Our journey

Days 7 and 8 – Weariness, Then Rest

Exhaustion set in today. Most of us can barely lift a hand much less a fifteen-pound brick. Still, we press on, filling the foundation and evening the floors of each room. We have also lost a member of our team to some nasty stomach virus.  I hope this isn’t the beginning of a trend.

The team is getting weary, but we are still motivated to finish what we can. JD, ever the team cheerleader, tries to lift our spirits by starting chants and singalongs, even getting the kids to chime in. Carol leads by example, quietly continuing her work and imparting wisdom on those beside her. Bob and Gretchen keep us inspired with their stories of Habitat builds across the United States and their trips across the globe. We make it through a day of filling in the rooms with dirt and stacking stones along the floor to serve as a filter and support beneath what will be a slab of concrete.

Carrying stones the traditional way

Carrying stones to the site the traditional way

The rooms are filled in

The rooms are filled in

When Saturday comes, we breathe a sigh. Finally, a day to rest and enjoy Kisii!

We get a later start, minus two team members who are feeling ill, and head up to the Tabaka Hills about 50 km south of Kisii Town. We drive through the city, past bundles and bundles of sugarcane, supermarkets, boda-boda drivers waiting for work, kids playing with plastic lids, and through the foothills from which we can see miles upon miles of only green.

The supermarket

The supermarket

The day's load of sugarcane

The day’s load of sugarcane

Sugarcane ready for sale

Sugarcane ready for sale

Driving to Tabaka

Driving to Tabaka

African countryside

African countryside

Tabaka is a small village at the base of the mountain and it is only place in Kenya to get genuine soapstone, a commodity that is mined in these hills. Soapstone is carved and painted by local artists, and then sold across Kenya. Each piece is different from the next. Some are carved into the shapes of animals – embracing giraffes, roaring lions, charging rhinos, bellowing elephants. There are household items – dishes painted with the silhouettes of tribes people; candlesticks twisted and designed with African patterns; bowls, cups and vases painted scarlet and emerald green. There are chessboards, statues, novelty boxes, hearts, jewelry cases and sticks traditionally used by village elders.

Soapstone artifacts

Soapstone artifacts

I wish with all of my heart that I could purchase everything in the store. Instead, I opt for about 4800 Kenyan Shillings’ worth of items, including a tribal mask to add to my sister’s growing collection.

We spend the afternoon at Kisii Sports Club, the town’s equivalent of a country club and golf course. It’s not of a quality you would see in even the poorest neighborhoods in America. It has a very tired facade, with drab furniture, dusty chairs, and a dirty bathroom. But it does offer services that I am sure seem luxurious to most – a full gym, dining facilities, a golf course, a bar and restaurant, and rooms to rent. There is even a swimming pool that is tinted green, and I am grateful for the chilly breeze and overcast sky – it’s my excuse for not jumping right into the water.

We play a lazy game of darts while waiting for lunch, which is served very late. We decide against the gym and opt instead for naps at the hotel – a great idea it turns out, as I collapse and don’t wake up until dinner.

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