Friday night was a typical scenario of me not having a grasp of Kiswahili and those trying to communicate with me not having any English! The young boy who is building borders around our newly planted flower gardens, has spent long days working hard. Arriving home, I greet him and said, as I had said that morning (I think it is what I said!) that the flowers looked happy because they had been watered. He smiled and nodded and we laughed and said “tutaonana baadaye” (see you later) as I went inside.
“Hodi hodi”.....there was a knock on the door and it was the young boy with an older man...maybe his Dad, Baba. Baba was saying that I needed to give the boy money for watering the plants. This was the beginning of a very confusing, unresolved discussion. I was invited to come and see Mama next door as she could speak English. This was my first venture next door. Having walked through the property and house of our landlord, John, I was introduced to numerous people sitting on the steps of the houses and many children playing in the small cul de sac surrounded by the houses. They were very friendly and welcoming. It was here I met Mama Margaret (whom I later discovered is John’s wife) who was able to interpret what was happening.
It was as I thought! I was very happy to pay the boy to do the watering as it is a big job however, my dilemma was that I had no idea what was a fair price. Mama Margaret ended the long winded discussion by offering to send her husband over later to work things out. Asante sana Mama Margaret!!
Wandering down the dusty track to buy some phone credit and a cold Kili to celebrate Friday night, I was still not sure of what had happened! Would Mama’s husband would come?.... Had the young boy had watered the garden in the morning and evening anticipating me paying him? What would I pay if I have to make a decision myself?.... I rang Susan as she had been here many years and would know what was appropriate...I hoped!
It was great to talk with her and she was very reassuring and gave me some bench marks to work with. Fortunately John paid a visit. His young boy was far too busy to water but he had another handicapped boy who would do the job!
I was so physically and mentally tired that all I could do was sit in the comfy lounge chair, sip on the cold Kili and be entertained by two mice scurrying back and forward across the floor between the two bookcases, leaving their little footprints in the red dust. The geckos were enjoying this activity from their vantage point high on the ceiling when suddenly, the electricity went off! I fumbled my way up to my bedroom where I knew I had put my headlight, then fell into bed not even bothering to have dinner!
Having very little food in the pantry, I had organised with Mama Pili, who lives at the end of my dusty track, to buy 2 of her chapatis for breakfast. Mama Pili is such a happy woman, always cheerful and she wont let you walk by without her waving madly insisting you stop and have a chat....fortunately she speaks a small amount of English! I was so pleased that I had decided to buy from her as she is an amazing cook, using only a tiny coal stove..... The chapati were fresh and delicious....very adictive!
John’s carpenter visited to mend the hinge on kitchen window and again we were both given the chance to practise English and Kiswahili. My entire Saturday morning was spent cleaning and washing. What a workout....not quite as effective as going for my traditional run but just as satisfying!
I returned to Amabalis to retrieve the two shirts Tom had left there (which had magically turned up!) and visited the tailor. He had told me that Wendy’s dress would be ready Jumapili, Saturday however only my altered dress was ready!.....NEXT Jumapili! However, I had bought a kanga which he hemmed for me and I will use as a cover for my bed to keep the red dust off the sheet I sleep on! To the sokini on my own! My first real shopping attempt which ended in a satisfied Fran, but not without its challenges! The young, pushy boys were everywhere. I fortunately found one young boy who treated me with respect and came to my help.. He took me to the vendors I still needed and helped me get reasonable prices. Asante sana....I will always buy my eggs from his stall in the future!
Another quiet night was had without the girls. I knew they would be having an amazing time at the Maasai village and envied their safari! Returning at lunchtime, fortunately in time to share my Spaghetti MOP (I have called it this because it was what André and I made for our first meal), they washed the dust off and shared their adventure and pictures with me. Click on the link to their blog for their story.
The enthusiasm and abilities of youth....they never cease to amaze me with their ability to adapt! They were not only speaking Kiswahili but had learned some of the Maasai language in the short time they were there as well!