Today was technically our last day of placement EVER! The last real day of our masters program (although I still have about a day of paperwork left….thanks UofT). We spent our last day on a ferry to Kisumu (shhhhh….don’t tell she-who-shall-not-be-named). Now we have holed up in a swanky hotel room with ELECTRICITY and RUNNING WATER and a TELEVISION! (for only $15 a night with brekky) while wait to leave for Kakamega rainforest tomorrow. Hi-C pointed out that, even though diarrhea sucks, if you are going to have it then a place called KakaMega would be the place. Fingers crossed for cooperative bowels all around.
We just finished two weeks living and working in rural Kenya (Nyanza province for those curious few) in a town called Mbita on Lake Victoria. Due to limited electricity supplies the blogging has been infrequent and without photos given the slow internet connection. Even with the dust (so dusty!), the bugs, the outdoor toilets and the skirts* I fell in love with the place and the people. Accept this photo diary of Mbita and area so I can procrastinate from doing my final paperwork.
A car just like the one we rode for 2 hours with 11 people and a chicken + screaming baby.
The three of us in the car – Hi-C, me, and SuperJ. It took about 12 tries to get one where superJ felt she was happy enough.
The maize (like corn but tougher, ground into flour for ugali – the Kenya staple food) field on the compound in which we learned to harvest. Our hosts we impressed at how quickly we adapted to African life incomparison to some of their other foreign wageni/visitors.
The sunset over Lake Victoria just down the hill from where we were staying.
Here we are “contributing to research” on the control of tsetse flies on Lake Victoria. Hi-C is pouring water into the bottom of a fancy fly-zapper so the carcasses don’t get away and they can be counted. Sort of morbid, Hi-C.
We went to three schools and worked with some wonderful children. All kids in Kenya wear uniforms to school and it is too cute.
My language assessment materials. With these things you can do naming, numbers, colours, big/small, prepositions, picture identification, reading, story-telling, following directions and more to get an idea of receptive and expressive language skills.
Haiba, the little one at the house where we stayed. Officially the cutest baby in Africa. She acted as a daily reminder of what normal (or above normal) development looks like. Haiba snuggles are the best.
This is what I meant when I said sometimes we roll like William Shatner with the right demographic. Every school we went to required an entire photoshoot – sometimes with hand holding.
Pendo carrying Haiba to the gate of the compound. Haiba is just over 1 year and needs no help to hang on to her sister for a walk around the yard.
Charles, our faithful piki piki driver who drove slowly around Mbita to get us safely to all of our destinations.
The market in town. Every stall was selling the same things (it is called product differentiation people!) – maize, millet, green grams, and a variety of beans.
This is a choo (pronounced cho-oh). If you have never peed in a squatty this is what you have to look forward to in Africa. They are surprisingly often preferable to toilets.
We took a public boat to Mfangano Island, home to the Suba peopl on Lake Victoria. Sometimes the boats were not able (or said they weren’t able) to get right up to the shore. When this happened a group of men would rush the sides of the boat and offer to carry you to shore for 20 bob (about 25 cents). Business men were their best customers. And girls in skirts who didnt’ want to touch water filled with bird poop – we paid for a ride.
Public boats only leave when packed – with people, a motorcycle and 7 crates of white bread (white bread! I curse you!)
The boat ride.
Ancient rock paintings mostly worth the hour hike up a mountain (on Mfangano Island) in the heat. I’m mostly surprised that I have yet to learn that asking a guide if they know the place well before setting out means nothing in Africa. Your guide will get lost. They haven’t been there in 5 or 6 months. We did find it eventually and eat a passion fruit fresh off the tree so all was forgotten 🙂
The other two adorable daughters – Pendo (meaning Love) and Joy all dolled up for church.
Church was a non-negotiable. The girls looked so cute walking there. I bit off all of my finger nails off.
We boated past “bird island”. Named for all the birds (duh). Many of the trees have been choked out by the mass of avian excrement covering their leaves and preventing photosynthesis. We could also see monitor lizards sunning themselves on rocks. If you are unfamiliar with monitor lizards just think of them as little brothers to the komodo dragon – that is if the komodo dragon is a 7ft basketball player and his “little” brother is “only” 6″3.
A small fishing town called Takawiri off shore of Mbita.
We shared a pop with a cheeky little boy (we think boy – clothes are not always a good indicator of gender here) on Takawiri.
We ended the day with coconuts fresh from the tree (that we never actually got to eat but that is a long story….)
*Mbita is a very strict christian place. To be accepted we spent any time outside the compound in long skirts – great for cutting the heat but not great for keeping away thorns or riding motorcycles.