A More Normal Weekend

I shall continue to expound upon my “daily life,” here as that seems to be of interest to individuals reading this blog.  This weekend is a perfect example of a “normal,” weekend in life, if normal can ever be used to describe anything a Peace Corps volunteer does.

Saturday morning I woke up with the distinct plan of going into Mombasa for some time to get some errands done and see if anyone else was around.  However, my only time constraint was to pick up a parcel at customs, which would have me getting into town no later than noon, or saa sita in Kiswahili, the sixth hour after the sun has risen.  Being in no rush, I made myself a cup of coffee, and settled down to some online research about UDF (Universal Disc Formats), and why my computer was not allowing me to play a DVD emily had made for me.

Around 9:45am (kasorobo saa inne) I prepped and headed into town, back-pack ladened with my computer to do some work in town.  The plan had been settled on, I would get into town and hang out while waiting for Jeff to finish his business class in Msambweni and then make the hour and a half trip up to town himself.  We would do lunch, run to nakumatt and head home.  I also fired off a text to my friend and fellow volunteer Paul, who actually lives on Mombasa island where he works a school for the deaf, to meet and just chill.  A solid saturday.

Got into town uneventfully and picked up my parcel.  The ladies who work at customs know me, and understand my situation, so my collecting a parcel is rarely the hassle some of my friends have to endure sometimes.  Of course, I have to endure the ferry to get that parcel but it’s worth it.  I always walk into customs with an empty pack and out again with the pack full.  To most people walking around the city a pack is a pack, full or not.  But a white guy with a box, now that’s something special: “He’s white! And he’s got a BOX! Holy crap!”  Needless to say, I will always try to cram as much as I can into my pack.  What I really need are some giant black plastic lawn bags, the ultimate form of my previously mentioned culturally-camoflauged carry-all.

Afterwards I headed into Old Town, the muslim district of Mombasa, which was yet again alive with vendors and the general public milling about.  The past month or so, during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, Mombasa was just not itself.  It was quiet, shops were closed, my favorite restaurants standing empty and even a little forlorn.  Praise Allah that Ramadan has ended and Mombasa and Old Town are alive again.  I headed through the less-traveled-by-white-people alleys, circumventing the curio shop owners and hawkers, to my favorite coffee house Jahazi.  I don’t know it’s fully story, simply that it’s a traditional style arab coffee house and I believe is also run as a cultural center.  It is technically on one of the primary tourist streets, but is fequented by Old Towners, Mombasa residents and tourists alike and is a popular hang-out for Foundation For Sustainable Development (FSD) volunteers and SIT Study Abroad Students, whose main program office is three doors down.

Sitting down, I order my kahawa maziwa baridi (iced coffee with milk), and some viazi fry (fried potatos) and a samosa (fried pastry stuff with minced meat and onion and general deliciousness).  This wasn’t lunch, this was my snack from not having eaten breakfast.  I plugged in my laptop (there are only two places I will take out my laptop in mombasa: Jahazi and Dormans) and began to read about LISP, trying to teach myself a new programming language while I waited for Jeff to arrive.

It only took him about 2 hours.  I was ok with that.  It’s why I had brought my laptop in the first place.  We met at Posta, which is conventiently located on Digo Road (main artery through the spine of Mombasa) and then headed for a later lunch.  We tried a new place to us, Pistacchio Cafe, and ordered pizza.  Now let me tell you, those North Coast volunteers living around Malindi will tell you their pizza is the best, considering they live in the Little Italy of Kenya.  But our pizza was really good, just as good as any in Malindi I have had, and was less expensive.  So I am sorry North Coast volunteers, but that is yet another win for mombasa.  Not to mention South Coast beaches are way better!  Paul finally got back to my text while we were eating, but it was already late, Jeff and I would be finishing lunch and then heading to Nakumatt and then back across the ferry.  Next time.

Nakumatt is a once weekly ritual for me, and I know I am spoiled for having it.  I have described it previously and won’t go into detail here.  Just know that 4pm (saa kumi) on a Saturday is not the time to be shopping there.  I waited in a queue at the cashiers for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile Jeff was sitting on the bench waiting and apparently being mistaken for a Latter-Day Saint.  It was the white shirt.  Stocked up on my ramen and a new hand-juicer (for making juice of course) and nothing else of particular interest, we headed home. I fell asleep around 10.  I slept well.  My stomach was content with the pizza lunch and subsequent pizza leftovers dinner.

Today, rising a little later than usual, 7am (saa moja), I began to immediately finish my laundry.  Mind you, this was a task started on Thursday night, continued on Friday, and resumed today.  Today’s loads were towels and sheets.  Camp Jon-A-Wana generates a lot of sheet laundry considering I have basically been a revolving door of guests for the past month or so.  It only took about 4 hours (which includes the obligatory soaking hour), but it’s done.  Who needs a drying machine when the Mombasa sun dries a full-size bed sheet in 10 minutes.  I kid you not.

What will I do for the rest of the day?  Probably make an easy lunch, maybe add some home-made juice to the meal.  Chat with people online.  Read.  Build web pages and work on some programming.  Not change out of my gym shorts.  And I think my running schedule has me going for a 5km at around 6pm (saa kumi na mbili jioni).  It’s a lazy Sunday in Mtongwe, and that’s how I like it.

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2 responses to “A More Normal Weekend

  1. Jan Devereux

    The Internet makes it a small world. My 21-year-old son (Graham Lloyd) arrived in Mombasa 2 days ago to start an internship with FSD. Curious to stay abreast of what’s going on there (truly, I am not a helicopter mom!!), I set a Google alert for “Mombasa” and your blog came up in today’s results (along with several links to the Mombasa video game…). Graham mentioned an Internet cafe located down the street from FSD’s main office where is being trained/oriented this week. I can’t help but wonder if this is the coffee house you were writing from…

    If you see Graham (tall, blue eyed, athletic looking), tell him his mom says “hi” 🙂

  2. Nice – you discovered Pistacchio. Usually go there after work to have a coffee. Half price compared to Dormans, more personal and the staff is great! And yes the pizza is the best in Kenya (may depend on who is doing it though but if you get the thin dough you know you got the right one :))