Mar 17, 2013

Realize it.

When you are ready to wake up, you are going to wake up. If you are not ready you are gonna stay pretending that you are just a little, poor little me. And, uh, since you are all here, engaged in this sort of enquiry listening to this sort of lecture, I assume that all of you are on the process of waking up, or else you are teasing yourself with some kind of flirtation of waking up, which you are not serious about. But I assume that you are not serious but sincere. That you are ready to wake up.

So then, when you are in the way of waking up and finding out who your really are, what you do is what the whole universe is doing at the place you call here and now. You are something that the whole Universe is doing, in the same way that a wave is something that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing. The real you, is not a puppet that life pushes around. The real you, the deep down you, is the whole universe. So then, when you die, you won't have to put up with ever lasting non-existence, because that's not an experience. A lot of people are afraid that when they die, they are gonna be locked in a dark room forever.

But one of the most interesting things in the world, try and imagine what it feels like to go to sleep and never wake up. What would happen if you go to sleep and would never wake up. And if you think long enough about that, something will happen to you. You will find out, among other things, that it will propose the next question to you: "What it would be like to wake up after never going to sleep?". That's when you were born.

You see? You can't have an experience of nothing. So after your death, the only thing that can happen, is the same thing that, or the same sort of experiences when you were born. In other words, we all know that after people die, people are born. And they are all you. But you can only experience it one at the time. Everybody is 'I', we all know you are 'You'. And where so ever beings exist, we are all galaxies. It doesn't make any difference. You are all up. And when them come into being, that's you coming to be, you know that very well. Only you don't have to remember the past in the same way you don't have to think about how you work in prior time. You don't have to know how to shine the sun, you just do it. Like you breath.

And doesn't it really astonishes you that you are a fantastic complex thing, and you are doing all of this and you never had any 'education' how to do it?

Alan Watts in his study.

@ lecture The Real You

Feb 14, 2013

The Cookie Cake Master.

One day we decided we would cook dinner for the family. The menu was: Pizza for main course, Soda for drinks and Cookie Cake as dessert. Chelsea took care of the pizza making while I made the Cookie Cake. Here is the recipe:

You'll need:
-Marie cookies (3packs)
-2 eggs
-Sugar (brown, white, yellow or icing, doesn't matter)
-butter (a whole pack of it - approx 500g)

How to:
- Melt the butter until cream and soft, NOT until liquid
- Add the eggs
- Add sugar until sweet enough (you say how sweet you want it)
- Mix everything until homogenous
- Dunk one marie cookie at a time on the hot coffee and place it on the serving plate shaping the base of the cake
- After one layer of cookies, spread the cream forming another layer
- Add another layer of Marie cookies with coffee
- Repeat the process 'til cookie finish or 'till you are satisfied with the cake's size.

Ana-San, the Cookie Sensei.

Just to let you know, the Pizza was amazing and so was the cake! I actually melted the butter too much, making it impossible to have layers sticking to each other… Two weeks later, I tried again and the cake was successful in the making-of!

Feb 13, 2013

Transforming into a Maasai.

Day 1 started with meeting new volunteers that were in George's house for their first night in Kenya, just as we did 3 weeks ago. They were 3 girls from Costa Rica and Venezuela. And of course… we waited for Patrick. He is VICDA's driver. And he is almost always late. We waited for 1h ad finally when he arrived we said goodbye to the over volunteers and head west.

First stop was at a viewpoint to the amazing Great Rift Valley. There were some shops with art crafts. At the beginning I was excited, and actually regretted not having bough anything there, being afraid that I wouldn't find those things anywherelse… But soon I realized that lots of shops like that one would come in our path… After taking enough pictures, we headed to Narok. A typical African town with street shops, donkeys, music and lots of banks… We had lunch and then went to the bank so we could do some shopping before entering Maasai Mara National Park, 'Food inside is much more expensive! Try to buy some water and snacks here so you can save some money', said the guide.

After a long wait for Patrick (again…) to return from the office where he would take care of our authorizations for entering the park, we were finally on our way to the first (camping) lodge where we would spend the first 2 nights and from where we would do many game drives. Though, by the time we got there, the day was almost over, but we still had time to go for a short drive and try to spot some cool african wild animals. We could see a storm coming in the distance, and that explained the fact that we saw few animals (most of them were sheltered somewhere). This day ended with dinner, short conversation with tea.

Toyota Hiasse as a Safari vehicle.

Day 2 started really bad! It wasn't even 5am when the lodge's water pump started working, and not bad enough, it was right next to our rooms… After the first 1h, you get used to the loud engine sound, so you are able to eventually fall asleep… During breakfast, everyone was grumpy, especially the french group that had arrived the previous night, because their cars got stuck on the mud and they were forced to spend the night at the closest lodge.

Well, after that, we went to a game drive and Aaaah! Much better! We saw lots and lots of animals! Our car was a Toyota Hiasse with a roof ready for safaris (see photo), and believe or not, I was standing from second one! I wanted to absorb each and every single moment and piece of landscape of that land. Also I wanted to be the first one to spot the animals eheh. We had a picnic lunch by a river, where 2km upstream we had a walking safari to watch the hippos and crocs chilling on the water. Patrick was in charge of scaring away some naughty monkeys that wanted to still our precious meal, while the four of us enjoyed sitting on the grass, eating. After lunch we drove back, and before going to the lodge, we went to the Maasai Village. As we entered we met Brian. He is a maasai ad he was dressed like one. Also he would be our guide for the 2h of touring inside the village. Each of us payed 1500KSHS to enter and hat money went to helping the village children getting to school.

