July 28, 2018
I thought it was going to be a quiet day of doing nothing. NOT!! As I sat eating my daily dose of bran cereal with cranberries and walnuts (courtesy of T. Joe’s), Rafael knocks on my door. He did that yesterday too, and I suddenly realized he was stopping by to be sure I was OK, all alone here. He’s kind of the head man among the crew that keeps the parish running. Tall and very thin, he is also one of several choirmasters—the one to whom I had given a copy of Breaking Bread, the songbook from my church at home. It has lovely songs, very different from those sung so beautifully here and I’d wanted this choir to at least see some of them. Raphael is working on the harmonies, which are not in the songbook.
Today Raphael seemed to want to chat, so I invite him in, making tea for him as I continue eating before my bran flakes become even more like bran sog. I ask him to wash my car, which is, as usual dusty brown, and to apply some special windshield cleaner which claims to remove road scum. One of the reasons I don’t drive at night is the oncoming headlights make a lightshow, diffused by the layer of crud. Raphael is so willing, such a nice guy, who tells me he wanted to be a math and physics teacher and again I bemoan the system that wastes good brains and fine individuals. He’s probably in his mid-20’s, so maybe he can still go. I’ll tell him about KIVA loans and maybe can give him a boost. I can’t think about the fact that he keeps this place hummng and would be sorely missed.
Finishing my breakfast, I remember I’d promised Lydia (principal) I would do another tweak of the brochure we’ve been designing together. Every time I take up that task I get a different idea. Move this picture there, rewrite that paragraph, take out this picture, put in that one. In the end, I’m not sure it matters very much. We just want parents to see pictures of the school and the students in their various activities.
This is a tough time for private schools, as secondary school is now “free”. “Free” means it doesn’t cost as much as it used to, but there are still fees to pay, uniforms to be bought, as well as books, paper, pencils etc. Students who, in the past, would not have been able to attend high school are flocking to the classrooms. Unfortunately, the Kenyan government, in their infinite non-wisdom, has not built more schools, nor hired enough teachers. The classes are crowded and the papers are full of articles suggesting changes to improve things—suggestions that are virtually all ignored. SFG and other private schools must make the case that our classes are not crowded, our teachers are dedicated and the school is well equipped. It has to be worth it to pay the cost of private school. In the end, I believe there will be a détente, with students whose families can afford the fees will sit in classrooms with students who are scholarship recipients whose families couldn’t even afford the government schools. Only the future will tell.
Feeling fairly satisfied with the latest version, I hop in my car, first going to the Jama market where I am assured yarn is sold. I brought some, but have knitted most of it up. I love sitting in the evening, listening to books on my computer, knitting while the mosquitoes try to find the holes in my bed net. Some do.
Jama is a 3-story market, that sells everything so I ask someone near the entrance where I might find yarn. “Yarn” isn’t a familiar term, I learn. Later, Fr. Kiriti tells me they have no name for it, other than “string that you make sweaters from. “ “Down stairs.” I grab the railing and trundle down stairs, look around, and ask someone at the counter I think might be the right one. When she finally gets what I want, “Up stairs.” “Someone up stairs just told me it’s down stairs”. I go up stairs and then to the 2nd floor, where I am assured that Jama no longer sells string to make sweaters from. I guess it doesn’t sell everything.
Reluctantly I head for the old Naivas, where there is little parking and is in the middle of a big jam of matatus. I haven’t been there for several years, as the new one is easier. I’m accosted by the city parking man who exacts the 80 shillings fee and go in. I know that store very well, and head for the second floor, where I saw yarn some years ago. Nope, Naivas no longer sells it either. Sigh.
Now I head for school to take the brochure on a flash disc then head back home for peanut butter and banana on stale bread.
My refrigerator has decided to do its annual recalcitrance. RATS!!! I like to buy bread and milk in quantity, then freeze it so I’ll always have some. The milk no longer freezes. ARGH!! Raphael takes a look and thinks maybe the surge protector is bad. I take in and the power strip that is slowly failing down to the electric shop. The proprietor is a very nice, rather funny guy who remembers me (so he says) from last year. I tell him he has an unhappy customer and he pretends dismay. I tell him the strip won’t charge my phone any more. It’s the 2nd one this year that has failed. He checks it and sure enough, it lights up the light. He can’t understand why my phone won’t charge, even implies maybe I’m wrong. “Do I look like I’d have time to hassle you about a power strip if it worked?” He laughs and we toss it back and forth. Eventually he trades in my strip for another, determines that the refrigerator surge protector is not the problem and gives me the name of a friend who “did a very good job on a refrigerator across the road.” Not much chance to get this guy on Saturday afternoon and I’m leaving Monday morning for 3 days in Nakuru. Oh well! I think Raphael will talk to the repair man and together they’ll put it back in order. Or not.
Later I encountered Raphael who was to carry the church’s electric keyboard to Kayole, a small community up the road toward SFG (suburb of Naivasha!). He’s been so nice, I offered to give him a lift. I know that community (or so I thought) as it’s where Hillary lives, just across from Damaris’ African Bag Shop. What I didn’t know is that Kayole isn’t the small community bordering the road, but in fact goes WAY far back from the road as well. Raphael had only a sketchy idea of the location of the church where people were waiting for him to play for mass. We stop for directions. “It’s up that way.” We go that way and stop again. “It’s over there.” We go over there, stopping again—and again and again. The roads are terrible, I mean really TERRIBLE and I wonder for the 1000th time whether that poor RAV 4 with 175,000 kms will continue to carry us along. Toyota makes ‘em good! Finally we encounter a lady stopped in the road, who turns out to be looking for Raphael to escort him. In the meantime, I am hopelessly turned around. She offers to show me the way back to the main road, over those same very dusty, rutted, pot-holed roads, only she goes faster than I want to. At one point I turned the corner I’d see her turn, only to find an empty road. Hmmmm. Well, those look like fresh tracks in the dust, I’ll try that one. Sure enough, there she is and the main road is right ahead. I know where I am, thank her and am on my way back home.
Another day in the life of Margo, girl adventurer!