Having sat down to write about life in Kasana, it seems only fitting that our frequent power outages would keep me from being able to actually post this entry to the blog. We’ve had only limited stretches with power over the last few days, so computer usage has been more or less reserved to Shanti-related projects. (My apologies for the long delay between posts! I was writing, but had no way to get it online…) Apparently, though power outages are not at all uncommon here, the fact that we’ve had them for such long periods each day (and sometimes night) is unusual. Having to rely on laptop battery life can throw a bit of a wrench into plans for the day when you’ve set aside time to work on computer-based projects, but I can’t complain too much. Kristen and Ali both have laptops with no functioning battery at all, so the second the power goes out they lose whatever they were working on (luckily they’re in the habit of saving often!) Despite the inconvenience, we all agree that sometimes it’s really nice to be forced to do nothing but sit and talk or read by candlelight. We’re also approaching a full moon soon, so the sky looks amazing at night when the whole village is dark.
I’m a week and a half into my placement here (as of this actual posting, it’s now almost two weeks), and I’m starting to get to know my way around the area. Vanessa and I have been walking to the Shanti site in Nsaasi Village, and I’ve learned the landmarks along the way well enough to be able to walk there on my own. It’s a very pleasant 20 or 30 minute walk down quiet roads, with just the odd bicycle, boda boda or, very rarely, vehicle. I don’t think that I’ve ever waved so much in my life though! Around here, Mzungus (a term borrowed from Kiswahili to mean “white person”) are definitely not the norm, and children will wave and shout “Bye, Mzungu” repeatedly as you walk past. Some people are bothered by always having attention drawn to them, but it’s fun seeing how excited some of the kids get when you just smile and wave back, or say a quick hello. We’ve also been walking around Kasana some, buying produce from the local vendors, going to the bank, and getting things printed and photocopied for projects we’re working on.
I don’t know how I’ll go back to buying fruits and vegetables in Canada – we’re getting pretty spoiled with the selection and prices here. We walked to a roadside market 30 or 40 minutes north of us and bought all sorts of stuff – bags of green peppers and tomatoes for a dollar, bunches of baby bananas, carrots and onions that each cost the equivalent or 50 cents Canadian, and a 75 cent watermelon. Given that I had been expecting not to really be eating much fresh food while I was here, the abundance of delicious produce has been a very welcome surprise. They’ve got jackfruits that literally grow on trees all over town, and papayas and pineapples that taste infinitely better than what’s available in Canada. Not to mention the avocados are three times the size of the ones we’re used to!
I’ve been carrying my camera with me most places, but should really just start holding it in my hand when I’m walking around, as there’s constantly interesting people and things passing by. Just today we saw a crowd of people gathered around the main road when we were getting on a boda boda, and then out of nowhere someone on a motorcycle came flying down the road doing a wheelie. Our boda driver said that he was “demonstrating”, though for what we weren’t sure.
It’s also fun seeing all the creative toys kids around here come up with, and I thought this particular invention was pretty adorable. I asked these two if I could take their picture, and they got a big kick out of getting to see themselves on my camera screen afterwards. The cow in the background is only one of many animals milling around town – it’s not unusual to see goats, roosters, chickens, dogs, and, by the Maternity Centre site, pigs.
For more shots of Kasana, and also of the house where I’m living while I’m here, check out the new Flickr album I just posted, at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtraynor/sets/72157625073254485/