When I first arrived in Kenya, they were well into the dry season. Mbita, in particular, was as dry as a twig. There was no grass anywhere and the only green came from the plentiful cacti that littered the roadside and fence rows everywhere. Trees had lost their leaves and the only trees that had leaves were the thorn trees- their leaves are thorns.
The roads were so dusty that walking to and from school covered my feet in brown dirt. There was no getting away from it! Most days I felt like I was living through the dustbowl. When the wind would pick up, dust tornadoes would whirl in the street. My hair would become coated with the dirt and my eyes gritty from the dust. Every evening when I arrived home from school, I just had to wash my feet. Houses get so dirty here so quickly that one must sweep the floor every day. This is to stem the buildup of gecko poop on the floor but also to get rid of the fine layer of dirt blown in through the open windows.
Nearly every day I would “shower.” Because there had been no rain and the water pump was broken, our water was rationed from our rain tank. We kept a full bucket of rain water in our kitchen. When I wanted to shower, I’d scoop out about 4 cups of water, put it in a small bucket and head into the “bathroom.” It’s amazing how little water one needs to take a shower!By the end, the water would be nearly black, but I would feel cleaner.
A week ago, the regular rains started to fall. Now, nearly every night, a thunderstorm or rainstorm waters the area. Even though the water pump is still broken, our rain tank is now full. I am now able to shower with 6 cups of water! And, rather than being covered with dust at the end of the day, my feet now track around mud. It gets caked onto the bottom of my sandals each morning on the walk to school as I slip and slide my way down the road. I’m quickly realizing that my sandals don’t have a whole lot of tread left. But I have been able to keep my feet under me and have not yet landed on my butt in a mud puddle.
I have been shocked to learn that grass normally grows nearly everywhere here. Places that were just dirt when I arrived are now sporting small shoots of green! The land is taking on new lift and I am just loving it! In just one week, trees are growing their leaves back, plants are producing flowers, the dust is gone and the air smells cleaner. I no longer feel the need to constantly be washing my feet.
With the rains, the temperature has dropped. Compared to the heat of the dry season, these cold temperatures feel downright cold! In reality, it is still mid-twenties around here. But, gloriously, I am able to sleep at night with a sheet. Sometimes I even need a blanket! No longer am I soaking the sheets in sweat- such an incredible change!