Hello it’s the non-safari representative here. This is so surreal! We’ve been at Lucy and Andrew’s compound the last couple of days (with a poorly Ben – NHS take note, the blood technician arrived on the back of a motorbike yesterday, took a sample and returned 4 hours later to give shot of antibiotics and his diagnosis – a bacteria!Now he is much improved and enjoying our bedside cheering bedside prattle – Lucy calls it “home based care”). I’m at an internet cafe in the town centre with Will and Joan and wish I’d caught a bike in! The bikes are great fun, they are much sturdier than UK ones and have a kind of church kneeler and mini handle bars on the back designed for passengers.
Sally and I went on one and Joel and Harvey on the other and Lucy (our host) with Harvey’s guitar on the third this morning when our car just sort of stopped (I think it had just run out of petrol) on the say to the RUSH widows meeting. Lucy rides elegantly side saddle but that’s for the pro’s, I was just glad I was wearing trousers!)
Life on the Amukowa compound is fun. Sally’s worst disaster so far has been to put salt (provided for the boiled egg) into her tea instead of sugar. She reckoned it tasted OK and still drank it! Anti-Malarials go down fine crushed and mixed in a spoonful of chocolate spread. Joel has a permanent pink moustache from the strawberry squash – a very violent shade, I don’t think they worry about additives here! We have also drunk lots of fizzy coke and fanta (“soda”) and had peanut butter on toast for breakfast and even a version of spaghetti bolognaise for dinner last night which the children pronounced tasty. There is Sophie Mercy (aged about 4) perpetually running round and S and J play nicely for while but then she won’t take no for an anser. She’s an elective mute who the Amukowas took in after she was found by her mother’s dead body a while ago. Yesterday I let Ken (one of the general house handy men) who was cutting the crass with a knife (!) over hear me telling her “enough, now go” and he put down his knife and carried her off screaming. Apparently that is quite normal and nobody bats an eyelid. The compound consists of the main house where we eat and use the flushing sit-down toilet and the “new” house which has been under construction for 5 years. We have tried out various names for it – the New house, the Mouse house (yes I *did* scream.. well it was more of a yelp as the grain bag I was moving suddenly produced a small brown mouse!) but I think the Quiet house will stick. We have apet gecko in the bedrom which comes to a particular spot in the ceilng at about 7pm and which the kids and Harvey really love. Loads of birds of prey about and exotic normal birds. The chicken house is pretty full and clucks and coos peacfully as you walk past. They aren’t allowed out in case they pick up a chicken-bug from a neighbouring chicken. Caroline or Rhoda from the kitchen bring us warm water to wash with (“which you apply like *so*”) and we feel very cared for .
It was like being Royalty at the RUSH widows meeting this morning. We 4 white visitors had to sit in honour at the front and Lucy had said she’d whisper in our ear what to do but then she nipped off to supervise lunch prep so we were on our own. Some women donned grass skirts and begain their welcome programme singing and dancing to us. Then I was invited to join in (Karibu Mamma Rrosie) so had a bit of boogie, getting a round of applause from the 150 watching congregation of widows when I copied their chicken-cluck dance move. Then – oh horrors, the ancient soloist came to dance with me, Harvey gave me a “go on then” look and I whipped a 100 shilling note from my money belt and pressed it into her hand as the tip Lucy had told us to prepare to ‘uplift their spirits’. She waved it aloft and everyone applauded. *CRINGE* Then Harvey was dragged over and danced with (some very creditable wiggles) and presented his 100 shilling note. Lucy still wasn’t back when they announced the visitors would begin their programme after the next song (our programme?? Good thing they translated that part into English) so we had a quick brainstorm, Sally begging tobe let off “performing” and went and did the greetings thing and sang a few songs – we are marching, God you’re amazing and God is so good in Swahili. If only someone had told me that “bananas on the freeway” is a rough transliteration of “praise the Lord” in Swahili. It punctuated every other sentence. Will use that when we return next Tues. We were publically reprimaneded by Lucy for not having our Bibles with us (d’oh) and oh how the sermons and questions went on and on. Sally by now had permission to super-dicreetly read her book and Joel was blatantly playing hang man but nobody seemed to mind. Kids not quite ready to be like the queen, smiling and nodding through hours of greetings. Into the school tomorrow, must go now (esp as the keys on this computer keep sticking!) very much love to you all Rosie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx