Tuesday, September 01, 2009

School

The last few days that Melissa and I spent with Nyambura and her family were pretty relaxing. I decided that since we were no longer in a village, like we were in Ghana, I would go and get my haircut as the thought of getting my hair cut in Wegbe, Ghana freaked me out. Nairobi has a lot of tourists and foreigners who live here so I wasn’t as scared of getting my hair cut here. Boy, I was wrong.

Jimmy, Nyambura’s nephew took Melissa and I to a hair dresser near their house. The guy was shaving a man’s head. Now I was a bit scared. The hair dresser finished his hair and then told me it was my turn. I sat in the office rolly chair that was used as the barber chair and told the guy that I just wanted the ends of my hair trimmed. He seemed to understand. Or so I thought.

The next thing I know, he has the scissors out and Melissa who was sitting behind me tells him to stop! Apparently he had a huge chunk of pretty long hair that he was about to cut off. We explained to Jimmy that I only wanted the ends trimmed so he could explain it to the hair dresser in Swahili. I told the hair dresser that maybe he should spray my hair with water before cutting it. He did as I suggested and sprayed my hair with water and then proceeded to comb it very slowly. It was kind of funny.

Things were starting to go well, right? Then the hair dresser takes out the buzzer and tells me that he can cut the ends of my hair using the buzzer. I was hesitant but he decided to show me anyways. He grabbed some of the ends of my hair and buzzed them off. At this point I was so done. I was so scared and told Jimmy that it was time to go. He agreed and Melissa and I just stood there in astonishment, laughing at the situation.

I was pretty scared and decided that I will just wait to get my hair cut when I return home at the end of December.

Yesterday, Monday, Melissa and I finished packing up the room we had been staying in. As Melissa’s flight was at 11:10pm, we decided that we would leave the house by 8pm. Of course this did not happen and we left closer to 8:40pm. We had been driving for only a few minutes when Nyamura said that we needed to stop for petrol. We pulled into a gas station to fill up but they had no gas. Nyambura told us that we would not be able to get far without petrol. So we drove to another gas station. The guy shook his head when we pulled up and told us that they did not have any petrol either. Oh joy. Melissa and I started freaking out because Nymabura was asking us what we should do by this point and Melissa needed to get to the airport. We drove to yet a third gas station and were relieved to see them pumping gas. We got gas and then battled the horrible traffic that was heading towards the airport.

We finally arrived at the airport and were dropped off so Nyambura could park the car. We had to wait in a long line of mostly foreigners waiting to enter the airport. It was ridiculous. With a little more than an hour to spare, Melissa said her good byes to us and entered the airport. Since I know that Melissa is very excited to get home, I was happy for her. But immediately after walking away, I broke down in tears. Can you tell by this point that I am not very good at saying good bye?

This morning, I awoke early, got dressed, and ate breakfast and patiently waited for Nyambura to drive me to the guesthouse where I was to meet my Lewis & Clark study abroad group. I waited and waited and finally around 9:30am, we left the house. as I was so ready to go and meet up with the group, my bags were already in the car and I was ready to go. We drove over to the guesthouse where Nyambura and Jimmy helped me with my bags. I went to the front desk and met my friend who I had met the previous day. Melissa and I came over to the guesthouse yesterday to meet up with my professor from Lewis & Clark but he was not there so we spent some time chatting with the guys at the front desk.

I was shown to my room and then walked to the dining room to meet the other students. I had mixed feelings about seeing this group of familiar faces. I was excited to see them yet at the same time somewhat scared. Not scared of them but scared of what it meant that I was now in this group of 25 white American students. I have spent the past three and a half months traveling and doing things on my own. I spent much time with other people and went places and did things but it was always at my own will. I am now part of a large group and we have an itinerary, class, and places to be at certain times. I have a feeling that this will take some getting used to.

Anyways, all of us gathered into a conference room and had a brief in country orientation as the majority of the students arrived in Nairobi early this morning. We met our Swahili teacher, Rose and she explained the intense Swahili training that we were about to embark upon. Seriously, it is going to be intense. Tomorrow, we start Swahili class – 6 hours worth of Swahili class.

It is also a bit weird to be with this group as I have been in Africa for the past few months and therefore I am already acquainted with the culture and life style here. The majority of our group has never before been to Africa and some have never been abroad before. I think that the staff and some of our teachers over exaggerated things at this orientation but I guess it is their job to protect us and make sure we are safe. We were told that we should take off all jewelry before going out or walking on the streets and were lectured on the dangerous side effects of the malaria medicine, Doxycyclin. Cross Cultural Solutions did the same thing last summer except they told us that Doxy was not effective in preventing malaria. Today, we were told about the sun dangers while taking Doxy and how badly we could get sunburnt while on Doxy. It was nice of them to warn us but we are all college students and hopefully all smart ones. I think that it just takes some common sense to know to apply sunscreen, wear appropriate clothing, drink water, and not sit out in the sun all day. But what do I know? I am on Doxy and have gotten malaria.

After our orientation in which we were also given our Swahili materials and already given a homework assignment, we split up and went exploring. I went along for the adventure even though I had already been to all the places we went. As I have mostly been driven everywhere during the past two weeks, it was interesting to walk around and see things from that perspective. Of course, this perspective includes nearly getting hit by cars as cars, not pedestrians have the right of way here and the drivers are crazy. I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside by the pool and working on learning Swahili and completing my homework.

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