Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chama Chama Chama Chameleon

It’s truly amazing to me the adaptability of the human being. After living at site for just 4 months, a lot of things feel normal to me that were incredibly foreign when I first got here. Take for instance, my initial repulsion of ugali (the Kenyan staple of maize meal and water mixed to form a thick paste eaten with your hands with vegetables or meat) After 3 weeks away on vacation, I actually missed the stuff!
Coming back to site made me realize that this is my home now. I missed it. Even though I don’t have running water or reliable electricity, my house in Magwar is what I am used to. I like my (relatively) clean choo. I like the comfort of having my own space. I like being greeted on the streets and in the market. And I like being able to finally own whatever pets I like (USC would definitely not condone the animals currently living in my house). I am the proud owner of an adorable puppy named Nala who sometimes gets along with my bunny, Apollo. And I just rescued a tadpole from a dried up pond who I named Tortoise (why? Because Kenyans pronounce this word in the funniest way!). This is what I call home now- Nala, Apollo, Tortoise, me and all the unwelcome insects and furry creatures ( I found a nest of rat babies living in the back of my couch, but didn’t have the heart to kill them. They’re gone now….)
There are moments when I’m walking down the road at the pace of a tortoise (Kenyan pronounce tortoise as if it rhymes with turquoise ahaha) due to the inches of mud caking the bottoms of my shoes, when I think to myself, “Wow, 6 months ago, this situation would have been so frustrating to me, still holding onto the American mindset of places to go, people to see.” And now, I think “Wow, it could be a lot worse, I could be trudging through feet of mud!” But, like a chameleon, I’ve become accustomed to the daily life here. I can predict when the power is going to go out based on the intensity of the rain. I can sleep through the loud thunderstorms amplified by my tin roof. And the giant fanged and hairy spiders and furry creatures inhabiting my house hardly phase me (lucky for those rat babies). AND I can tell when dirt is dirty! (When I first arrived here, I scoffed at the idea of sweeping dirt. Isn’t it inherently dirty? But now, I can tell when my students haven’t swept their dirt floored classrooms). So as I write this on my shaded veranda, with Nala nuzzled in my lap, Daisy the cow grazing in my front yard, my bunny scurrying around my feet, and Tortoise doing what tadpoles do, I feel at home.

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