Maasai people and their jumping competition (the one that jumps higher, gets more girlfriends)

By this time, Brian told us that some guys would like to perform a dance and sing for us. So they did. It was a little scary, since they were singing with sounds and jumping really high and getting really but really reallyyyyyy close to us! We experienced the village at 100%! We sat with Brian at his house, we met children, women, goats and cows, we also visited the market, saw them making fire, blowing a horn (for communication with other villages), saw the women dancing and singing, drank some Sausage tree beer and played football Maasai style. It was a beautiful day, starting with game drive and finishing with these amazing people with an unique culture.

Day 3 started with a morning game drive. This means waking up before the sun shines and go to the savannah to see some animals. We saw lots of giraffes, elephants and others, but the most astonishing was a male lion walking out of the fog. Each step was given with power and you could feel the strong and spooky presence of this exemplar animal. After this drive, we headed back to the lodge, packed everything and started driving again. We passed by Narok but only stopped for lunch near Nakuru, a town by Lake Nakuru (hence the name). When we reached the town, we went for a boat safari. That was truly amazing. Seeing zebras grazing in the shoreline, hippos chilling and abundant birdlife is an unique experience. Finally we went to the hotel, but not before some traffic. Oh it took us 2h to get to the hotel, and it wasn't that far away… Well, we did the check-in, had an amazing dinner and had a few Tuskers with Patrick before heading to our rooms.

The spooky lion.

The last day started perfectly: THE BEST BREAKFAST EVER. Scrambled eggs and toast with butter, and on the side fresh fruit and juice. Perfect. After that, we went for another game drive. This time Patrick took us to a drive by the water. Again it was amazing. The landscape was breathtaking! The water and the mountains and the animals and the smells and the sounds and… Everything! Again, perfect. Until Patrick told us that we had to get out of the park because there was a part of the van that broke and need to be replaced before going back to Nairobi.

View to Lake Nakuru.

We stopped at a shop and had lunch. The shop was just the same as all the other we had visited the pst few days… The same paintings, the same sculptures and the same speech 'Hello! Would you like to buy this? What about this one? Ohhh The one is beautiful don't you think? What about this now for your loved one?'… Eventually Patrick came back  with a new part for the car and we were heading to Nairobi. Daniel and Sonya stayed at George's place, while Patrick drove me and Chelsea back to Rongai.

P-Man! Patrick.
We got home, ate dinner, talked about our safari to the family and went straight to bed.


I didn't told you this but on the first day the four of us (me, Chelsea, Daniel and Sonya) decided that on the third weekend we would do a Safari for four days. And what an amazing experience it was! So allow me to describe the highlights (and the dark shadows…)

It was a Thursday when me and Chelsea left school before lunch, so that we had time to pack everything and walk to Rongai to catch the bus to Nairobi and we would spent the night at George's place, near Junction (the family that hosted us the very first night we spent in Kenya). Sonya and Daniel were waiting for us there, tough we caught too much traffic going to Nairobi, therefore me and Chelsea were starving by the time the bus pulled over near the Railway station in the city's CBD. We called Daniel to see if they were already having dinner, and this happens "Annah did not make dinner counting with both of you… George didn't tell her you were spending the night" (by the way, Annah is George's daughter). SO me and Chelsea decides we would have dinner somewhere in the CBD and after we would meet them to go for a drink.

We had dinner at 'The Grill'. A wonderful cafe/restaurant/lounge/club/bar on a first floor, 5 min away from the railway station (yup, we couldn't go further, we were hungry enough!) Of course we started ordering 'The menu and 2 Tuskers, please." After the drinks came, we placed our main courses order and enjoyed the breeze and view from the restaurant's balcony. There were some kids downstairs dancing with the music our restaurant emanated. We stared at them for long time, we laughed at the way they were dancing in one moment and when someone was passing by them they would stretch their hand and, with confidence, with beg for some money (or food, we couldn't really tell). When we finished our meal we took a picture of this amazing restaurant and headed to the Taxi Plaza, not before being chased by those dancing kids, begging for money (yup, now we knew…). After bargaining with the taxi driver, we were heading to George's place to finally meet Sonya and Daniel and go for some drinks in the Junction.

The cafe/restaurant/lounge/club/bar in Nairobi CBD.

At George's place, we left our luggage in our room and warned Annah that we would be back in a couple or hours. Eventually we headed 'That way!', Daniel said pointing to the total darkness of Nairobi night. And there we went. We walked and walked in total darkness (because Nairobi fringes do not have proper street lights…) until the moment that a car stopped by us and said 'Hey Sonya!' We all looked and the Sonya 'George! Are you going that way?', 'Yes indeed! Do you need a lift?', and then all n chorus 'Yes please, thank you!'. So we escaped a short walk to the Junction Mall, where the 'Lounge Bar' was located. We thanked George and went up the stairs of this big and well lit building.
'Can I see your ID please sir?', said one security guy to Daniel at the entrance of the bar. 'I'm sorry but this bar is a over 25 years old bar.'. We all looked at each other, since Sonya was the only one who could actually enter in the bar. Though this is when she says 'I'll take care of them. I'm old enough to be their mother!'. The security turns to the man besides him (apparently the boss) and says 'Okay.'. With smiles from ear to ear we entered, and short after passing the door, the boss comes to me and says 'If someone asks how old you guys are, just tell them to come talk to me'. SO apparently we made new friends!

'Sangria, a cocktail, one glass of white wine and a Shisha - apple flavor, please'. That was what gave us energy and conversation topics for almost 3h. That and the band that was playing good classics and some national music.

We walked to George's house giggling and laughing. Finally we were in bed and the only thing separating us from those 4days of safari in wester lands of Kenya was a good night of sleep.

