The feeling you get when you stand next to your friend and watch their house burn down is a bad one. Fires love slums. It's a perfect place for them to turn into an uncontrollable tower of sun heat, grabbing on to all the little shacks dry brittle wooden frames. And the Nairobi breeze that is salvation in the hot days is a fires best friend. I watched as one small electrical fire suddenly transformed in to a twisted inferno in the time of 20 minutes, engulfing massive plots of land sending entire families running up the hill with nothing but their mattress and a pile of clothes wrapped up in a bed sheet. Some people acted as though this was the millionth time they've had to deal with their places burning down, and some acted as if it was the apocalypse. We waited while the fire trucks got lost in the maze of Mathare's shanty town and when they did arrive, most of the residents had to take over the fire fighters jobs because they showed up drunk. I was told two children died but it's hard to know if it's true or not.
(A few minutes into the fire)
I handed my twenty-two year old friend Bernard a cigarette right after we watched everything he owned go up in smoke. He could barely light the smoke with his shaky hands. Bernard helps us in the recycling centre and is a jack of all trades. He dreams of being an electrician but can't afford the school. He used to have a job in a fish market until someone wanted their friend to get hired and told the boss that Bernard was stealing from the job.
I hope I never have to experience what it is like to lose everything in the flash of an eye. If I do, I will remember the strength of the people that day and how when the next day I saw them, things were being rebuilt and Bernard was running around laughing as usual.
The past few weeks have been extremely extreme for me. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. I'll spare the details but thanks to the advice of my great mother back in Canada, I was left with no other option (besides going to a doctor, always a last resort for me) but to lie upside down while my friend poured hot salt water down my nose. It felt like a battery acid inside my brain but I was cured almost immediately which left me with a conundrum, do moms know everything?
The other events that transpired are not something I would want to write about on here because I know some people would never want to come here to read again. Not that they are things that I have done, rather more things I have seen that will be singed into my memory probably for as long as I will live. If you do like twisted stuff, drop me a line and I'll tell you a Rated R story.
Here are some other things I have learned this week.
Zambians are the coolest.
BBQ'd goat ribs are totally delicious.
If everyone yells and screams at a DJ, you can actually make him cry and go home.