Saturday, October 23, 2010

The rains have come

     Another silencing rain, the first in Kimana since we have been here. It smells of freshness. If renewal had a scent, this would be it.  Mombasa was breathtaking. The Indian ocean is clear turquoise and salty.  We sat for hours reading and talking, sipping drinks and enjoying fresh fruit by the water.  It was certainly a different experience of Kenya, one we were happy (and very privileged) to enjoy. We were both grateful, however, that the beach was not our only experience of Kenya.  We are now back to our home in Kimana, enjoying the comfort of family.
      It is like a summer vacation that is rained out and the whole family (or town) is stuck inside one room.  Everything stops as the dusty roads flood and huge drops fall continuously.  We made it to town before the rains, and now it simply pours.  We sit in the “Paradise Hotel” with about 20 other people, sitting in the dark with flies all around.  The hotel is a one-room restaurant with a balcony.  The door leading outside is open and a thin white sheet separates us from the water and the light that makes its way inside.  You can feel the warm humidity all around and just have to surrender to the stickiness that pervades every inch of your body.  Painted portraits, mirrors, posters decorate the wall.  The images range from country cottages, city streets, a white baby in a cup of lettuce (in the style of Ann Geddes, unfortunately!), and a life-size poster of a white Jesus proclaiming the way, the truth, and the life.  There is no rhyme or reason to the arrangement. In fact, I wonder if there was an effort made to make it as disorderly and freestyle as possible.   There is the smell of grease, fried meat, and dust.  Several anonymous voices fill the room with constant conversation. I can hear the Maasai.  There sentences always sound like songs, continuous without pauses.  Mothers yell instructions to the little ones and I can hear little feet dragging across the room.  It is perfect.  There is energy all around.

Sitting in this hotel, I cannot help but think about how this little room is a microcosm of our experiences in Kenya.  The surroundings are often a bit disorderly and, occasionally, a bit unattractive in appearance.  But, the insides are full of spirit.  There is life in the midst of what may appear from a distance as lifeless.  There is bold spirit and relationship as thick as the humidity that permeates our surroundings.  We often find ourselves contemplating the slow change of pace in Kenya.  The rains make me realize that business life may operate slowly, but there is never a shortage or "slowness" of spirit.  There are always conversations to be shared and, of course, hot chai to drink.  Faces often stare at us blankly, but with curiousity.  The moment you say “jambo” or “habari” the stares soften into smiles and, almost, an awakening as if he or she did not realize they were in the midst of an intense gaze, and they respond with a sweetness that appears genuine and happy to make the aquantaince of someone new.  We are humbled and grateful to be surrounded by such a welcoming majority.
The reality is that I have had to rely on all my senses to understand this community and, when it comes down to it, I will only be able to access the surface this time.  I wish I knew the language better and I finally I have a little glimpse into what it would be like to be a minority who cannot communicate. We are so lucky so many people here speak English, but it would be great to be able to converse in the native language...ah, little by little we learn.

1 comment:

  1. Yet another superbly-written blog post... can't wait to see some more photos!