Friday. Here at the end of the week we’re tired, and we know it. (Clap your hands!) Fortunately, the tutoring sessions go well; the kids are mainly well-behaved, and we get through it without any major confrontations.
Just before lunch several of the team decides to walk a half mile or so up the road toward town to a duka to buy some sodas. I decide to go along. It feels good to get out and walk, with the lake breeze in our faces, and, of course, since it’s the dry season, the bright sun. There are homes along the way, and the children and adults greet us as we pass: “Hu jambo?” “Si jambo!” “Habari [somethingorother]?” “Salamah, asante sana!” and the white-bearded guy gets the regular “Shikamoo!” “Malahaba!” I’m always amused by the fact that we know only a very few basic expressions, but as we stroll through the neighborhood, it sounds to the outsider as though we’re carrying on extended conversations fluently.
An interesting thing about housing. The houses are very small—typically about 500 to 750 square feet in this village—but there’s a reason for that. Home isn’t where you hang out; you hang out up front in the yard (it’s just dirt), because that’s where the social interaction is. You use the house just to sleep in and to cook in, and the latter takes place in a small outbuilding, so there’s no need for much living space.
Anyhow, we get to the duka, greet the several men sitting in the shade of the tree in front, purchase our sodas, and head back. We pass the empty fish ponds left behind by Tumaini’s neighbor, who had a big plan a couple of years ago but left fairly suddenly in connection with some financial irregularities, so now the ponds just sit there, empty. If any of you readers is looking for a startup business opportunity ready to go with significant upside potential, this is it, right here.
As we’re walking we decide to continue past Tumaini and walk the road all the way to the lake. I’ve never been this direction, and I know a few of the team members from last year used to do their morning run down here, so I figure I’ll check it out. We walk past several more houses—these appear to be a little larger and better built, with one even having a vehicle in the driveway, something very unusual here. Matt tells me later that this guy is from town, heard that wazungu were buying property out here, and figured it might be a good idea to buy some himself. We walk to the lake, where there’s something resembling a little dirt boat ramp, and we watch the wavelets splash the shore as several little boys swim, a few of them even wearing something. We’re able to see the ferry, away down the inlet. We’d really like to swim, but apparently the water has some worms in it that can burrow into your skin, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
We arrive back at Tumaini in time for lunch. Since it’s Friday, lunch is on the Gasses’ porch. Laura has made a large pot of sweet-and-sour-chicken with rice, and that lifts everybody’s spirits.
After the 3 pm session, the guys have planned to take a hike up the ridge across the street. It’s not large, maybe 100 to 150 feet tall and half a mile long, but it’s steep and, like everything around here, very rocky. I’ve never seen such rocky ground in all my life, and I lived in New England for 10 years. Pathways here on the compound have big rocks just springing up in the middle of them, too deep and large to dig out when the planners were laying out the property.
Anyway, we cross the street and take a pathway up. It’s a lot of hopping from rock to rock and following very winding paths, but it’s just a few minutes to the top where, to our surprise, there’s a flat, open pasture, maybe 50 feet in diameter. We have a nice view of the entire campus, the marsh beyond it, the fish ponds to the right, and Faulu Beach Resort to the left.
Have I told you about Faulu? There’s a tiny hill just south of the Tumaini property, on top of which a fellow has built a bar and a little concrete pad for dancing. It has a nice view of the lake, and in the evenings, especially Friday and Saturday evenings, they have quite a party up there. They light the place up with a half dozen or so fluorescent tubes, and we guys have taken to calling it “constellation Faulu” when we’re stargazing at night. Anyhow, there’s no beach, and it’s hardly a resort, and the music’s loud at night, and he’s in a property dispute with Tumaini; but there are signs to his place all along the road from town, and it’s easy to tell people looking for Tumaini to just “follow the signs to Faulu.”
On the ridge we’re quite a bit higher than Faulu; it’s interesting to look down at it rather than up to it. We cross the ridge to the other side, climb up on a rock, and survey the valley that the ridge usually hides from us when we’re down below. It’s all set up for farming, with a few houses, and even what looks like a white Dodge Ram pickup by one of the houses. We call to some of the people walking along the path there, and they wave.
The ridge consists of 4 peaks, if you can call them that. The northernmost one is the tallest, so we head there and climb up as far as we can. It appears unsafe to crest the two highest rocks, but we get as close as we can without acting like males under the age of 25, and we enjoy the view some more and take some pictures.
Then we hike the length of the ridge to the southern end, where, to our surprise, we spook a whole colony of monkeys. We back off and settle down to take some photos as the curious little critters peek out from behind rocks and inside a cave.
We’re about to head down when Asher wonders aloud whether it’s possible to scale the highest rock on this peak. We send him off with our blessing, and in a few minutes we hear his voice from the heavens. He’s up on top, peering over, looking a bit like Rafiki atop the rock in “Lion King.” So we all clamber up and get yet another view.
Well, pretty much time for dinner, so we find our way down the far side of the ridge and walk back to Tumaini around the southern end. That felt really good.
After supper we have house devotions, as usual. My group’s schedule for this week with the little ones has planned to end the survey of God’s attributes with a plain gospel presentation. I’m a little concerned about that, because this week the children have been pretty rambunctious (see under “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” above), and I’m not sure they can follow an extended logical argument (“God is good, but we have sinned, so …”). But we’ll give it a try.
We start with prayer, and as I start to review God’s attributes from the week, the 5 children just settle quietly into the laps of my team and sit quietly, apparently listening. I give a point (God is good”), and we sing about it (“God Is So Good …”); I give another 2 points (“we’ve sinned; God loves us”), and we sing about it some more (“Jesus Loves Me”). And on it goes through the 10-minute presentation, and they seem to listen the whole time. How much of it they understand, between their shortcomings in both English and Bible background, is a matter of question; but they know to talk to Mama if they have questions, so there’s a start.
After team devotions back at the house, we have a planning session for tomorrow’s Serengeti trip. We have a lot of things to get ready, and it will be a long day, so we put a list together and everybody gets busy. See you in the morning.