The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love...Kenya

The contents of this website are my own PERSONAL opinion. They do not reflect the opinions, policies, actions, feelings, or eating habits of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Government, any government, shadow governments, or anyone else, for that matter, but ME.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Net of Slience (I Wish)

A few weeks before I left for Peace Corps, I was at a (glorious?) sprawling Persians store in Indy with Nioka buying the "cutest" pink mosquito net for her daughter's bedroom. Now, in theory, I knew I'd soon be living under a mosquito net for more than decorative reasons. I had no idea that I could come to see my mosquito net as my own persona force field. Now, this may sound bizarre, but you have to understand that my bed is huge (well, from what I am used to) and so, at night, when I put the net over the bed posts, it's like a whole new room. A room that is protected from all the scary things, real and imagined, that lay just outside my thin, chemically treated net. I liken this to the "cone of silence" on the old Get Smart show. Soon, I'll be writing about my shoe phone. :)

I have a wonderful new addiction to my home, a World Space Radio! This magic (ok, just a regular old satellite radio, but seems magical right now) has brought the soothing voices of Carl Castle, Cory Flintoff and Sunan Stamberg into my waterless, powerless Kenyan home. I can't begin to explain the exaggerated happy dance I did when I finally got the thing working and those reassuring NPR voices began filling the room. World Space Radio works just like XM radio (actually owned by the same company). Most PCV's bring a shortwave radio, but those can be hard to tune and of limited options (Voice of America, BBC World Service). While rumor has it one of the World Space channels has the Daily Show. I will find it once I can get over the pure joy of listening to NPR (could be weeks).

Being smacked dumb by one of the worst natural disasters our country has ever seen made me hasten my subscription to World Space Radio. As much as I am working in rural Kenya for the next few years, I am still an American who must go home to America soon enough and I need to understand the home in which I intend to return. Plus, once I finally get over the NPR elation, I'll be able to listen Jon Stewart and laugh 'til I cry.

Kenya is in the midst of the "short rains," or the short rainy season. Where we did our training, Kitui, that probably means another disappointing season. But here in Oyugis, so close to Lake Victoria, that is not the case. This is not a very dry place in, or out of the rainy seasons. When I first moved here, I loved the sound of a gentle rain falling on my corrugated tin roof. Then the short rains came, and they brought their good friends torrential downpour and hail. Now, about 6pm when the sky grows dark and thunder rumbles in the distance, I brace myself for what's to come. It begins with just a few massive rain drops, and within minutes it is POURING! Soon after, the hail begins. Sometimes it is only pea size, but sometimes it can be big marble size. I could scream bloody murder and even I couldn't hear it, for the racket is so loud. The cement walls crumble and chunks fall to the floor from the force of the rain. This intensity lasts anywhere from 1/2 to 1 1/2 hours and I am convinced the house is going to fall in on top of me the whole time.

There are no construction standards here. The description of my house on paper included the words "semi-permanent." And while in a larger, philosophical sense, I guess that's true of all structures, but here they are serious about it. The house next to me was torn down and re-built 100ft away in less than a day. But when its made of mainly mud and sticks, I guess that's ok. My house isn't such, it is cement, but just not the permanent kind (its the crumbly kind).

Come November, it is open season at Casa de Misty (or kwa nyumbani Misty in kiswahili). After the paradise like description from above, I'm sure all my friends are lining up to make reservations. Well, I'm here to say, no reservations needed! Karibu nyumbani Misty!. November is when "lock down" at site ends and I can finally see more of Kenya, and anywhere else for that matter (Kristen, you know you want to go to Egypt for Christmas). Also, come November, I'll have actual projects to write about, instead of the mundane house details. I know y'all can't wait!

Ok, outta here for now. Don't forget to send (at least) email or (even better) letters. Sending BIG shouts to the Film House Folks who have changed the 1/2 room in my house into a "modern" shower (now I know y'all will come visit). You guys are the best and I can't thank you enough, especially JP who, after scores of disappearing packages still has faith that Posta Kenya will actually come through. She's such an optimist. Hope to have some pictures up by Christmas, computers willing!


  • At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Misty..good read n can't wait to visit "CASA DE MISTY"..Stay well~B. in Calif~


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