1. When it rains, it pours. In my first entry from Nairobi, I wrote about how dusty and dry it is here. Well, my wishes for rain were apparently heard, because it has rained in the evening for the past three days. (Unfortunately one of those afternoons, I was locked out of my house.) Last night, the sound of the thunder and of the rain hammering on the tin roofs of the market outside of my window actually woke me up. It’s been a big relief because the rain has cooled the weather down a lot, but it has also brought a fresh complication—MUD. And lots of it!
2. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating—soccer is HUGE here! I love looking out the window of our bus and seeing club teams’ crests painted on the sides of different little shops and other buildings. On a wall in Kibera today, someone had painted “EMIRATES” in huge letters—Emirates Stadium is Arsenal’s home stadium in London. In Mathare, I am almost 100% positive I saw a mural of Jesus Christ wearing a Chelsea jersey. Arsenal FC and FC Barcelona disputed a heavily publicized Champions League match a couple nights ago, and as I was going to sleep sometime after midnight, I heard an uproar of cheering from somewhere in the distance and took that to mean that Arsenal had scored… I was right! What I had been hearing was the team coming back from a one goal deficit to win the match, which everyone was saying they’d lose.
3. On my first entry, there was a question about the local food, which I’ll answer now! The food here is great, if a little monotonous. The staples are rice and ugali, which is white cornmeal boiled until it absorbs the water and takes on a consistency comparable to Play Dough. These are almost always accompanied by some kind of meet (usually chicken or beef) another common food such as chapati (kind of like tortillas, but thicker and oiler), sukuma wiki (cooked shredded kale), beans (in this brown-ish sauce that EVERYTHING is made in… I have no idea what it consists of, but it’s good!) or lentils. Chai (tea) is also something that people have at least three times a day here… Kenyans make their tea with milk instead of water. I usually sweeten mine with a little spoonful of sugar. I eat less here than I do at home because the food is just so filling. My host mother thinks I eat “kidogo sana” (very little), but my bursting stomach would beg to differ!
4. Unexpectedly, I’ve become a little nervous about our stay on the coast (being completely out of touch is a little daunting)… but I’m very much looking forward to it still. We have been broken up into groups of four, each one with a different topic. My topic is tourism and its effect on the area. I’m really interested to see what kind of information we’ll find on this topic, especially because it’s not something I’ve really studied or looked into before. I’m also excited for a break from Nairobi, for seeing the ocean (although it’s a very different one from the one I live next to in Maine) and for a stay in a more slow-paced environment where I do not have to harbor a legitimate fear of being run down by a bus! Everyone in Shirazi (the village we’re living in) is Muslim, so that will also offer an interesting contrast to my household in Nairobi, which is a very Christian one. Finally, one of our academic directors, Jamal, is from Mombasa, and we’re probably going to have dinner with his family, which will be great! I’m also reminding myself that the northern coast of Kenya, where I’ve been before, is among my absolute favorite places.
5. The title of this entry refers to an interesting vocabulary word we learned in Swahili class the other day. I think the term “chizifreshi” would be considered Sheng, which is a kind of street slang prominent in Nairobi that is a hybrid of English and Swahili. Chizifreshi is used to describe someone who is cool, but in a really crazy way.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture of the region (roughly) that I’ll be living in for the next two weeks…
Have a great two weeks! Talk to you in March!