I was happy to welcome an uneventful Friday- full of surgery, but not full of death or despair. Funny, how the past few days made a huge thyroid (bigger than we see them in the States) seem like a routine case. After Saturday rounds I gathered some fellow visiting doctors and we headed across the river and up, up, up. Our goal was a rounded hilltop called Motigo that offers 360 degree views of Tenwek, Bomet, and the surrounding areas. The walk was a slow ramble, Kenyan style, where we stopped all along the way to interact with the locals. Lots of kids - some of whom were afraid, but most delighted in our attention to them. One little girl was so excited to see us she came running to the road's edge with no pants on! Several of the kids asked for "sweets" - an unfortunate side effect of prior white visitors passing out candy. Yes, it makes the kids happy but it also associates white visitors with handouts. Passing out sweets also makes life difficult for the full time missionaries at Tenwek. An evening walk with a spouse can turn into a mob scene as local kids beg incessantly for "sweets." So, we resisted the urge to play Santa Claus and simply offered friendly handshakes, hellos, and their favorite - "snaps!" The kids don't understand that we want them to smile, so they'll get real serious for a picture, then laugh in delight when we show them the result on the camera screen.
Along the way, we met a furniture builder whose shop floor was 2-3 feet deep in saw dust and shavings. Cypress was his main wood as he was working on a reading desk for one of the Tenwek doctors. Large tea trucks passed by on their way to tea collecting stations where locals sell fresh picked tea leaves in 40 pound bags to the trucks. Tea is the largest crop, grown in rectangular fields that make the countryside look like a patchwork quilt. The pictures just don't do justice to the beauty of this place. Tea turns into chai - a national obsession made of black tea, milk, and sugar. It's deliciously addicting and unique but not as spicy as the Starbucks version. In English fashion, work days are interrupted for chai breaks, social gatherings are centered around sharing chai - in fact, the girl without pants invited us in for some chai!
We relaxed for a while at the top and soon found out that behind us about 20 curious kids had gathered out of nowhere to stare at us. They were terribly camera shy, but eventually they loosened up and in the end, delighted at their own images. While the trip up was mainly a wide dirt road, we took some shortcuts through the tea fields on the way down. A chameleon made for a short break near the end of our 4 hour journey. At the bottom we passed a large group of women who stared with wide eyes at us. As we passed, we could hear the clicking of camera phones. When we turned to look, the whole group had stopped and turned to watch us - now I know how the bison in Yellowstone feel! Back at the guest house, our tired legs were welcomed by a chicken curry lunch, finished off with what else? Chai!