missing Lamu

Much to my dismay, I am back in Nairobi. I didn’t miss the smog, the traffic, the sour faces, the overwhleming Maasai market (that I went to today to get a few final presents for people at home), or this compound that is totally not part of the local community. In Lamu, I was part of the community. In the morning Banga sold me bottles of water and bananas. The woman at Blue Rhino, a great boutique, greeted me with a warm smile and soft hello every time I walked by. Salim, the street vendor who grills some sort of yummy smelling but grimey looking meat, yelled mwanafunzi (Swahili for student) when we made eye contact. It was a great yell. The kittens filled the sides of the roads. Ali King, the tailor,  shared stories with me. And Mary screamed ‘Katherine’ literally every single time I passed her shop because she got lonely working and knew I would chat to her when I had time. Sometimes she drove me crazy and I would scurry by so that she wouldn’t catch me. I already miss all of this.

Salim and his smile grilling meat.

Street of my guest house, the Simba house.

kittens on a doorstep.

We left Saturday afternoon. But we got in a great morning: we went to the beach at at Shela, ran around to drop off thank you notes, snapped last minute pictures of the dhow sail boats and then sipped on our last banana chocolate shake at Bush gardens with Musini.

last minute pics of dhows, be happy 🙂

On the KenyaAir flight from Lamu to Nairobi a British man in a pink collared shirt had the window seat next to me. He leaned back in his seat so that I could look out the window to get my final glance of Lamu.

But I was lucky that my final week in Lamu was filled with bliss. I interviewed many women. I will put up summaries of the interviews later on this week when I go through all my notes. Best of all, during one of the interviews with Aisha, a woman who workd for the Muslim radio station who I have become great friends with, I got invited to her wedding – a huge honor! If I were here in late December I would be there.

One day this week, I caught a look of the newspaper: On Tuesday, November 30th The Daily Nation wrote about the 1,427 US diplomatic reports linked to Kenya which were leaked and have been obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks. These documents describe Kenya as “a swamp of flourishing corruption.” The article explained that the reports spoke negatively about President Kibaki and the Prime Minister Rialia Odinga. While not all of the reports have been released (only 226 of the total 251,287 are currently accessible) the reports that are out have the world in a fury with the American take on international players. Brute. Ruthless. Degrading. These reports, it is important to note, did not just refer to Kenya’s weaknesses. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Keruscolini, Afganistan’s president Hamid Karzai, Libya’s leader Moammar Gaddafi, Russia’s president Dmitry Medceded, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy were all presented in a negative light. This isn’t the first time that Kenya has been at the brunt of Wikileaks; in 2007 wikileaks disclosed a report, which proved massive corruption from the relatives of Daniel arap Moi and claims to have influenced the elections of 2007.

I read the whole article and was interested but, in all honesty, I haven’t read a newspaper much while I have been here. I say all of this because I feel disconnected to this drama while I have been in Lamu. When I was in Nairobi I felt that the changes in Kenya’s corruption were so close to me, I felt like I was a part of it. But in Lamu, I didn’t. I saw this newspaper article and I had mixed feelings. Should I feel more connected to the political event sin this country right now? Then I realized that it is okay. It is okay that I am disconnected because I am connected to something else right now.

On my last night, I celebrated at Petleys which is the bar in town that Anna and I have been going to a lot. The Beach Boys, who are known for harassing the tourists, have become our friends. They are great guys. The other students have also grown to be our new friends. And after a night of drinking we went to the beach, made a bon fire and toasted bananas with chocolate on the fire. Soo good!

fun at Petleys.

bananas and chocolate in tin foil. yum.

Now the long last week is over and I’m back in Nairobi (people in Lamu call it Nai-robbery). My muscles cringe because I am cold here. My mind is dizzy with thoughts. I am torn between my extreme excitement for a roaring fire, the couch and my family at home next week and trying to really live the my last week here to the fullest. Only 6 more days!…?

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