Tag Archives: matatu

A human again

So, not gonna lie, the past few weeks I have again felt something less than a person. It’s always been, “New teacher,” or “Mzungu,” or any other of the nomenclature I must respond to. Very rarely is it my name, and always is it something associated with a sense of otherness.

Today was a bit different. I had three experiences which made me feel like I can just be a person here in Mombasa, which will again be presented in my favorite information formatting technique, the list:

1) I signed “Good Morning,” to the deaf Kenyans who run a candy table near the Mombasa Posta. I was unable to stop and chat, which is good because I am unable to sign much more than “Good Morning,” and my sign name (which is sign for “Die Hard,”), but they smiled and I felt like I added something positive to their day.

2) I helped push one of the big human-pulled carts off the ferry. I need to get a picture of one of these on the site so you can see them. Basically Kenyans pull them instead of horses or donkeys. They needed help getting momentum to get it off the ferry and asked me, so I said sure. When I had finished and was walking off they gave me a simple thumbs up. Didn’t ask for money or anything. Didn’t even call me mzgunu. Just a thumbs up.

3) The touts (matatu conductors) have been more persistent recently about trying to charge 25 bob for the trip home from the ferry. It’s supposed to be 20. So I helped with a kenyan mama to argue that its supposed to be 20. They heeded what I contributed, and we paid 20. Again, no mzungu, just thanks.

I’m finding my groove. It’s good.

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A human again

So, not gonna lie, the past few weeks I have again felt something less than a person. It’s always been, “New teacher,” or “Mzungu,” or any other of the nomenclature I must respond to. Very rarely is it my name, and always is it something associated with a sense of otherness.

Today was a bit different. I had three experiences which made me feel like I can just be a person here in Mombasa, which will again be presented in my favorite information formatting technique, the list:

1) I signed “Good Morning,” to the deaf Kenyans who run a candy table near the Mombasa Posta. I was unable to stop and chat, which is good because I am unable to sign much more than “Good Morning,” and my sign name (which is sign for “Die Hard,”), but they smiled and I felt like I added something positive to their day.

2) I helped push one of the big human-pulled carts off the ferry. I need to get a picture of one of these on the site so you can see them. Basically Kenyans pull them instead of horses or donkeys. They needed help getting momentum to get it off the ferry and asked me, so I said sure. When I had finished and was walking off they gave me a simple thumbs up. Didn’t ask for money or anything. Didn’t even call me mzgunu. Just a thumbs up.

3) The touts (matatu conductors) have been more persistent recently about trying to charge 25 bob for the trip home from the ferry. It’s supposed to be 20. So I helped with a kenyan mama to argue that its supposed to be 20. They heeded what I contributed, and we paid 20. Again, no mzungu, just thanks.

I’m finding my groove. It’s good.

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Filed under Uncategorized

A human again

So, not gonna lie, the past few weeks I have again felt something less than a person. It’s always been, “New teacher,” or “Mzungu,” or any other of the nomenclature I must respond to. Very rarely is it my name, and always is it something associated with a sense of otherness.

Today was a bit different. I had three experiences which made me feel like I can just be a person here in Mombasa, which will again be presented in my favorite information formatting technique, the list:

1) I signed “Good Morning,” to the deaf Kenyans who run a candy table near the Mombasa Posta. I was unable to stop and chat, which is good because I am unable to sign much more than “Good Morning,” and my sign name (which is sign for “Die Hard,”), but they smiled and I felt like I added something positive to their day.

2) I helped push one of the big human-pulled carts off the ferry. I need to get a picture of one of these on the site so you can see them. Basically Kenyans pull them instead of horses or donkeys. They needed help getting momentum to get it off the ferry and asked me, so I said sure. When I had finished and was walking off they gave me a simple thumbs up. Didn’t ask for money or anything. Didn’t even call me mzgunu. Just a thumbs up.

3) The touts (matatu conductors) have been more persistent recently about trying to charge 25 bob for the trip home from the ferry. It’s supposed to be 20. So I helped with a kenyan mama to argue that its supposed to be 20. They heeded what I contributed, and we paid 20. Again, no mzungu, just thanks.

I’m finding my groove. It’s good.

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Diani Beach and Some Random Pictures

Today was Beach Day. After a week of settling into site, and still feeling a little uncomfortable, it was decided that today would be Beach Day. So Dai and I packed up and jumped on a matatu down to Ukunda to meet up with some other PCVs: Harmony, Jeff and Dani.

The ride down is relatively painless, and getting to the beach is easy, and cheap, which is good for stressed-out, wigged-out, poor Peace Corps Volunteers. Now a note on Diani Beach. It is classified as a “resort area,” but that only means two things in Kenya: There are a lot of Wazungu and prices are about five times as high as normal. There are no 20-storey tall resort complexes, there are no boardwalks, there are not even any sidewalks (have I mentioned the sidewalk deficiency Kenya suffers?)

But what there is is a gorgeous beach, which lays empty for the most part. It has white sands, and the water is warm, the sun shines and there is nobody around. It is paradise! Heck there are even palm trees (though falling coconuts will kill you if you aren’t careful). And it is here that the four of us set up shop and lay down to do nothing. Now I know I have been complaining about having nothing to do, but there is a difference, a very important difference, between having nothing to do when you should be doing something, and having nothing to do when you should be relaxing. And weekends are relaxing time. Even Peace Corps says that. Heck, I even put on shorts, which are a cultural no no for most kenyans (though mzgungu can get away with wearing them simply because they are mzgungu and you never question a mzungu).

I also ate pizza, which is a first in Kenya. It was ok. Maybe a low-medium on the pizza scale of the states, but ten’s all around on then kenyan pizza scale. Also stepped on a sea urchin (or several), and spent the next several hours (right up ’til writing this post actually) digging out sea urchin barbs from my feet. Not fun, especially through my now well-calloused soles. And, because I was at the beach near the equator, I am not longer white, but have instead acquired an appropriately lobster-like hue.

But it was worth it. It shows that there can be reward here, whereas during this whole week reward and positive-reinforcement were sorely lacking. And it’s good to know that it’s an easy trip for a good number of wazungu to make, because I have a feeling those will be sorely lacking during my weeks as well.

In other news, I just saw a new (for me) species of baboon walking around the camp near my house. Large enough to make me want to arm myself… And my water-catchment-tank-overfill-into-kitchen tally is now at 3 for those keep count.

Below are pictures from Diani Beach and also from the last day in Loitokitok (facebook public link is here). Finally, it’s a good thing mosquitoes fly slower than flies, for there is a far greater necessity in killing them. And my fly trap conveniently killed many of the little white ants that were so annoying, so an unexpected benefit there.

EDIT: WordPress is not allowing me to make a photo gallery for unknown reasons, so please use the link above to view the public facebook gallery for now. Cheers!

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