My 4th Host-Family

October 26, 2013 - Mombasa, Kenya

Fearing to travel without legal documents, I left Mombasa in its usual heat and hectic and while sitting in a stuffed Matatu for more than five hours, I had time to prepare myself mentally for a new start. The landscape changed completely from dry and hot savannah to green high and cold mountains. The Matatu driver just dropped me off in the middle of nowhere.

One of my four new host-sisters picked me and we climbed a steep path to reach home. It is a very simple but beautiful place. Small houses with no water inside but there is a tab outside in the compound. The windows don’t have panes and are very small. Therefore it’s very dark inside. And COLD. It felt like the winter in Germany.

The oldest host-sister is my age the next is 18, then 15 and the youngest 9 years old. They are all very funny and open towards me. I enjoy their company and I’m happy to be here.

Our mother is very old – in fact, the 9-year old girl is one of her granddaughters. My host-mum is a business lady. She has a small shop (a “Tante Emma Laden”, as we call it in German) and a few shambas (Kiswahili: Farm), where she grows maize, beans, sugarcane and small things like papayas, red hot chilly peppers and passion fruit. She is a typical Taita-woman.

The local language is the tribe’s language called Kitaita. Most old people only know that language. Kiswahili is also known since it’s the language that can connect people from all tribes. Only very few people know English. With my host-family I have to speak Kiswahili which is good for practice.

The food we eat consists of the traditional dishes. There is Ugali, Kitheri and Kimanga for example. A lot of carbohydrates and no fruits in this area.

My host-family is catholic and very religious. Because it’s the month of Rosary, all of us sit together every evening to pray. For around 30 Minutes… I’m still getting used to that.

I was just staying at home for the first week and helped my host-mum to sell stuff in her shop. People were always surprised to see a white person up here in a rural place. But they greeted me politely and reacted happy when they realized that I know a bit of Kiswahili.

The place where we stay is not in Wundanyi town. It’s almost one hour drive from there. This place here is called Mgange Dawida and there is not really anything that looks like a village. Just some houses spread all over the mountains. Our neighbors are like a part of the family, everyone knows everyone and greetings are a must.

Our kitchen is like all kitchen here. We cook with a Jiko or with firewood. It is smoky and there is only this small window.. But it’s nice to sit there all of us to get some warmth and drink the Kenyan tea.

My teeth are growing trong from eating sugarcane without peeling it before. I like it here. Every Saturday or Sunday we wash our clothes. It takes a bit longer to wash with hands than with a machine but it’s a good experience.

I went to church with the family to see the catholic service but I’m not forced to go. The people sit separated, women on one side, men on the other. The service is calmer than the one I experienced in Mombasa but still nothing for me.

I prefer to climb Vuria, the highest mountain here around. I can see up to Tanzania, the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. It’s the best view one can get.

Because idle people like to get drunk, I have to be home before it is completely dark. That’s around 6:30pm. Life is different when there is no leisure activity time. Work is until 4pm.

My host-family is friends with the pastor he comes to our home sometimes and invited me over also. But he is kind. Not as religious as one might think. He comes from another region of Kenya and is undergoing the same teaching of the local language.

One thing he did what I really didn’t like: he called me in front of the whole church to greet them. Imagine… the only white person in a full church. AAAH!


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