Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunspots and Hook Worms

This is really long as a result of my random ramblings and nothing else to do. I advise you skim it.

There are very few things that motivate you more to slather on copious layers of sunscreen every hour than the realization that you are no longer invincible against sunspots and wrinkles. I like to think that the hours and hours I’ve spent in the sun throughout my lifetime have been not so much out of choice but a necessity as an outdoor summer athlete. I always wear sunscreen at the beginning of the summer when I'm still super white and burn, but once I've established a base tan, I normally forget to put it on everyday, despite being on the water for several hours a day all summer long. In the back of my head I know this was unwise, and when I retired from paddling I told myself I would start taking the time to look after myself properly. I was legitimately making a bigger effort to wear sunscreen everyday and re-apply here but the one day I decided I would lay outside and read I got ridiculously burned. I looked in the mirror a few days later and realized that I actually had the beginnings of wrinkles and several new freckles on my chest and arms. This really really freaked me out. I don't want to be one of those people who you walk by and instantly know they had spent a lot of time in the sun when they were younger. So the past few days I've been putting on about a gallon of sunscreen every hour in a frantic attempt to prevent further damage or reverse any damage I may have already done. I know I'm only 21 but this whole getting old thing happens quicker than I thought!

We provided a school with feedback based on our data analysis today for the first time! It was really exciting to be able to finally to the job we can here to do. We made up a handout for the head teacher of the school with several tips and a brief summary of what we found. We sat down with the head teacher, the gardener, the cook and another teacher who was involved in what was served to students and went through what awesome things they are already doing, and areas in which they could improve. We provided several tips to make these changes possible and then had a lengthy goal setting session with them. We made concrete, realistic goals with dead lines that the school could strive for that would make the recipes they use more nutritionally adequate for all students. I think the staff were very receptive and appreciative and by the end of the session they even seemed pretty excited and determined to achieve the new goals we had set with them.

To get to the school, we called George, our taxi man, for the first time. He was a little bit sketch, but he is the friend of David, who one of Henry's go to guys and since Henry is awesome and so is David, then we figure George must not be as sketch as he seemed. The road to Kamuketha Primary School is treacherous to say the least. Not to mention we didn't know how to get there. We tried calling Martin, the guy who drove us last time, who is a employee of farmers helping farmers, but when we passed the phone to the driver for Martin to tell him where to go, he simply instructed the driver to stop at another school to pick up a student who could show us the way. We got out of the car at the school and as they pulled a a little boy out of a grade 4 class and was forcing him to get in the car with us, Christina and I refused to let them take a student out of school so a few teachers, the principal and 3 students later, the driver finally got an explanation of how to get there. There are no road signs, so the directions consisted of "turn left at the rock that looks like a banana" and take a right at the cactus". We had to stop like 5 times to ask directions from guys herding goats and women carrying hundreds of pounds of water on their backs on the way but we made it eventually. When Martin drove us to the school last week, he drove very slowly and swerved around all the boulders and eased the truck up the mountain. When I say the road is treacherous, I mean that this road looks like a really decent hike up the side of a mountain, not the least like a road that would allow cars to actually pass. George doesn't have a truck. He has a little car. His strategy for getting up the mountain and over the boulders was to go really fast with a running start. It worked after rolling down the maintain backwards only a couple times though!

After a good day at school, we headed to the junction to Irene's salon for manicures and pedicures. I was a little sketched out about the sanitation of the tools she was using, which aren't washed between people and may never have ever been washed so I settled for getting my nails filled and painted. I stopped biting my nails when I got here for safety reasons and so it's the first time I've had nails long enough to paint which was kind of exciting. She also got disgusted with how dirty my feet were and washed them for me. Good thing to because while she was washing them she found a parasite and dug it out of my toe with a needle sterilized with some sort of alcohol (well clear liquid, I assumed it was alcohol). In Kenya it's called a jigga, but I think it might have actually been a Hookworm. Either way I hand sanitized my feet hardcore when I got home and will have to start bathing more often I guess.

When we were all getting our nails done (all six of us), Jennifer's brother's wife came in, who is also Stacey's grandmother. Stacey is this little girl who comes over all the time to colour in my Toy Story and Monsters Inc colouring books with my crayons that I brought. She had her cell phone in one hand, was wearing a very nice business suit and in the other hand had a chicken. A fully alive, fluffy white chicken. It happened to be her dinner for tonight! She told me that next time she buys chicken, she'll call me up and let me help butcher it and de-feather it and cook it up. I'm sure this will maybe make me cry a little - I can't imagine killing a chicken, but I think it's really important to be as involved as possible in the entire process of your food. I want to raise chickens in my backyard one day, so I think it would be good for me to learn now. I don't really think it would be fair of me to eat chicken as often as I do if I wasn't willing to at least witness the entire from field to table process. There are chickens everywhere here. You can't look outside without seeing one running around. I think I may have fallen in love with them. I decided that if I ever get chickens, I will name each one after a meal. For example, one could be Pot Pie, or Stew, or Drumstick, or Dumpling. The possibilities are endless really.

Yesterday, during hte world cup final, there were a serious of bombings in Uganda. The nurses are a little freaked out that the violence may somehow end up in Kenya but I'm not to worried. I'm keeping my eye on the headlines just to stay informed but I'm sure if anything major ever happened that was any threat to us here, Farmers Helping Farmers and the University would be sending us home asap. Last time the school sent nutrition students, they ended up being robbed at knife or gun point and were consequently sent home on the next flight. Henry is magic and would have us in Nairobi and on a plane within hours of anything happening so I figure we couldn't possibly be in any safer hands.

I will try to put some pictures up soon, but the internet is slow and now that my prof isn't here to take 200 pictures a day there aren't nearly as many to put up!

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