Feb 8, 2013


It was a Tuesday. Me and Chelsea had a really early breakfast, because we needed to catch a bus to Nairobi, and with traffic, it can take 2hours to the city. And so it did! We got to Rongai at 8h15, and we arrived in Nao at 10h15. By 10h30 we were at the Coffee House next to VICDA Offince (the meeting point) having Chapati and a Coke (because we were hungry - again) and we weren't sure when we were having another meal.

Daniel and Sonya were late for our Kibera tour. But so was the guide, so I had time to make some phone calls (parents, lil sis and grandparents). After Daniel, Sonya and Peter (the guide) got to VICDA office, we took the bus to Kibera surroundings. It was a strange feeling. Excitement and worry. Happiness and sadness. Tiredness and hyperventilating! All kinds of stuff came through my mind: 'What if a guy takes my watch? It's better to keep t in my bag. What about photos? Should I just keep the camera on the bag the whole time?'. Well, that bus trip seemed endless!

Eventually, we stopped at Kibera. I was so surprised how many people were there! The main street was busy as any shopping mall during Christmas. Lots of people on the street, shops selling everything from chickens (cooked or alive), football jerseys, candy, movies, plants and even furniture. The loud music that was being played just seemed like random rhythms, but if you listened carefully you could hear that it came from 3 different shops…

Peter waled us inside the slums. Our first stop was Tunza Kibera. This is a Primary school that belongs to the same woman that owns the orphanage that Daniel and Sonya are volunteering in. The building consists in a small area, the same as a small house's, with two stories. It has, a kitchen, dorms, staffroom, classrooms, washroom and more. And actually they were planning on reenforcing the foundation of the building to grow another store, cause they have to many kids and they need more classrooms.

We left Tunza Kibera and walked all the way inside the slums with Peter leading the way. The noise and music form the main road disappeared completely! We were walking in silence. Only our footsteps and some children yelling 'How a'you?' could be heard from time to time and we would answer back with a smiley 'Jambo!'. The houses are made of soil mixed up with some garbage and waste from these narrow streets between buildings. We had to walk carefully cause, specially me and Chelsea (the giants of this land) could easily hit with our forehead in a sharp zinc sheet from a roof, 'Watch out for that one' said Daniel after slamming against one. We went to another school were we got a great dancing and singing performance as we finished the tour around the classrooms (which were divided by sheets of plastic 'Made in Korea').

Classrooms' walls made from plastic sheets.
We visited some family from Peter. We took some pictures and talked a little with them. After we went to Peters place. We sat on his couches and bed (Chelsea got the bed, while me and Daniel and Sonya shared a couch). By this time, Peter went to the back and got back holding a National Geograpic magazine, that later he explained that is was the first issue of 'Africa National Geographic'. It was a big deal this issue! He was in it! Peter our guide helped a project in Kibera and some filmmakers from hollywood came to document the happening. He made us read the article, which was kinda cool and unexpected.

We were getting hungry, but before lunch we headed to the clinic. It was lunch time so the patients had to go out of the clinic, and they only could come back after 14pm. The clinic was really in good conditions, it had beds, medicines, 2 doctors and water. Tough, it is the only clinic to assist the Kibera slums… if you cannot be treated there, you have to go to the hospital, with is far away from Kibera and much more expensive.

Eyes full of curiosity and humility @ Kibera.
Finally we were having lunch. In a place by the main road, so yes, it was loud and people were passing by all the time (and staring at us, of course). We wanted a menu to see what we could have there, but the guy said 'There's no menu. We have ugali with beans and chapati, we have…', 'I want on of that please', I said with confidence and a pinch of excitement for Ugali. Chelsa ordered the same and Daniel order fried rice and beans. The other orders were made, and by the time that we got the bill we were amazed… 4 meals including drinks for less than 500KSHS (that's less than 7USD). We usher to pay and continue our journey, but this time to Ngong.

We got the bus one eleven to Ngong (by the way, you don't say the N, you read Gong). Thirty minutes in the bus drive, it started to rain… a lot! The bus driver even let a couple of kids to take a free ride to Ngong cause it was raining like crazy! We were almost in Ngong when the bus had to stop to drop some passengers. It pulled over out of the road. the step between the road that the soil was so high that we had to switch chairs in the bus so that it could maintain its balance and not fall over… It was a moment to forget!

Finally we got to Ngong and… It was raining a lot. We sheltered a while waiting for the rain to stop. When it did, we jumped to the Piki-pikis and drover to Mama Tunza's orphanage (about 10min way). The mud, the rain and the call that the driver answered while driving made that trip unforgettable. Chelsea on the middle, me on the back and the on handed piki-piki driver. When we got to the stop, we still had to walk 15min to the orphanage. Since it had been raining, everything was muddy, and as we alkyd we grew in height (mud accumulated in our shoes forming irregular heels). FINALLY we were in the orphanage were Daniel and Sonya are volunteering. It's a really nice place, but for what we heard, there are some management issues, that if they were resolved, that place would be much better. Still, it is pretty good.

It was time to head back to Rongai. Esther told us the night before, that from Ngong to Rongai we don't need to go back to Nairobi. 'Get matatu to Kiserian and then Rongai. You will not pay more than 40 KSHS for trip, I am sure!'.

It kept raining. We got home in time for dinner.

Purple rain, purple rain.

Now about the Monday that we had that meeting I told you all about.

We were actually supposed to get to school at 8am, so that the meeting was the first thing done that day. Though we couldn't get up early enough because of the late night we had on Sunday (we took the family out for diner, and announced to Esther that… I will tell you more about that later). So we got there at 9am. Nothing to worry about, since we weren't late for any class that day (Swahilli time!)
We  started our day by grading some homework from the day before. Once that task was finished, I got up and approached Teacher Samuel and reminded him about the meeting. 'Of course Ann! I'll look for Teacher Priscillah and we may start the meeting right away!'.

