coming and keep being productive for the kingdom! - Lauren Crane

Blair said...

What an adventure! Sounds like an interesting time over there. Your stories are great and I appreciate all the pictures. Cokes in the DR are pretty solid too. Love you guys.