Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This is the third morning I woke up in Kenya, but the first morning I woke up in Africa

(Written Saturday April 28, 22:15 Kenya time – regarding Thursday, April 26)

The roosters were crowing well before dawn. The goats started pushing around shortly thereafter. The chorus of morning bugs grew louder and loder. After fits of feigned sleep over the hour of pre-dawn, I finally gave up and got out of bed. As I groped for my clothes and tried to remember where I left my right sandal, knocked over my flashlight lamp and nearly pulled down the mosquito net, I finally navigated the 6 feet to my door and opened it up to the the most glorious, rich red sunrise I'd ever seen. Except maybe the one on Haleakala on Maui, but that's a totally different animal. The sky and clouds were gorgeous, silhouetting several "African" trees (I'll have to figure out what these are called) and two young African men standing at the ridge, for all intents and purposes looking like warriors holding their spears. I rushed in to get my camera, hitting my head for the third of what will turn out to be many times on the low roof line, and dashed back out to get some pictures.

Unfortunately by this point, the two silhouetted men were joined by the approaching Carol. I walked up with a cheery "good morning", only to be met by – which I am still trying to figure out completely – the unhappy Carol. She was on the warpath and it was barely 6:00 am. She stopped long enough to yell at me something about no cook and ignored children before stomping up to Maria's door and pounding on it demanding to know where she was.

Keep in mind this is something like 6:15 in the morning.

Also keep in mind that I'm now writing this after several days of reflection and a deeper understanding of what and the how of business around here, but I will try to keep this true to what I remember thinking at the time.

Carol was seriously pissed off. Apparently there was no one to cook breakfast for the kids, and no adult besides herself had slept there last night. The kids were up making their own breakfast (42 children ages 2 to 16). They had just started boiling water, which was supposed to have been started nearly two hours ago (to boil out the nasty river parasites… although 2 hours does seem a tad excessive, I wasn't about to argue). Maria insisted that the cook should be there soon and that she was often late, but always came by before the end of the day. I'll repeat that. She always came by before the end of the day. Oh, and Maria was off to visit her sister for the day.

So I've come to understand that Maria is (was) the matron of the orphanage. She lives about a 10 minute walk away on her own property, and it's her job to oversee that all employees are doing their job with the kids. Carol was accusing her of failing this job miserably.

Over the next couple of hours, Carol fired the cook (who eventually arrived), the night-watchman who showed up in the morning instead of the night before and was reportedly usually drunk, and some other person who I've no idea what they did.

It turns out things were running a bit slack at the orphanage, to say the least. There's a long, sorted history behind why certain people were working there, mostly involving religion and politics and rival charity organizations (if you can believe such a thing). But Carol cleaned house and within days had all new staff on board.

Anyway it made for an interesting morning. And yes, we did finally get our tea.

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