So there we were. Me and Chelsea on one side of the desk, Teacher Samuel and Priscillah on the other. I started the meeting by greeting them (African Style) and announcing the porpoise of it "To discuss funding matters". Once both teachers realized what I just said, their facial expression just changed. 'Oh my! Thank you so much! We were wondering why you wanted this meeting to happen! We thought it was because you were unhappy with the school and wanted to complain!', Teacher Samuel said. We both laughed for the misunderstanding and wondered how would have been their weekend (thinking about the Monday morning meeting).

The rest of the meeting went smoothly. We first asked what did they needed for the school and what were their expectations for this 'injection'. I was surprised with their answer! I thought (maybe too cliche and impertinent of me…) they would ask something superfluous for the school so that the usage of that something would be for limited people… But no. Their main concern were the classrooms: 'They need to be painted and we need new desks and chairs', Teacher Samuel said, 'And we need new text books too!' Teacher Priscillah added.

Pupils in class 6West.

Both me and Chelsea completely agreed on their opinion, though we had some other ideas… 'Well, you know that our funding injection is limited, we do not have unlimited money to spend here' - both teacher nodded in agreement - 'So, our idea for the intervention is, instead f TRYING to help 600 students, we want to actually help the 20 teachers. We want to get new desks, chairs, cabinets and lockers for the staffroom. This way, you can be more productive and happier about teaching in Olekasasi.' Teacher Priscillah remained quiet for a while, soaking in all that just hit her. Teacher Samuel kept thanking us and saying that 'Any help is more than welcome here!'. We got to know that Olekasasi Primary School gets per year per student the amount of 1020 KSHS (approx. 13USD). So you can imagine how hard it is to get stationary material, new text books and keeping with maintenance of the school with that budget. 'It's really hard…', said finally Teacher Priscillah.

When the meeting was over me and Chelsea went to Science class with 6West. This time we started the Plants' Unit! Again the kids were so focused in what we were saying, and if there was one disturbing the class, they were the first one to shut the disturber up! Amazing… You ask a question and 10 students raise their hand saying 'Tche! Tche!', meaning 'Teacher me me me!'.

After this class was Break time. Me an Chelsea were tired of homework marking, so we heeded outside to play with some kids. After we went back inside. We finished marking all the homework's, cause the next day we were going to Kibera and Ngong.

We walked home and it started to rain.

Feb 5, 2013

É uma espécie de Magia.

Eu adoro Magia. Especialmente o tipo de magia que nos une a todos!

A magia da nostalgia, do amor, do carinho, da juventude.

Walt Disney uma vez disse:
Todos os nossos sonhos se tornam realidade se tivermos a coragem de os perseguir.

Por isso, eu Sonho e Corro.

Recreio durante o tempo de intervalo na Escola Priária de Olekasasi.

It's a kind of Magic.

I love magic. Specially the kind of magic that bond us all together!

The magic of nostalgia, of love, of kindness, of youth.

Walt Disney once said:
All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

Hence, I Dream and Run.

Playground during Break Time at Olekasasi Primary School.

Feb 3, 2013

Aprender e ensinar.

Escola Primária Olekasasi. Os nossos primeiros dias foram simplesmente ... caóticos! Permitam-me descrever como eu me sentia:

Tendo sido criada em países ocidentais, onde as regras, organização e rotinas reinam, aquando enfrentando a pobreza e as escolas africanas, o nosso espírito ingénuo e jovem poderá ficar em choque e o dia-a-dia pode tornar-se muito duro ... Eu estava meio preparada para o que eu estava prestes a experenciar, mas, na verdade, viver nesta realidade é uma história completamente diferente ...

Os quadros pretos são simplesmente uma área da parede pintada com tinta preta, as mesas e cadeiras são feitas de paletes de madeira recicladas, os cadernos dos alunos são reutilizados todos os anos até que se esgotem de páginas em branco, os livros do professores são reutilizados, mesmo até os da década passada, e há um belo dum jardim em frente a cada sala de aula.

Todas as manhãs, quando chegamos à escola, devemos entrar e saudar estilo África: aperto de mão e um sorriso a dizer: "Bom dia, como vai". Para os amigos, podemos dar um high5 mas novamente com um sorridente "Bom dia, como vai". Por experiência própria, as pessoas ficam ofendidas se não as cumprimentamos pessoalmente. Uma aceno de mão e "Bom dia" não chega para estas pessoas sempre felizes, simpáticas e alegres.

Após a fase de saudação, finalmente sentamo-ns na nossa secretária, que, neste momento,partilhamos com um outro voluntário, estudante da universidade local com a humilde tarefa de plastificar livros. Bonnie faz isto o dia todo, todos os dias. Eu tenho reparado a forma como ele executa a sua tarefa... A sério ... Ele é um especialista! A maneira como ele lida com a lâmina minúscula que usa para cortar o plástico e a fita, é quase artístico, e a disciplina que ele tem a dobrar e colar e cortar e puxar, pode determinar o quão rigoroso e responsável que ele é "na vida real".

Depois de uma semana de sentar e corrigir TPCs e de dar somente uma aula por dia (se necessário/coordenado), eu e Chelsea finalmente arranjámos pouco de coragem para pedir um horário adequado, em que teríamos três ou quatro aulas de que seríamos responsáveis. Abordámos a Prof. Priscilla, e sim... Ela ajudou-nos a conseguir um horário adequado. Foi só isso que precisámos: "Pedir".

Agora somos especialistas em dar aulas de Matemática, Ciências, Estudos Sociais e Inglês. Os primeiros dias foram bem difíceis (aliás, chegámos a pedir à Prof. Priscillah que déssemos aulas juntas para elevar o ego e termos mais confiança ao confrontarmos 50 alunos por turma), mas agora já é  fácil e divertido, quando confrontamos os alunos todos e os ensinamos sobre, por exemplo, o corpo humano, caligrafia e gramática.

