I Bless the Rains Down in Africa

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We took a long walk during my second day in the Maasailand and met some boys who showed us their dogs. I never left the house without water and sunscreen again.
We went to a nearby village during my second day in the Maasailand and met some boys who showed us their dogs. The two-hour walk was somewhat of a survival lesson. I never left the house without water and sunscreen again. The dog lost balance and fell. And yes, the boy wore my shades upside down : )

To experience true rebirth of your world, wait for the rain in Kenya. Wait just long enough during the intolerably hot dry season and you, too, will be reborn.

We had a week of the most impossible, scorching heat, when the back of your neck feels like a skillet, and the tiny drops of sweat emerge just under the tip of your nose. You giggle quietly at other people’s red cheeks, unable to see yours  because mirrors here are nonexistent, except for that really crooked one in the cafe (locally known as “hotel”) down the road.

You put a chair in line with the doorway inside of a little fenced yard, and feel truly blessed any time the wind comes through to tickle your face. Sometimes the sand comes in as well, in quick yet powerful twisters that finish their journey through the plains by hitting you mercilessly with millions of sharp little grains. They always seem to aim for your nose, ears and mouth. You ignore the red remains of dust on your clothes, but try to get rid of the unpleasant sandy feeling all over your skin. You rush to the water container and again, feel truly blessed, if there’s any water in it.

The past three days felt like someone up there has been experimenting with the oven in which we all were sizzling. “Lets turn it up some more, and just a little bit more, and see how they will handle it.” But body’s tolerance seems to be quite expandable. After some time you adjust to anything, including bathing in two inches of water, most often icy cold in the mornings; picking thorns our of your sandals, feet, and yes, head, after just a short walk through the bushy terrain; being touched a lot by curious kids, especially on your hair, nails and for some reason elbows; and of course, surviving the heat.

“You wait for the rains in Kenya like you wait for a dear friend, or good news from home, or well deserved rest after a long day of work.”

When the temperature gets so impossibly high, the rain is usually on its way, said my Kenyan sister, Soila. I trusted her Kikuyu vision and kept looking up in anticipation. I saw military helicopters several times instead. What are they doing here, so far away from civilization? “Looking for mzungus,” was someone’s theory. “Watching over the national exams,” someone else said as the bird passed over our school. Jokes aside, I didn’t like them there, practicing war craft (they were training, we later found out) over the heads of my little adorably innocent hooligans. My mind jumped back to the pictures of policemen walking the streets of Nairobi with AK-47s in their hands. I despise guns, no matter whose hands they are in. I love staying in the Maasailand partially because, other than that one training, it’s been extremely quiet and peaceful around here. Only it’s so hot.

I was going to school one morning and saw clouds gathering over the Ngong Hills. For the remainder of the walk I was trying to figure out whether they are dark enough to produce the rain. This is no joke; your body really longs for that humidity when deprived of it for so long.

You wait for the rains in Kenya like you wait for a dear friend, or good news from home, or well deserved rest after a long day of work. You seem to become one with the dry acacia trees, and even the goats that sneak into the yard, jumping up and down around the bucket, trying to reach a few drops of water at the very bottom of it. You feel that, similarly to those thorn hedges and that short grass by the side of the dusty road, you too will whither, come another dry day.

I was walking to my room after dinner and felt tiny droplets land on my skin. I stopped half way, letting them soak in, letting my lips savor the word “finally”. And then the sky gave birth to so much water, it seemed that our little house would take off and become a ship in this vast valley between the majestic dark hills.

The country is so beautiful here that even when daydreaming of rain on the driest days, I go out to the plains and embrace the sand. Still, I can’t wait to wake up and see the valley tomorrow. I bet it will be so much greener. I bet it will be reborn overnight.

A boy herding the cattle at the foot of Ngong Hills after a week of rains.
A boy herding the cattle at the foot of Ngong Hills after a week of rains.

This is an entry from my journal, marked “Wed. night, Nov. 5”. The ones that have “night” in them were all written in bed, under a mosuqito net, using the light from my torch. The title refers to Toto’s song, in case you haven’t guessed 🙂

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3 thoughts on “I Bless the Rains Down in Africa

    Deepak Acharya said:
    February 1, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    A memorable experience for you … I guess

    Jules responded:
    February 7, 2009 at 4:18 am

    I think it’s more of a lifestyle than any particular experience… I tried to combine several elements of living in the Maasailand, and the way to tie them was this rain theme…

    peppermintpatty777 said:
    May 5, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Hi Jules, I visited Maasailand in Namanga Sept 08 and instantly fell in love with the people of the tribe I visited. You can read more about it at http://www.lydiaministry.com and click on Kenya 08. The Chief and elders asked if I could come back and help build a church/school. In Sept 09 I will be taking a team over to do just that. We are so excited! I’m looking forward to seeing the Maasai again. They have such a wonderful sense of humor, and they are so very friendly. I didn’t llve there like you did, but the short time I was there, they stole my heart! Check out what we are doing at http://www.lydiaministry.com and click on the Kenya 09 tab. We are still accepting volunteers, and the application package is available on our Kenya 09 webpage, beneath the two videos. I admire that you could stay with the Maasai as you did. I couldn’t do it– I hate spiders!:)

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