July 3, 2017
You may recall I fell the day after I arrived, earning a classic black eye. The eye has faded almost to normal, but evidently I landed such as to nudge my right scapula out of position. I discovered that after the other aches and pains resolved but a very sharp pain persisted, indeed worsened. I called Joyce Muturia, a dear friend and pharamicist, asking for a muscle relaxant and a physical therapist recommendation.
Joseph Ng’ang’a of this parish is a PT, but his practice is in GilGil, almost 1hour away. It was so painful to lift my right arm, that driving anywhere was problematic and certainly not that far. But Joyce called him and he offered to come here to treat me. He has come 3 times and my pain is almost gone, so I am most grateful. When I asked how much I owed him, he waved it away. “Your comfort is our job. You owe me nothing!” Imagine! House calls at no charge.
In addition to that, I imagined the muscle was spasm might release with heat. Ah, if I only had a hot water bottle. Call Joyce again, “They have them at the Naivas.” So Alison and I walk down to the Naivas, where I proceed to try to explain what I want. We are directed to a shelf lined with thermos-type bottles for keeping water hot. Hmmm, “No, it’s flat, made from rubber, and when filled with hot water can be applied to the body.” Blank stares. OK, call Joyce again. She and family are on the road to Nairobi. Charles is driving so she can talk and is so patient. “Joyce, will you explain a hot water bottle to the man?” His faced registers understanding and immediately leads us to the shelf just opposite the thermos shelf and there they are! Not just the orangey-red ones of my youth, but pretty colors, each sporting a nice flannel cover. Back home, water bottle on my back, I sink into my pillows and listen to my ipod story. Ah, bliss! The pain subsides.
Yesterday (Saturday) Alison had a wonderful suggestion. Both Margaret and Tabitha had spent all Friday morning preparing food for Mungai’s thanksgiving mass. They didn’t even get to attend, so Alison thought they needed a rest from their food preps. Margaret, at age 20, is matron-in-charge and carries a lot of responsibility. Alison had spotted a pizza shop near the Naivas (I’d never noticed it—driving that street is a bit stressful with the usual hazards of trucks, piki pikis-motorbikes- people, cars an occasional starved-looking dog. I never get to look around). The idea was received just like “How would you like pizza for dinner?” would be at home. What we didn’t realize that most of the kids had never tasted it. Imagine teenagers who’ve never had that wonderful experience!
Taking no chances, we walk in the shop to discuss our needs with the staff. Yes, they make it to go. Since it is early in the day with few customers, they are busily folding up to-go (known here as take-away) cartons. It is, for all the world, like being in any Round Table. We don’t quite recognize the descriptions, but Hawaiian and vegetarian seemed familiar. Large, about 15” in diameter, @ $8 seems about right for 2 people and a pretty good bargain.
Back home we count noses (or as I had directed Wekesa, count ears and divide by 2) Twenty ears indicate 10 people, so 5 large pizzas. I’d even had the fore-thought to put the number in my phone, so at dinner time we called and ordered a mix of 5 large pizzas. “When will they be ready?” “About 10 minutes.” “Huh?” Ten minutes seems pretty optimistic but off we drive.
Amazingly, there is exactly 1 parking space right in front. I stay in the car while Cynthia, Margaret and Tabitha accompany Alison to pick them. As I should have known, 10 minutes was an estimate in African time. I sit watching people go in and out of butchery, purchasing Saturday night dinner. Butcheries all have a big window featuring a beef carcass from which the butcher carves out chunks of meat. I try not to think of the sanitation issues and hope it’s all cooked well-done. By now it is dark and the customers scurry, except for the families with small children. One little girl seems to have a built-in pogo stick, jumping up and down constantly, into the shop, out the door, up and down, really cute, but I wonder how all that energy plays out at home day after day. Whew! Glad she isn’t mine! And so I wait, observing that backing out into that busy street would be difficult because cars are parallel parked almost behind me, but ah! Yes!!! They’ve both moved so I deftly back out and parallel park my car, still waiting. Again I wonder. Did they have to harvest the wheat and slaughter/pluck the chickens? Had my party of 4 been kidnapped and smuggled out the back door, had the oven broken down and a repairman was coming (yeah! Right! On a Saturday night???) My eyes close briefly. Still no pizza. I am becoming philosophical—eventually the pizza must to be ready and yes, 40 minutes later out they come, 5 boxes in hand.
Back at Mji, we find Hillary sitting on the dining hall step, talking (actually laughing) with Wekesa and Mungai (both Davids). I’d forgotten I’d invited him. He had said he didn’t think he could come, but there he was. Oh well, surely there would be enough. We spread the boxes on the table, but no one is grabbing a piece. So I carefully life out a slice and begin to eat in the traditional hands-on method we all know. Once they’ve observed my technique, they catch on fast and soon everyone is happily munching away
As far as pizza goes, I’d give it a C–/D+, but the kids didn’t know and they love it. Half-way through the dinner, Paul, the catechist walks in. He’s a big, tall guy who could probably eat 2 by himself, but alas he gets only 2 slices instead of 2 pizzas. Every crumb is eaten and savored. Then Alison produces a big bowl of apples, oranges (they turned out to be orange grapefruit) and mangoes. Needless to say, a good time is had by all. It’s like being in a family of 8 teens, teasing, laughing, remembering each other’s foibles, then becoming the butt of the next joke.
Some years ago, Judy had instituted the “special dinner” idea. Hers were “Chinese”, but the only resemblance to what we know at “Chinese” was the fact that she’d brought chop sticks, which the kids struggled determinedly to use. Judy and I were kept busy demonstrating the chop stick techniques we’d learned when we went to China together in late 1999. The special dinners go on, but this time it’s pizza—which also bears little resemblance to our familiar pizza-especially since it has no cheese and no tomato sauce. Each slice of the Hawaiian had exactly one small chunk of pineapple and one of something I supposed to be ham, but tried not to think about it too much.
Tonight, on the phone Fr. Kiriti just laughed. Five pizzas???? For 10 kids????? Those kids could have each eaten 2!!! Hmmm, I guess we were looking at our own appetites and not theirs! Yet they seemed happy and everyone allowed as how they now love pizza!