Encontrámos outra missão difícil: arranjar os livros para as aulas. Inglês até foi fácil. A Prof. Priscillah deu-nos o dela. Estudos Sociais e Ciências, o Prof. Maurice ajudou-nos a encontrar um. Matemática, só uma semana depois, o Prof. Samuel deu-nos o dele. Portanto, agora, temos tudo o que precisamos para dar aulas mesmo fixes!

Às vezes é difícil dar a atenção e apoio a cada aluno na turma ... Há tantos! E cada aula é de apenas 35min, por isso às vezes acabamos por "roubar tempo" de outra aula de outro professor.

A escola não tem um campainha. Na verdade o que eles têm é um estudante com um sino, e ele é o encarregado toca-lo a cada 35min, intervalos e à hora de almoço. Nós descobrimos que o sino é improvisado ... O que significa que, não é um sino decente. Mas agora o diretor tem um novo! E veio-se lamentar a mim e à Chelsea de como era caro... E é verdade! Num país onde as refeições custam 200SHS, um sino custa 35.000SHS!

Eu adoro os intervalos na escola. Vê-se centenas de crianças no campo simplesmente a brincar! Imagina só o que é ver 600 crianças felizes em um campo vazio, a jogar bola, a correr, a subir à única árvore existente no recreio, a gritar e rir. Às vezes nós vamos lá para fora (só para fazer um intervalozito de corrigir centenas de TPCs do dia anterior) para brincar com as crianças. Este é o momento em que ficamos a conhecer melhor algumas crianças e criar laços com outras.

Na sexta-feira abordei os Profs. Samuel e Priscillah, anunciando que na segunda-feira gostaria de ter uma reunião com eles para discutir questões acerca de... Mais sobre isso no próximo post ;)

Campanhas Políticas e a Escola Primária de Olekasasi lá no fundo.

Jan 30, 2013

Learning in Teaching.

Olekasasi Primary School. Our first days in there were just… Chaotic! Allow me to describe how I felt:
Growing up in Western countries, we both are used to western organizations, routines and rules; Facing poverty and african schools can be really rough on our young and naive souls… I was kinda prepared for what I was about to experience, but actually, living it is a completely different story…

The blackboards are simply an area of wall painted with black paint, desks and chairs are made of recycled pallets, the student's notebooks are re-used every year until they run out of blank pages, teachers books are re-used from last decade and they have a beautiful garden in front of each classroom.
Every morning, at school, must start with the African Greeting: hand shake and smile saying 'Good morning, How are you'. To your friends you can give a High5 again with a smiling 'Good morning, How are you'. By personal experience, they get offended if you don't greet them personally african style. A hand wave and a loud Good morning it's just not enough for these NICE, HAPPY AND CHEERFUL people.

After greeting, we sit down at our desk, that at this moment, we share it with another volunteer from the local university that has the task of plastifying books. Bonni does that all day around, everyday. I have been watching him doing his task. Seriously… He is an expert. The way he handles the tiny blade which he uses to cut the plastic and the tape is almost artistic, and the discipline that he has on the folding and pasting and cutting and pulling, can determine how strict and responsible he is 'in real-life'.
After a week of sitting and grading homework and give one class per day (if needed/arranged), me and Chelsea finally got some courage to ask for a proper timetable, on which we would have three or four classes that we would be responsible for. We approached Teacher Priscillah, and yes… She helped us getting a proper timetable. That was all it took: 'Asking'.

Now we are experts in giving classes of Math, Science, Social Studies and English. The first days were hard (we even asked Teacher Priscillah if we could be in the same classes together so that we would feel more confident when facing an average of 50 pupils per class), but now we are find it really easy and amusing, when facing all those pupils and teach them about the human body and correct spelling of words.

We encountered another difficult quest: Getting the books for the classes. English was easy. Teacher Priscillah gave us hers. Social studies and Science, Teacher Maurice helped us find one. Math, one week after, Teacher Samuel gave us his. So by now, we have everything we need to conduct proper classes.

Sometimes it is really hard to give attention and support to every single student in the class… There are so many! And each class is only 35min, so sometimes we find ourselves 'stealing time' from another's teacher class.

The school doesn't have a bell. Actually what they have is one student with an actual bell, and he is in charge of playing it every 35min, breaks and lunch time. We found out that that bell is improvised… Meaning that, it isn't a proper bell. But now the Head Teacher got a new one! And complained to us how expensive it was.. And it's true! In a country where meals cost 200SHS, a bell costs 35.000SHS!!!
I love breaks on that school. You see hundreds of kids on the field just playing! imagine what it is to see 600 kids happy on an empty field, playing ball, running, clubbing the only tree there, screaming and laughing. Sometimes we go outside (taking a break from grading hundreds of homework from the day before) and play with the kids. This is the time when we get to know better some kids and bond with others.

On Friday I approached Teacher Samuel and Priscillah, announcing that on Monday we would like to have a meeting with them to discuss sue issues. More on that on the next post ;)

Political campaigns and the Olekasasi Primary School in the back.

Tal como os de cá.

A vida em África é difícil. Não podemos confiar em toda gente, mas também, às vezes, não tems escolha.

No outro dia fomos a Nairobi. Tínhamos várias tarefas que tinham de ser feitas:

(-Chegar à cidade ;)
-Ir ao banco;
-Pagar o safari;
-Comprar o router de internet móvel;
-Registrar meu telemóvel;
-Comprar alguns mantimentos;
-Fazer turismo;
(-Voltar para casa.)

A aventura começou com a caminhada para Rongai onde apanhámos um autocarro para a cidade. Desta vez, fomos por um atalho que a Jane nos ensinou logo de manhã. No caminho, cruzámo-nos com um grande número de vacas e cabras. De experiências passadas, eu estava mais assustada com as cabras do que com as mais fortes e maiores ditas vacas.

