August 30, 2019

George leaves early to run some errands and get more tests done. I help out with the morning chores as I’m able. The house is filled with so much laughter every day. Everyone does their part, and then playfully banters about. I catch up with Keith, as he explores his sister’s tablet we brought her. Irene and Lavender have grown into best friends as sisters – Irene will miss her when she leaves to go back to school next week. The twins ask me to do a photo shoot with them – I capture them loving on each other, even though they pretend to often not like each other. So I have them act out a twin-squabble. By the time they’re done they’re both rolling in the grass laughing.

It’s time to start preparations for the chicken dish Irene will be making. Most families here have at least a few chickens, which provide both meat and eggs. I won’t go into detail here about the process of providing your own meat – to honor my vegan and vegetarian friends. I’ve included a video on a password-protected page if you want to see the full process for yourself.

The short “PG” version is… Leon and Charlie select a young rooster from the flock, humanely and compassionately take its life and very mindfully prepare the meat for the meal. You can watch this video version on the right-hand side of this post. (If you want to see the full “R” rated version – which includes the entire process – you can follow this link and enter the password “chicken” to watch the full video)

As the chicken parts marinate in spices and oil, it’s time to head to town for swimming, but first we make a quick stop in town center to put into motion getting internet at the house. We opt for an unlimited plan, which gives then all the data they will  need each month, for a flat fee of 57,000 Ksh (approximately $60). Another game changer. No longer do we need to go in town to get internet, and no longer does the family need to rely on bought data air time for data.

Having internet makes it possible for George and I to share Dropbox files which are essential to his transcription work. It also allows us to share financial files (daily expenses and income, monthly budget and actuals, savings plans and project costs and benefits). It will be almost a week before the service is turned on at the house.

As we leave the town center and head to the Westside Hotel for swimming, the temperature has dropped severely as rainstorms move in and through the area. George has gotten word that the plow man has begun plowing the five acres of rented farmland we have here, so the watermelon starts can be planted. I’m more of a fair-weather swimmer, so I let George know that if I go with him, we can work on finding the dolls we couldn’t find yesterday.

We settle Irene, Lavender, Paula and Paulette at the pool and George and I head off back into town to finish a few errands. We find a doll set with 4 adult dolls and one baby doll. This is going to present a problem for the twins, so we come up with a grand scheme to take the baby doll out of the box before they ever see it (and we all know how grand schemes turn out, right?). We locate the portable power bank for phone charging we were looking for, so the family is not left without the ability to make phone calls at home when the power goes out. We also find two possible bike options for Keith for when he comes to town tomorrow. The bike is his big forward-moving gift from a generous donor.

When we get back to the pool, we figured for sure we’d find the girls all dried off and waiting to be picked up, since it had gotten so cold and rainy. Instead, they’re like Cooper when it comes to the swimming pool. He’ll stay in until his lips are purple-blue, his skin is like goose-flesh and he’s teeth are chattering out a steady song. The girls have just gotten out of the pool and are changing.

George goes off to take a phone call and I enjoy a cup of chai. The manager personally brings out my tea. I thank her in Swahili, and she wants to know what other words or phrases I know. She grills me relentlessly. It doesn’t matter what I say, she simple nods and then says a single word “another.” Another… Another. I’m running out of words I can say off the top of my head.

I tease her, asking if when she’s not managing the hotel if she’s a schoolteacher. She smiles and I’m saved as the twins come running toward me from the changing room.

It’s nearly dark, so George suggests that we order dinner, that the girls will wait on the food while we head down the road and around the corner to check on the plowing progress. It’s nearly dark and when we arrive at the fields they’ve finished for the night; with the cloud cover no moonlight helps guide the progress, or the plowman would have kept going. The heavy rains early also slowed down his progress, so he’s only managed to plow about 1/3 of the acreage so far. The best part is that George shifted to renting 5 acres closer to the homestead, which makes farming less expensive since he doesn’t have to travel as far to get to the fields.

We touch base on the phone with the plant propagation company to see what the status of the watermelon seedlings are. The rains are always unpredictable so timing when the watermelons will be ready is key to a hearty harvest.

They inform us that the watermelon seedlings will be ready in another two weeks, which is just as well, since we’re behind schedule with the plowing. We make arrangements to view the seedlings in the morning and head back to the hotel.

We all sit and eat, and decide to get takeaway for Leon and Keith, so they don’t have to make dinner for just themselves. When you order “fish and chips” here, what you get is fries… and a whole fried tilapia. The fish and chips are each placed in separate brown paper bags. I volunteer to hold them on my lap, on top of my canvas satchel. It doesn’t even dawn on me that paper bags might not be the best choice for take-out bags. When we arrive at the house, I discover that I am covered in grease everywhere. A true fishy mess – all over my shirt, my jeans, and the satchel. Definitely time for laundry tomorrow.

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