#5 Visiting Day at SFG and Animal Park in Nakuru
I’m writing this Monday evening, June 28. Yesterday was parent visiting day at SFG. I wanted to be there to greet parents. Jecinta-pr tells me that when I did that last year the parents were very appreciative. So about noon, accompanied by Julia, I headed for the main road to catch a matatu. We got one very quickly, which surprised me, as not too many people travel on the weekend. It was about ½ full, so I was hopeful it wouldn’t turn around to try getting more passengers. No such luck, not too far up it turned around. OK, I’m used to that. It got a couple more passengers on the second run, but NO! It turned around the second time and then a third time!!!! A man and woman who had just got on complained very loudly. The matatu stopped and the tout (conductor) yelled and gestured, “Get out!” They did! We went all the way down and then just sat there—for 15-20 minutes. I was getting very exasperated, you can be sure! Finally I yelled at the driver, “Driver, we need to go” “Now!!!!” He totally ignored me and it was another 15-20 minutes before we finally got underway. ACH!!! I was totally bummed!
Small parent/student groups were sitting on the grass all around the soccer field. The mothers had cooked favorite foods and carried to the school. Some were just a mom and her daughter, other groups had parents, aunts, uncles, siblings. Feeling like I needed to be in loco parentis for Victoria I had looked around my kitchen to see what I could take. Ended up with a goodly supply of Trader Joe’s chocolate squares—the big 1# 72% cocoa kind—an apple and some cheese. Not a great treat, but if all you’ve been eating is rice and cabbage, it looked good to her. O
Of course the hardest part is the many girls who had no visitors. Some live very far away and some have no parents. So sad!
I began making a round of the groups, greeting parents, asking the girls to introduce me to the family, making a bit of small talk—surprised myself at how easily I chatted. Many of them invited me to share the meal, but I wanted to greet as many as possible.
I could feel myself getting sunburned on my neck. Doofus! I forgot to put on sunscreen in the middle of the day. But fortunately Fr Kiriti arrived after maybe an hour to take Victoria and me to Nakuru to the wild animal park.
It’s maybe an hour’s drive, along a very good road, which only a few years ago was so pitted with HUGE potholes and I dubbed it the Road from Hell. Later I went on the road to Maasai Mara, which is even worse, if possible, but I couldn’t think of a worse name than Road from Hell.
But yesterday it was a smooth ride and we arrived about 4, in time to see the animals feeding before nightfall. There were baboons at the gate, a large family, with babies hanging from Mommy’s underside or riding on her back. As we drove we saw many gazelles, dink-dinks, zebras, water buffalos and antelopes. Then all of a sudden was a huge rhino, calmly gazing right by the side of the road. I was again struck by the unlikeliness of that face, with the horns and beady little eyes. Truly ugly! Not far off we saw a big giraffe and a couple of wart hogs. What a day!
Fr Kiriti and Victoria at animal park
Candidates for “Ugly Man” contest
…and the winner is… (You can submit your votes)
We stayed the night in the Pastoral Center, where we were very grateful for mosquito nets, as they were voracious and many. In the morning Victoria and I braved the market while Fr Kiriti went off for an appointment with the bishop.
I have been to this market in the past and found the hawkers to be persistent and aggressive. I had warned Victoria to be very firm, “No thank you” She was great, polite but firm, and possibly because it was still early, they didn’t swarm around us as much as in previous years. She found some bargains and I saw many things I would love to buy to bring back to sell. But most of the things I really liked were stoneware and much too heavy to carry in my suitcases. One of the items Victoria wanted is called a lesso, which is just a brightly colored cloth with African designs. I asked the seller how much. “Fifteen hundred shillings”. “Oh, no, that’s way too much. I’ve bought those in Naivasha for ksh 300!” The poor woman’s face fell. She thought she had a real sucker on the line. We settled for ksh 400, which was more than any Kenyan would have paid, but wasn’t a total cheat.
I literally fell asleep with my fingers on the keys at this point. I woke up to 3 pages of ttttttt
Arriving back in Naivasha I was eager to read my emails. Plugged in the modem. Didn’t connect. Tried again. Didn’t work. At this point RATS seemed totally inadequate to express my frustration, so off I went, computer in bag on my shoulder, to Safaricom. As I walked down the road I heard “Margo”, and there across the street in her pharmacy, was Joyce, my friend, whom I had not yet seen. Had to wait for a huge line of trucks, piki-pikis bicycles, matatus, cars and taxis, but finally came a break. We greeted and hugged on both cheeks, as is the Kenyan way. I told her my story, and explained about m-pesa, the program whereby I can buy airtime for about 1/3 the cost. She decided she wanted to know about that, so we hopped into her car and went off toe SC.
It’s funny when I walk in now. The watchman greets me like an old friend and I’m sure the people there are all thinking “Now What?” or “ACH! Her again!” But like true Kenyans, they smilingly greet me and send me to the back counter where problems are addressed.
Luck was with me as the Mac specialist for the whole country happened to be in town. He immediately assessed the problem, which was when I signed up for m-pesa, my modem needed an up-grade—which, of course, no one had mentioned. It’s a year old and m-pesa is a new program. It took a few minutes, but eventually was accomplished. Next problem? We’ll see.
Love to all,