Bem, chegámos a Rongai sãs e salvas (apenas dois homens estranhos se aproximaram de nós no caminho) e um outro capítulo apenas começara: encontrar o autocarro número125 para Nairobi. Chegámos à área denominada como Paragem de autocarros (e matatus, tuk-tuks, piki.pikis, etc.) quando um homem veio  correr na nossa direcção e diz: 'Nao?' apontando para o seu Matatu, já completamente cheio com passageiros. A início, não entendi, mas depois de algumas outras tentativas, conseguimos ... Nao = Nairobi.

Decidimos ir com ele. Entrámos no Matatu (que é muito menos espaçoso que um autocarro) e tomámos os lugares de trás. Foi um desafio só para lá chegar, já que estávamos a carregar mochilas e nós não somos as pessoa mais pequenas por estas redondezas...

Duzentos xelins e 45min depois, estávamos em Nao, prontas para esta aventura nas suas ruas metropolitanas. Por incrível que pareça, nós despachámos as primeiras coisas da lista em quase 2 horas (eu sei, eu sei .. É difícil de acreditar, já contando com os serviços públicos, como bancos e lojas de telecomunicações pode ser realmente considerado um milagre...).

Nós queríamos parar e comer algo verdadeiramente queniano e de facto, durante a  nossa busca incansável de 'Vamos descobrir onde o Barclays mais próximo fica", deparamo-nos com 'Swahilli Delicies', e sim, a escolha estava feita. Ambas pedimos uma Coca-Cola refrescante e uma galinha com molho e Ugali (farinha de milho).

Terminámos a nossa refeição, mais do que merecida, e dirigimo-nos para os museus na parte Norte da cidade. Mas, primeiro, demos de caras com um homem, que nos andava a seguir toda a manhã, e convidou-nos para visitar a sua loja - num corredor muito estreito e escuro numa rua secundária perto do gueto da cidade.

Na nossa caminhada (2-3km) para o Museu, passámos pela Universidade de Nairobi, mais especificamente o departamento de Meio Ambiente e Geografia. O Campus é lindo! Árvores altas, belos jardins cheios de flores, arquitetura moderna e tudo está limpo. Também passámos por algumas bancas de artesanato de pessoas locais. Uma mulher veio a correr para nós a gritar: 'Amigo! Vem! Venha para a Loja da Mama e ver o que tem cá dentro!','Oh, nós estamos atrasadas para ir ao museu! Mas, mais tarde, voltamos!', 'Ah ... tudo bem. Prometem?','Sim, nós temos que passar por aqui de qualquer maneira', 'Oh! Ok ok! Mama vai estar à vossa espera. Já agora, adoro o teu cabelo!'. A Mama  ficou completamente fascinada com os meus caracóis, e depois de passarmos pela sua loja, quatro homens apareceram do nada e, mais uma vez, tentaram-nos convencer a visitarmos as suas bancas. Houe um que também falou dos meus caracóis, mas acho que era para captar a minha atenção e tal.e mesmo se gabou o meu cabelo crespo para ver se eu tenho a sua atenção. Na realidade, resultou, porque mais tarde... Já lá vamos!

Nós finalmente chegámos ao Museu. Estava uma escultar à entrada do edifício que lhe concede a dignidade que merece. Quando entrámos, notámos na banda tradicional que estava a dar um concerto (mais uma amostra para vender CDs .. Mas tudo bem). Comprámos o bilhete e dirigimo-nos para a galeria.

Pinturas tradicionais Massaai e artesanato estavam na primeira sala do museu. Na segunda, havia modelos da vida selvagem que podemos encontrar no Quénia (elefante, zebra, búfalo, okapi, leopardo, o gorila, o leão, papa-formigas, pangolim, impala, etc). Depois de mais de uma hora na galeria, merecíamos uma bebida gelada. Então, seguimos as setas para o restaurante e pedimos 'Uma Coca-cola gelada com limão mas sem gelo, por favor'. Esse foi um dos momentos mais relaxantes que eu tive desde que cá estou! De frente para o jardim, com uma bebida refrescante, brisa fresca e uma conversa agradável (eu e Chelsea).

Após esse momento de descontração, fomos para o Parque das Cobras! Isto envolve muitas cobras em terrários ... incluindo as espécies mais perigosas da África! Crocodilos e tartarugas também fazem parte do museu e alguns eram realmente assustadores.

Bem, depois do episódio de museu, voltámos para a estação de autocarros para apanharmos um Matatu de volta para Rongai. Mas, obviamente, passámos pela loja da Mama. E foi uma estreia! Nós regateámos. Muito! Quase 30 minutos depois, ambas possuíamos prendinhas para amigos e familiares.

Ao irmos para a paragem de autocarros, parámos durante uns minutinhos para comprar água e uma sobremesa para toda a família.

Eu não posso descrever o quão caótica a paragem de autocarros realmente é. Na verdade, não era paragem nenhuma! Tornou-se um ponto de encontro para todos os meios de transporte que se possa imaginar! Desde autocarros grandes a motas, desde matatus a tuk-tuks. Finalmente estávamos dentro do Matatu rumo a Rongai, após andarmos feitas loucas a perguntar a toda a gente 'Rongai? Rongai? '.

As criaturas má lindas no Quénia.

Um dos edifícios principais da Universidade de Nairobi.

Dentro de um Matatu. Rongai-Nao-Rongai.

Chegámos a casa a são e salvo. Jantámos e comemos a sobremesa.

Os mais barulhentos cá de casa.

1- Depois de um dia inteiro cheio de aulas com quase 50 alunos, nós voltamos para casa e damos de caras com três meninas lindas e animadas. No entanto, há UMA que se destaca das outras.

