Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fire!

We had a pretty good scare yesterday...

After a full day of classes we were relaxing at home when i started hearing a "whoosh!" sound from outside. I think i said, "uho.... That sounds like a huuuge fire". mandy looked out the window and saw tall flames licking the trees behind our neighbors house about 50 ft. away. I went outside to find about 200 boys and teachers running around in chaos. The flames were moving along the hedge and getting dangerously close to our all wooden bus garage.

We haven't had rain in weeks and it is quite dry. A few boys had fire extinguishers from our lab but they quickly finished and they didn't know how to really use them. Other boys were running to and from water tanks with water. At first i didn't know what to do, but finally set out emptying every tap in our house into pots, pans, and buckets. For a few minutes i thought we were losing, but all of the sudden it was out and we were all left breathing smoke.

Much to our amazement, about 10 minutes later our local red cross showed up to take over and check for medical problems. They were very organized.

After the smoke settled, it came out that one of the teachers' families on the compound lit some trash near the dry hedge and didn't watch it.

Anways... Wish i took pictures, but i was a bit busy at the time. I'll post more about our trip to Egypt soon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Safari Ants

video

videoBefore the rains come the Safari Ants. We had another attempted invasion yesterday and i got some nice photos and some low quality video.
The videos are self explanatory. The pictures are of a mango slice, a mango pit, and a before, during, and after shot of a dead mouse in only 24 hours.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Strange Names

Hello gentlefolk,

Here is an interesting cultural tidbit about the naming custom in our area.

--Disclaimer-- Appologies to any Kipsigis for any mistakes i might make in my recollection.

Okay... First the basics. In america as well as most the western world our last names are passed down and our first names our... Well.. kinda rabdom. My last name is Van Regenmorter which of course means that my father and his father all the way back have a surname of Van Regenmorter. It kind of makes family trees easy to visualize.

This however is not the case here. When a boy is born he receives two names. First he receives a surname which signifies when he was born or under what conditions. So if you're born at night you are Kiplangat (kip = boy born at, langat = night), if you're born in the a.m. You would be Kipmutai or if you're born around noon you'd be kibett.

Then you get a Christian name like Emmanuel. I think this was basically the result of British missionionaries and their difficulty with the language and is also an indication of how widespread christianity has been adopted here. funny enough the Christian names they choose many times are one's you'd hardly recognize such as Boniface, Obadiah, Zephania, or Enock.

So a typical name could be boniface kiplangat, but when the boy undergoes circumcision he looses his surname and inherits his fathers childhood name. It's confusing. So let's take an example. Assuming i'm born at night my name would be Jon kiplangat. When i get circumcised i would now take my father's childhood name (say... Kibett) and my new name would be Jon Bett. and finally my children would take my childhood name (langat) when they are circumcised. So... Basically your surname changes when you reach puberty and your name is only linked to your father. Therefore the only way to identify relatives and granparents would be a clan name which is rarely used and i don't believe is included officially.

Okay... Now on to something very different.

It's really important to have kids here. If you're a man and your wife can't deliver (no pun intended), you can get a second wife... Or third. (Polygamy is a fading but still practiced tradition). BUT if you're the infertile woman you have to get pretty creative. And i MEAN creative.

Sometimes an infertile woman will adopt a fertile daughter and have her marry her immaginary son. Therefore any kids born from her adopted daughter are by custom her grandchildren. Ok... That's a bit different but you get it right? Desire for family, respect, chidlren. But now... How do you name those grandchidlren!? The father is immaginary (okay there is a father... Kinda has to be ;) but he's not included in this family unit that i know of) so where do you get the surname? Essentially all of the family members are female, so he's given the last surname Chepkwony. This is odd for two reasons. Sons always have the prefix Kip- (see earlier paragraph), and only daughters get the prefix Chep-, but if your grandchild is a boy he still is chepkowny. Which essentially means daughter of woman (kowny means woman).

It's hard to follow i know... I had to consult the infinitely better memory of my better half to get all of this straight.

Hope you enjoyed!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Visiting Nairobi

I have't posted in a while so I figured I'd blather a bit about what we're up to.

Recently a volunteer near us got sick and kept passing out in Bomet and was flown to nairobi. It was pretty scary, but she's okay now. Anywho... we were planning on coming to Nairobi anyways to get our aching joints looked at (we are officially old now... 1/4 century). We took the opportunity and grabbed some clothes from the volunteers house and went to Nairobi early.

We've been in Nairobi for about 6 days and it was soooo nice. They put us at a nice hotel near the physical therapist and gave us enough stipend to eat pizza every night! We mostly just ate, but i did get a little work done too. I'm working with whitney (another PCV teacher) to make a list of colleges and such for our students to use to look for affordable options and within their exam scores.

So yea... It was pretty nice. We also watched movies on the labtop, played games, and hung out with other volunteers. Oh and we used the opportunity to find some affordable printers for the school.

Okay... Here are a few pictures from the Matatu we're in waiting for it to fill.

Jon

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fish Pond

videoSo our fish pond is finally done... here's a short video of it and a snapshot of mandy playing with Leia

Monday, August 16, 2010

New kid on the block

A new puppy has arrived on our doorstep as of last night at 4am...

We are doing our best to restrain and allow it to wander off with its momma, but Leia thinks she's found her new best friend.

Leia is getting big!

P.s. My mom and dad are doing well. They just made it back to Nairobi from visiting bomet for 3 nights. More later

Sunday, August 8, 2010

3rd Times a charm

1. A picture of our neighbor Michelle standing in our doorway. She's adorable... And demanding :)

2. The great rift valley. In the distance you can see the hills which mark the boundary of the rift and some Masaii cattle kicking up distance in the cattle. The Masaii as some of you know are Kenya's best known tribe. They're tradionally pastoralists.

3. A picture of the rift valley from the hills on the way to Nairobi. It's a common tourist stop for locals and yokels.

4. A group of local school children getting their picture taken.

5. The faithful Kabungut school bus, it's driver william, and a local electrical engineer Charles.

6. Bonus picture! My parents just arrived in Nairobi. Here's a picture from last night of mandy and my mom relaxing in a missions house in Nairobi. Nice house :) They'll be here for a month doing some painting and construction for a deaf translation center as well as visiting and traveling with us.