#21-2013 God Willing and the Creeks Don’t Rise
Yesterday’s plan: drive to Nakuru with Jecinta who had some business at the diocesan office. Then she would head me in the right direction for Marigat where I would be met by Fr. Kiriti for a 3-day restful visit in Kositei. But as they say, people make plans and God laughs. Before I could even get away, Fr. Kiriti called to say it had rained heavily for a week and the river was very high. Crossing would be impossible. RATS!!! But hope springs eternal and maybe the river would be down by the afternoon. Jecinta and I left, taking along Mary, Fr. Kiriti’s niece and a graduate of SFG. She was going to her university to settle living accommodations. If I didn’t go to Kositei, I wanted to stop by Lydia Ventner’s to purchase more of her crazy earrings. Alas, I didn’t plan this part of the trip, not understanding the geography and having no notion of the vast inefficiency of the diocesan offices—so we went there first. Mary and I waited in the car for 2 hours while Jecinta got some signatures, all of which could have been handled by email, snail mail and online fund transfers, but no, in Kenya, one must bodily show up. ARGH!!! By 2 pm, when she emerged Fr. Kiriti had determined the river was not going down fast enough and I had called Lydia, who invited us for lunch and was waiting for us. Further tactical errors occurred when I suggested we stop at the market to buy some fruit. Jecinta thought I meant the open air market in the center of town, where there is never a place to park. I meant the supermarket on the way to Lydia’s, so another 10 minutes in traffic slowed us further. Finally we got to the Nakuru Naivas, where a guard determined we had no bombs beneath our car and we were allowed in. Clearly we looked the terrorist part, so that thorough search was necessary! I wanted to buy watermelon and pineapple, as well as some large drinking waters, as Lydia’s house has been without water since December. You’d think that would be easy, right? But nothing is easy. We filled our cart and I strode purposefully to the cashier with no line. She looked at the cart and said, “Those have to be weighed” at which someone whisked our cart (aka trolley) away. Five minutes later our produce was returned, carefully wrapped in plastic bags with the price marked. NO!!!! No plastic! So they took them out of the bags and rang up everything. I was in such a fuss by then I paid little attention to the total until back in the car Jecinta pointed out I had paid a king’s ransom for 3 pieces of fruit. Yep, God was definitely trifling with my day. Finally we get to Lydia’s, welcomed by her and Wilco, her husband, who’s name I couldn’t remember before. Now I have it. Below, Wilco, Jecinta and Lydia.
They are so gracious and had prepared a simple, but lovely meal of salad, rice and beans, with a wonderful fruitcake-like dessert topped with a cherry sauce. Yummy!
They had made more of the taka taka earrings, even cleverer and more fun than the ones before. Basically they are made on painted, flattened bottle caps, with very odd little things in the middle. The ones that first caught my eye had tiny painted egg shell pieces arranged in a colorful mosaic (upper left). Another had colored pencil shavings carefully arranged in a circular pattern (top center) and a third had the detritus from drilling small holes in the bottle caps for the hooks. They are painted with shellac and baked in muffin tins. This may sound very dull, but see for yourselves below. Lydia and Wilco crack me up with their “use it up, wear it out, make it do” determination. She told me of a muffin baking in which she noted some leftover juice and some cold coffee, so she added them to the mix in place of some of the milk. “I just hate to waste anything,” she explained. Taka taka means stuff, junk.
It was only as we were arriving at Lydia and Wilco’s that I “got it.” Mary attends Egerton U. ( I had forgotten) and Egerton is on the far side of Nakuru from Lydia and Wilco. Had I thought it out well, we would have left Jecinta to get her signatures, gone to Egerton, arriving back at the diocese just about the time Jecinta had emerged. But no, didn’t think of all that. So our visit with the taka taka jewelers was brief and we piled back into the car, drove through the late afternoon traffic of Nakuru (to be sure, nothing like the Nairobi traffic) and out into the lush green fields north to Egerton, which is much more efficient than the diocese, thanks to Jecinta’s prudent phone call to someone who met us and ushered Mary through the bureaucratic maze and out in ½ hour. Then back through Nakuru and onto the road home to Naivasha. By this time I was concerned that it might be dark before Mary got home, since she lives in the family compound outside Mai Mahu. From Naivasha she had to take a matatu to MM and then a piki piki to home. She was quite nonchalant about it, having done it many times. I was really tired by then, as the driving between Naivasha and Nakuru is TENSE. I did take Jecinta home and was very happy to finally leave my car in its slot at the parish.
Back home, I had very little food, having carefully cleaned out my refrigerator in anticipation of being gone. Oh well, it’s not the first time I’ve had cold cereal and toast for dinner.
Having nothing else to do for the evening, I decided to finish the exam the form 4’s have just completed. I always do the problems before I try “revise” with them. As usual I made my share of dumb mistakes, but finally finished all but several histograms I didn’t think I needed to do and a problem on latitude and longitude whose mysteries still elude me. The exam consists to 2 papers, each with 24 problems, many of which have multiple parts. The students have 2 ½ hours for each paper. It’s like SAT’s times 10!
As I worked away, Simon came in to say he really had returned all the jeans I had asked Julia to wash. Missing one pair, I had asked her about them in the morning. I’d looked everywhere, of course, and in my small quarters, an everywhere search doesn’t take too long—except the space behind my door which has become the space for laundry. OOPS! I thought I had given them to Julia, but there they lay in a dusty heap. Too embarrassed to ask her, I washed them myself, despite the fact that my hands are not strong enough to wring them out and I never get things very clean. Not that it matters much. I put clean jeans and 5 minutes later they are dusty. It’s fruitless, like washing my feet or my car. The dust is pervasive now. Wish Naivasha could have some of Fr. Kiriti’s rain. I hung my jeans from hangers to drip into the shower. This morning they are still wet, but eventually will dry. Things always do. I have now given Julia a pair of the taka taka earrings to compense her for all the trouble I cause her when I lose things and she spends time looking for them, only to discover they are in my house.
This morning I was awakened by a call from Fr. Kiriti reporting it had not rained last night and the river might be passable, but he had to spend the day collecting goats from various villages and had no time to drive to Maragat, so my visit wasn’t going to happen. He will bring the goats on Friday to Nakuru to sell them for the villagers. Who would ever think that was part of the job description?
Right now it is 11 am and I am sitting in my bed, still pajama-clad, thinking about what to do. Later I will visit Simon N’ang’a, my math-teacher-turned-chief friend from my first year in 2005. He is one of my favorite people and I’ve fretted about when I’d find time to see him. I called earlier and found he is on holiday, but he lives nearby. I hesitate to make a firm plan to go there, lest my poor plan-karma again rear its ugly head. After that? Who knows? I’ll keep you posted.