Monday, September 12, 2005

I'm Going to Freeze to Death. In Africa.

(Subject line courtesy of Jen Lee, the funniest Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya.)

Hello from Kisumu! First order of business is an open message to you pathetic spam whores who are using anonymous comments on Blogger to advertise. CUT IT THE FUCK OUT!! If you're not willing to pay for marketing lists or spend time actually researching and identifying a target market, why the hell would I shell out a single Kenyan shilling for your crap-ass product that's not even appropriate for my demographic group?

Mail update: The only thing I've received is Michelle's package of spices raided from McDonald's. Am wondering if the local post office is doing some raiding of its own, of mail addressed to the village mzungu. Will keep everyone posted.

Went for my usual fried tilapia lunch on Lake Victoria today. One of the tour boat operators sat down at my table, without asking or introducing himself first, and tried to sell me a boat ride to see the hippos. I ended up making him teach me some greetings in the local Dholuo language and then complaining about all the corruption in Kenya. I also explained, after he said, "I heard most of the people killed in New Orleans were niggers," why he shouldn't use that word to refer to black Americans.

"So it is a somehow abusive word?" he asked.
"Yes, people have been killed for saying that word to someone."

Apparently this was hilarious to my new boat tour operator friend (Ibraham), because he laughed until he cried. Then my fish came, and I sat there and ate it while he sat there and stared off into space, not talking to me, not asking me to share my food with him, not even watching me. Just sitting there. It was one of those very Kenyan oddities that I'll probably never understand, nor will I ever figure out the appropriate way to respond. Like the time I was sitting in a matatu reading the newspaper, and the guy on my left quietly peeled the corner of the paper out of my left hand and started reading over my shoulder. Eventually, the paper had migrated so that he was holding the left half of it in front of him and I was still holding the right half in front of me. All this happened without a single word exchanged, nor did he even make eye contact with me.

So yes, I live at less than one degree north latitude from the equator, and I think I'm going to freeze to death. It's about as cold here as July in San Francisco. Brrr!!! I carry a fleece to the office everyday, wear a scarf when I'm outside washing the dishes, and sleep under three blankets while wearing two shirts, a pair of pants and a sarong. My co-workers were even arguing about which kind of jiko (charcoal stove) I should buy to keep myself warm at night, but the only concensus they were able to arrive at was that since my room is so small, any charcoal stove would turn me black. "Like Hillary," they said.


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