Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Life in Tigoni

So I have lived in Tigoni for just over two weeks now. I thought I would share a little bit what everyday life is like. As I mentioned in an earlier post I live in a house that is combined with the school. My bedroom is on the top left of this picture, and my classroom is on the bottom left. It makes it easy in class when we are practicing our Swahili and I am asked where I live - I can simply respond with up. Right behind the house is a safricom cell tower. I appreciate this as my internet is reasonably fast.

I have a cozy bedroom but it has everything I need: windows to let the light in when the power is out (which is quite rare here) and let the moths and the mosquitoes in at night. (Mom, you will be proud to know I am mostly over my fear of moths, although I wish I had a vacuum cleaner to suck them up). I take great security in my mosquito net, although I still have the odd bite. The bedroom also has 2 wardrobe style closets so I have been able to unpack and settle in. 

I don't know if it is due to the sun rising, the birds singing, or my house mates stirring but I have been up early most days. I often sit outside, on the balcony, and read a book or just enjoy the beauty around me. The picture below does not do justice to the amount of greenery I am surrounded by.

There are some interesting facts about living in Africa and one thing I have had to get used to is a different shower. I love a hot shower with lots of water - not happening. In Kenya I have encountered two types of hot water heaters.   The first is the North American style of a tank, BUT, you turn it on a hour before you shower as to not waste electricity (this was the system I had for my month in Nairobi, however water did not come consistently to our home so no long hot shower or you would not be able to do the laundry or flush the toilet the next day).Here in Tigoni we have the second system. I admire the technology behind the system but it slightly terrifies me. I don't know what the actual name is of this thing is but I have often heard it dubbed the widow maker. It works on a simple principle coils are in the shower head and when water is turned on they are heated by electricity, this heat is than transferred to the water as it passes over the coils and voila instant hot shower. If it is not hot enough you turn the flow of  the water down and if it is to hot you increase the amount of water. You have to be careful not to touch the shower head while its on as you may get a shock, we all know how well electricity and water mix. My shower broke the other day, when I turned it off a whole lot of steam came out. So I am using my house mates shower and hope mine will be fixed soon. 
 I have one more picture I would like to share with you - my laundry room as you can tell  it had a lot of natural light. You can see my  washing machine pictured on the bottom - yup the lovely blue bucket. I am washing by hand and since I only have class part of the day I can't justify having house help so the wash is done by my hands. I have discovered wringing out clothes is an excellent workout for the forearms.
 So I hope you appreciated this little view of my life. I am enjoying life here and its slower pace. This afternoon I am going to walk to the store. I hope it is open. This will be my 4th trip to the store this week and every time it has been closed - aggh. Once I was there in an afternoon when he is normally closed, another time I got there on the lunch break, yesterday he was supposed to be open but wasn't  This afternoon he is supposed to be open we I guess I will see. I appreciate the walk either way.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Back to Kindergarten

This past Saturday I did something I have gotten quite used to the past few months – I packed my bags and moved on. I have lost count any times I have packed and unpacked since I moved out of my place in Edmonton in June. Sometimes it was for a quick trip, other times it was for longer like when I was  living on the road for two months. This time, I sent some of my stuff ahead to Tenwek – I will be reunited with it in May. The remaining two bags and I moved to Tigoni. Tigoni is my home for the next few months as I learn Swahili. I am staying in a house that is combined with the language school – my bedroom is directly above my classroom – so I have no excuse to be late in the morning, although my fellow students have sometimes arrived at school while I am still finishing breakfast.

I am enjoying my classes and I often feel like I am in Kindergarten, although I am missing out on centers. In the first few days my class (which is only four people) spent time learning the alphabet and the sounds of each letter – “i”  sounds like “ee ” so a Kenyan would spell tea - ti. The “e” is a great sound for a Canadian to make as it is the “eh” we are so well known for. So I have learned the alphabet and yesterday my homework was to memorize how to count to 10. Today we learned a counting song, just like kindergarten.  As language learning is difficult, especially at first when you are trying to turn that part of your brain on, I only have classes in the morning the first week or two. I have spent  the afternoons studying  and occasionally taking a nap – just like kindergarten.

A highlight of everyone’s kindergarten experience is a field trip and Wednesday that was done. We piled in a few cars, some of the students drove and we had no seat-belts – which would have never happened in kindergarten. We went a few kilometers down the road to a tea farm. Here we received an introduction to the tea industry from a third generation tea farmer. Her grandfather was one of the first to start growing tea in Kenya. It was interesting to hear the history, this was followed by a walk through the woods and an amazing four course lunch.
A silvery winged horn bill (I think that's what it was called)

Beautiful Tea Fields

So that has been my week, I pray I will progress out of kindergarten and learn Swahili  quickly – so I better end here and study my flashcards.