Wednesday, 20 October 2010

some more kenyan experiences...

 Here is A. Playing with Trigger who belongs to Mr Ross the head of Middle School and English teacher for year 7 & 8.

 View from the back garden...quite breathtaking!
 Patricia has just finished the cross-country run here...she dreamed she came first, unfortunately on the day she was "just too slow mummy!" and came in last!!!

Here are more pictures from the back garden, Peter our gardener had the swing and see-saw made for us and then dug them into the ground as well so they are secure! 

The first weeks...

During the first week we arrived the school had organised a few trips for us to allow us to acclimatise with the other new staff.
We did one trip to Crescent Island which was magnificent, a walking safari and we got so close to the giraffes we could almost touch them! There was also lots and lots of other Kenyan animals but no big predators which is why you can do walking safaris I guess!

A few pictures from Crescent Island - No hippos this time unfortunately, will have to wait until next time! 

Another  trip was to Nairobi to a place called Village Market which is a massive mall, much bigger than anything I had expected! Anyway, G and the kids went to Village Market and I went in the minibus to the uniform shop to get the uniforms for the kids and to the textbook centre and a few other places.
I got a few frantic sms from DH asking where we were, eventually we got back in the crazy traffic in Nairobi. He had taken them bowling and then had lunch at a cafe and while waiting F decided she liked the Koi pond in the centre of the mall and promptly fell in.
She had no change of clothes and then said she needed the toilet but refused to go in the men's with daddy. DH waited ages outside and then a lovely Kenyan lady came out with a stark naked Cessie and said: "she refuses to put her clothes on, perhaps you had better buy her some new ones!" So he did in Woolworths but he was quite put out by the time I met up with him! 

We also went to the local matumba (market) and G got two t-shirts 140 KSH (about £1.20). I also bought 3 terry cloth nappies and 2 plastic covers and was astonished that it cost me just under £2.00 for the lot!. I have to talk about the fruit and veg as well! The avocados, tomatoes, pineapples and oranges are just out of this world! We get them fresh from the market, a big pineapple is 90 p eight tomatoes 20 p,  three avocados 40 p and the flavour cannot be compared to the flavours in Sweden! 
I never really noticed a real lack of flavour in Sweden until I came here.

We have filtered water in the school which our lovely house-girl Mary collects for us. This is a big improvement, we don't have to travel 9 km to get fresh water as we did in Sweden but only go about 100 m to the school kitchens.
Staff in the house is something I still can't quite get used to. Our House-girl Mary comes every day Monday to Friday and does all the washing by hand in the bath tub as there is no washing machine, she hangs it all out and irons it too and then puts it away for us all. She does all the washing up and also get the water as I mentioned. She also does the majority of the cleaning!
We also have an Ayah (nanny), also called Mary who comes every day Monday to Friday from 7:20 AM - 4 PM and takes the two youngest to school. E had difficulty in the very beginning but now loves Mary very much and she cries when Mary  goes at 4!
Finally Peter does the garden, which is beautiful, we have a Papaya tree, which is just ripening now, and some passion fruit trees so hopefully will have some fruit soon! 

The children are all ok boarding, E had the most difficulty but is boarding most days. I see them all a lot during the day and on Friday a fortnight ago went into the dining room in the evening and asked them if they wanted to come home. When I asked P she looked shocked and said: "What, I have to?" which made me think she must really be quite happy! She is always surrounded by a gaggle of friends. A. is less sociable and although he says boarding is fine he is often on his own which is a little troubling but he got rather angry recently when I asked him if he was ok. "YES...I am ok, why does everyone keep asking me that it is really ANNOYING!!!" 

The house is lovely with fabulous views of the mountains from the back garden. We also have visiting dogs almost every day. Jitu who is a large mix breed belonging to the housemaster of the boys' house, Trigger who belongs to Jim the head of middle school and English teacher, unfortunately Trigger is very ill with tick fever at the moment so we are all crossing our fingers he will be ok (he is the brown dog on the picture with A.). Finally we also have a visitor called Missy who is a terrier cross, she and Fiona are great friends and often play in the garden. We tend to take her for walks on the golf course or down to the forestry area near the stables. 

On Sundays we go to the Gilgil Country Club for roast lunch which is really worth it and the food is incredible and on Fridays we tend to go there for supper as well. G. did his first bar duty there last Friday while I was at the Year 8 dinner.

Work is going quite well with some ups and downs as could be expected. 
It took us a while to sort internet access that didn't cost an arm and a leg but we managed it in the end! 

The third week we were here the woman who usually does the riding lessons had a pony spook and she fell off and broke her collarbone so I substituted those lessons for a while  (6.30 rides, 2 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm) on top of my teaching timetable of 29 periods (one period is 40 min) a week, which was really rather tiring! 

Then just as R. was getting back to being able to walk without being in constant pain and do the riding from the ground her husband was driving back from Gilgil in the evening and there are railway lines that run though and there are very rarely trains. It was dark, he drove across the railway line (no signals or anything) and a train hit his car and pushed him along the line. Luckily the trains go so slowly and it hit him on the rear passenger side but it had no lights on in the pitch dark. The police came and the owner of the train company but the train continued on its journey. He was then told he would either have to be put in prison for 1 month or pay 3000 sh fine for having been hit by the train!

Which brings me to the roads - the driving in this country is completely insane! There are minibusses called matatus that pick up people along the roads, they are a kind of private minibus taxi but although the busses only have about 16 seats they fit at least twice that in each bus. They deliberately break their indicator lights and break lights so that people behind them don't know what they are going to do. I haven't yet dared drive here although G. is quite happy to do so! The overtaking is loopy as well, they will overtake on blind corners, they come out and drive straight at on-coming traffic, ...
We have got a 1991 Mitsubishi Pajero with 7 seats from the current deputy head it is a pretty old clapped out car but still does the job (for G that is...)
There is no public transport which is not something there was much of on Gotland either but at least there was a skeleton service when you needed it. There is no way on earth you would get me in a matatu so the only other option is taxis.

One rather amusing aspect: when you drive into the towns, firstly the trucks and cars emit huge clouds of black diesel smoke with no kind of emission standards and they also constantly burn rubbish by the side of the road and not paper and garden waste but plastic and pretty much anything that you would normally sort for recycling in Europe. It does make you wonder what use it is with the environmental laws and taxes in Europe when a country like Kenya with 40 million just burns waste by the side of the road. I know the carbon footprint per person in Kenya is a fraction of the carbon footprint of a European  resident but still...

I've also had my first experience of a mission hospital, I took E to have his cast replaced in the second week or so and we waited 5.30 hours to see the various doctors and so on but eventually he had it done. 


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