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Published: October 5th 2007
Hi all! Been a while since I posted a blog - there is a lot to catch up on. Here goes...
August was supposed to be a quiet month in the lead up to our big September holidays. So much so that Brigid felt it would be a good time to enforce a beer and soft drink ban on herself post Rod’s departure given that the previous month had seen many a beer consumed. Didn’t quite turn out that way, though. Here’s a selection of August highlights…
The start of August saw the last few days of Rod’s visit and our last few days at Villa Rita. While I worked, Brigid and Rod gallivanted around the place - going to Mombasa to look for happy pants (and getting ¾ length pants made when they’d asked for full length. Oh dear…), hanging with the kids at Upendo (who were mighty impressed with Rod’s balding scalp and hairy legs) and generally causing confusion (people thought they were siblings, father and daughter, husband and wife... ).
The day after Rod left, we said a sad goodbye to Klein (no more dog!!) and moved house. Was the easiest house move of all
Our new house #1
From the front...
time - all our stuff easily fit in the back of a taxi - but it was interesting to see how much we’ve accumulated since our arrival with just back packs! Our new house is fantastic (thankfully, given that we hadn’t inspected it prior to moving in!!) - a little 2 bedroom place that overlooks the creek. An abundance of mismatched furniture, Indian knick knacks (most of which have thankfully been put away) and the world’s crappest calendars don’t take away any of its charm. It’s lovely sitting out on the verandah in the mornings watching the dhows go out to sea and the monkeys swing through the trees. What is not so great is being woken by the call to prayer from the mosque across the river at first light every morning!! As fantastic as Villa Rita was, I was quite happy to move somewhere smaller and where I didn’t feel ridiculously extravagant having 2 staff on hand all the time. The staff at Villa Rita (particularly Anne) were lovely and we got along with them very well, but it doesn’t feel right having someone waiting on you and it’s hard to feel like it’s ok to relax at
Our new house #2
From the back...
home when they’re bustling about working. We’re not doing all the chores though - there is a guy, Salim, who lives next door to us now (within the same gates) who is paid by our landlords to act as a kind of security guard and handyman if there’s anything that needs fixing (although there are some reciprocal favours here - he sometimes borrows Brigid’s bike to go into town). Also, there is a cleaner, Nuru, who had come twice a week for the previous resident. Not being keen to do our own hand washing, we jumped at the chance to keep her on!! The house is much closer to town - only 10 minutes walk from work and the main street, which is much more convenient. The only downside really is no Klein… oh, and the fact that our landlords are nuff nuffs… but don’t get me started on that one…
Speaking of the previous resident - Charlotte, an English girl who had been working in the lab for six months - we moved in a week before she moved out. One night, while getting things ready to leave, she decided that she’d do some washing. She went outside
Our new house #3
From the verandah looking down to the creek...
in the dark to get a bucket and fill it up at the tap in the garden, tripped and fell off the ledge and managed 3 (quite displaced) fractures of her foot. Brigid was the only one home at the time and was a little worried about how to deal with a screaming broken woman. Thankfully, Charlotte is a doctor and was able to sort herself out at home with some pain relief before going to the hospital in the morning. Was a pretty crappy ending to her trip, poor girl - especially as she had planned to go home via Uganda where she was to go kayaking.
The start of August saw some busy days at work finishing off some experiments in time for a Malaria Immunology conference held at work, where I had to present the findings of my study so far. There were a lot of extra faces around KEMRI for the week, which was a pleasant diversion from long days of lab work. The Saturday after the conference finished, a lot of us went out to Caroline and Nathan’s temporary house (they were living there while their landlords were out in Kilifi) which is an
Our new house #4
From the side - the building in this one is Salim's house.
‘eco house’ that from a distance looks like the Sydney Opera House and has an amazing view over Takaunga Creek and the Indian Ocean (down near where Rolando’s restaurant is). Brilliant house but completely impractical for this neck of the woods as it has no walls and floods every time it rains… Anyway, after drinking games and some dancing, Brigid decided that jumping in the pool fully clothed was the order of the day (a recent favourite pastime of hers it seems), and it wasn’t long before everyone else followed. None of the rest of us were silly enough to have our phones in our pockets at the time though…
The following Saturday night was the night of ‘The Great Kilifi Stall Clothes Challenge’. The aim was to buy clothes solely from local stalls that someone else would have to wear out to the local nightclub. The only real stipulations were that there’d be nothing that was an outrage to public decency or which would get us into trouble. Caroline, Nathan, Mario, Freya (2 of the people out for the conference who’d stayed in Kilifi for another week), Brigid and I had a few drinks, dressed each other up
Our new house #5
View over the creek from the bottom of the garden.
and then set off for Mwkajuni, the local hot spot. As we’d expected, despite looking completely ridiculous (see attached photos), no one really batted an eyelid at our attire. In fact, Brigid’s rasta headband, which was about the least daggy piece of clothing any of us had on, got the most attention. Actually, Brigid got a lot of attention again, as usual - including being given a phone number by a guy who calls himself Alligator!! In keeping with the beer ban, Brigid had been drinking straight Kenya Cane, and the night got progressively sillier until we headed home about 4am. Thankfully, we did nothing to warrant the attention of the security guards as (this is something that we hadn’t noticed on previous visits) Mwkajuni has its own ‘jail cell’ where they lock up people who are causing trouble and don’t let them go until the morning. I hadn’t been in bed long when I heard a funny groaning from Brigid’s room and got up to find her leaning out the side of her mosquito net, nose on the floor spewing. When I asked her if she was ok, she said ‘I was dreaming in german… and now I’m spewing
Our new house #6
The mish mash of furniture in the living room.
in german….’ Thank you, Kenya Cane.
• Our new location has delighted the Upendo kids, who begain walking Brigid home each day so that they could see our house. A lot of them have never been inside a regular house (as opposed to a mud hut) before and were fascinated by such things as flushing toilets. Nelly even put her hand in the toilet as it was flushing to see what it felt like. Uuuuuggghh!! They’ve now taken to turning up in the morning to walk Brigid to work too - often before she’s even out of bed…
• Nuru, our cleaner, had a baby boy called Juma at home on a Wednesday night after having worked all of Wednesday!! She came to work on the Saturday and told us very nonchalantly that ‘the child has arrived’. Initially I thought she meant that one of the kids had come to visit Brigid! Despite a lot of insisting on our part, she wouldn’t go home and rest (even though we suggested that she should have a few weeks off and that we would pay her anyway) and completed a full day’s work. Tough woman!!
• A new character
Our new house #7
Part of my bedroom.
has turned up around Kilifi, who is known to us as the Yeti. He’s a guy who dresses completely in thick plastic - he almost looks like he’s wearing a spacesuit made out of plastic bags. We’re yet to get photos but are working on it. How so much plastic in the heat is at all tolerable is beyond me!!
• We had a number of pairs of pants that were ripped, so took them to one of the local tailors to be repaired. Unfortunately we picked the one who specializes in repairing boda boda cushions and our pants are now upholstered beyond belief. At least they’re not likely to fall apart any time soon…
Our big September holiday is fast approaching and we did have plans to do some training in preparation for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro (yes, that would have been sensible). A series of sunset walks by the creek (very pleasant by the way…) were all we managed though (somewhat limited by the lack of hills and altitude in Kilifi), so here’s hoping we manage it ok!!! Not long until Justin arrives now - will be fantastic to see him and very exciting to go and explore
some more of east Africa. I’m sure there’ll be lots of photos to come…
That’s it for now - big thanks to Rod for coming over to visit! Hope you’re all well. Love K x
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