Before we go any further, let me just say that the title of this post is a reference to the song ‘I And Love And You’ by The Avett Brothers, which I recommend listening to. This summer, Christina has really been broadening my musical horizons, so watch out future house parties – there is a new DJ in town (who specializes in chill indie vibes and sad love songs)!
Last week, in the ‘Good Things That Happened’ column on the left-hand side of my day planner this is what I wrote:
- I-CAN screening went really well!
- Moiko here
- Survived elephant invasion
- Ella is my soulmate ❤
These are quite accurate points of departure, I think, so let me expand on each to get you caught up. Last week, Christina and I – with the help of our dear friend Albert – successfully organized a film screening of “Land Use and Challenges in Olkiramatian”, a short film that was made by community members here last January in collaboration with the I-CAN project, through a workshop run by Nicolas Barber, a friend and colleague. Watching the film with a group of 25 community elders and members present resulted in a very positive discussion about the issues presented in the film and how the community can move forward to address many of the challenges that they are still facing. Afterwards, we feasted on mbuzi (goat), mchele (rice), and mboga (vegetables) together, very happy with the happenings of the day. I’ve already mentioned that my former professor, Stephen Moiko, arrived and it was a delight having him around for five days. He should be returning today or tomorrow to follow up with the enumerators for the livestock value chain surveys that he and Clare wrote last week.
In the wee hours of last Thursday morning, after dog-sitting Guy’s three pups all evening, the camp was visited by at least one tusked colossus. Yes, I am talking about an elephant. I was woken up by many crunching and gurgling noises and lay in bed assuming ‘the worst’, which in my mind at that moment was lions. In reality, lions have absolutely no interest in tents nor the smelly humans inside them, but I was not in control of my wildly thumping heart at that moment. The worst moment was when I heard something very akin to what I imagined was a low feline growl. A few minutes later, while Christina was trying to calm me down (“Come to my bed” – “I can’t, I am paralyzed with fear”), we say Guy walk along a path with a torch and so I yelled out to him “Guy! There may be predators here. Be careful!” He proceeded to get into his truck and drive around camp, so we assumed he must have already known that there was wildlife nearby.
Let us fast forward four hours to when the blessed sun slowly crept into the sky. Things we learned: Lauren had called Guy in a panic after hearing noises right outside her tent and he had gone to check on her, there had been lions nearby, but only elephants had trudged through camp (this explained why we could actually hear the grass and foliage crunching loudly…lions aren’t really into being conspicuous), when elephant stomachs gurgle they sound like low growls. Good things to know. It was hilarious to recount the events of the night with everyone at breakfast, and mildly embarrassing to admit how petrified I had been.
The last point on my list may very well be the most important. Ella is Guy’s sister’s four year old Springer Spaniel, whose entire being is most accurately described by Christina’s favourite Swahili phrase, kwa sababu hukuna sababu (because there is no reason). Neurotic, spastic, uncontrollable, untamed, ungroomed, and #YOLO are some other ways to describe this tremendous canine. I shared a bed (let me clarify: my bed) with Ella for two nights, which consisted of her taking up the whole mattress with her rotund, sausage-like body, and me contorting to fit around her. She was also covered in burrs and other bits and pieces of nature. I tried to resist the comparisons that were made between Ella and myself, but in the end it is true that we both exert copious amounts of energy for no reason, like Frisbees, and have low hygiene standards. I love this dog.
Beyond that, we’ve done a decent amount of relaxing, reading, and work. With almost nobody in camp this week, Christina, Lauren, and I have been treating ourselves to riverside sun-bathing, tea parties on the porch, and movie watching (The Darjeeling Limited, The Constant Gardner, The Danish Girl). Time has been moving in a weird way as we approach the two week (until departure) mark, but I do feel ready to be home and get myself organized for a fall term that is bound to be hectic. I’ve finalized the beadwork order with the Reto Women so will be returning to McGill with 200 pieces of incredible Maasai craftwork – stay tuned for some great Daraja events that will be happening!
PS: Both my cousin, Tessa, and friend, Vanessa, got married last Saturday! Happiest of happinesses to you and your partners my dears! You were in my thoughts all week.