Dog Attack

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Africa » Kenya » Nairobi Province » Nairobi
October 26th 2010
Published: November 16th 2010
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This is a few months late, but I just realized I never published it. I'm sure you all miss me though and can't wait to hear about my last month in includes a dog attack, so you might wanna read it!!!!

It's a good thing I learned in India to surrender to the fact that you cannot control anything and that life is just easier when you go with the made it much easier to deal with the disorganization of Kenya! And it didn't hurt when upon arriving at the school, I found out that my plans were useless and had to be changed. It turned out the school takes a 3 week break in April! I only arrived mid March and was planning on leaving mid June. So instead of traveling at the end as planned, I traveled up the coast of Kenya in April. I actually spent part of the first week putting together awards for the kids, just to make them feel a little special...I used to love getting cheesy awards at the end of camp and this was the end of their semester. Then I spent the last 2 weeks in Mumbasa and Lamu, 2 port cities on the coast with gorgeous beaches. How can I really come to a coastal country and spend all my time inland?!!

Mumbasa’s actually an island and a bridge was built to get there from Nairobi. But the only way to pass through the city and go to the beaches on the other side, is by ferry. Hundreds of thousands of people - walking and driving - use the ferries daily, which means each one is packed to way over its capacity mostly due to the fact that there are no workers controlling the amount of people that pile on. A friend I was with described the scene pretty accurately, she called it “the shuffle.” As soon as the ferry arrives, the crowd compresses until each person is pressed up against the other, as if this will get them to the ferry quicker! Once the gates open, the shuffle commences as the crowd moves as one towards the ferry's standing area. You have to either take part in “the shuffle” or risk getting trampled! On one of my ferry trips, I witnessed the kind of actions that I imagine start riots. As people began to disembark, one of the trucks backed up a few feet. Everyone ran to the side to get out of the way. There was some confusion by people who didn't really know why they were being carried sideways but for the most part people just got out of the way. Except one crazy woman...she threw up her arms, yelled her head off and ran into the crown pushing anyone in her way. She didn’t stop when she was safely out of the path of the truck. Oh no, she just kept yelling and running into people. When she reached me , I grabbed her and tried to tell her in my broken Swahili that she was safe. Or more accurately what I said was ”bas, twende” which means “its enough, go” because that was all I knew and it probably only worked because it confused her!
That kind of chaos happens everywhere. People aren’t too aware here of their surroundings and don’t seem to be bothered with being in other people’s personal space. My need for personal space has diminished incredibly over the past 2 years, but when it comes down to it, I’m still Canadian and will never fully be on board with having strangers, especially grown men sitting on my lap. Matatus can technically seat about 11 people. But, when squished....the numbers are endless. And then there are the people who stand, hanging out the sides. The tout - the guy who takes the money and tells the driver when to stop - should have a seat but he often gives it up for the extra fare. That should mean he takes one of the standing positions but when the matatu drives through an area that might have police, he doesn’t wanna risk having to pay him off and instead sits with the person he gave up his seat for. That has unfortunately been me on several occasions! As much as I love the reggae music blaring and the fact that you can get on and off from places other than proper bus stops, I can't wait to go back to having an empty space between me and the person closest to me!

The weirdest part about the space issue is that people bump into me or hit me all the time. I've been hit by so many women's purses, as if they didn't know there was this huge heavy
picture time!picture time!picture time!

the kids loved taking pictures!
bag hanging off their arm. On one matatu, I was actually hit in the head by a gerry can of what i hope was water inside, as the guy was getting off the bus. Another time I was poked in the chin by an umbrella. I must be the only person to ever get mad at this or even react to it. No one else seems bothered. But when I say "ow" they always turn around and apologize profusely, which of course makes me feel bad for having said anything. But if they're so compassionate and care that they hurt me, why not simply try to avoid it in the first place???? That I'll never get! Cars do it too....they don't seem to mind bumping into you. They drive on the sidewalk, the grass, wherever they have to to get around traffic. And if a person is there, it's they job to jump out of the way. The pedestrian does NOT have the right of way!!

