Thursday, July 31, 2014

Welcome To My World

The salon was now a video store.

Darn it.  I guess a lot can change in a year.

But I still had two little girls next to me with very big hair that needed to be braided.  A woman took pity on me as I was searching for the salon-now-video-store and pointed us in the direction of another salon.

I tried to repeat her directions back to her, and finally she told me to just follow her.  We walked through the dust, past piles of blackened trash and bare concrete block structures, over rocks and around puddles, dodging small children who always stop to stare at the white woman and her two brown children.  Finally she deposited me in front of the other salon.

I poked my head in.  Naomba kusuka watoto wangu?  I asked.  Will you please braid my children's hair?  

Yes.  They welcomed us in.

The small room had two plastic chairs, two salon hair dryers, two large mirrors, and a shelf filled with hair products.  That was it.  On the wall was a poster of a little Asian girl with some sort of inspirational saying on it.  We took our shoes off outside, and they plopped my girls down on the floor and started working on their hair.

A guy came in with his arms full of women's clothes on hangers.  Selling them.  He showed off each piece for the women to admire.  One woman took a bright fuchsia dress and tried it on on top of her clothes, prancing around for the others to see.  They haggled over the price and she bought it.  5000 shillings--about $3.00.

I know from experience that these type of clothes come from huge bundles of used clothing, shipped over from America, cast offs from thrift stores that get too much stuff.  I wondered about the American woman who donated that dress to charity; if only she knew that it ended up in a little salon in East Africa.

This is my life.  How do I even describe it to you?  I've been thinking so much about the women I met and became friends with in America this year.  I've been thinking about how I wish I could give them a glimpse into what this life is really like.

I could have described how earlier this morning, I went to the main grocery store in town--the one that sells imported products.  I could have told you how I the power went out while I was there, and how I waited in line for an hour because the store couldn't get their power back-up system to work and thus couldn't check anybody out.  Finally, in total frustration, my friend and I abandoned our carts in line and left the store.

I could have told you about how when I buy rice or beans, I always put them in the freezer overnight before I put them in the pantry, so that I kill all the bugs first.

I could have told you about the butcher shop where I buy meat, how it stinks to high heaven but he has the best prices and so I put up with it.

I loved my time with you, my American friends.  I'm going to try to give you a glimpse into this life here.  Hang with me while I attempt.

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