Birthday - Tuesday May 21

Today is Tuesday, May 21st.  Happy 49th Birthday to me!  Next year is the big 50. Absolutely incredible!  I am now in that “mature” age bracket, huh?  HA! I still feel like 29 inside. A tad slower on the outside though... :)

Well, this was a good morning.  My hair dryer worked well and there were no lizards in our room.  I was so afraid that I would blow a circuit again with my dryer and then “I would blow a circuit myself”.  Thank you Lord! And thank you for a good night’s rest too. With no lizards.

This morning I again sit in the classroom with the IT team although I am not listening to them but to my music through headphones. Too much of that IT lingo lulls me to sleep. Just in case, I slip out to the veranda to purchase a coke, the highest in caffeine that they have available. Coke in the morning is yuk to me but a necessity as I do not drink coffee. Hey, I made myself an ice-tea yesterday. They don’t have ice here, so at tea time, I poured a hot tea and let it cool. I found a small fridge in the bottom of a water-cooler, poured cool water in the hot tea and placed it in the fridge for a bit. By lunchtime, it was cool enough to drink. Still no ice, but it was so good to my taste buds.

Let me catch you up on the weekend. It was very busy and very tiring.

We visited the Maasai Market. Now for those of you who know me, most know that I do not care for shopping, even for groceries. I don’t care for the crowds and those who are inconsiderate of others and leave their cart (buggie) in the middle of the isle. I would rather purchase everything via the computer.  BUT, when it comes to novelty items, then I like to shop.  I don’t necessarily always purchase but I do like to look. In describing this shopping trip, I am not sure where to begin.  It was INCREDIBLE including various emotions.

First, it took us nearly an hour to arrive there after leaving the BTL Conference Center. There were 11 of us in total, including our driver, Robert (not our usual sounding “Robert”; more like “Rowbert”). The Maasai are a tribe who make their own items to sell and the market is located downtown Nairobi. As you enter the gate, a guard waves a security wand over your body. Immediately, you are overwhelmed with the closeness of the people and the brokers that come and invade your personal space.  Not to sound mean, but they remind me of mosquitoes and I attracted three of them quickly because I was a “white-lady”.  Brokers do not work for a particular person but for themselves to obtain money, of course. They want you to buy everything and to buy immediately.  You find yourself constantly saying to them “no thank you, no thank you” and inside you are thinking “GO AWAY, GO AWAY, NOW!”.  Eventually, they go away for a minute or two and give you a break but they do return to your side. I was looking for a few particular items for my children so it was difficult to concentrate but I managed.

None of the items are labeled with a price. You have to ask the owner or artist what they want for it and then dicker out an agreed upon amount. Usually, they write it down first and then you counter it with another amount much, much lower. I feel that I did fairly good for myself.  I found a picture of an elephant painted on banana fiber and the artist wanted 180,000 shillings for it, which would have been about $2,250. I actually think he meant 18,000 shillings which would have been about $225, at least I want to believe that is what he meant.  After the dickering process, I made the purchase for 2,000 shillings which was about $25.00 AND he included another smaller one during one portion of the dickering process so I got two pictures. Now, when I arrive home, I will frame and display them near my Africa shelf. I would tell you my other good deals, but then my family would know what I purchased for them.

After a while you get really perturbed with the brokers who constantly follow you and are in your face. They constantly tell you story after story which you know is not true.  At one point, I got so irritated that I stopped.... looked up to the peskiest of them all and said: “do you know what the phrase, ‘you’re full of bologna means’?” His response: “no mama, I do not”. He backed off a bit after that. Overall, I enjoyed the event and plan to return this Saturday to finish my shopping. This time I will really now how to handle ‘em :)

After the market experience we visited a store similar to Wal-Mart but it was called Nakumatt and it was actually stocked better than our US Wal-Mart stores. I bought two size D batteries for 90 shillings which was $1.13 US. I thought that was a pretty good price.  Remember the old store called Woolworth’s?  They had one of those and it was really nice too.

So after the trip to the Maasai Market and Nakumatt and then the dusty bumpy road trip back to the center, I was really tired but after a week of not getting out, it was well worth it :)

SUNDAY, May 19:

We attended worship service at a local church. We were told

that our walk there was about 10 minutes. I put on the new maxi-dress that I had purchased and the new sandals. Twenty minutes into the “walk” down this road that sort of tilted to one side......I was getting pretty weary and nearly turned back. But, being the only woman in the group of men, I was determined not to give up. (I would now like to give them the 2-inch blister that I acquired on my foot from trying to keep up with them!) Anyway, after 45 minutes, we came upon the 3-story brick church building. When we entered the gate, I knew immediately that I was the only white-woman. AND after climbing the 3 flights of stairs, I was the only white-woman sweating bullets :(    Being on the 3rd floor brought a small breeze to the overly stuffy room. All of the Kenyan ladies were dressed to the hilt. They were all so attractive.

Amazingly, they had their babies dressed in fall and winter clothing. One little one, probably 8 months, was dressed in a wool hat, sweater and boots. Here in May and June, they are entering their winter months and most are chilly and usually wear a heavy jacket. To me......this is perfect weather! No jacket in my closet!

The service began with music of course including electric piano and drums. Songs were sung in Swahili and then some in English. The music was great and we could praise the Lord however we wanted. We didn’t have to stand motionless but could worship as we felt led. From shortly before 11:00 and until noon, we sang, listened to announcements, listened to young children recite scripture by heart, sing solo’s and quote poetry. It was so spirit filled. Unfortunately for me, I was terribly hot, which I am most of the time for those of you who know me. Thank goodness for a little battery-operated fan and loud music. I sat that little fan behind the paper bulletin in my lap and I don’t think anyone saw it :) 

Because we had scheduled a group to leave the center at 1:00 for an outing, our leader suggested that we leave the service early. That time happened to come just as the pastor began his sermon. I felt awkward leaving then but it was nothing we could control. So, we began our “walk” back to the center.

At 1:30 we left for the Giraffe Center in a van with 10 of us in total. The trip was over an hour’s drive. Again!  But the giraffe were so beautiful and so unique. Did you know that the heart of a giraffe weighs 25 pounds?  And that they only sleep for an hour at a time.  Also, the most vulnerable time for them to be attacked by lion is when they bend down to get a drink of water. The center we visited had 15 of their own giraffe that they bred and raised. Each had a name and a personality all their own. “Daisy” was the first that I approached and fed. She didn’t like to be pet at all and was real good at head-butting. I mostly fed “Helen” who seemed to be starved (I think that she just liked the food) and would let me pet her. So absolutely incredible that God created each one so different.

Oh! And I got a giraffe-kiss.  All you had to do was hold a pellet (a long one, of course) between your lips and bend towards the giraffe. They knew exactly what to do!

After we finished visiting the Giraffe Center, we headed for a bead factory but because I am tired of typing and Hank needs to edit this, I will tell you of this factory later.

So, today ends my “birth” day. Thanks mom, for having me 49 years ago. And dad too! :)

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