karibu kenya - i'm in kitui, a small village about 170 km east of nairobi. everything you have ever heard, seen, smelled of kenya is true and more. we've been learning swahili for the past week, and i'm coming along well. it is a fairly simple language, but difficult to train my mind to function in its structure. i am living with a host family until december, and they are incredibly excited to let me live with them. i have my own room with a bed, desk, stool, and lockable door, and my mama pretty much does everything for me. if you didn't know, the women here really do all of the work - someone told me that kenya allowed women in the military because if they didn't nothing would ever get done. i 'shower' in the mornings from a bucket with water that my mama heats up over a charcoal stove, in a small concrete building attached to the choo (pronounced cho), or toilet. the choo is a glorified hole in the ground, and when i say glorified i don't mean that at all. there is no glory about it.
my mama has been teaching me how to cook, and as i watched her slice a tomato into her hand a couple of nights ago i asked her if she ever cuts herself. she just laughed and said 'no.' her hands have become so calloused from cuts and burns when she was younger that almost nothing can penetrate the skin. i have an 8 year-old and a 5 year-old sister - the older one is brain damaged from malaria when she was born. the younger one is extremely cute, but doesnt speak any english or kiswahili; she only speaks kikamba, the local dialect of this tribe. roads are literally dirt, and construction is done with hand-made bricks and mortar. i'm told that on october 20th i will get to slaughter a goat in honor of my sister's 9th birthday. i'll take pictures. i don't know when i will get to upload them, however, as the only internet access we have (luckily) is in the post office, is very slow, and does not allow any usb access.
postal service is much more reliable here than the peace corps suggested initially - several people have received packages already (ahem) which took between 7 and 10 days to arrive. i'm told that if you print certain phrases on the outside of the package, such as 'god is watching you' or 'school materials' they are under less threat of theft.