"If you're Irish, step into the parlor, there's a welcome there for you...and if your name is Timothy or Pat, as long as you come from Ireland there's a welcome on the mat..."
Ok, so there aren't that many Irish people here in Kenya and I did not hear one mention of St. Patrick's Day at work today, even though I was wearing green pants (well, army green...but still green). I am sure that my mother made corn beef and cabbage, as she has done every year of my life, while listening to Irish CDs, which luckily my sister's kids like to dance to because I know she is babysitting them. Today I fondly remembered St. Patrick's Days in college: friends of mine doing "car bombs" at Faegan's on Marshall Street (I won't name names, you know who you are), and my one day a year to drink Guinness. I remembered the year I lived in Cambridge and my friends Joanna, Erin and I spent St. Patty's Day dancing and cracking each other up at "the Black Rose", my favorite Boston bar. Finally, I remembered 4 years of dressing up like some kind of new-age leprechaun, dancing around my NYC classroom to my own version of the Irish jig, and offering extra credit to students who brought me green presents (gum, socks, pencils, air freshener, un-ripe bananas were a few of my favorites). Today didn't quite compare to any of that, at least not in the Irish sense, but at least my memories kept me company.
Kristoffer and I are doing well here in Nairobi, gearing up for a 4-day Easter weekend. We hope to go away to an island called Lamu, but we waited too long to make our plans and as of last week all of the flights to the island (no cars allowed!) were booked. We are hoping that somebody cancels tomorrow and we can get their plane tickets! If not, we are thinking of going to Mount Kenya, just a few hours north of Nairobi. My sister, Christine, went back to Washington, DC on Saturday night so we are now family-less in Kenya. She was really thrilled about sleeping in her own bed after 2 months of being in Africa and dealing with her own cockroaches instead of ours (yes, there are cockroaches in Kenya). We believe that our next visitors will be Kristoffer's mom and step-dad for 3 weeks in July and we are practically counting down the days!
I have two websites to share today that I have been meaning to post. The first is a charity website connected to the WFP. If you go to http://www.freerice.com/ it is a vocabulary website: for each synonym you correctly identify, 20 grains of rice will be donated to the World Food Programme. I do it almost everyday for a few minutes - some of the words are REALLY difficult! A friend of mine in the US told me about it months ago (thank you, Kathy) and a friend in Denmark recently made a comment about it on our blog (thank you, Peter), but I haven't remembered to post it until now. It is a specifically great tool for English teachers/tutors: SAT prep while giving to charity!
The second website is something that one of my NYC students (thank you, Scott) emailed me when he found out I was moving to Kenya. It is this completely ridiculous and silly song about Kenya (ridiculous because it talks about tigers in Kenya and there are obviously no tigers anywhere in Africa). Sometimes I have hard moments here; for example, every time we have a power outage - which always happens when I really need or want the electricity to be working (when I am baking or doing laundry or paying a bill online...or watching a critical moment of "24") - I am known to shout, "Damn you, Kenya!" But then when the electricity turns back on I will click on this website and literally crack up for a few minutes and then I will feel better. I hope it brings a smile to your face too: http://www.weebls-stuff.com/toons/kenya/.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!