I’m waiting for the rest of me to catch up with my body, which is in Nairobi, Kenya. Yesterday afternoon we were still in Switzerland. The last apple trees stood like brides among golden canola fields and blue sage blooming in the meadows. The roads were smooth and clean; the air pure after the last rain.
It’s raining in Nairobi too. It’s the beginning of the long rains here, which arrived almost a month late, and then heavy. This part of Kenya has two rainy seasons, a short one (December to January) and a long one – March to July. Many farmers plant two rain fed crops, unlike Zambia where there is just one long rainy season from November to April, then nothing at all.
The streets are as congested as usual or more so. Our driver said that Nairobi now has close to four million residents and keeps growing. We got into part of morning rush hour – cars bumper to bumper, most of them with dents. No wonder, as they keep trying to push in, just inches from each other. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the process. Our driver said, “Just don’t make eye contact with another driver.”
The open sewer canals along the street are full of tepid grey water, and garbage fermenting. I suppose I notice it more coming directly from Switzerland, which is known for being very clean. When I see how crowded the streets constantly are, it’s no wonder they’re not clean, really.
We had chai (Indian tea) with our Sudanese friends this morning. Edward told us about farming in his home village in southern Sudan. I’ve read that South Sudan has the capacity to feed all of Africa. The land is extremely fertile. If there is peace, Edward says, the people have no problem feeding themselves. He maintains it’s relatively peaceful right now, despite the recent squirmishes. He hopes to retire soon and go back to his home village to farm. Funny this idea, also very prevalent in Zambia, that when you retire from your job in the city, you return to your village and farm. Canadian farmers do it the other way around!
Sudan also has two rainy seasons. They plant millet and sorghum as their staple crops, followed by sesame. They also grow tomatoes, potatoes and other vegetables in smaller gardens. The fields are prepared and planted together as a community – going from one field to the other, and also harvested together. They don’t burn the crop residue, but leave it there to rot, as fertilizer. This is something we’ve tried convincing our Zambian farmers to do.
Hardly arrived, and already I’m preaching herbal medicine. Edward has an arthritic shoulder that’s giving him grief. I told him of our Zambian friend who cured his arthritis by chewing a spoonful of papaya seeds a day. Sounds easy, but the things are terribly bitter – I’ve tried it. He can also ease the pain by rubbing a mix of pounded piri-piri chillies and oil on the joint. Easy on the chillies – too much can burn.
It`s mango and papaya season in Kenya. I got Edward to buy me some mangos at the market. If he bargains, he`ll get a decent deal. If they see my white skin, they`ll double the price. There’s a two year old hybrid mango tree in the garden, whose fruit is almost mature. It`s pretty tempting to pick it!