(What I Got) Out of Africa

A Brief Peace Corps Experience Told in Short Breaths and Countless Letters

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Things I Never Want to Forget

Things I never want to forget about Kenya:

The sound of late afternoon rain pounding on the tin roof
The fetid smell of unwashed skin crowded on a matatu
The smell of burning trash
The clarity of light and shadows
The brilliance of the full moon
The darkness permeated by millions of stars
The way the sky and clouds seem to touch the ground—how is the sky so close?
The constant staring
The children who just want to shake my hand
The mud that cakes on your shoes after rain
Acacia trees
The rattle of a dilapidated bike carrying empty soda bottles
Banana trees
The feeling of impotence and helplessness
The strength of the wrinkled mamas
The attitudes towards sex
The ach in my lower back and sides after a jarring matatu ride
The press of human bodies
The sight of chickens and sheep strapped to the top of a vehicle
Boredom. Endless boredom
Frustration of waiting
The red dirt of Nairobi
The brown grass before the rain
The green grass after the rain
“Nipe Pesa, Mzungu”
Boda boda drivers in Kisumu
The endless hospitality of people who always want something
Nakumat, Uchumi, Tenwek Hospital, Nyma Choma, Mahinda chomaChepkemoi