Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Africa you think I live in.

Before coming to Tenwek and since coming I have often heard comments about how hot I must be, or asked about how I live, or how the locals dress. For the most part Tenwek is westernized Kenya and the climate is wonderful. In a few weeks I will follow this post up with one called "the Kenya I call home" but this post is about a trip I have taken to the Africa that due to pictures from National Geographic you have embedded in your minds as the place Annette is living. This is not where I live but a place where I am currently visiting.

Back in February, I met a wonderful couple from England. They were engaged to be married and I spent a lot of time with A as we went to language school. D was around for a few weeks as he recovered from a broken toe. A and D spoke a lot about the place they were coming to Lodwar, Kenya. As they talked a picture kept coming up in my mind of “National Geographic Africa” however, I have learned not to assume anything and to not create false expectations of this place knowing that someday I would come and see it. Finally that time came. A and D got married earlier this year in England but decided to have a celebration of their wedding with the Turkana people. They have worked with one of the local villages asked the village to host a traditional turkana wedding for them. I took a week off from work and traveled north.

I decided to fly from Eldoret (instead of Nairobi) and was able to visit Dr M his wife and family, who finished residency at Tenwek a few months ago. I spent a day with them it was great to reconnect, cuddle their children and see more of Kenya. From there I flew to Lodwar. I landed on a paved airstrip walked down the stairs over to the pile of luggage they were making grabbed my bag and walked out the gate. Now I know “gate” is a term common at airports but by gate I mean the door in a chain link fence. There I met my friends and off we went. It was dark so my first glimpses were limited. I did realize one thing – it was hot, not the muggy humid oppressive heat of the coast. But the dry windy hot that this southern Alberta gal had experienced before. I arrived and met many people both local missionaries and guests for the wedding, together we had a feast to celebrate American thanksgiving. The next morning I got my first look, I was staying at the home of a missionary family who are away who graciously opened up their home to guests who had come for the wedding. I looked out my bedroom window at the pool, (yes they have a pool, that’s a conversation for another day) and saw a goat walking under the palm trees.

In the morning we all piled in the land rover and headed out to see lake turakana. This was about a hour and half a drive on bumpy roads and my first view of the areal called turkana. I saw the goats and sheep which I expected and camels which caught me by surprise. The people live in homes made from sticks with grass/leaves pulled through. People were wearing blankets tied around them and some of the ladies were topless. I decided I have arrived in the National Geographic Africa. We had a wonderful time at the lake, wading (or paddling as the brits call it) and enjoyed a picnic of leftover thanksgiving dinner. When its 38 degrees C. cold potatoes and chicken taste great. We finished up with leftover pumpkin pie. Yum.

Saturday was the wedding so off we headed to the village another long bumpy road but you get used to that out here. We were ushered inside one of the grass homes. It is a great design as the grass lets some of the light and breeze through but you are still shaded so really they were quite comfortable. We sat around the bride got dressed in her goat skins the men came in their outfits,my favourite being the ostrich feather hats. The bull and goat got butchered we danced and jumped ate some meat and went on our way. This is just a summary the day that was long but fun. At one point I even got a short nap in I woke up to a bunch of turkana men singing outside the tent and swinging the cow hide. I was thankful that the hide was not thrown into the house.

I now have a few more days in Turkana visiting with A and D It is great to experience life with them.

Resting between dancing, all the men sit on little stools, that they carry around
Enjoying leftover pumpkin pie on the shores of lake turkana
Turkana Beads
The Bride and I, she's wearing goat skin

Camels next to an unfinished home

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