We wanted to start off this week by observing Cleophas, but he didn’t respond to our calls. Nonetheless we decided to arrive at their place around 5:30, to see what happens. So, we began our day by leaving the house at 5 through complete darkness. The lack of light was quite fascinating, because when it is dark here in Kenia it is pitch black. It is impossible to see other people coming at you. Along the way we say a lot of people from the nearby towns walking towards the farm to go to work. All these people have to walk at least thirty minutes to their work, every day.
Arriving at the family’s place we ran into faith, who was already leaving for school this early in the morning. After greeting us and letting us into the compound she continued on her own to go to school. At the compound we found no-one, because they were all asleep. This was a good thing, because we were not there to disturb them. It was our goal to observe them to get to know what they do in their daily lives.
Soon Stella (Mother) woke up and greeted us, again we made clear that she shouldn’t pay attention to us. We still got a lot of good information, even though it is hard for them to neglect our presence. Cleophas finally came outside, after every other family member woke up.
Cleophas was still very open and welcoming, even after not informing him of our presence. After having tea with Cleophas we decided to follow him to his shamba (farmland). It took us 30 minutes to get to the forest. At first it seemed odd to me how a person could sustain a farm in such a dense forest, but this soon became apparent. After 10 minutes of driving through dense muddy forest the trees cleared. Here we saw an amazing environment, seemingly untouched nature.
After a while we reached the end of the road where we left our drivers. Who we paid far too much by the way. Now we started to walk up to the end of Cleophas’ farm. Walking through the maize we were soon greeted by the safari ants who started to nibble on these white males. A classic case of ants in the pants. We were crossing across all sorts of terrain to get to all Cleophas’ farmlands. We have seen everything; from planes, to thick forests, to enclosed maizefields. Each difficult to cross and an amazing view.
We even tried our own share of physical labour, we chopped grass with Cleophas’ panga (machete). This proved to be surprisingly difficult, but encouraged us to buy our own.
After having wandered across the forest for almost 6 hours Cleophas’ best friend came to collect us. He drove us back one by one, and once we came back we decided to have lunch on our expense for the great time we had.
Then Thursday hit, we were going to dig a 1-meter deep hole on the compound of our family. This was our first day of real physical labour and we expected it to be hard. Our expectations became reality and digging a hole in this climate was very taxing. So, we went for lunch again in the blue hotel. Here we had a local side dish of Ugali with Sukuma wiki (vegetable).
After having finished our lunch we returned to the compound to finish what we had started. Soon after we started again Mary and Alvin came to our aid. These are the two six-year olds of the family, but we could use all the help we could get. Our hard work was soon noticed by all neighbour kids and it didn’t take long before we were surrounded by small children baffled by two hard working white guys.
After a while Dan (Brother of the Stella) came home and he watched us struggle for a while. He took over when he had seen enough. Dan was digging as a machine and made us look like two incapable fools. Watching Dan was a great moment for us to tend to our blisters and write down findings of the soil test. In a mere ten minutes Dan dug 30cm, where we needed an hour for to do. Thanks to Dan we finished the soil test that day. We took our samples, thanked Dan, covered up the hole and returned home.
On Saturday, we went to Chipata, this is a piece of land owned by the government farm (ADC). Here we were looking for similarities in the ways people build their houses, the people were kind enough to let us enter their properties and make photo’s. A local was very helpful to us and showed us around, translating questions from us to the locals. It didn’t take long before we gathered a mob of small children (Like we do everywhere we go). Here I found out that I am actually good with children, so we used this to our advantage. I would distract the mob of children so Corné could continue on with the work, and take photos that aren’t infested with children.
To finish our seventh week in Kenia Pelle, Atdhe and I decided to go to the border and see the Suam river. Pelle and I have already been here, but Atdhe hadn’t. The view was more stunning this time, because we were with such a small group. After we were done at the border we had a small lunch at the blue hotel (again). After lunch, we went to the Chepchoina market where we saw Brenda (the second oldest daughter of the family). We decided to have a soda at her mother’s shop. Brenda helped us pick our first own pangas, as thanks for the soda we had together. After we had bought the pangas we wanted to sharpen them. We gave them to Cleophas, to avoid being ripped off as a result of our skin colour. After our purchases, we came to the dam where we met Corné who went for a hike that day. While the four of us were having a couple of beers at the dam Andy and his family joined, and so did the rest of the group. Even Michiel and Beata joined us at the dam, and we had a great time.
This week had a couple of extraordinary events, but nonetheless another successful week in Kenya.