So, back to the is beautiful. Completely hot and humid....I couldn't even stop sweating in the shower! But who cares when you're surrounded by palm trees and the ocean. And monkeys....they were everywhere!!!! God help the person who leaves food around...they have no fear and will come right up to you to steal your half eaten bag of chips!
Lamu is a tiny, predominantly Muslim town. I've never really hung out with Muslim women, so it was interesting to hear a few of their they were the second wife and what their husbands were like. I've only ever gotten the man's perspective before. One woman left her husband because she didn't want him to take on a second wife. But when she remarried, she became the second wife of another man. I'm not quite sure why it was ok then, to be with a man who had another wife! Maybe she realized that by 24, with an 8 year old she couldn't be so picky!
I celebrated my birthday on the island. A friend I'd met during my safari trip came to Lamu to celebrate with me and the few other travelers we met that day! It wasn't exactly a huge party but sometimes it's fun to be in a gorgeous place with people you hardly know.

The only problem I encountered with traveling at that time was that my living situation became uncertain. To make a long story short, it wasn't an option to live with the host family I had stayed with prior to traveling. Luckily, my friend Brian said his parents were willing to try out having a house guest. So suddenly, my nights didn't have to be spent reading books anymore. I had someone to hang out with on the nights I didn't go out. Unfortunately his dog didn't like me as much as he did! Brian warned me at the beginning that the dog was racist! He didn't like seeing a white girl around the black family!!! But he spent most of his time locked up outside the house (probably one of the reasons he wasn't a happy dog). Except on my 4th day there...he was out when I got home and took the opportunity to attack. He came up next to me all quiet and nice and then.......jumped! He bit 2 nice holes in my arm before Brian came out and got him off me. It could have been worse...there are lions in Kenya! I think the worst part was the matatu ride to the hospital....crying and clutching my bloody arm while being thrown up against other passengers! At the hospital, they referred to me as mzungu (white girl). When it was my turn I'd hear "mzungu, you're up!!" I feel so ordinary now that I'm home!!!!

Just to clarify...I know I've been mentioned "white girl" and "black family" and phrases like that. But the reality is that in Kenya there is no racial connotation to "white" and "black. There is no sensitivity towards it on either side. My skin is white and almost everyone else's is black. And that's it. So, it's not racist for someone to refer to me as white.

Brian's family was great. His mom sold freshly squeezed juice - mango, pineapple and orange - so there was always some leftover in the house. It really helped me enjoy the food more! And his mom constantly gave me sad looks for not taking seconds...thank god I had the juice just to finish my fist plate! I was not a fan of Kenyan food. It's very bland and not very creative. Every meal has a starch to fill up the belly - either rice, spaghetti noodles (cut up) or ugali (the worst of them all; it's spongy, with no taste and they eat mounds of it!) There isn't always a main dish, sometimes chewy beef or boiled chicken. Side dishes are always cabbage or kale fried lots of oil. No sauces, no spices. Just oil! The one meal I like was chapatti night but it was only ever served with dengu...a lentil dish. It was as if it didn't occur to them to eat it with something else!

One thing I noticed about every house I visited in Nairobi...none were decorated. There was nothing personal about any room. Is this just a western thing...that we spend our money on making our house a home? Maybe they just don't like investing their money on luxuries. I did notice there was never anything in the fridge. I'm not really sure why they had one at all. There were never any leftovers. No one even drank cold water. Even margarine could be in the pantry. Life was lived was never spent until it had to be. No need to invest in the future. Money was spent on house help though. Some families had 2 people taking care of the house. Rich families didn't do chores or cook for themselves. Everything
Giraffe centreGiraffe centreGiraffe centre

I 'm smiling but really he's slobbering all over my hand and it's quite gross!
was cleaned, ever day....even the shoes. My white flip flops (i know, not the best choice for walking around the slums) would get dirty ever day. And I mean dirty, they would turn black. And every morning, they would be white again. I kept telling them there was no point in scrubbing them every day since I was just gonna get them dirty again!

That was really was a great experience and I hope to go back soon and see the kids again The yoga really came along well in the end. The kids got excited when they saw me walking down the hill with the mats. Now I'm home, working to save money for the next adventure. Where??? You'll have to wait and see!!!


6th November 2010

fabulous trish
I truly enjoyed reading about your adventures. What a wonderful experience. It will be in your memory bank forever. All the best for the future. Love,Peggy
20th December 2010

Gud work
Hi My name is Jorge here in nairobi, i came across ur website n am happy by the way u guyz r helping those kids,i'll be glad if i could at times volunteer... may God bless u mightly

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