This weekend, I visited Phyllis’ family along the outskirts of Nyeri. We had been planning the trip for the past three weeks, ever since I mentioned my desire to explore more of the country. On Friday, I joined Phyllis and her son and niece for a three hour drive out going north to Central Province. I was also going to arrange interviews for a story on an organization that was helping street children by teaching them how to live eco-friendly lifestyles, so this was K24 Day 33.
The road from Nairobi, known as Thika Highway, was safe as we joined other Nairobians traveling out to visit family. From Nairobi to Thika town, construction made the drive a little slow, but it wasn’t too bad. Throughout Nairobi province, massive road construction can be seen along with black employees working under the guidance of the Chinese. (The road improvement project contract went to China.)
But never mind all that. I did not know too much about where we were going, Narumoru, only that it was not too far from Mount Kenya, it gets a little chilly in temperature, it is in Kikuyuland, and there is no electricity, well at least there was none in Mureru, the exact location, the village, if you may.
So, we arrived and I met Phyllis’ older son, her sister, her parents, nephew Patrick, and her sister-in-law known as Mama Grace. These are the people I spent my weekend with. (Place the cursor over the photo to identify the people in the photo). I took a photo of the family before I left on Sunday.
Phyllis told me that we were in Mureru in Narumoru in Nyeri district. Her mother gave me another description of the location: Gakawa sublocation in Githima location in Kieni east division of Nyeri district in Central province.
There are few things in this world as peaceful as the countryside. A sprawling blue sky stretched above me and acres and acres of crops, weeds, and dry grass. Sitting with Phyllis and her mother inside Phyllis’ mother detached kitchen, Phyllis pointed outside and said, “this is the electricity.” I leaned out and saw the silver glow of the moon.
Adjusting to the countryside was not too difficult, and I thank the Lord that there were no rodents! Or roaches! While in Mureru, I thought about how I wanted to write about my weekend. And Phyllis, unknowingly gave me a great idea. Emerging from the pit latrine, I walked toward Phyllis who asked me, “Is that your first time using a pit latrine?”
This weekend was full of firsts…
My first time watching a goat being milked. Actually, I thought the goat was small, but Phyllis said it is a full-sized goat. I watched her mother, Grace, pump the the udders as the goat stood quietly.
My first time tasting goat milk. Okay, I don’t even drink cow’s milk, so goat’s milk was really foreign. They used the goat’s milk for tea (Kenyans love tea, by the way-British influence). I once read that goat’s milk is more nutritious than cow’s milk and is easier for humans to digest. Phyllis confirmed and said goat’s milk is cholesterol-free. Holding the cup in my hand, I noticed its warmth. After two tip sips of the boiled milk, I was finished and Grace served the rest of mine to the cat.
My first time brushing my teeth outside and using the grass as a sink. With a mug in my hand, I brushed my teeth with the cow behind me. I was doing what I had only seen in Nigerian movies, people brushing their teeth outside and spitting where they pleased.
My first time sleeping in a bedroom with an earthen floor. I didn’t really understand that this this was dirt. On the first night, I took of my shoes and stood. ”My dear, this is earth,” Phyllis said. I asked her why did it not seem…well dirty? She said it has been packed tightly to suppress dust. Hmmm….interesting. Now I understand why people sweep the soil…with a broom.
First time sleeping with a cow on the other side of the wall. I could hear its every move. The walking, the munching, I wouldn’t have known if the cow had passed gas. I’m just not familiar with that sound. Does it sound like a trumpet or more like a train?
My first time using a pit latrine. I’m not going to get very descriptive on this one, which is kind of hard for me, so I will move on.
Actually, okay, I will say that this latrine was much much much much cleaner than I had imagined. It was actually cleaner than most of the restrooms I had seen in Nairobi. And because of the windy, chilly environment, there was no smell…okay, I’m moving on.
My first time using a detached bathroom made of wood. I was somewhat used to the bucket method of bathing and there was a big yellow bucket of hot water inside this bathroom. But, my facial and body wash seemed a bit out of place. This wasn’t too bad…until a fly landed on the back of my left thigh…but really it was ok. Next to the bathroom is the kitchen so I had to hold my breath to avoid inhaling the smoky fumes coming from the other side.
My first time standing in acres and acres of maize. Corn is plenty in America, but it looks different in Kenya and I wasn’t even able to recognize the crop, to Phyllis’ great surprise. But the corn in America is much taller. Phyllis’ mother, Grace, has almost 5 acres of land.
My first time sleeping in a tin-roofed house. This is the house, as in the whole house. It is about the size of my living room. The house belongs to Phyllis’ sister-in-law and late brother. It has two bedrooms and a living room. Detached are the kitchen and bathroom. The woman of the house keeps everything very clean and she’s a very hard worker; I actually never saw her sit down. She didn’t speak English but she always responded to my “thank you’s” and “good morning” with a smile.