Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning Life Skills in Africa


So apparently fermented milk is a thing. It is not a thing I would have ever thought actually existed. Apparently this is a common problem because three different people did not realize the bags we had bought from Mose’s Mini Matt (We think it’s supposed to be mart but hey! That’s what the sign says) contained fermented over regular milk until someone took a huge swig and described the taste as “like the cow had been dead for two weeks.”

(Pole, Emily. Pole sana…)

It was only then when apparently anyone noticed that it said “FERMENTED” in bold lettering across the front of the bag. No one had noticed this even after we looked at the bags in the mini-matt to try and find a volume or back at camp where someone looked at the bag to see if it was pasteurized (I’m gonna guess it wasn’t).

So yeah. Learning valuable life lessons about expecting the totally unexpected here in East Africa.

Other than that I’ve picked up a few other skills as well! There’s a shrub here in the Acacia family. Not sure of its scientific name, but we like to call it the Wait-a-Bit (I guess since I’m technically getting a botany credit for this I should figure out what it actually is. I will research!). Mostly we call it that because it has thorns that curve backwards, so if you get stuck on one, you literally have to wait a bit for someone to come unhook you. I get caught on these things a lot, so most nights I discover a new hole in some part of my clothing. Guess who has two thumbs and has vastly improved her sewing skills out of complete necessity?? THIS GIRL. I haven’t needed to seriously patch anything myself yet, but I’m really pumped for when I get to cover my knees in colorful Maasai fabric because I have yet to see any khaki colored cloth. I guess a tailor would be able to help me with that. Whatever, I don’t want to do things the easy way.

Other random skills I’ve picked up: Maasai beading. Yeah. No clue how I have the patience for this, but it’s really awesome. We had 8 mamas come to KBC the other day and we just sat there and beaded with them. I made two bracelets, and I’m gonna try and figure out earrings next. It’d probably be a lot easier to just buy all of this but buying jewelry in the market is kind of stressful! Literally, you get swarmed by Maasai women who think saying that you don’t need any bracelets is actually a bartering technique. Note: this is how I also end up going into the market to buy clothespins and come out with obscene amounts of jewelry. I then realized I forgot to buy clothespins and go back in only to get swarmed again. Running errands is hard.

I do need to go to town sometime soon, though. I need to pick up some a bag and skirt I ordered from the tailor and avocados (New Kiswahili word I learned! Para chi chi!). Mostly for the avocados because I saw our student affair’s manager eating one the size of my head today and it was apparently only 20 shillings. Literally the most gigantic avocado I have ever seen in my entire life. He got tired of it and shared the last 1/3 of it, so I’m kind of wondering if it’s physically possibly for me to get sick of avocados. So. For the purpose of science. I need to go buy some avocados. I’m kind of hoping my trip into town will not be an adventure, but seeing as how my track record has been, I’m not going to bet on it.

Other fun Kiswahili words I’ve learned: kanga! Kangas are large pieces of fabric that have a saying or prayer on them and also happen to be the things I am buying more than I will ever, EVER need of BUT this is also the word for… wait for it…

GUINEA FOWL!

Yes, my two loves in life are represented by the same word. I saw my first Guinea Fowl the other day in Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary during a field exercise and I was SO EXCITED. I am thinking of raising some back in the States. Not for meat or anything. I just want a herd of pet Guinea Fowl. Instead of cows, my Maasai husband and I can keep Guinea Fowl in our cultural manyatta in Indiana. We don’t have to be super traditional. It’s not like anyone would know otherwise.

Oh yeah, beading, wearing kangas… I’m pretty much Maasai now according to one of the program staff, Ernest. Actually today we were doing some vegetation surveys and our local guide gave us all new Maasai names. He told us to make sure we change it on facebook. I was dubbed “Nashipi” (Na-she-pie) which apparently means ever happy/ever smiling, which I guess is pretty accurate. I kept smiling even as I was stuck in the wait-a-bits and other Acacias. Measuring DBH of trees that want to kill you is kind of hard sometimes.

No pictures today because we implemented a 2 picture/week upload limit. Great for our internet data usage! Not great for breaking up blog posts. Also sorry for making these so close together! We have an INCREDIBLY busy next couple days that I’ll want to write a lot about, so I figured I’d get funny smaller stuff out of the way. Next few posts will be all about doing population census counts for Kenyan Wildlife Services and my adventures in living in a Maasai boma for a while! SO PUMPED.

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