A Month In Kenya: Day 6 (Monday, June 26)

Day 6 was a national holiday in Kenya so that the Muslim portion of the population (approximately 11%) could celebrate Eid-al-Fatr, which represents the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Therefore people were off work and the city had a much quieter feel than usual.  

We decided it would be a good day to venture to the store as a family for the first time. It was enjoyable and I wanted to take more pictures than I did, but Harry seemed to think it wasn't wise to be pulling out my iPhone a lot, so aside from the few photos below, I just observed. The path was about this same width (see below) the whole way, but often it was just packed dirt. We walked about the equivalent of four long blocks (two over, two "up"), often single-file but sometimes in pairs.

The store is next to a gas station that has several restaurants usually grouped together: Galito's (the place we picked up from after the airport our first night; this was a different location), Creamy Inn (ice cream), and Pizza Inn.There is also a little shopping complex called Valley Arcade, so we stopped at the Java House there to get the boys and me a sweet treat. Java House is Kenya's answer to Starbucks, and it's so successful and such a part of the culture that Kenya pretty much refuses to let Starbucks build here. There are 35 Java House locations in Nairobi alone, and I love that red is their dominant color. YES!

Below is the unassuming front of the grocery store. I REEEEALLY wanted to snap a photo of the inside, but just sensed it wasn't the right time so this will have to do. Harry said it's typical of a local store where the selection is way more limited than a supermarket and the prices are higher. Even so, I couldn't believe how much stuff was crammed into the store. They certainly make efficient use of their space! 

We bought milk, erasers for the boys to use while drawing, tape, and digestives whose packages are in Arabic as well as English. 

I was clearly deprived from having to squelch my photography urge on our walk, because I couldn't stop myself from snapping photos of the plants on our grounds.

Mark, Noni, and Lisa came to pick up Harry and the boys, and they all went to a bigger store together while I got some time alone to work on my blog. The boys took my phone and iPad Mini so they could hunt Pokemon on the way, and when I turned on my devices later that evening, here's what my wallpaper looked like on my devices: 

As my brother would say: "Cuckoo!"

In the afternoon, I was thrilled to see more monkeys! This time they were sitting on the roof of the next door apartments. 

Mark, Noni, and Lisa stuck around for awhile with us, and Maurice, Wambui, and Lemayian also arrived for a bit. We all had tea, and some of us (ahem...) were still nibbling on a late lunch because we couldn't stop working on our blog. Mark left to pick up Wabi and bring her back; all the kids started watching Madagascar 3 in the living room and one by one the adults migrated there as well. Noni (like any normal teenager) was on her phone throughout. When the movie ended, the kids beelined for the courtyard, where they played hide-and-seek while the older folks said our farewells in the parking lot. 

It was emotional saying goodbye to Noni because she had to return to school on Tuesday. School in this case (as in most cases) is boarding school. Noni lives there 24/7 and returns home only on official breaks (the next of which is in late July). She is not allowed any visitors. No exceptions are made for aunts and uncles who are visiting from the States and only get to see her once every seven years. The spoiled American in me cries out, "NO FAIR!" But it is what it is, and I must say that the Kenyan system produces exceptionally bright and hardworking students, so who am I to argue?  

(Which reminds me of a conversation Noni, Wambui, and I had on Day 5, Sunday night. Noni was talking about returning to school and how the only thing she really doesn't like about school is the Matron (the headmistress). She described a recent evening where she had to go to the bathroom and couldn't get back to her room in time to avoid the Matron, who was out doing rounds or something. The Matron questioned her about why she was out and when Noni explained she had been to the bathroom, the Matron whipped out a pipe and beat her in the back of the leg in the knee/upper calf area! Apparently this is just something that happens to everyone, and it serves as kind of an odd bonding among the students because they all have to endure a beating at some time or another. This makes me think of Dear Exile, one of my favorite books of the late '90s, an epistolary memoir between one friend in NYC and one who has recently moved to Kenya to teach. The latter character (Kate) describes how horrified she was to find beatings so commonplace in the school system. I wondered if it might possibly have been exaggerated or have been an anomaly where she taught, but apparently not. Yikes! 

Cleaning duty was another topic that Wambui and Noni discussed about their respective boarding school experiences. Wambui remembers that when she was at school, they had to clean the bathroom daily. And by "clean", she's referring to scrubbing the grout until it's perfectly clean. She said they could truly have eaten off the floor when they were finished. When she saw my aghast face, she laughed and said that she's honestly thankful for it because it helped set a standard of cleanliness for her and instructed her how to keep a clean home. I couldn't help thinking that now I understand a little more about why I have absolutely NO standard of cleanliness in my home. Oh boy...)

Noni and I did have a farewell picture taken together, but apparently someone else must have taken it because I don't have it on my phone. I'll have to upload it here later. But I do have the photo of her, Lisa, Harry, and Ezra, so that will suffice for now.