Shortly after the kids returned from their Pokémon-hunting excursion, Maurice and Wambui arrived at our apartment for our next adventure: a trip to CuCu's house for tea. (Even though Harry and I call her "Mom", I generally write about her as "CuCu" because that's how we refer to her when talking with the boys.)
Harry's mom and dad have a house in the small village of Sigona, exactly 30 minutes northwest of our apartment. We had to take two cars, so Maurice and Wambui drove separately. Maurice, Harry, Lemayian, and Nehemiah rode in Maurice's car (i.e., the quiet car), and Wambui, Taye, Ezra, Lisa, and I rode in Wambui's car (i.e., the noisy car). We stopped at the supermarket on the way out of town to get some milk, and Ezra was irked to find me taking pictures of him and his cousins in the backseat. Apparently Taye and Lisa weren't quite as bothered!
I'm always eager for a road trip because for me road trip = interesting sights, and of course interesting sights = photos!
Most times I've traveled somewhere, I've noticed a pattern that I think of as the familiarity arc. I thought I'd be oh-so-clever and literally chart it out to show you what I mean, only to discover after all these years that it's not actually an arc at all. It's more like a jagged mountain range or notched boatneck shirt. Blast! Oh well. It's always been the familiarity arc to me, so the familiarity arc it shall remain. On a long trip like this one, the arc has nine stages. (On a quick trip, there isn't really time for stages 4, maybe 5, and 6, and stages 2/3 and 7/8 are compressed into a really short time.)
1. ARRIVAL: Exhaustion with a smidge of trepidation
2. FIRST DAYS: Amazement! Magic! Fascination!
3. ADJUSTING: Hey, there's that cool thing again!
4. LIVING / STAGE 1: I kinda feel like I belong here and I'm in the swing of things
5. That one day in the middle when everything seems old-hat and tiring
6. LIVING / STAGE 2: Everything is familiar and I enjoy knowing what to expect
7. DETACHING: Oh no! We're leaving soon!
8. LAST DAYS: Panic! I have to remember every single thing!
9. DEPARTURE: Resignation tinged with excitement about returning home
A little jaunt like this one to CuCu's is like a powerful injection of Stages 2 and 3. Even though it wasn't my first time seeing throngs of people walking on the busy road or dusty cows sauntering in the ditch, it all seemed just as charming and fascinating as though I'd never seen any of it before. I'm still amazed by the way traffic aggressively jockeys for position without any marked lanes or stoplights and by animals who graze along a congested road seemingly unfazed. Wambui told me that the white pointed tents (far left photo, 3rd row) are meat tents. As we drove by them, a savory smell wafted over to us. Heaven!
We approached Sigona through a bustling intersection complete with grazing donkey. Some of the ruts in the dusty red road through town were treacherously deep and the car began sliding. Wambui reacted calmly and quickly, though, gunning the engine to propel the car up the hill past our turnoff, then turning the car around so we had a straight shot onto the road to Harry's parents' place.
In the months before he moved to the States, Harry helped his parents build their house (the part you see on the left). He told me and Wambui a funny story about a cow shed built by one of the other relatives who was helping. The relative labored long and hard on the shed before anyone else saw it. When people finally went to look at it, they discovered that the relative had built solid walls about six feet high...without a single opening! An entire wall had to be demolished and rebuilt, this time with an opening for a door.
We entered the property through a first green gate, then passed a grassy area scattered with banana plants and other foliage and drove through a second green gate before coming to rest on the rocky parking area in front of the house.
It took about 2.7 seconds for Taye and Ezra to start scaling the wall and running around on the roof. Nehemiah first settled onto the couch to look at a book of Maurice and Wambui's wedding photos, but once he saw the older boys on the roof, he couldn't resist joining them.
Lisa and Lemayian took me on a tour to the backyard, past the black shed where pigs used to be kept and into the back garden bursting with banana plants. Lisa showed me a pile of concrete blocks that were spilled there when a lorry (big truck) crashed through the hedge and tipped over. There were beautiful blooms scattered throughout the yard, including an unusual one hanging from a banana plant.
We settled in the living room for tea, mandazi, and conversation. I loved looking around at the cozy area with its decorative tile ceiling, terrazzo floor, and wrought iron window grilles, as well as the large photos hung prominently to honor Harry's dad. (Harry joked that we should try this at home with a photo of him. Haha!) Nehemiah even requested tea, and enthusiastically consumed nearly a whole mug of it. This reminded me of a nearly three-year-old Ezra, who did the same thing when we went to visit Harry's Guka in 2010. At one point during the afternoon, Nehemiah reached out to Lemayian and said, "Hugs?" SO SWEET!
It was an enjoyable afternoon, even if I did have to endure being laughed at for not speaking Kikuyu. :-)
Midway through our visit, Harry's dad's other sister and her husband dropped by. I taped a little bit of CuCu telling them in Kikuyu about her ankle injury. (At one point I tried to tape some of the Kikuyu TV station without realizing that it wasn't taping very clearly, but eventually I focus back on CuCu so it's worth sticking it out to the end of the video.)
As all devoted daughters (and daughters-in-law) do, Wambui served all of us diligently and cheerfully, even preparing more tea for CuCu after the first batch had been consumed.
Before we said our goodbyes and headed back to town, Harry obliged me by climbing onto the roof and taking pictures of the glorious view of Nairobi (which of course doesn't appear nearly as striking in the photos as it did in person). On our drive back, we were treated to a giant glowing moon shining through wispy layers of clouds.