Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Daily Rythms

We have only been here a week and are starting to settle into the rhythms of our new life. Up every morning at around 6:00 because we went to bed early, bathing in buckets in the shower room (water rarely comes out of the shower head but does come out of the spigot at waist level), ironing the clothes for the day (the Kenyans dress nicer for work than most Americans I know), checking the cupboards to see what the ants have gotten into now, a light breakfast and then off to work, home for lunch when we strip down to shorts and T-shirts, dress, more work and then home (strip again) to wile away the evening by cooking, writing, checking the ants, staring blankly at the walls, watching the sunset or the chickens in our front yard, playing cards, etc. The nights go by to fast but I am always exhausted and ready for bed early.

We have started to explore more of the surrounding area in the last few days and are becoming masters of the matatus (mah-ta-twos), panel vans from Japan with 4 rows of passenger seats fitted into them. They can tightly hold 15 passengers, plus the driver and his helper. Each one has its own route and has the endpoint towns written on its side, but in case you can’t read, there is a tout hanging out the window yelling its destination for all to hear. Their job is to make sure the van is full at all times, and collect fares from the riders. They are constantly in motion, opening and closing the side door, directing you to your tiny little seat, taking money, or banging on the ceiling to let the driver know if they need to pull over or not. Im not sure why speech doesn’t work. When we were in Kenya before, there was no limit on the amount of people they could squeeze into these vans and even in an explodingly full one, there was always room for one more passenger. The government now limits them to the number of seats in the van and in city limits they pretty much obey this law. Needless to say they are much more comfortable now.

It’s about 30 Shillings to downtown Mombassa, and 10 to 15 either way to the markets. One is the swanky rich people super market with everything known to man for a high price. And the other is the local outdoor market with everything known to man for a low low price. Well, a little more for us, but we are learning what we should pay for things. My boss sent someone with us the first time and he would just cluck and in a non confrontational way tell us we were about to pay too much money for something. It’s a maze of a place with clothing, food, toothpaste and every other household item you can think of……. all slightly used. We will definitely have to spend more time there figuring it out.