Sunday, July 27th
I can’t believe that I’ll be home in 10 days. This summer has absolutely flown by. Now don’t get me wrong… I can’t wait to see my family and friends and I’ve just about had it with eastern toilets. Every now and then I crave something like sushi or a quesadilla. There’s a long list of things I’m looking forward to doing when I get home. But regardless, it’s going to be very hard to leave this place.
Every day has been different and there have been more adventures and surprises than I can count, but somehow it has started to feel like home. The waiter at Changbay Restaurant knows that I like my barbequed bananas extra crispy; the guy who sells oranges from his wheelbarrow outside KASI knows that I don’t like the ones with lots of seeds; instead of calling me “mzungu” which means “white person” people who recognize me on the street call me “dada” which means “sister.” I know that five bananas should cost 200 shillings (10 cents) and that there are at least five different varieties of green bananas that the women here cook with.
I’m going to miss the women walking through town in beautiful, bright clothing. I’ll miss the huge baskets full of fruits and vegetables that they carry on their heads with such ease and grace. I might even miss the group of guys that blatantly check me out while I’m going for my morning walk. Okay, so I probably won’t miss those guys. But I will definitely miss the children who call out “good morning madam” even when it’s not really morning, and the little babies who always seem fascinated with my hair.
People here are just genuinely friendly. I’m sure I’ve written about it before, but I love that I can’t walk more than 10 or 20 yards without somebody striking up a conversation with me. And although the lack of space on the daladala can be a little intimidating at times, it’s an experience you never forget.
So if I pass you in the hallway at school, I just might give you a jambo. And if I get on a bus that is mostly empty, I might sit down right next to you and strike up a conversation. Imagine how different the hallways at MIT would be if people all said hello each other as they passed, instead of keeping their ears stuffed with iPod headphones and their eyes turned to the ground. What if the people on the subway chatted with each other instead of trying to keep as far apart as possible?
10 days is still 10 days. And I’m certainly going to make the most of them. I have lots of loose ends to tie up with each of the new small-business owners, and I want to leave a solid framework for the GlobalGiving project with KASI before I go. And on top of that Daniel and I have about three small projects going on at MobilityCare that all need to be finished. It might be a bit of a scramble, but at least I’ll be busy!