One Day In Kenya

One of the most difficult things to adjust to in Kenya is how long it can take to accomplish a simple thing. In an attempt at efficiency, the night before a trip to town a list is created. Of course it will be too long for Kenya but simple enough.

  • Pick up 5 liters of Diesel Oil
  • Buy brown rice, large flake oatmeal, milk, some veggies, peanut butter without sugar
  • A replacement water filter cartridge
  • Some planting bags for seedlings.
  • Go to the ATM
  • Price a roof rack for the G wagon
  • Buy an ink cartridge HP 74

Well let’s see what we can do.

Morning dawns, the rooster crows, the door of the kitchen opens and the day has begun. To be prepared for the morning question, “ What do I wear?”. The clothes have been laid out. Grabbing the backpack, I head to the kitchen. Why isn’t the light working in the pantry? I couldn’t find breakfast. Oh no, I tipped over the beans with no light to pick them up . HMM, Blind people figure it out so I guess I can. Hope I don’t put my hand in something gross, or find a snake or a rat trap and snap it. AHH wonderfully rescued by a worker with a flashlight. “Please fix the light today. Where is my silver bowl?” as I rattle though the clean dishes; and my little spoon?” Rescued again by a worker who knows exactly where everything is even though it is never in the same place.

Ok now, finally eat breakfast. Gathering today’s materials, it is off to the G wagon. It is old and starts hard. Pressing the heater plug button til my thumb hurts — rrrrummmm rrrrummm clicunk Press again with the other thumb rrrrum.. rrrru,, rrruu ruu,, ruumm click Try again… Ok 20 minutes later BRRUUMMMM as a cloud of smoke exits the exhaust like a bird’s nest had just been spit from it I wonder when we will have the funds to fix this. ..”Bev, there is something leaking.” “Oh?? Where?, I reply. Without an E brake at this time, the engine is shut off and selected clothes (say goodbye to clean) slide under the car. Sure enough Oil. Hood opened, dipstick checked.. might as well check it all: brake fluid, radiator… top off…. then breakout the rags to wipe the oil to see if we can discover the leak. Yup, more like an ooze. It will be ok to town.

First stop where do we park today? Do we pay the parking fee or find free parking? HMM, let me try the ATM first. Head to the mall. A long line for security check.

“Good morning Madam, and how are you?”
“Nice vehicle… It is rather old isn’t it.?”
“Yup like me old and rugged and needing new parts.”
“HAA You are not old madam”… We chat as he checks the car.
“Go on in, Madam.”
Park, lock, so far so good.

ATM #1 Sorry your financial institution cannot be reached. ATM #2 Bingo Money.

So we have one hour parking here for free, therefore time to shop. HMM filter candles, I discover there is more than one type but they look the same. I should have brought a sample. I thought there was only one.

“Which filter do you have madam?”
“Well, I don’t know .. the silver one.”
“There are 2. Come look.”
“I guess I better bring the sample. Where are your car items?”
Hmm, no oil… Off to find help ….
“Do you have Rimula Deisel oil?” “No.” “Any other Deisel oil? “
“Where will I find Brown rice?”
“Brown rice?”
“Yes, Brown Rice.”
“What rice?”
“Go that way”….
“Do you have brown rice?”
“Brown what?”
“Brown rice like this but Brown”.
“HEY do we have brown rice?”
Finally led to the brown rice. ..
“Is it different madam?”
“Yes it has more fiber and B vitamins.”
“Really how do you cook it?”
“Like White rice.. Do you know the cooking baskets? They make it perfectly.”
“Really, I see we sell them but I didn’t know how to use it. “
“It is simple just boil the water put in the rice, at a ratio of 2 water to one rice, return to boil for a few minutes at a rolling boil, cover and put in the basket. Return in 45 minutes to 60 minutes later. Perfect rice every time. Saves a lot of cooking fuel.”
“Ok I will have to try thanks”
“Yes, Thanks to you also.”

Peanut Butter.. HMM Peanuts glucose , salt, …. Peanuts sucrose, salt… peanuts sugar . whatever ..diphosphate.. whatever? EEEK? milled peanuts, sucrose, glucose . FORGET IT!!

