Local Time in Korr, Kenya

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Euthanizing Euphemisms

"Girls usually crave for soil and calcium" (Samuel Basele commenting on females' unique mineral cravings.)

"She will kick the bush." (Ibrahim Kenyatta euthanizing euphemisms.)

"The Lord has provide us with air naturally without buying from anywhere." (Fascinating observations from Bosco Kombe.)

"We haven't seen each other for a long, but in God's grease we are together now." (Greasy grace from Jonah)

"When you die the body will remain in the dust, but the soul will go to the owner (God.)" (Never thought of it in those words... Larau Obeyle.)

"He says in a silent voice" (Eleemo Moga practicing the writing of stage directions in a drama dialogue.)

"That old man standing at the door wants to marry you since his first wife died. He promised that he will bring development to your family by buying your parents a black shiny limousine." (Jeremiah's Ilbilich's modern take on the bride price.)

"Haven't you heard about a girl in California who has three [years] and was married by a man of eighty and they really had a good relationship, until he died." (Jeremiah... again...)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lake Turkana

(A traditional fishing raft of the Turkana tribe)

(Turkana boys holding up the gutts of a fish their dad caught.)
"The best and most exciting part" (a bit of my students' phraseology for you) of my trip to Loiyangalani was watching my students' reactions when we came over the hill of jet-black volcanic rock and had our first glimpse of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya. Their faces said, "So that's what a lake is," "Wait, I'm confused," and "Wow," all in one expression. You can imagine that, living in a desert, these kids rarely ever see a puddle let alone somthing as expansive and stunningly colored as the aptly nicknamed "Jade Sea."
We traveled 7 hours in the back of a pickup to reach the lake where we were reportedly having a junior class Geography field trip, although I'm pretty sure it was just a vacation with an educational sounding title. (Anytime you eat meat every night and have sodas at least once a day is not your average sack-lunch day trip to the museum.) On our way we did observe the Ndoto Mountain Range, the rain shadow of those mountains, sand dunes and various igneous stones, although the geographical fact I was most interested in; why the lake is such a lovely green color, was never actually answered.
Setting our mattresses and crates of soda up at the mission base in Loiyangalani, a town on the southern tip of Lake Turkana, we went out to explore the natural springs that create the oasis in which Loiyangalani is situated. What a relief! After 7 hours in a bumpy, dusty, non-air conditioned car, I was finally able to stick my feet into a refreshing, although admittedly warmish, stream. The network of springs creates about a 4 sqaure kilometer swath of date palms and grass which I delighted in, taking way too many pictures of nondescript green.
(Exploring the Loiyangalani oasis.)
One crazy man (who told me I needed to drink the spring water to clean out my "womb") and a bean stew later and I was a new woman. That night, while the kids sat around making 6 million phone calls with the newfound network, I lay out on a bench waiting for the occassional cool lake breeze and pointing out the "man-made satellites." It's ironic how much more the kids know about downloading music and movies onto their phones than me, but they have so little idea about what satellites are and how they enable all this 21st century technology stuff!
The next day we were up early for a quick porridge breakfast (it's made with a little rough corn flour, a little milk and lots of sugar) then to the lake for water sports! We first hopped into a Turkana fishing boat, complete with beautifully carved oars, half-dead fish flopping around my feet and a dozen naked Turkana children splashing around our hull. I was so happy to be back on the water after 3 years of missing early mornings in the Newport Channel with Chapman Crew.
(Paddling around again.)
(Ismail trying his hand at rowing.)
The students flailed their oars around in desperate attempts to actually catch water and made me gasp when they would suddenly decide
to switch seats, causing our boat to rock and me to fear for my camera! In addition to rowing ourselves around the lake, Principal organized a 7 minute "Crocodile Watch" in a motorboat. Whether or not this was an intelligent thing to do in an area with no saftey regulations was kind of beside the point because I was the only one who was worried, and was therefore dragged along with the crowd. Clearly I made it out alive and wasn't all that disappointed that we saw no crocodiles.
Fried catfish is a delightful mid-morning snack in my opinion! After our boating adventures we bought one of the freshly caught "mudfish," as their called in Turkana land, and had one of the local mommas fry it up for us. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.
(Despite Gabriel's face (at left), the kids also enjoyed the fried fish.)
In the afternoon we went down to a bay near Loiyangalani for some swimming. It sounds perfectly benign, like a nice end to a sight-seeing-filled and hot day, but you have to remember the crocodiles. As the kids stepped their toes into the deceptively placid waters, I started a prayer that lasted a solid 1 1/2 hours; "Lord I can't handle a crocodile attack." I admit that I eventually decided to join the kids, figuring that I should take advantage of the only swim I'll have this year. Also, I realized that sitting in a grounded fishing boat by myself made me look lame.
Despite a constant sense of extreme danger, I had my dip in the lake, fully clothed, and actually enjoyed it! Adrenaline can really spice up a plain old swim...
(My crocodile lookout from that grounded fishing boat)
(Look Madame! I'm a porpise!)