Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rickety Canoes and Giant Beetles

-July 11, Saturday
Kisumu, Kenya-

Today we got up extra early and went to Lake Victoria. We arrived at the dock, only to see a couple of rickety canoes bobbing unsteadily in the water. What makes things worse was not the fact that I am terrified of deep water or that once Milton got a parasite from Lake Victoria that nearly killed him, but the realization that the water was infested with hippos, and hippos kill more people per year than any other animal except for the mosquito... and we were going to be exploring these waters in nothing but a measly canoe.

My canoe carried our two guides, Milton, Cheryl, Amy, Olivia, Micah, Holly, Christian, and me. We were kind of the scaredy-cat boat, and so our hopes sank as we left the shore. The fact that we were required to wear life jackets, insinuating that there was a possibility, however so small, of entering the water, only increased our terror.

Once we were out onto the lake, things calmed down a bit. The smooth water was a pale blue that matched the early morning sky, and the sloping white sails of fishermen dotted the misty horizon.

Our guide was very intelligent. He pointed out the various birds and plant life that lined the waters and shore. He told us about the lives of the Luo tribes who were washing their clothes in the lake water.

At one point in our journey, Christian screamed, causing us all to look up in alarm. A three-inch long cockroach was making its way across Amy's back. "There is something on you," Christian said in a strained voice. Amy stood up in the middle of the boat and began to promptly freak out. The canoe was rocking precariously, and I was sure that it was going to tip. Poor Milton must have been horrified. The guide finally picked the roach off of Amy's back and threw it in the water, and things calmed down some, but everyone felt a little jittery after that.

After the canoe tour, we went to the market and were immediately pulled into a new world of shops and gifts and foreign currency. I enjoyed picking out gifts for my family and friends.

We went to go eat at a local restaurant, and most of the table ordered tilapia and chapati, including myself. I had not expected to receive the entire fish- head, tail, fins, eyes, and all. I ate it.

We went to Jared's wife's tiny boutique to visit her and take a look around. On our way out, we were bombarded by three boys who were high from sniffing glue, one worse than all the others. He stumbled alongside of us, talking almost incoherently, and every few seconds he would lift his glue bottle to take a deep whiff through his mouth. It was heart breaking to see, but also a little frightening. One of the boys was carrying a knife in his hand.

We went to the hotel and had four hours to relax before dinner, which a glorious feeling. Free time. A few of us walked over to the small art shop a couple of blocks away. It was neat to see how they made all sorts of things from rubbish off of the streets- portraits out of crushed egg shells, earrings out of coke bottle caps, necklaces out of cow and fish bones- they recycled everything they could find.

Back at the hotel, Sandi, Chase, Audie, Milton, and I colored foam fishes for Sandi's VBS next week until the wind became so disruptive that we couldn't work outside anymore. Then the downpour began. The sky opened and let forth three million buckets of rain onto the Kenyan soil. I went up to my room so that I could watch the small storm through the window.

We went to John and Connie's new house. It is very big and very nice, and it is guarded by Maasai warriors. They also have their own private cook. We were served spaghetti, which tasted amazing. Everyone stuffed themselves full with pasta until they could eat no more. We all held hands at the end of the meal and sang, He has Done so Much for Me, in both Swahili and English, and then Holly and (Kenyan) Thomas jokingly sang the song in Luo.

When we stepped outside, the stars had tumbled across the blackness of the sky in jumbled patches of white glitter. It was beautiful.

Amy began to throw up almost immediately when we arrived back at the hotel, so I pray not only that she feels better, but that nobody else gets sick after her.

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