2- Depois de um dia inteiro cheio de aulas com quase 50 alunos, nós voltamos para casa e ouvimos as badaladas das 17h do Sr. Relógio de Parede. Ele adora badaladas. E fá-las a cada hora que passa. A originalidade é o seu ponto forte (uma canção por hora...)

Sr. Relógio de Parede e Boi.

Ah... A Ironia.

Não é maravilhoso quando nos confrontamos com a Ironia?

(...) 'Nothing like you and I'

Esta viagem tem sido tal como aquele filme 'Comer, Orar e Amar'. E o melhor é que eu sempre quis ter algo semelhante ao que Julia Roberts encontrou ao fim de um ano de viagem: encontrar o que ela encontrou, saborear o que ela saboreou, ver o que ela viu (mas claro, ver outros sítios, mas ver com os mesmos olhos), etc. Há uma mensagem especial por trás do romance. O optimismo, os sonhos, o desejo e claro... Amor para dar e vender!

Rongai lá no fundo.

Hienas? Onde?!

Finalmente conseguimos jogar com as bolas que trouxe!

Eu e Chelsea fomos dar um passeio. Um passeio fotográfico assim se pode dizer, nas redondezas da nossa casa. No momento em que chegámos perto da nossa escola, reparei que algumas crianças estavam a correr na nossa direcção, e poucos instantes depois:"Professora Chelsea!"... É sempre ela! 'E a Professora Ana?!", perguntei. Chelsea soltou uma gargalhada enquanto o garoto ficou um pouco atrapalhado e envergonhado, mas bem, agora eles sabem quem eu sou! Acho... (Deixem-me dizer que isto só acontece por causa da equipa de futebol Chelsea FC) -- '

Bem, as crianças começaram tocar-nos exaustivamente e agarram-nos pelas mãos (e pelo meu cabelo! As pessoas aqui ficam fascinadas com meus caracóis, e só querem tocar, tocar e tocar!). As crianças perguntaram-nos se podámos ensiná-los a correr. Nós olhámos uma para o outra e eu disse: "Bem, e que tal jogar à bola?","Nós não temos bola...", "Ah, então nós amos a casa num instante buscar uma bola e voltamos dentro de 5min!". E assim o fizemos; 5min mais tarde, lá estávamos nós, arbitrando um jogo de futebol anárquico entre 20 crianças. Os pequenos limitavam-se a ficar ao nosso lado, em busca de protecção contra os chutos fortíssimos dos mais velhos em direcção indefinida. E Victoria também lá estava. Mais uma vez com aquele sorriso humilde e calma que nenhuma outra criança foi capaz de transpirar.

Só pudemos ficar por lá cerca de 20 min, porque, mais tarde íamos jantar algures com a nossa nova família, supostamente ao 'sítio do costume'. Então, quando já avançávamos para a 2ª parte do jogo de futebol, de um tempo de futebol, vimos a Jane a correr na nossa direcção, e quando nos alcançou anunciou que Esther e o marido estavam no carro à nossa espera, para que pudessemos ir então à tão ansiada ceia no Buffalo Restaurant (acompanhada de bebidas e...já lá vamos).

Nós as duas (eu e Chelsea) ficámos realmente surpreendidas com as condições do restaurante. A primeira coisa vimos foi o parque infantil. Com baloiços e 'astro-jump' (liguem à Chelsea para mais informações ... em português é conhecido como 'insufláveis'), Boi e Soni simplesmente desataram a correr para o insuflável, enquanto eu e Chelsea relembráva-mos reclamando como nós, às vezes, durante a nossa infância, éramos proibidas de entrar nesses parques infantis por 'parecerer-mos' mais velhas, devido à nossa altura acima da média...

Bem, caminhámos para as traseiras do parque, onde estavam dispostas cadeiras, chapéus de sol e mesas numa esplanada do restaurante. Ficámos com a  única mesa vaga e, logo depois de nos sentarmos, pedimos duas cervejas e duas Coca-Colas  (Coca-Colas para mim e para a Chelsea, cervejas para Mama e Papa) - não  que não bebêssemos cerveja, só que nós não queríamos dar a impressão errada sobre o nosso carácter, então... Ficámos pelas Coca-Colas!)
Foi por esta altura que (sem crianças por perto), conseguimos ter uma conversa adulta (bem, suficientemente adulta).
Conversamos sobre Kibera, como é que as pessoas vivem por lá, e Papa compartilhou algumas experiências que teve quando ele ia visitar alguns amigos nesse musseque. Conversamos sobre o tempo (não foi a versão cliché!). Comparámos o tempo (super-hiper-mega) frio do Canadá, com a tolerância de Ester à humidade. Conversamos sobre viagens fizéramos anteriormente a esta aventura no Quénia.
E conversamos sobre Vida Selvagem Quéniana!

Deixem-me dizer que há dois anos, Mama e Papa tinham um cão grande. Um pastor alemão. Ele era corajoso e forte. No entanto, um dia, ele foi encontrado morto no jardim da frente. Ideias do que o possa ter morto?! UM LEÃO! AI MÃE que há animais selvagens correndo livremente por aqui! Nop, Agora que não me levanto para ir fazer xixi durante a noite... Aguento... Até às 7 da manhã.
Depois dessa experiência do leão, vieram as histórias sobre a hiena. "Ah, sim, à noite, de vez em quando, és capaz de ver uma a andar pela estrada.". E logo depois do Papa ter dito isso, Chelsea apenas olhou para trás e vê uma sombra nuns arbustos "O-O-O que é isso? ', Todos nós olhámos e eu perguntei 'Hiena? Onde?! " tentando descobrir o que Chelsea mirava. Um instante depois, Esther, com uma grande risada disse: 'Isso é um gato minha querida! "

Papa and the kids.
Com muitas experiências para compartilhar e histórias para contar, e de jantar à estilo do Quénia (sem talheres), Papa pediu duas Tuskers. Uma para mim e outra para a Chelsea.

