I have had little time to write a blog recently. It seems as if I have been moving and working nonstop. In the past two weeks, I stayed in Nairobi with Lelo’s daughter Carol. She took me to the National Museum and the Bomas of Kenya. At the Bomas we were able to see displays of different tribal homes and watch traditional dances. She also fulfilled my request in visiting the second hand clothes market. Most of you know, but I am rather addicted to second hand shopping and finding bargains! With the little time we had, I managed to find a new pair of black slacks and three shirts, and only spent $7.
Last week, Lelo had visitors from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The couple, their eldest son and his family were in Kenya for a university graduation. Mami and Papi Lelo had met the family when both of the men attended graduate school at Clark University in the States. With the guests, I experienced the extensive nature of welcoming visitors into a Kenyan household. I have never eaten so much food or meat in my life. I soon learned that Mami Lelo is notorious for feeding her guests until they cannot move. Several of us had to plead to her not to give us any more food.
On Thursday, Mami Lelo and the visitors scooped me from work early. I had little idea where we were actually going. We boarded a matatu and slowly made our way over and into an old crater basin, across the equatorial line, and climbed altitude again to make it to Laikipia University campus. This campus is where Papi Lelo works. The beauty of the environment blew me away. Peeking monkeys starred at us in the surrounding tall forest. A slight mist came down around us and chilled our bones. I inhaled the fresh mountain air and became reminiscent about other woodland adventures. As I stood in astonishment, overcome by my emotions, the other laughed at me, stated that it was too cold, and rushed into the warmth of Papi Lelo’s duty house. After some snacks, we drove to Nyahururu and visited Thomson Falls.
Friday, we had our first demonstration in the field. The day started with a nonstop downpour delayed some of our efforts. The bus finally made its way down a narrow dirt road and to a local homestead. We held a meeting with a group of about ten farmers. We introduced the nixtamalization process and together created several different food products with the maize. The farmers were excited and an energetic buzz filled the air. I left the demonstration feeling exhilarated and grateful that I have been involved in this project.
This most recent weekend, I traveled with Mami and Papi Lelo to their village home in Machakos county. The four hour drive took longer as expected since we hit thick fog on the plateau and later an accident blocking the road. As we crossed into Machakos county, the land became drier. Field after field of maize and other crops were dried to a crisp providing little to no harvest. Eventually we made it to Nguluni a village close to Tala. We drove behind small village homes and market stalls leaving a dust trail. Through two grand gates we made it to the Lelo’s ‘retirement’ house. The grand house was accompanied by a yard with chickens, ducks and turkeys running around. I was also shown the rabbits, goats, cows and dogs. The farm homestead seemed to have everything.
Later we went to a prewedding party for one of Papi Lelo’s family members. Although the woman had already married and has several children, this celebration was necessary in order to allow her own daughter to marry in the future. The celebration was held in a field beside a much more modest homestead. This area was where Papi Lelo grew up and where most of his family continues to reside.
Sunday, we all attended Catholic mass and assisted in a large church fundraiser. By late afternoon, we headed back to Nakuru.
This week at work, we have two more field days. One was yesterday. It went well but lacked the intimacy and buzz that was shared in the prior demonstration. This was most likely due to the open venue and the larger group number. The next demonstration is on Friday. On the weekend I plan to visit a coworkers home, climb Mt. Longonot with some friends and head to Nairobi for a short stint.
Next week is my last week here at KALRO. Pretty crazy! I am eager to see friends and family but am not so excited that I will be returning to Carlisle for my final year at Dickinson so soon. Next week is reserved for report write up—hopefully I can get it all done in time! Then I will head to Nairobi to stay with Grace’s family before flying home on the 23rd