Milk, oh here it is .. get 4 of the UHT milk… Cereals.. – porridige oats , quick porridge oats, oat flour. Well maybe the other local shop has rolled oats. What is left? Planting bags, same other shop, of course, Ink Cartridge.
Ok these people have everything.
“Do you have ink Cartridge HP74?”
“Yes 74”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, Here is the sample.”
“HEY – Do we have 74?”
‘Ok, I can check further in town”

Veggies at a street market…

“Hey Bev – How are you?”
15 minutes of conversation — no veggies – gotta go…

Well that other shop is a bit farther away from here and it is almost lunch, then they will close for one hour. So off to the parking station. What 50/= I was in there more than one hour???

Off to a local restaurant where I can park there and charge my computer, have lunch then run to the other shop.
“Do you have Mukimo?” Often the items on the menu are not there.
“Let me check”
Time runs …She saunters to the kitchen … returned
“Ok Do you have ice cubes today?”
“let me check” and saunters off to the kitchen ..” Yes”..
“Ok Maybe I will have a breast of chicken”
“a what?”
“Breast portion of chicken, the chest not the leg and mukimo and a fruit juice cocktail.”
“Passion or pineapple cocktail?”
“Wait, also a tall glass of ICE CUBES full to the top please…..yes separately and a club soda. That is a glass each of juice, soda and ice I will do the mixing”

The goodness of this restaurant is the internet WIFI. HMM long time searching for the modem, wait,, surf.. answer email.. work in quick books. 45 minutes later, the Drink comes. Great thanks .. sip sip sip sip 30 more minutes later lunch – I thought, did you need to kill the chicken?

Gosh I am tired. What is left on the list? Wait wait wait . work work work. Finally, I go to the register. “Oh did you want your bill?”
“Um yes”….I look around, all the staff just hanging about.

Cashier says “Do you have 20 shillings?” “No?, oh ok too bad”
I wait and wait and wait .. Finally change and receipt appear. PHEW!!
Walk over to the other grocery store. Security check .. Beep…
“Open your bag please. The other zipper please. Ok go in.”

Peanut butter. Same routine Peanuts, sugar; peanuts, glucose.. OH YEAH!!!! Peanuts, salt. I can live with that. Downstairs to the bags 3×6 4×6 2×4 3×10 oh just get one, the plants don’t care.

“Do you have Diesel oil?”
“Do you have ink cartridges?”
That was refreshingly quick.

Now to the check out. Six people in the line. Wait, wait, wait, but they have change and a receipt when it is my turn.
Back out to do the sidewalk shuffle for a bit. I dislike it when wonderful people individually become an obstacle course moving in 2 jolting shuffling opposing currents.

Now ink cartridge, Stop 1. 15 minutes later, after a computer search, an inventory search of sorts. “This is a list of compatible cartridges that may help you but we don’t have any”

Stop 2. “Do you have HP 74 Cartridge”.
“What, HP74, you sure.”
“Here is the sample.”
“Hey do we have HP 74?”
“Never heard of it.”

On to the next shop.
Three more tries “I GIVE UP!”

So what is left? Oil, Roof Rack and Veggies
Back to the car. Oil is in the industrial area. ARGHH!!! What a traffic jam! Is it already 4 pm? I think, I can get the oil tomorrow, skip the roof rack and stop at the roadside veggies. I know they will cheat me. I need a list of the fruit and veggie prices for Kenyans to barter with. Well that lady is pretty nice so I will go to her. JAM AGAIN!!!

A two lane road is now a four lane road going in whatever direction you please. People playing frogger at your front bumper, as they dash from behind the truck. Motorcycles like bees at a flower patch. Trucks spewing black oily diesel into your lungs. Honk Honk Honk Honk . GRRR!…Look I am pulling over give me a minute.

The vendor comes to the window. “ Hi Madam What can I get you?”
“Peace” I mumble.
“What? Oh sorry, potatoes only about 4 big ones. Yes, Peas. The small bag of carrots and bananas oh and an avocado.”

Too tired to barter, I give her the money and try to return to the street. Steady stream of vehicles traveling as fast as the traffic will allow. Oh thank you, dear Toyota. Now to get home without a vehicle breakdown.

Not too bad. Left on the list? Diesel oil, large flake oatmeal, pricing roof rack and the ink cartridge.
12 things on the list and 6 completed – A successful day.

The list changes, the day changes, the accomplishments about the same.
Once acclimated, and not bouncing back in the efficiency first, First World attitude, one can begin to enjoy the conversations, slower pace, and seek to “Consider it pure joy.”

Karibu Kenya bring your patience and a sense of humor.

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