The rain here is really amazing. It’s not only heavy, but really loud. It hits the metal roofing sheets deafeningly, and takes over all the other sounds, like the fan sweeping back and forth at the end of the bed and even the music coming from the computer speakers. I’ve set up the computer on a chair so I can reach it lying on my stomach in bed. But today (Monday) is the first time since Friday that I’ve felt well enough to bring myself to write a blog. Don’t worry, I don’t have malaria. It’s a bacterial infection in my throat, but it’s pretty much incapacitated me. The doctor told me there was nothing I could have done to avoid it. I got some antibiotics and I’m starting to feel better. I still can’t eat much other than soup and tea though.
Jay is making me some soup for lunch. I can smell it. I hope I can be a bit sociable when he comes in. He’s been so busy with his new baby that I haven’t seen that much of him at all since I’ve been here. And even when I do see him, I’m not always sure what to say. He has this whole set of responsibilities now that I can’t even begin to identify with. We did have an interesting conversation the other day though, in which he told me that the beauty of lfe is not getting the things you want. Jay is fun – he likes his jokes, alcohol, dancing, etc, and he’s good at that. But he also always has something to say that makes me think. In this case he explained that if everyone got everything they wanted instantly, the fnu would be gone from life. I told him I knew what he meant. A little discomfort, a little risk, makes life more of an adventure. That’s one of the reasons I like coming here.
Bobo doesn’t agree. In fact, sometimes he gets really uneccesarily afraid or worried about things. When I first got sick, he was convinced that someone had put a spell on me and insisted on praying with me. He helped me kneel and showed me how to put my hands, then started speaking Swahili prayers. I started to feel faint after a while and almost passed out. He panicked, assuming that I had some demons in me. He was so scared, he totally freaked out. I had to calm him down, explaining that I just had no energy. But what do I know? Maybe it was demons. In any case, he’s calmed down now cause he can see the antibiotics are working and he doesn’t need to pray so much anymore. I do appreciate praying even if I’m not convinced that someone put a spell on me. We had a conversation about Religion when I was safely back in bed. I told him I thought praying was important no matter what religion you are. He had some views on the matter too. I won’t go deep into it right now.
It was kind of strange to see Bobo being so fervently religious, cause he doesn’t really fit the image of a devout Catholic. He just seems a little too…tough, big with dreadlocks and everything. It’s hard to explain.
Anyway, let’s just say this weekend was not like the last one. ;)
What else is new? Well, I realized I forgot to include an important development in my last blog entry. Well, development is maybe not the right word. I met the Mayor of Mombasa two Fridays ago. He finally had some time. We actually spent the day at the Town Hall. First we had to see the councilor who is distributing the money for municipal projects in Chuda. I think I explained that a couple blogs ago. We submitted a draft proposal but he didn’t have time to talk it over with us cause he had to get to an emergency meeting. He said it was good though and I think we have a good chance of getting the funding. Still have to hear back though. Hopefully we’ll know this week. Then Big Jay the chairman, Prince and I waited outside for Bobo and Pudus who were renewing our registration. Then we all waited for ages until the Mayor had a moment and his secretary let us in. He had a big power office that went with his big presence. He was a large man with neatly shaven white hair and beard and an authoritative face. We introduced ourselves and gave him our letter requesting an office, which the Deputy Mayor had promised at the soccer tournament. He told us he would review it with the Council. He welcomed me to Kenya and told me if there was anything we could do together I shouldn’t hesitate to ask. I thanked him and we took some pictures. I felt a little weird about pictures, but it was okay. He seemed like a nice guy to me. The Councilor in Chuda likes him a lot. Some people think he’s corrupt though. I have heard his size referenced as proof. Politics are incredibly corrupt in Kenya, so flimsy proof aside, the rumor could easily be true. That’s how it is here. Big Jay did tell me though that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission had gotten to the Municipal Council in Mombasa, explaining why they now had doors, electricity and proper paint jobs in most of the rooms of the town hall. We went to the Parliament Room, just to see. They had the classic set up with the seats of the Mayor, Deputy and Town Clerk on a dais, the councilors in concentric circles on the floor below, and the board members at a rectangular table in the middle. The walls were lined with portraits of all the mayors of Mombasa, the picture quality increasing with each year. We took some pictures there too of course.
Anyway, after the Mayor, we went to see the Town Clerk and give him a copy of the letter as well. Surprisingly, he had an even bigger office, furnished with beautiful couches and chairs and glass cabinets filled with trophies and such. He was a smaller, harder man than the Mayor. I am told he was responsible for the violence a couple weeks ago between the hawkers and the riot police. We introduced ourselves and gave him our letter, leaving pretty quickly. We didn’t take any pictures there.
So, we are now acquainted with the Municipal Council somewhat. More importantly, they are acquainted with us. If we can impress them with our work, it will doubtless be a very beneficial relationship for us.
Meanwhile, this last week, we have been making preparations to build a well and a toilet in the slums. This is the project I was hoping to do with the money I raised on May 2. It looks like we should have more than enough, We’re planning to start everything this week, and I’m really excited about it. I hope I’m well enough to help. But I think this blog is long enough. I don’t want to overload you guys. So I’ll tell you that story in a couple of days. Also, there will be more to tell once we get started.