Hey World! So I have only two more days until my Swearing In ceremony and I am ecstatic. Last week I took my final language exam. It was rough, I was pretty sure I failed. We are required to achieve "intermediate low" as a level to be sworn in as volunteers. I am sure that I am at least at that level and intermediate mid on a good day. The woman who was my tester was from the coast where they speak even faster kiswahili than people in Tanzania (yup, that's fast). She also talked quiet and used strange vocabulary. I know that that is the point of the exam, to see if you can speak in actual situations with actual people who are not the kind trainers who know what words you can say. So anyway, I thought I failed and would be sent back home to America. But I did not fail!! Yay!
Yesterday was my last day in Loitokitok. I said goodbye to my wonderful host family. Despite all the frustrations of the last nine weeks with them, despite me being incredibly eager to leave and be an adult again, I will sincerely miss them. Mama made me cake as my going away breakfast. I have never seen a cake made like this. This is how you do it: make a paste out of sugar and blue band, add half a cup of flour, add seven eggs, pour into a pot and cook on jiko until done. In case you missed that, I said SEVEN eggs. And no milk or water. It was very odd, but incredibly delicious. Mama made it on Friday night and I excitedly asked when it would be ready. Mama said "we will not eat until breakfast"; the reason being, "you will get sick and die if you eat cake the first day. You will get diarrhea and die." I did not understand this logic but agreed to wait. Later during dinner I asked, "so we really cannot eat the cake until the morning?" Mama laughed and said, "Ryan you are so silly! Do not make me laugh!" So I thought maybe she was kidding with me the whole time and I had fallen for it. I laughed back and said excitedly, "we can eat the cake then?" And she, very soberly, said, "no, you will die." Then half an hour after dinner... she gave me a slice of cake. Sometimes this language barrier can be very confusing.
Saturday, after a breakfast of Blue Band and white bread sandwiches and Day Two cake, I finished my packing and walked up to Outward Bound for Host Family Appreciation day. I wore the gift Mama had given me: a Masaai skirt and headwrap. I wore my new Masaai earrings and necklace. Almost 3/4s of us PCTs got fancy outfits from our families. We looked amazing! Oh, the colors and patterns!! We had to do a talent show, which was hilarious and the families enjoyed- when they understood the jokes. We ended by all singing the Safaricom song. Go look up the YouTube video, seriously. It is an amazing commercial and we did a great off key rendition for our families.
When it was time for the families to leave, I gave out my hugs and told my family I would miss them. Kenyans, and especially my family, do not show a lot of excess emotion. I had to make my brothers give me hugs and the goodbyes were very, very short. When my Mama got home she found the letter I had written to them. It was just a simple goodbye and thank you card. This is the response I got via text (her English is not that good): "Hi can u imagine i hav never droped tears 4 smal things but ur letter make me so( thanx times a hundred). that letter wil stay with me forever I think it wil be my best gift cu"
Now, tonight, I am in Nairobi until Wednesday. I am in absolute heaven. First we went to Nakumatt, which is like Walmart. It has BBQ sauce, olive oil, twix bars, cheese puffs, and everything else you could ever want or need. I just walked around in awe. I did not buy anything except some sour gummy worms, I just stared. There were Christmas decorations, the first I have seen, and Christmas music, the first I have heard. I had a strong coffee for the first time since coming here and it was as delicious as anything from Starbucks. We went to dinner at this small, fancy, Italian place called Mediterranio. It was all painted like the streets of Italy inside, we had real roses on the table, the waiters wore uniforms, and there were cloth napkins. There was olive oil and vinegar to dip bread in, and breadsticks that were the first actual crunchy thing I have eaten since arriving in Kenya. For dinner I had an amazing pasta dish with actual sauce, vegetables, and CHEESE. It was spicy, filling, and flavorful. The garnish was a wonderful aroma of herbs, which I tried to eat because they smelled delicious. I had a glass of wine with dinner and an amazing chocolate mousse for dessert. I am the happiest person in all of Kenya right now. best day ever. Tomorrow after some boring sessions and meeting my future boss (EEK!)we get to go shopping again. I am going to start stockpiling supplies for Marsabit. Very exciting stuff.
So to recap: I passed my language exam, I got a Masaai outfit, my family loves me, I left Loitokitok, I am in love with the Kenyan countryside (did I mention that on the drive I saw a herd of giraffes, including some baby twigas, a wildebeest, and a greater Kudu?), I am in love with Nakumatt, I saw Christmas, I had an amazing dinner, I got to drink wine, and I have a private room with a hot shower and western toilet tonight! Best weekend ever!
PS: "Twiga" is the kiswahili word for Giraffe. :)