Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rolling Along in Oloika

Tuesday marked the first day of work at Oloika School. Some of us woke up at 6:45 in order to get ready for work at 7:00. It was very cool and breezy in the morning and working for the first time on this relaxing trip wasn’t hard at all. We began to mix cement with sand and gravel, and then wheelbarrow the mixture up to the large skeleton of the dining hall. Soon, others began to rise and come outside in their work clothes. The sun began to get hotter as the clouds moved away, and some of the boys and girls from the village came and helped us mix the cement and carry bricks.

We took 20 minute breaks in between the working because it got much hotter around 10:00. We paused for a quick breakfast of cereal, eggs, chai, and hot chocolate, and were then given assignments for the rest of the day. Aaron, Hannah, Coco, Ian, and I (Zach) walked down the dry road past the school with a large flock of boys in tow, and began to shovel and rake gravel into piles. There was no shortage of gravel in the desert-like land that surrounded the school compound, and some of the boys helped us rake and shovel. They told us the best spots to get the rocks, and talked to us and asked us questions about American culture. I explained to them about the seasons in America, the snow, and the rainy summer that we’ve been having in the Northeast. They told us about their drought and their classes at school. While going to get water, all the boys erupted in laughter when someone pointed out that I (Zach) was an Obama look-alike…it was hilarious.

Work for the rest of the day only got hotter, and in the middle of the scorching heat (and no cloud cover), one of the boys pointed out that it “was a cool day, but you are too hot, yes?” We have been lucky with the weather however, and it has been normal/cool in terms of Great Rift Valley temperatures.

A huge chain was organized at the end of the work day to get clay bricks from one side of the compound to the other. The children of the village all joined in and we got a lot done! Many of the bricks started breaking because some of the kids started having too much fun, I suppose, and tossing them like baseballs. We nixed the chain idea in the end, and started carrying bricks back and forth, Groton students mixed in with Oloika residents. It was a great activity to facilitate tons of communication between us and the Kenyan students.

After the work day was done, a number of us made the journey down into the village to get a cold, well-deserved, Coca-Cola. We found there was one store that offered ice cold refreshment after asking some of the Masai. It seemed we bought out the store’s Coke supply, and then enjoyed an amazing soda as many Masai men and women looked on curiously.

First up for homestays in the bomas of Shompole were Rob, Ian, Hugo, Jun Gi, Virginia, Madeleine Hicks, Julia, Laurie, Ross, and Shani. They left before dinner for their remote locations dotted around the conservation area, and what a feast they missed! It was, in my opinion, the best dinner that our chef from Nairobi, Tom, has made while on the trip. We had delicious beef stew, rice, and chapatti (soft bread much like naan). Then for dessert Casey carved a watermelon into a basket and filled it with fruit; around the edges were pieces of chocolate and there were candles on top for Maddi’s birthday. It was a perfect end for such a long day on the work site.

I hope that the next few days on the work site are as challenging and fun as the first one, and that everyone stays safe and healthy as always. We are having a fantastic time in Shompole!


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