Sunday, March 4, 2007

First Days in Mombasa

My day starts earlier than in Portland; around 6AM. I role out of bed and the day is already warm. I sit for breakfast now insteading of grabbing a granolar bar and milk as I run out the door. As I make my way across the field that is my front yard and the compound of workshops and big trees, I take the time to greet the people I see. Everyone radiates smiles, hellos and "how was your sleep?". We all arrive at the office punctually at 8AM. Being late is not an option. We settle into our work, and the office gets quiet. Being white sometimes grants me status here that I don't deserve. I have an office for example. A big one with four breezy windows. My Kenyan counterparts jam two or three desks into one room.

Lunch is another strole back across the compound. This time it's much hotter. I don't notice the moments when I am sweating any more, just the moments when I am not. Geoff and I prepare a small meal. The heat has reduced our appetites. We are usually full after a crisp, cold cucumber sandwich. A siesta usually follows for the next 20 minutes, then it's another walk down the path and through the trees to the office.

We take lunch at 1PM, so the afternoons seem very short. When we come home we are always greeted by the 6 chickens and 3 chicks that are Bombolulu residents. Our yard is the last stop of their day. Later, around 5PM, we hear the cheers and laughter of the boys playing soccer in the field, and the call to prayer from the minarets.

Dinner is cooked entirely from scratch every night. We have each lost 10lbs already from eating less and better food. Dirty dishes are an invitation for the streams of ants we've conquered by putting all our food in sealed plastic containers, so after each meal we chat and do the dishes. Then its time to sweep and wash away the days dust blown in through our ever open windows. Many evenings we do a little laundry. It must be done by hand, and leaving it all for one day is back-breaking, so there is almost always laudry drying on the lines in the yard by our banana trees.

The rest of the evening is spent reading, learning Swahili, playing games or journalling. At 10PM it's time to go to bed. There is very little leasure time to my day, just the last hour or so, but I'm never rushed. I never want to "detox", and I'm happy to be getting up in the morning. I know my days here are simpler, I have so many fewer options for my time, but I'm left feeling full instead of overflowing.

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