This is the day I was to drive Julia, Jecinta and Judy to Nakuru to meet Fr Kiriti, who would take them on to East Pokot, returning Thursday. As part of my trip I had arranged to stop at my friend Shamin, a beautician trained in London, so able to cut mzungu hair. She has been doing mine each summer since 2006.
As is often the case, it was not a smooth morning. First a student came to see me about getting her fees paid. Then I had to talk to Ben, parish accountant about how to get the money released, then phone calls, a mix up on when the 3 J’s were to return. ACK! Nothing goes the way I thought. But…we managed to leave only 10 minutes late. We had to stop at the bank to see about the money, a visit that can take more than an hour, but it took only about 10 minutes to accomplish. And then off we went.
The drive to Nakuru is not much further than from Menlo Park to San Francisco, though a bit more harrowing. The road is 2 lanes for the most part, and I have described many times the issue of over-laden, slow-moving trucks. I mean SLOW, like 10 miles per hour. In self defense one needs to overtake. Fortunately the car I drive has pretty good pickup. Not quite as good as my Prius, especially when loaded down with 4 people and lots of stuff, but there are always spaces if one is patient enough to wait for them.
It took less than an hour and we were then about 1 ½ hours early—before we were to meet Fr Kiriti, so I called Shamin to see whether I could come at 11 instead of 2. Yes, she said, and in 1 minute we were at her gate.
Shamin is half African, half Arab, slim and beautiful, looking far too young to have a 22-year old son. We are always happy to see one another and catch up on the news, although there isn’t much that changes with her. In addition to her salon, for which the majority of clients come in the late afternoon and evening, she has a small workout studio next to her salon. She offers fitness classes morning and some evenings.
As always she gave me a great cut, and when Judy saw what a good job I got, she opted to have hers cut too. And then off we went to the Midlands Hotel in town where we were to meet Fr Kiriti. Midlands has a lovely outdoor eating area which has very good food, so is quite busy. Because I had moved my haircut, I would have some time, so I called my friend, Sr Magdalene to see whether she could come join us. She could. Sr Magdalene is on a 1-year sabbatical from her principal position at Bahati Girls High School, one of the top schools in the country. She is a formidable woman, no-nonsense and confident. While we ate and waited for Fr Kiriti she told me this story.
She has applied to and been accepted for a scholarship at Santa Clara University in California. Not only did they offer her full coverage of tuition and fees but also a nice living allowance. Her order in Kenya had only to pay her air fare, which they had agreed to do. The hitch? The US embassy refused her a visa—not just once, but 3 times!!!! They treated her rudely and did not refund any of the ksh 13,500 ($164) which she had to pay each time she applied, so she is out almost $500 and no visa.
This is not just any old nun, she is an accomplished woman who has held a position of responsibility and performed superbly. She had confirming letters from her superior, the bishop and 2 departments of Santa Clara University. It’s embarrassing to Judy and me that our friends who have all treated us with great courtesy and respect are so ill-used by our government. I don’t know whether anything can be done, but I have had to write letters in the past when Fr Kiriti was held up for one reason or another and also for Jecinta when she came several years ago to spend time with Judy in Portland. We’ll see whether my contacts can help us out again. You can be sure my letter will be scathing! Idiots!!!
While Sr told her story we had a lovely lunch and Fr Kiriti arrived, in a hurry, as usual. He had told us he had the use of a land rover in East Pokot, but somehow that morphed into a beat up pickup truck. Someone would have to take a matatu to Maringot, to be picked up. “There are no police on the other side of Maringot, so someone can ride in the back from there.” Where there’s a determination, a Kenyan will figure out a way! Jecinta volunteered for the matatu, and as it turned out, was probably the lucky one. The front seat of the pickup was not a bench seat, but 2 bucket seats, for 3 butts! ACH! Four hours on a no-road road, full of potholes, ruts and stones. Maybe Jecinta had a premonition.
We loaded all the stuff in the back of the truck and they took off, Judy in the middle, where there is no real seat. She will be really sore when she gets there, that’s for sure. I took off in the other direction for home, happy with myself for having remembered to bring my ipod. There is a radio in my car, but I’ve never found the English language station.
The drive back was uneventful, except that 1/2 –way home it began to rain—not a California rain, but an African rain. They do everything in a big way here—maybe an elephant-sized rain. It followed me to Naivasha, but I was a bit faster. I got the car in the garage and just made it into the house when the sky really opened up. Feeling smug for arriving in time I sat down, only to remember I had hung 3 shirts out to dry this morning before we left. I was soaked by the time I got them in and they were just about the same degree of wetness as when I hung them! Oh well, at leave they will be clean.
Joseph appeared as I was running between the drops. Judy has made a habit of feeding him peanut butter and jelly toast each afternoon when he gets home from school. He is the youngest here. The rest get home from school about 5:30 so he has several hours to himself. Judy has been helping him to read, given him crayons and paper and generally been a warm and loving sho sho (grandmother) to him. I could see he wanted his snack and some TLC, so I invited him in.
“Do you want some peanut butter toast?” Wide-eyed nod. “How about a glass of milk?” Another nod. “Yes please?” I prompted. Very shyly, “Yes, please.” I busied myself getting the ingredients, as well as getting myself a cup of tea. He made short work of the PNB toast. “Would you like another piece?” “Yes, please.” “More milk?” “Yes please.” Three slices of generously slathered toast later he finally looked satisfied. I know he wanted a story too, but I couldn’t find any of the books Judy and I brought and besides I wanted a bit of quiet after the harrowing drive, so he had to be satisfied for the moment. The other kids would be home soon and the older ones are good about taking care of the little ones.
Here he is, complete with milk moustache.
Now I am on to my rebuke of the US Embassy. Report to follow in time.