Monday, January 15, 2007

Back At It On the Equator

Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor…Oh, Wait. The Kenyan Postal Corporation just broke their own worst record. I just received a package that was mailed to me last March. Ten months! As they love to say here, better late than never. It was a large package with five boxes of Girl Scout cookies from Nandita, and we were both convinced that it had been intercepted and devoured by mailroom workers. I guess this explains why Kenyans sometimes seem to hold onto hope beyond all hope…because occasionally it’s not totally naïve to do so. Nandita tells me it’s already Girl Scout cookie time again back in the States, but I think I’m good for now.

My Own World Map Project. The World Map Project is a tool that some PCVs have used in their schools to teach students geography. Basically you help kids paint a mural of the world on the side of a school building, and they learn where different countries are.

I’ve started my own World Map Project, with a less altruistic purpose. Basically I’ve been amusing myself by gluing a map of the world, postcards and stamps to the top of my coffee table, then shellacking it. Fumes are fun. But I decided that it might be interesting to get readers of my blog involved. If you want, please mail me postcards or stamps (which might mean that you have to write me a letter), and I will try to add them to my coffee table mural.

The Kenyan postal service seems to handle letters and postcards more reliably than packages, so anything you send should theoretically arrive before my close of service in August. Just don’t enclose any cookies.

P.O. Box 30518
Village Market, Nairobi

Unrelated side note: If you want to send a package, use the address that goes directly to my town. Drop me an email if you need it again. And use padded envelopes rather than boxes as they tend to arrive within a month, as opposed to ten.

Disputes Over Snoring Chickens. Well, I’ve been back in Kenya for a week now, and in case anyone was wondering, everything in Kenya is still intact. Miraculously, the screaming baby Idi Amins next door moved away over the holidays, but now another neighbor is trying to manipulate me into giving her one of my chickens, or money, or both. The saga never ends, but how many of you out there can say you’ve ever argued over live chickens? Chicken salad sandwiches, yes.

Wanna hear something that’s fascinating only to me? My chicken passed a worm today. About two inches long, white, with a triangular head. Eeewww. I’ve also decided to re-evaluate my chicken-farming strategy. I have four roosters who now spend all their time fighting over two hens, plus they’re ridiculous in the morning. COCKLE-DOODLE-DOO x 4 x (5:00am until 9:00am). So I’m downsizing my rooster department. I’ve already given one to a co-worker, on the condition that he cannot eat it until I leave Kenya. Another rooster has a chest cold right now (not bird flu), which makes him snore at night, but as soon as he gets better, he’s also getting a new home.

Cleaning Up After the US Army. One of the first things I did when I got in was I had my whole house cleaned. Normally I’d clean my own house, but what needed cleaning was all the poo. The Ubiquitous Slug Army (US Army) has been going to town on my walls, window sills, ceilings and doors for the last seven months, but it took a few weeks in a poo-free country to lower my tolerance enough to do anything about it. Now my house is 99 percent poo free.

So the minutiae of life in Kenya plods on, sometimes driving me to absurd rants in my head, other times lulling me into a mid-afternoon nap. I arrived at work last week expecting, for some reason, to be greeted with a pile of work to do. Old mentalities die hard. Instead I came into the office and sat around for two hours reading Newsweek. It was only after I had asked, “What’s new?” five times, and been told, “Nothing,” five times, that someone happened to mention a complex misunderstanding that my organization has been having with other groups in our district. Which has been going on for a month. Which I was never told about. “We were waiting for you to come back from America so we could ask for your input on what to do.” Apparently this was what they meant by, “Nothing.” I’m glad I clarified.


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