Num Domingo de manhã.

Eu já me apercebi do quão óbvio é a fé e crenças que os quenianos carregam por JC e Deus. Sou capaz de ver um cartaz, uma frase, uma imagem, um símbolo, algo que lembra a Igreja Católica em todo os sítios que vá. No outro dia, fomos para a casa da Professora Priscillah para um chá depois de um dia inteirinho de escola e, claro, as paredes da casa estavam cheias de fotos e quadros alusivos a Deus e fé.

Deixem-me dizer que eu realmente não sigo os princípios cristãos mais convencionais ... eu não vou à missa aos Domingos, e (eu sinto muito em dizer isto, e não quero ofender ninguém), por vezes duvido da sua existência. Ou melhor, eu acredito em algum tipo de energia que nos mantém Aqui. E, segundo a primeira e segunda Lei da Termodinâmica "nada é destruído, tudo se mantém" e "o princípio da entropia", passei a acreditar que não é um ELE que nos governa, mas nós mesmos temos esse poder dentro de nós. Eu não tenho 'alguém' lá em cima 'ditando os mandamentos para que me possa tornar uma melhor pessoa. Não. Para mim, eu sou uma melhor pessoa porque assim escolhi ser.

Mas bem, vamos manter-nos no tópico.

Domingo de manhã, é a hora de ir à igreja. Senti o nervosismo à flor da pele assim que vi o edifício - uma estrutura de metal, com cadeiras, bancos e uma mesa na frente para os porta-vozes. Não sei bem o Porquê ou o Como, mas o o meu batimento cardíaco acelerou bastante. (Eu tenho que admitir que algo/ alguém estava a avisar-me sobre aquilo que estava prestes a acontecer dentro daquela humilde capela ao lado da escola Boi e Soni,  mesmo em frente à rua da casa de Ester .) Então, todos nós entramos na igreja. Estavam provavelmente 20 pessoas lá dentro nesse momento .

E estavam todos a cantar.

Tive calafrios quando me apercebi o que estava a acontecer, e quando me sentei na minha cadeira, eu (quase) senti as lágrimas nos olhos. No entanto, consegui conte-las, porque sabes: eu tenho uma reputação a manter!
Mas a ansiedade ainda não tinha ido embora! Eu ainda estava totalmente alerta de que algo estava para acontecer. Eu senti realmente algo.

Foi então que eu conheci a Victoria. Uma menina bonita (que neste momento pensava que era um rapaz - só porque ela usava calças e não um vestido bonito e extravagante como o de todas as outras meninas) que estava entretida com uns óculos de sol de uma amiga, e, aleatoriamente, sentou-se ao lado da minha cadeira. Ela sorriu para mim enquanto ouvíamos um discurso (não sei sobre o que é que era, porque Ah, sim, esta era uma missa em Swahili), com os óculos de sol no meio da testa. Por algum tempo nós apenas trocámos olhares e sorrisos, até que ela finalmente perguntou muito baixinho 'Qual é o teu nome?'. Ainda com meu coração a bater como um comboio e com um sorriso imortal nos lábios, respondi-lhe, e perguntei o dela. Lembra-te que, por este altura, para mim ela era um rapaz. Então ela disse-me o nome dela, mas eu não cheguei a entender por causa do discurso extremamente emotivo que uma mulher estava a dar. Então, depois de um tempo, eu não consegui resistir e, novamente com apenas um sorriso, dei-lhe os meus óculos de sol. Ela ficou felicíssima, e por alguns minutos, não saiu de junto de mim. Só quando Boi veio para dentro (vinda das brincadeiras ao ar livre com outras crianças) e a chamou para ir brincar, ela deixou-me sozinha. Eu estava meio preocupada que nunca mais iria colocar os olhos em cima dos meus óculos de sol outra vez ... Mas depois de algum um tempo, ela voltou, "feliz que nem um rei" (uma expressão comum por aqui), com os meus óculos de sol na mão.

Ainda com o estranho pressentimento dentro de mim, recebi os óculos de volta enquanto uma mulher norueguesa deu seu discurso sobre o Senhor, política e fé. Quando Martha (o nome da mulher) se sentou, mais uma vez o padre assumiu o controle sobre o microfone e disse:
"Reparei que temos entre nós mais duas senhoras brancas. Por favor, podem vir aqui à frente e apresentam-se para as pessoas aqui presentes, de onde vêm, etc.? "

Enquanto ele explicava em Swahili para o resto das pessoas que tínhamos de ir até lá à frente e falar, eu olhava para a Chelsea e Esther para realmente perceber se tinha mesmo mesmo mesmo de ir. Eu estava em pânico, e, aparentemente, a Chelsea não entendeu nada a partir 'Reparei que temos... "; então tive de confiar no olhar de Ester. E com um gesto de Esther, levantei-me e puxei a Chelsea comigo. Caminhámos para a frente da capela e sem microfone lá estávamos nós: a enfrentar 50 pessoas cheias de fé e amor, esperando ansiosamente para saber quem éramos.

Victoria, a Sorridente e a sua bicla fixolas!

Depois de um minuto, ou dois, ambas estávamos de volta ao nosso lugar, com as mãos a tremer loucamente com adrenalina de estar de pé em frente a uma pequena multidão. Depois disso, a sensação que tive desapareceu, e Victoria lá estava, com o mesmo sorriso a mirar-me com admiração e curiosidade.

Estas duas horas na igreja foram intensas e cheias de formas e sentimentos que eu nunca vou esquecer.