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The Browns – Tom, Ali, Crescena, Bez, & Ber
July 7, 2012 9:50 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Maybe today the Lord was preparing us to leave the beautiful coast next week or maybe it was just a crazy day.  Mombasa is an island (well, technically an isthmus because of a man made road to the mainland) and across the ferry to the south is another town where AIM has a rustic guesthouse for missionaries to retreat to called Amani Acres.  The family who has been overseeing the guesthouse is leaving in less than a week and are friends of ours, so we decided to check it out and pay them a visit.  The “plan” was to have a language lesson from 10-12 and then see how the day unfolded.  Our tuk tuk driver was late to pick us up and then we had to make several stops to find the single ATM that will reliably let us withdraw funds using a US bank card, aka, our salary.  Finally, we were headed across the ferry at 10:15am.  As a side-note, they estimate that 270,000 people cross the ferry every day!  Once reaching the other side, the tuk tuk we were in had clutch problems and petered out a quarter of the way up the hill from the water.  One by one, men started running towards the tuk tuk to push us up the hill.  We kept asking if we should get out and walk, but our tuk tuk driver, John, (who has become a friend of ours) said to remain in the tuk tuk.  It was humbling to be pushed up the hill, and it was amazing to how willing the men were to help.  With the mindset of an American that nothing comes for free, we asked how much we should pay the men for pushing us up the hill, and the response was, “nothing.”  The men continued to push us down busy streets until we reached a good place to pull over, and then, boy did a loud group of drivers wanting our business form.  Our friend John selected a driver, made sure he new where to take us, and ushered us to a new tuk tuk where we continued on our way, quite bewildered by the previous chain of events.

Hot, and tired from trying to comprehend a new language, we attempted to head back home.  While waiting to get back on the ferry, we had an odd conversation with an odd lady who clearly “wasn’t all there.”  I (Ali) was uncomfortable the entire time the lady was talking because she kept reaching her hands in the tuk tuk.  As the line of vehicles finally started to move to get onto the ferry, and when the lady left, I noticed my watch was gone.  Feeling both like a fool (because we had been told watches are one of the easiest and most targeted items to steal) and feeling violated and annoyed at myself for not trusting my instinct that something was not right, I sat- wishing so badly to be somewhere else.  It was after 1pm and we had not eaten lunch yet.  I admit I was cranky and when Tom asked where I wanted to stop for lunch, I snapped: “Applebees!”  No, there are no Applebees in Kenya.

I had had ENOUGH Kenya for one day!  There is ONE shopping mall where you ALMOST feel like you have been transported to the US (except you see old white guys showing PDA with young African women in the restaurant and you can’t find foods that would be staple an American staple like applesauce).  However, this shopping mall was the opposite direction from home and the tuk tuk driver’s price was unreasonable to get there (which should have prepared us for what came next).  Instead of paying on arm and a leg for a mini American escape, we ended up just stopping at a grocery store where Tom and the tuk tuk driver negotiated the cost of the trip for about 20 minutes (because we changed our destination) until Tom finally relented and came inside to join us, obviously irritated and feeling a bit taken advantage of.  What a day!

As you read the above, you may imagine my tone to be depressed. When a Kenyan talks about something difficult, sad, challenging, etc, he or she tends to laugh.  For example, when talking about the grieving that several AIM families experienced a few years ago after a fatal airplane accident, my Kenyan house help was laughing so hard she was crying!  Although, as a counselor, I often find it challenging that any negative experience of emotion is expressed as belly laughter; I am attempting to be a bit more Kenyan about today and just laugh.

On a more lighthearted side of things, one of Crescena’s few words at 1yr & 5mos is “Tuk Tuk!”  Everytime she sees one pass she yells, “Tuk Tuk” and hopes we are getting in and going somewhere. Oh, life in Africa… what an adventure!

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