Church, Koko Krunch and the Equator on a rainy dayby kenya on Jun. 17, 2013, under Life
Editor’s note: Students from St. Gregory College Preparatory School in Tucson are joined on their journey to Kenya by students from two other schools – Catalina Foothills High School and Atlanta Girls School.
June 16, 2013
By Bella Newberry, Atlanta Girls School Class of ‘14
Today has been one of the best of the entire trip. We all awoke to the pouring rain, but not at our usual 6 a.m. wake up call. Today, it being a Sunday, we were given the luxury of sleeping in for the first time.
The rain, which may seem like a downer, actually allowed us to sleep longer because it darkened the sky. The drumming of the raindrops on the tin roof also added a calming effect, making the slow wake-up time that much more pleasant.
Through our leisurely breakfast, we had long talks about the characters of various TV shows like Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad. I guess you can call it a cultural thing, and we had fun arguing about the good guys and the bad guys of each series.
The next event of our day, however, was anything but calming. Last night, Mr. Roberts informed us that we would all be attending church the next morning, “for the experience,” he claimed. And what an experience it was!
We entered in the middle of a Swahili gospel number being performed by two young female singers and as usual we were greeted through ecstatic whispers of the word mzungu. We were shown to our seats and promptly sat down, attempting to lessen the staring we were encountering. Now a Kenyan church isn’t all that different from an American church except for one small aspect, none of it is in English. We listened to every 10-minute song knowing the general message (praising the lord and such), but not knowing a single word. Standing, sitting, clapping our way through the service, which we did not understand was indeed an experience.
Now usually this language barrier wouldn’t have made such a difference, but today it did. Today is Father’s Day (congratulations to all the fathers by the way, and especially to mine), so in honor of this day all the fathers were asked to stand. However, to the non-Swahili speaking Americans we were just told that all the men should stand up, the “men” in our group followed directions obediently.
Not knowing, until later of course, that the reason all the women of the church were standing up to shake hands of the men around them, was because they assumed they were fathers. All of the boys in our group politely shook hands with every extended hand, to which we all had a good chuckle.
Our next quest was to drive to the dam for lunch, and we were all dressed very inappropriately for the muddy landscape that awaited us. The dam was created as a reservoir for the many small farms in the area, as well as a huge rose farm that exports up to 2 million roses to Europe each month.
A few of us took advantage of the binoculars on hand to look at some weavers building nests in an acacia tree and a pair of large fish eagles, which look very much like our bald eagle.
After lunch we went to a local herb distillery owned by a Kenyan couple, John and Penny Horssey. They own more than 600 acres of land, a small part of which is used to grow different types of herbs. John explained that farming was not a business to get into if one wanted to make a lot of money. John then went on to emphasize, however, that if one wants a lot of space and not have to hassle with an office job and set hours, farming is the best lifestyle one could ever imagine.
For the first part of our tour, John walked us through several plots of different herbs, stopping along the way to pluck a few leaves, crush them in our palms, and inhale deeply. The aromas were intense! We learned that from roughly 220 pounds of leaves, only a few ounces of oil are extracted. These few ounces, however, fetch a high price on the market. But rather than selling just the oil, John and Penny use the oils in soaps, shampoos and body lotions.
We picked up a lot of things along the way, their knowledge of herbs, soap and other lotions, and the Horssey’s son, Jasper. I know what you’re thinking, “you took home a person?” In fact we did. The boys started up a conversation with the 20-year Jasper who had just returned from his first year of university in England. Jasper said that all he knew about America was from what he saw in the movies, and he wanted to hang out with our crew and learn if what the movies portrayed of the American lifestyle was true. After a quick conversation between Mr. Roberts and Jasper’s parents, we loaded back into the van with a plus one.
Our next stop was to the equator curio shops where many of us bargained with local storeowners to get gifts for family members at home. (I would like to add that I did a great job at bargaining and my family should be excited for the goodies I will be coming home with.) After about an hour of being dragged into various shops (literally, these people were aggressive), bargaining to reasonable prices, and (some of us) spending all our money, it was decided that we would leave to go to a fancy supermarket in the town of Nanyuki, about three miles north of the equator.
Now this supermarket was no ordinary run of the mill supermarket, this supermarket had American products. As one could imagine, after being deprived of these goodies for so long, we scurried through the aisles hastily picking up anything that had even a slightly American brand name on it. We found Snickers bars, Cocoa Crunch cereal and even Monster energy drinka. Slowly we all headed to the check out, arms stacked with a variety of food, ecstatic about our purchases.
After our short (but pricey) adventure to the supermarket, we decided to head home. We arrived home 45 minutes later with bags full of food, trinkets, and our plus one Kenyan (some of our food missing from people’s inability to wait ’til later to eat it). We changed and got prepared for dinner; everyone else eating pasta, steak pieces, and vegetables and me eating the chocolate cereal I had just bought, which totally made my day.