I don’t feel like I have much to write today. It has been a slow week. I took a mental health day on Thursday and skipped school. I sat around my house and read books. I attempted to make skillet cupcakes and doughnuts. The doughnuts didn’t turn out that great, but the skillet cupcakes were delicious. Who says you need an oven?
Here in Mars, there has been a change of season. If this was America, I would call it spring. They do not have spring here, it is just nearing the end of the dry season. The branches on the tree outside my window have budding leaves. The local birds are pairing up and making nests. The local feral dogs are now fighting amongst each other and joining into packs. I am seeing more and more baby goats, cows, camels, and donkeys. Last week I saw a cow give birth right on the road, and the day after I ran into a herd of cattle that was all babies with no adults. The biggest change is the moths. I do not know where they have been, but now they are everywhere. I keep my windows closed starting at sunset so I won’t get a bunch in my house, but they find a way in anyway. They creep under my door and head straight for my fluorescent light. When I was in America I had an irrational fear of moths. Something about them getting into my hair and dying there just creeps me out. You would think that a hundred strong flock of the beasts flying chaotically around my living room would send me into a panic. But TIA, and I have bigger problems. When I go to the choo, there are 4 inch flying cockroaches trying to get between my feet. When I go outside at night, bats confuse me with a tasty meal and swoop towards my face with a screech. There is something that lives in my house that I can’t see but it keeps stinging me and leaving a painful stinger and burning welt behind. The mosquitos in my house are so numerous that their buzzing can keep me awake at night. In light of all that, I will happily tolerate some moths. They are annoying for sure, though. They find a way to dive spectacularly into my Nalgene while I am drinking. They land on my laptop keys, get their tiny feet caught and require me to delicately rescue them. They also really seem to enjoy landing softly on my face. They flutter their wings as they walk lightly across my cheeks, giving literal meaning to the phrase “butterfly kisses”. Like eyelashes, they tickle and I brush them delicately away, freeing them to careen wildly around the room, crashing their tiny bodies violently into objects with a painful “ping”. The crowd outside trying to get in the window makes a cacophony that sounds like rain tinging on my tin roof. Many of them do not make it through the night, and every morning I get to be the moth undertaker and collect and dispose of their bodies.
Yesterday, I rescued my neighbor’s baby goat from a painful death. My neighbor had tied him to a small tree outside my living room window and then left him to graze. She went back to her house and could not hear his cries. After about an hour happily munching on the few leaves, he got himself very tangled and the rope wrapped around his little neck and started to strangle him. I heard his little cries and ran outside to help. He was lying flat on the ground with his tiny black hoofs splayed out; he could not breath and his little pink tongue was sticking out as he bleated weakly. I tried to untangle him but I could not, so I ran back into the house and grabbed a knife. I had to cut the rope in three places just to get it off him and the whole time the poor baby was laying still and not breathing. I have not been that scared in a long time. I didn’t realize how attached I had gotten to that baby goat. I had even named him Chakula because I think that will be his fate. Chakula means ‘food’. After I cut the rope, he just laid there. I picked him up and gave him a hug as he recovered. He is normally afraid of me but he let me hold him. After a few minutes he was fine and happily munching on the frayed end of his rope. I tied him to my laundry line and went to tell my neighbor. She only speaks kiswa and I do not know enough to say “Your baby goat got tangled in the rope and almost strangled to death. I cut the rope and he is fine. Here is your rope, sorry I had to cut it, your goat is tied to my tree so do not worry.” So instead I said, “mbuzi yako, ili…” then I mimed wrapping the rope around my neck, “Nilihitaji kukatakata, mbuzi ikosawa sasa” That translates to “your goat, he was… I needed to cut, goat is fine now”. I only got out “your goat…I needed to cut” before my neighbor panicked and ran to find her goat. I think I scared her with my miming and coming to her with an apology, a knife, a piece of rope, and no goat. But all is well, and Chakula is back to bounding around on the rocks and coming into my house to stare at me with his square pupils.
I have been doing a pen pal type exchange with a high school in Vermont. They have written letters to my students and my students have written to them. I told my girls that they could write about anything they wanted and encouraged them to ask questions. All the letters I sent are wonderful, inspiring, thoughtful, and funny. I do not know if my girls intended to write them that way. One letter was a complete physics quiz, she was testing the Americans to see if they learned more than Kenyans. (I will tell you, Kenyans learn more, Americans learn better.) Another girl asked if there were any guys whom she could marry. One girl just made up a bunch of knock-knock jokes. All the girls thanked God for the opportunity to talk to an American, and all of them wrote as if they were talking to their very best friend. Each letter is full of advice, poems, and inspirational sayings. Some are full of praise for me, which embarrasses me, but makes me feel loved. I can’t write all of the great stuff so I took one letter and transcribed parts of it here. I corrected the spelling so you could understand, but the words and thoughts (and bad grammar) all belong to Halima Godana, unless she plagiarized.
Little keys can open big locks
Simple words can express great thoughts
Big problems have a small solution
Hope my simple wish can make you great
Be smart, get a job
When God gave friends, He tried to be fair
When I got you, I got more than my share
You’re a treasure
Given to me without measure
I love you so much
Remain second to none
Put ones shoulder to the wheel
Turn over a new leaf
Pick someones brain
Make ones mark
Look for a needle in a haystack
Have heart and soul
Have the game in ones hand
Have a go at everything
To be a better person in future (eg like Miss Ryan) do you have the ability?
Education is like an ocean
Beginning as a mountain spring
Becoming a stream
A river and the sea
Then becoming oceans which
No matter how big the crocodile, it is hatched from an egg
Receive my warmest greetings which is sweeter than honey, brighter than stars, deeper than pacific ocean, and valuable than gold.
If you ever feel lonely, look to the sky always know that I’m somewhere beneath that sky wishing you the best.