talk to strangers, the zero dollars way to see the world

We introduced ourselves to a lady combing the Hornby Island beach for seaweed. She would later use it for a handmade facial cleanser. She told us there were considerably valuable varieties, some found in ice cream. I didn’t know that seaweed … Continue reading

what I Can do in Canada, what I Ken do in Kenya

I can walk down the street entirely disinteresting and anonymous, in Canada. In Kenya, I ken be the highlight of some kid’s day. I was eager for a walk, so we travelled past the girls’ school, my girls begging me, please don’t go shake hands. Because I can see that our kids’ saturation point of being laughed at has been reached, I followed my children away from the crowd.

I can be satisfied with my three bedroom, two car garage home, two vehicles, full pantry and annual vacation, with enough left over for the occasional non-fat latte or night out. In Kenya, I ken give thanks for my daily bread (chai and a loaf of white), roaring fire with cache of hard-earned firewood, and my family’s health today.

I can be thankful for a tax funded safety net of social services, employment insurance and privately funded food banks. Or I ken see my little children beg, if you would be of assistance, to give me some money.

I ken drink sugary, whole milk chai every morning, sip soda every afternoon, and nibble on lollipops, but still be undernourished and underweight. Or, I can consume high fat fast food, nibble on cheese and crackers, potatoe chips, and frappucinnos, and have no reason for being undernourished yet overweight.

I ken get no reliable internet service. I can get reliable service, just not Telus-friendly service.

The sky’s the limit in what I can access at my local library. I ken get dusty, broken bound classics at the Kapsowar library.  (Why there are books about cross country skiing and low-fat cooking on these shelves, I will never understand).

I can get occasional quality products from a dollar store…you would think so too if you ken get less-than dollar store quality combs, plastic sieves, caps and machetes at the Kapsowar market as your only option.

I can’t forget what I look like in the mirror, how stylish I might be dressed, or whether I’m Shape’s ideal size. I ken be thankful that my six skirts still sit on my waist and that I’m not thinking about coordinating, just glad that my tummy’s full and there’s food in the refrigerator for tomorrow.

I can get a 9-5 job with a half hour lunch break. Or I ken show up at 10:30 and take a two hour lunch break…okay, I’m not actually complaining, because I’m paying so little for outstanding help that it seems unreasonably unfair. Still, just saying, I can’t keep no job in Canada with those hours.

I can expect that I’ll have a visit within fifteen minutes of an agreed appointment. Or I ken expect to wait for hours. Jim, in his conscientious approach, insisted on being at a three o’clock appointment one day–I told him we should not waste time. It’s what I do, he insisted. Okey dokey, I acquiesed. Sure enough, the old African adage came true: North Americans have the watch, but Africans have the time!

I can turn up the furnace. Or, I ken gather the firewood and light the fire.

I can throw the laundry in the front load washer. Or, I ken throw the mound in to the bathtub and rub a dub scrub.

I can watch netflix. Or, I ken catch up on the classics: Dicken’s David Copperfield, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and Austen’s Emma.

I ken be simply content with less, thankful for my daily bread, and my little family. Or I can think I should be more, have more, live more, strive more.

I hope I ken bring home Kenya’s contentment, and can live it out in Canada.

shocking that I may be culture shocking so quickly

I am tired. Each evening the symphony of insects eases me into slumber, and each morning the tropical vegetation awakens my senses. As soon as I walk through the station compound, though, I feel I have entered an altered universe. I don’t know how … Continue reading