Wow, I can’t believe I was actually able to copy and paste her entire blog! Could this be a trend? She might not appreciate that, but darn, she’s such a good writer! Erika actually left for the airport 2 hours ago, as today is Monday and already I am missing our plotting and planning for the next day. Dear friend, thank you, thank you for your visit and help while here. Can’t wait to see you next time, only at home!
Here you have Erika’s take on our Kenyan Friday:
“On Friday we took the kids to school early and headed into Nairobi. Nairobi is really not that far away, but due to the roads and traffic, it takes a long time to get there. Most of the time we travel the “back way” which has much less traffic than Thika Road, the main “highway” (and I use that term loosely).
This is the typical “road” (not highway) scene around here – hard for me to even capture the magnitude of pepole always walking alongside. Lots of lorries and trucks and matatu vans full of people.
Ian dropped Anne and me off at Utamaduni, a restaurant/shop about 9:30am. He had some business to do nearby that we thought would take about an hour (wrong). We sat down and had coffee and shared a slice of carrot cake.
The restaurant, The Verandah, is outdoors – partly covered. It was a beautiful garden setting. Definitely a mzungu place. The only other customers were all white.
(Jackson, look at the next picture — Anne is in the back using the green nani to cover Ameena!)
After coffee and changing Ameena, who had blown out her entire outfit, we shopped. The main building had lots of rooms with different wares for sale – paintings, jewelry, carvings, artifacts, baby items, shoes, and so on. After about an hour and a half of being there we got a text from Ian. We thought it would say “I’m on my way,” (how silly were we) but it said, “still waiting.”
(The business he had to take care of was this: go to an office, get a check, and go to the bank and cash it. Back home, this might take 15-30 minutes.) However, the check he was waiting for had not been signed, and the signor was in a meeting. Ian had to sit and wait until the meeting was over.
We were done shopping, and it was nearly lunch time, so we sat back down at The Verandah and ordered lunch.
Around noon, we got a text from Ian saying the power was out where he was (not surprising), which curtailed the meeting unexpectedly, so he got the check and was headed for the bank. Good news.
Around 12:40pm Ian arrived back to pick us up. Sadly, his mission was still not accomplished. When he got to the bank to try to cash the check, there were insufficient funds in the account on which the check had been drawn. Someone had forgotten to transfer the necessary funds into the account. And of course the office where the check came from was now closed due to the power outage. So no money, and a whole day wasted.
Such is business in Kenya.
Side note: Ian has to do this same business monthly. It is the way he receives the funding for the monthly operating expenses here. He goes through similar exciting measures each time. It is always a challenge; always a chore. It would be very unusual for him to go to town and have that whole song and dance go off without a hitch.
I drag that story out to say how amazing the things are that have been accomplished here at KC this year by the Mays and their staff. Amazing, especially considering that things on the whole here move like molasses. There is always red tape; always bureaucracy; always a hurdle (or 2 or 10) to jump. It is very different from business in the Western world. You have to be patient. Very patient.
So we left Nairobi without accomplishing the task of the day, which will have to be tried again on Tuesday. Monday would be too soon, Ian thinks, and he doesn’t want to waste another whole day sitting around.
We made a quick stop at Spinners’ Web, a local artisan co-op gift shop (in Nairobi) and picked the kids up at school.
We drove through a short-cut on the way home, which Anne hasn’t done the entire time I’ve been here because the road has been messed up. There were so many ruts and problems due to the rain (and general disrepair of the dirt roads) that the DelMonte work trucks who go from the slums to the pineapple plantations could not get through. So DelMonte “repaired” the road. Unfortunately the repaired road has effectively dammed up the road to the Centre here, so anyone driving to the Centre (it’s still walkable, just not driveable) must now go around another way.
Here is Tito at the gate, welcoming us home.
We also had a visit from Anthony, the elder of one of the slums nearby. He came by with his wife and granddaughter Nicole. The kids enjoyed playing legos together while the adults visited. Here they are. Guess which one Nicole is.
We had burritos for dinner and I started a new book: Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum. It is a novel about a girl born in Germany during WWII and her life. It is hard to put down.”