Civilization! I had a chance to get to a town with electricity and a grabbed it. Its been a good 12 hours to regroup before I head back to the bush. The generator at the house zapped my computer so I am out of email contact among other things. Here is an update of what things look like:
I am living without electricity or running water and have to drive 2 hours on a muddy, broken road to get to a store. We don't have a car so we walk or run everywhere, which makes driving 2 hours on a dirt road to a store near impossible. My favorite place in Kenya is the grocery store which I have visited once. Sometimes we can't walk or run because there are wild elephants which hunt human scent, so it is important to be mindful of which way the wind is blowing before leaving home. I bathe in a small bowl of lukewarm water because we have to walk uphill 1k to fetch water which BURIED UNDERGROUND in a sand river and has to be dug up. The water is brown and tastes like sand and this is the drinking water. It is freezing cold (July is the coldest month even though it is on the equator?) and the kids are filthy because there is neither enough clothing nor water to be otherwise. Cool aspects are that Obama t-shirts and calendars are everywhere, and these people run like wild horses. They are untrained and wear tire sandals such beautiful, graceful runners. And oh yes, I now support a family of 20 and am buying motorcycle tires and propane gas for the village.
I don't mean this to sound like I am complaining, because I am really just grateful. That I was not born into these circumstances, that I had opportunities to be educated, to escape a kitchen and make a life for myself, to be able to work, run, and think instead of lugging 20kgs of sandy drinking water up a hill. Life here is so unbelievably hard and although I have seen great poverty, I have never lived it in the raw.
I feel most for the women and girls here who have it particularly tough: the responsibility of fetching water and firewood; child rearing and giving birth every 2 years; cooking warm food out of next to nothing; having polygamist husbands & zero reproductive or decision-making rights. The movement to get girls educated through high school is there, but upon graduation they return to their mud huts with only their cell phone and the hopeful anticipation of someone to save them from it all. I see how they look at me, and feel compelled to apologize for having escaped their fate.
My friend Francis told me that all Maasai want out of life is to make friends. After careful observation, I'd have to agree. These are happy people who will fall on the floor laughing telling you how hard life is for them. I have only to conclude that the only thing that really matters is the people in your life.
From a hut far away, thank you for being in mine.