Day 8 – Saturday, February 06, 2010
I was awoken by my uncle with a giant pounding on the door, about 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. (Random, but should be documented). We trudged through the rain to breakfast and enjoyed a nice English breakfast. We saw an amazing view of the jungle with lush green everywhere! Apparently 9 elephants (including four babies) had walked through the day before but we just missed them. We jumped on the bus, for a 3 hour van ride, to a town called Meru, and had a lovely lunch (curry). In order to get to the town, we passed the equator. Cool! We also had 10 minutes to run to the internet and a walmart-like store.
Then we headed for a 20 minute drive to Mikinduri and on the way stopped at the dining hall that Mikinduri Children of Hope sponsors where the kids go once a week for a meal and education on nutrition or job training. We were going to serve a meal to them. Well that was the plan, but unfortunately we were about 30 minutes late. We pulled up to 100 children and adults cheering, singing and dancing on the side of the road. We got out and were enveloped by these adorable, loving children, who had an endless supply of hugs and were eager to hold our hands, even though we were complete strangers. They escorted us back to the dining hall, which was about a ½ mile walk from the road. It was incredible. All of the kids were staring up at you and as soon as you smiled at one, they’d shyly look away but give a great big grin back as soon as they’d raise their head. I walked with two adorable girls called Ruth and Margaret, who were quite happy to pronounce ‘My name is ___’, in very clear English. The rest of what they said was a bit hard to understand, but their English was way better than any other language I can speak. All of the children were a sea of dark skin, short, shaved hair, and purple uniforms. Shorts for the boys and dresses for the girls. It was nice to have this distinction, because with the short hair, it was a bit hard to tell boys from girls, especially because they were all so beautiful! Every child except Ruth had dark brown eyes, but Ruth’s were a captivating hazel that just made her stand out from the crowd. They gave a short presentation in which a girl named Caroline, with amazing English, explained to us that they were happy to have us there and they would do a dance for us. The song and dance were great! After a prayer from the local priest and a few speeches by local dignitaries, we got to serving rice, stew, and papaya. First for the kids, then for their parents. Then we had the opportunity to play with the kids: Macarena, chicken dance, hokey-pokey….all the classics! Upon leaving it was amazing to see how touched we were by these children and their parents in such a short time. I really couldn’t have expected it, nor am I putting it well in words.
Then we travelled to Mikinduri. This is the site of our first clinic and this town is the whole reason the foundation was set up 10 years ago. The town was remarkably different from every other town we had visited. It was very sparse and poor. We got to stay at the brand new 5 star hotel in Mikinduri. This is a bit of a joke as the 5 star is only a comparison to the other hotel in town. Apparently last year, they were run out of the other hotel by the number of beetles and cockroaches. Nonetheless, this is the experience we were expecting, so really we were spoiled the last few days by our previous hotels. The mattress was brand new, with the plastic still on, and felt like a combination of straw and dirt. Let’s say, it is very firm. J The pillow (yes only one) that mom and I shared on our double bed had the airplane quality with a scary cover, that I just don’t want to think about now. We added a few plastic chairs in the room so we could unpack our suitcase (as much as you can on two plastic chairs). No I’m not done. The bathroom was about 3 ft by 3 ft with the toilet tank mounted 7 ft up on the wall, and a pipe that ran to a hole in the floor. Odd….that was directly under the shower head as well. “Holy crap”, I realized, this is a ‘long-drop’ toilet inside the shower! It’s a one stop shop! Additionally the locks on the doors were quite indescribable, but I’ll try. It involved (from the outside) putting your arm through a small slot in the door to maneuver a deadbolt into the hole on the inside, then attaching a lock. All of this is unseen, (covered by a flap) for security and just to make it as hard as possible! All of these hardships were really only seen on the ground floor, which is meant for the people who have been on many trips before, and those lucky enough to be related to the organizer. All of the other floors have a toilet, a nice mattress, pillow, and a key lock. There were a few other issues with my room including a leaky ceiling in one spot, no electricity for my computer (gasp!) and a running toilet (yes that is somehow possible with only a hole in the floor), but I don’t want to go into that. Considering the local economy and housing, I feel quite fortunate and am so blessed to be able to complain.
We went to the church and had a lovely dinner (yes, an amazing curry!). Then sorted the glasses into strengths, sorted the pills, and did general preparations for the clinic on Monday. It was an exhausting day and I was quite happy to hit the plastic covered mattress with the mosquito net covering. Another amazing day, where we are getting a taste of what is to come.
Summary: An amazing welcome (Caribou!) by some beautiful (nzuri) children.