Thursday, April 12, 2012

Resurecting A Former Spinning Instructor

Unfortunately my bike doesn't have a kickstand and I have no room for it
Veggies from my garden :)
Simba, a kitten, on my new ride

Just a few days after getting back to my hut I received an opportunity from my nearby volunteers to attend an adolescent-focused training workshop for health "movers and shakers" in the neighboring community. If it weren't for them, I never would have known about it. Adolescents are statistically the most vulnerable group to new HIV infections and the least affected by prevention methods. It was conducted in English by an American organization CHI (Clinton Health Initiative) and while I didn't learn anything I didn't know about HIV/AIDS, I did meet a lot of awesome people in my community I hadn't previously met. I guess I networked for the first time, and it was so helpful to hear about what the community wanted and had already tried to tackle issues surrounding adolescents. I left a couple days later feeling very excited and having a bunch of new phone numbers and contacts. Just when you think nothing will come your way, something awesome does. I don't believe in coincidences so I felt very grateful. While I am not entirely sure how this experience will impact my health work and future projects, I am fairly sure the people I have met will be influential in the process. Having excitement is half the battle here, and I am currently brimming with it to enjoy this middle period of my service and galvanize my role in the community.
Hut life has been rolling along this April. Fall is finally coming in fits and starts. My hut no longer feels like an easy bake oven which I am thankful for and some days the weather is even “beautiful” which is not something I could have said for December-March. In the package I got from my brothers in American fall was a Pumpkin scented room spray and now it finally feels appropriate to make my house smell like pie. I am convinced the snakes are hibernating and I can even open my windows! My garden has even started giving me food, we have had an arduous relationship before, not helped by the fact I killed the previous 2 gardens, and finally one day I saw 5 green beans and a tomato. I ran to Babe beaming with pride. Of course now there is no water, but that’s another story.
Another good thing work-wise is myself and about 10 other volunteers were approved for a bike. After the semi-ordeal of getting it home through public transport, I have been psyched to have a new way of getting around. The bike has cut my travel to the main part of my community down by more than half. But its HARD. As someone who likes to ride a bike at home, I am stoked to be “back in the saddle”. As someone who is out of shape, it kind of sucks.
In my head, I started coming up with new ideas for Spinning classes to make it go by (and remind me of days where I had iron lungs and buns of steel) such as “don’t let that tractor beat you” or “there’s a black mamba behind you, do you want to burn calories or die?”. One of the biggest challenges compared to American bike riding is all the other people on the road, while khumbis sometimes pose a mortal threat with their demon driving, there aren’t many cars, just lots of people. I have more or less stopped trying to plan my days to miss the start and end of school because its impossible, so I pass through hundreds of kids who like to shout “umlungu” and “bisikili”, which is mostly good-natured. I talk to them and pretend to race them, the sad thing is I could probably not outride them at short distance. I shouldn’t complain, most people have trouble fitting workouts into their schedule, for me I get a spin class both to and from “work”, and thankfully a lihiya goes great over a pair of spandex.
Random Fact of the Week: After 10 months, I luckily commandeered an Italian “percolator” coffee machine which beats ricoffy in every way imaginable besides price of coffee. If you are wanting to send me something awesome, a bag of ground coffee will make my caffeine-addled heart soar! I’d accept beans too, but I’d have to grind them myself and when I tried to make peanut butter it was pretty difficult by hand :)


  1. Ground coffee! YOu got it Kay! I'll get with Bill for another package to send out.

    Do you have a roast preference? Light / Dark? Do you want anything else? Give us ideas, clothes, wrenches for your bike? hahah

  2. You are the best Al! I like it strong and also flavors are not something I can get in this country. I will appreciate anything. You'd be proud, I don't use milk or sugar anymore. I bought some bike fixing supplies so I'm good there. Thanks for being awesome. Love you lots.

    If you see a Tibetan peace flag in china, which I doubt, would you mind picking it up? :-)