No visitors last night, neither at my dor nor down my chimney. Unless you cound the small ants who crawled over my copy of The Guardian Weekly while I completed one clue from the cryptic crossword (of which, alone, I feel more proud than of completing all bar two words in the quick one).

This morning was assembly at 7.45 again. This time I was not introduced to the girls, that being done already on monday. There are two assemblies per week. When this one was over, Sister P. told me she didn’t expect me to be attending them yet, while I’m still adjusting to Kenyan time.

I left for Tala to collect my photographs and to try again to open a bank account. The VSO office had lead me to believe it might be tricky but they did it quite simply and told me that my opening cheque would be cleared from next saturday. I have applied for an ATM card too. It will cost me KES 100 to withdraw cash over the counter in Tala and KES 20 from an ATM. There are no ATMs in Tala but there are in Nairobi, which is just as well as they will charge me KES 600 to get my cash over the counter in any branch other than the Tala one. VSO recommended Barclays bank but Tala is small and ther is only KCB: the Kenya Commercial Bank.

The lady in the photo studio was very friendly today. Repeat visits are a good thing it seems. The man in the bank also, he remembred my name ( “Charles”, lots of people here find that much easier to pronounce and remember than Mark, officials see my passport or other documentation with my full name in and choose that name to call me by.).

After the bank I went to the market, which is close by. In fact I went into a few hardware shops and
supermarkets. I bought some Kale — sliced by the market stallholder while she talked to me in excelent English about how her daughter is sponsored by an Australian via Christian Aid — and a hand-madewood and-old-tyres squee-jee to clean the water out of my shower with. The kale cost KES 5 for a bunch, and the mop, 150. Then I walked back — I didnt want to spend too long in the market as I didnt feel totally safe with my passport and volunteer ID card, even though they were in side my trousers in the money belt thing I bought at Heathrow.

On the way back to college I passed the Mother Teresa Nursary School where the children — all bedecked in little blue uniforms — lined up by the road and chanted “Mu-zung-gu-mu-zung-gu…” until I waved at them. Made me smile!

[to all those to whom it applies, have a great time at LLX]


  1. tygger Says:

    llx won’t be the same without you muzunggu!!!

    love you lots …

    ps your beans and maize dish sounds like our rice and lentils dish – "khitchuri"

  2. Fede Says:

    muzungu? cute anyway.
    Weather is awful, lots of people with flu and colds and stomach bug it seems. at least is the weekend. Oh yes savoy ball tomorrow.
    weather: cold, very cold, and grey
    food: a huge ‘ruben’ bagel and a coca light

  3. mung o'bean Says:

    So what’s it MEAN then? (muzungu)

    Hey, it’s dead busy on this blog isn’t it? I was thinking I’d only have to check it once a week. Doesn’t anyone here have any work to do?! 😉

    Am I right in thinking that you’re supposed to survive on your VSO allowance or something?

    According to, 100 KES is 70p at the moment.

    I liked the image of you copying down TXTs by hand… reminds me of when I used to have to do that with BASIC programs cos I didn’t have a printer for my VIC-20.

    I think you should set yourself the challenge of INVENTING a TXT-printer using iodine and greaseproof-paper or something… must be plenty of inventions produced by people with limited resources!!!

    Love, Chris

  4. Katie O. Says:

    Dear Mark,

    I fully support Chris’ suggestion that you create your own printer. Think of yourself as the IT McGyver (without the explosions or cheesy plotlines).

    Also, thanks to Chris for finally providing some concept about the relationship between the KES and currency with which I am familiar. Though I assumed that the prices you provided were irrationally inexpensive, without some sense of proportion I was at something of a loss. It felt a bit like walking into an alien world in which the punchline of every joke was incomprehensible to me:

    "So I said, 5 peesacks for a snardblick? You must be crazy!" Or, "Who do you think you are, Beljar Froyo?"

    You get the idea.

    In short, you’re lucky to have this Chris person, because without him or her, you’d be neither funny nor McGyver.


  5. Mark Says:

    I am in deed lucky to have this Chris person. I’m lucky to have all of you. Yes, it _is_ busy on this blog, and it makes me happy that it is so.

    When I bought my shillings, there were about 139 of them to one GBP. Now, I understand, there are about 144 of them to one GBP.

    Mzungu means "Foreigner" but is rarely used perjoratively.

    love you all.

  6. Raj Says:

    Haha, I always wondered what the "C" in MCS stood for.

    Anyway it’s great hearing what you’ve been upto. Your blog was pretty quite for some time and when I connected today I was surprised how many more messages there were.

    TTFN Raj.

  7. Mark Says:

    testing email notification…

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