Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Rain and the Restlessness

It’s quiet.
The station

It’s raining.

It’s off to a slow start here. Taita Hills is such a contrast to evening-time Nairobi, my first touch in Kenya this time, that it almost hurts. After the pulse of a summer of stressing over Ms. G, a couple of weeks of very confused field work preparation, and the constant overdrive of the 38 hour trip here, I just can’t seem to wind down. It’s the weekend when I was never going to get anything substantial done. Arriving on Thursday evening, Friday went for orientation and resting, Saturday for planning, and on Sunday I’m a good Christian and am doing almost nothing (Because no-one else is). Of course I’ve spent any leisure time for being a good student and reading something useful (for those of you it might concern…). The couple of Finnish girls doing their own field work here left for a long weekend in Mombasa practically half an hour after I got here. So it’s pretty much been just hanging around over the weekend, which for some reason wasn’t what I expected.

That’s if it wasn’t for the driver and his friends, the mechanics, who have spent the last couple of days under the station’s four-by-four fixing the clutch. Luckily enough, they succeeded, which meant that there was a need for a test drive, which meant that I got an excuse (“While we’re at it…”) to test drive the station’s motorbike. Great fun! It’s a two-stroke 175cc Yamaha, it can go anywhere, it consumes next to no gasoline, and I believe we will have a bit of a love affair during my stay here. It’s also, given a tolerable weather, by far the best tool for getting around, since (I remind you) it’s very hilly, the roads are in standard rural African condition, and the rains aren’t making them better.

Wundanyi Central
Because of my suspiciously small workload, I’ve had time to get to know the town, called Wundanyi. It’s not my first time here, so even this wasn’t a very big number in my routine. I’d call it a pretty handy place, close by my residence, very densely built with all the most essential services a town needs: A few manageable restaurants (which, for reasons still unknown to me, are called hotels), a real hotel, an ATM, a few cybercafés, an indoor market, some small supermarkets, a gas station, a football pitch and a jail. To this I can add the existence of a handful of extremely shady-looking bars, which I haven’t ventured into yet. (No, I’m not scared… It’s just that I’ve done so little work I haven’t felt I deserve a cold one.) It beats me why none of them provide a possibility to have your drinks outside. I’ve seen the same in Muslim Morocco, but this was for instance not the case in Ghana, which is the closest to a similar culture I’ve experienced for longer periods. Does it all come down to shame? Does this also mean that I have to avoid enjoying a beer under “the public gaze”? I’ve better play it safe, when the time comes…
My office

Me being the only “customer” at the research station (maybe I should call myself a researcher, but I’m too shy) for a moment, means that I live in outrageously good facilities. The station is divided into two residential buildings, of which one is my kingdom. It includes a living room, a kitchen, two bathrooms (of which one is for my personal use) and three bedrooms. Of the latter ones I’ve only found use for one. This will of course all change as next week progresses. This also means, that there’s a chef, a handy man, a night watch and a research assistant basically at my personal service for this blink of an eye in my life-time. I know I’m expected to mention this, and I’m proud to claim it to be true: It doesn’t feel right. Am I well brought up or is it a natural thing to be feeling?

But it’s still quiet and raining. And the folks here laugh at me because I’m Finnish and supposed to be this big Viking guy who can really take cold, but I’ll admit: We’re on a high altitude, it’s the rainy season, and I’m really freezing at moments…

So in expectancy of more excitement…

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