African Water Cooler Talk

Okay, so we don’t actually have a water cooler at the school, but I did find myself having chats with other teachers and staff here at RVA on some interesting topics. I expect to follow up with this post as my conversations continue and we adjust to a somewhat different lifestyle in Africa.

Topic #1:  “So, whose cow does your milk come from?”

We have several options for getting milk. We can buy heat-treated, shelf-stable milk in boxes from the store, but that can get expensive considering we have 3 young boys in the house who consume voluminous amounts of milk. The school cafeteria also offers milk to the staff at school, provided we bring our milk can by in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon. This is a convenient option, but from what we’ve heard, the taste is not consistent. And lastly, and what has become a popular option, is to find somebody with a cow. We had dinner with another teacher tonight who introduced us to his milkman, John. John has a cow whose milk, as it turns out, is very tasty. We can testify. Now, the milk does have to be pasteurized on the stove at 150 degrees for 30 minutes, but at least you know it is going to taste good. So, we may have just found our new milkman!

Topic #2:  “Why aren’t baboons scared of women?”

The boys and I were watching the monkeys play in the trees in our front yard as we enjoyed a bowl of cornflakes this morning (At $12 a box, Cornflakes is a luxury. We’ll try to find the local brand in the future.) The monkeys and the baboons apparently like our yard because we have quite a number of loquat trees, and our home is on the lower edge of campus near the fence of the school. The baboons are especially clever as they watch our patterns and end up snatching any bit of food or trash that may be found lying about. I’ve heard that they are intimidated by human males, but they scoff at women. As it turns out, though, they can be intimidated by women provided they make enough noise and can throw a rock far enough.

Topic #3:  “Who can I get to make furniture in less than three months?”

All the furniture in our home is currently being rented, so we are in the market for furnishings. Used furniture at RVA is often resold around campus as families leave and new families arrive, and you may find what you need depending upon availability. Furniture can also be purchased in Nairobi, but you must also find a way to transport it. Another popular option in Kijabe is ordering your furniture through the local carpenter. The work is very good, and it is made to order. Wood is quite expensive, but still, you might end up paying the same price for a quality made-to-order piece here that you would for a new pre-made piece in the United States.  It may, however, take several weeks to complete.

Topic #4: “Why is my electric shower head called the ‘widow maker’?

We have a solar/electric water heater tank on our roof, but it has a very limited capacity. So that we always have hot water in the shower, an electric water heating shower head has been installed with the electrical cord running straight to it. If it is grounded well, it does its job brilliantly. Some missionaries, however, have reported mild shocks while in the shower. In the end, it is probably no more dangerous than having an electric water heater installed on the other side of a wall in the house, but the sight of an electrical cord anywhere near a bathtub is menacing.

3 thoughts on “African Water Cooler Talk

  1. Nancy Miller: I would say the electrical cord in the shower would pose a problem for me. I agree with Mary Harris I see a book. Glad to know you all made it safely and hopefully doing well.

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