home sweet home

The weather has changed, it’s colder and seems wetter in the air. It’s always humid though, so the tropical cool is really cool. There was a full moon, and what a full moon! There must be more animals howling at the moon here, because it sure is grand, glossy in a mirror-reflected backdrop of indigo sky. With the combination of weather and moon change, I feel achy, with coughs and sneezes. Good thing we brought a pharmacy.

The taxi drive and twenty minute walk to Agnes’ house yesterday was a welcome reprieve from tossing on my bed. With the background Swahili gospel music, a zealous taxi driver, and windy roads, I was struck with deja vu. What movie was I watching? I pressed video on my camera and recorded our ride. Rachel and Zach happily hung out the window, waving to the kids as we drove by. I photographed that too.

Before reaching Agnes’ shamba, I asked her if she ever wanted to move, because she’s not originally from this area, how difficult it would be to sell. Who would I sell it to? she asked. The father passes it down to his child, and it continues that way. If you really intended to sell, one would first have the father’s permission, then the village elders’ and chief’s permission. If they wanted you in the village, you wouldn’t be going anywhere. Okay, no simple MLS listing.

A log enclosed shamba on a peninsula of a mountain, with stunning views of Kapsowar and three other mountains was her home. The straw ceilinged, clay walled, dung floored kitchen on the left. The clay walled, dirt floored rectangular main building where they slept and reclined on the right. Two baby calves wandered the yard–not Agnes’, she was cowsitting. A hen with four baby chicks waddled closeby. And a black and white six week old kitten sat in the kitchen doorway. He could drag himself with his two front legs, but a chair had fallen on its hind legs last weekend.

Agnes chopped at a piece of firewood. Karibu, welcome to my kitchen. We five sat on a bench, watching her build a fire with cardboard and kindling. Our virgin lungs forced us outside. For the next forty five minutes, Agnes prepared chai (the girls make chai in five minutes with the electric kettle). As we waited, Kelvin and Ivy, the twin eight year olds, arrived home from school at five. We read stories of a circus, and brought out circus paper dolls. We gave gifts: a tshirt, stuffed horse, matchbox cars, plastic safari animals, and elephant book. Zach broke out the pre-dinner lollipops–a regular treat we share in Kenya, that is not frequented in Canada.

Agnes brought the carafe of steaming chai, a plate of white bread, and opened packages of Arrowroot cookies. The half dozen children watching through the open door waved hello. We should share. Agnes brought out a piece of bread to each of them. I asked if her position at the station was helpful. She said, yes, it is helpful, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Her husband took another wife in Nakuru a few years ago. She hasn’t seen him for six months, and he doesn’t help with expenses. Yet, when a local mother of fourteen, also named Teresa, came for food last Sunday, Agnes shared her daily portion.

We soon realized what time it was, running on Kenya time: late. Ivy and Rachel played tickle tag on our fifteen minute run back to our meeting spot. He waited patiently and picked up two extra cab fares as David, a station watchman hopped in the back and another lady packed out the seat with the kids. A forty minute ride on an antiquated mountain road, just shy of falling into the river below, we travelled to our home away from home: the brick and mortar 1000 square foot, fully furnished, fully applianced, and plumbed bathroomed home. Living in the same world, but living worlds apart.


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