20.10.2012 - 20.10.2012
I’m eating roasted goat, cabbage & tomatoes without utensils, inside a bar/restaurant that could be described as “sketchy”, surrounded by Africans I don’t know, and it doesn’t bother me at all. If you had told me that would happen to me after 4 months, I would not have believed it. I’ve been lacking on the blog since returning to Kenya a month ago. It’s hard to top the trip to the Mara but the wedding I attended yesterday finally gave me something to write about. Ranson who works in the pharmacy at the Gynocare clinic invited me to his wedding a few months ago. I had no idea what to expect. I attempted to organize a bachelor party with cards and American drinking games but no one understood the concept. The wedding invitation indicated a 10am start. Everyone showed up at 3pm. The wedding was held outside under tents at a local college. The bride’s family was on one side, the groom’s on another. All non-family guests sat facing the couple in an area separated by a row of bushes. The actual ceremony took place around 3:30 so I have no idea what occurred that morning. It was very similar to a US wedding. Then it got interesting. After the buffet meal many family members on both sides went up to the microphone and gave speeches to the couple. It was in Kaswahili so I didn’t understand anything except a few “asante sanas” (thank you very much). Presenting gifts to the couple was an hour long process complete with line dancing. People carried everything from a mattress, headboard, stove and wrapped pots and pans. My group from work purchased a refrigerator which I helped carry. You really can’t dance much carrying a heavy object. People also placed colorful necklaces like Hawaiian leis around both the bride and groom. By the end they looked like Christmas presents. The gift giving concluded the ceremony as the rains started. A funny thing was the groundskeepers starting to stack chairs during the ceremony. If someone got up, their chair was quickly snatched away and stacked. The tents started coming down as the music was playing.
Since this was a dry wedding, many people were anxious to go out. I hopped on the back of a bota-bota (motorcycle) for a quick ride to a club in town. It was raining so I was soaked to the skin when I arrived. On Saturdays and Sundays soccer games in the English Premier League are on television. Everyone follows a particular team and has no interest in the Kenyan teams. It may be based on the quality of play. I’ve never been a soccer fan and grateful that Kaitlyn & Natalie found other sports. “Sure I’d be happy to drive down to Wildwood for an 8am game on a Sunday in the rain” – no thanks. When I first arrived in Kenya, I felt that everyone was staring at me. Now it doesn’t bother me if I’m the only mzungu in the place and people are not staring. Clubs are the same as the US with loud music. The only exception is everyone sitting down to watch the “football” games. Afterwards there is dancing and lots of American music. Jared and I ended up at a restaurant I normally would not venture into and shared a meal with the bride’s coworkers who work at a pharmaceutical company in Nairobi. I’m going back to Nairobi next weekend for a tour of the GSK manufacturing plant and a meeting the the country’s general manager. GSK makes the sports drink Lucozade which is not sold in the US. Pulse volunteers working in eastern Africa will be attending. There is an Oktoberfest party somewhere in Nairobi. Hopefully I will have more material as I wind down my assignment in less than 8 weeks.