Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Jeremy here. We just got back from the walkathon, which was, as expected, full of challenges.

WARNING: This post has some explicit and disgusting content. Do not read if you are easily upset or revolted.

Debby, Bill, and American Sponsor walkers Mary, Linda, Carmen, and Hatley arrived at the house in Isinya. The house is much more crowded with eight people than with two. We pack and get ready.

Before the walk began for real, we have a short day walk just down the road from Isinya. This was where I discovered that I needed to wear my better shoes for the real walk. This was also the day that when I asked a 7th grader from my singing club how her Christmas break had been, she reported that it had not been good -- because her stepmother had murdered her father. Immediately, I realized we could stop complaining about the cold weather of Europe.

Walkathon proper began with a walk to a church where the BEADS girls who just finished high school were given a graduation ceremony complete with "Pomp and Circumstance" performed on kazoos by the wazungu [white folks]. Unfortunately I spent the entire ceremony squatting in a concrete outhouse with my first real attack of diarrhea since arriving in Kenya. It was... unpleasant. Exhausting. The kind of diarrhea where I thought to myself "I will probably never be able to leave this outhouse" and "I hope that whoever finds me in here will pull up my pants before taking me to whatever passes for a hospital nearby so I might expire with dignity" and "you know what would really hit the spot right now? Morphine." However, after an hour or so and a dose of Lomotil, everything was really fine.

Later, at the Namanga River Lodge, I discovered that I have been colonized by intestinal worms! (Do not ask me how I discovered this.) When I asked the nurse about it, she said "oh, you haven't been taking worm pills regularly?" Sigh.

DAYS 2 & 3
We camped in Amboseli outside the manyatta of the girl whose alternate coming-of-age ceremony BEADS is sponsoring. On the way to the camp we were joined by a sponsor from Sacramento named Betsy and her 19-year-old daughter Jessica. In addition to the white folks on the walk, there were 40 or so 8th grade graduates; about 20 warriors providing protection, support, and amusement; 3 drivers (for the 2 passenger vans and the supply truck) and a cooking staff of like ten. Here is our cook tent:

Here is Saitoti, the Maasai night watchman at Top Ride, slurping blood directly from the carcass of the special cow killed for the ceremony:

DAY 4 & 5

Our second campsite was near the "big rocks," so we climbed them:

We celebrated Linda's birthday with an amazing night of dancing (and showing-off) by the girls and the warriors. No pictures, unfortunately.

Somewhere along the line Bridget and I got very good at sneaking up on and grabbing tiny baby goats and sheep. Here is one of those. This is probably our favorite thing to do. We love picking up baby animals. They're so SOFT.

We walked for a ways but had to drive for an hour to get to our campsite inside of Amboseli National Park. Hyenas, elephants, giraffes, cape buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, etc, all visible. More delicious goat stew. I get hit with another case of diarrhea, but though I didn't think I was going to die, I went to bed with a fever, shaking with chills. Man, I haven't had a fever in so long!

On the last morning (for me and Bridget, anyway -- the others went on to the fancy Serena Lodge) the light seemed way weaker than it should have been for a cloudless 9am near the equator. Turns out: solar eclipse! Since it's hard to take a picture of an eclipse without jeopardizing the intergrity of one's camera (and retinae) I could only take a picture of the shadow cast by the lattice of a plastic chair. See those crescent shapes? That's the shape of the sun with the moon in front of it!

We rode back to Isinya in hired matatus, with frequent stops to allow me to void more of my apparently endless supply of liquid shit. I sleep feverishly for another night.

This is not a very complete travelogue, but I wanted to give you something. The walk was a lot of fun, and filled with adventure, which I may have failed to convey. Perhaps Bridget will fill in some of the gaps! Hooray for Bridget!

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's Just Another Day for You and Me in Paradise

Tomorrow we leave on a week long walk-a-thon, covering 100 kilometers, tenting out in the soggy plains (it finally started raining, 3 months/3 years late), and eating a lot of goat stew. I would feel less trepidation about it if there weren’t so much tension circulating amongst the Americans; in fact, I think that might be the thing in the world that I find most unpleasant, interpersonal friction… which goes to show how charmed my life really is. Everything outside of that seems to pretty much take care of itself for me -- when I’m hungry there’s food, when I’m tired I rest, when I’m angry or lonely I have a little tantrum and get attention or love. I am blessed.

The other day we were in Nairobi in a car we hired on account of the matatu (public transport) strike. From the corner of my eye I saw someone at the car window. I looked away, ignored them, ate a piece of bread, started to polish my apple. I perceived it was a woman, young. She swung her baby from around her back and pointed to it, and some terrible cynical voice inside me said “yeah, nice ploy”, but really what I felt was fear -- afraid to make eye contact with her, to have her see me look and do nothing. The traffic started to move and Jeremy handed her one piece of bread through the window, and she took it not with the disdain or disgust I had expected, but saying “thank you, thank you,” almost bowing to us, and the car began to pull away and I was suddenly full of panic, thinking why didn’t I give her this apple? Why didn’t I give her these dried pears for her child to eat? How could I be so fearful and selfish, when it means nothing for me to get enough to eat? I really felt like a piece of shit. I don’t want to be afraid to look at those who are suffering, and I know there will be more of it to come. I hope I can do the right thing when it comes.