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Monday, July 18, 2011

Don't make friends with dinner.

after graduating from high school, youngest son, Luke chose gainful employment over further education. he was tired of school and wanted a way to finance his love of all things electronic. a regular paycheck was the only honest means of accomplishing this, so he worked for a big box electronics store. seemed like the dream job, working with all his favorite toys, AND getting an employee discount. after locking horns with the real world for several years, he was disappointed to learn that his opportunities didn't match up with his ambitions, (or his expensive tastes) so he has conceded that post-secondary education might be worth his while after all, and has enrolled in university, to begin this fall. meanwhile, his dad had a trip to Africa planned with a colleague from work, and asked the lad to join them. it was all paid for by the pater, and there were no longer any worries about job security, so how could he refuse?

he was a tad worried about traveling with his dad, who is the mastermind behind many many holidays from hell, but his sister and i assured him that even his dad couldn't spoil africa. mama and big sis were so right. and so ensued a photo safari where the boy snapped this, and many more shots of his all-time favorite animal, the cheetah......

as well as lions, zebras, giraffes (oh my!), and numerous hordes of bouncy or galloping ruminants. he loved it most that he was taking pictures, and no one was killing anything. then they helped install water tanks and rain collection gutters in a school in Nairobi.

note the ladder. when he asked "where do i find a ladder?", he was told, "you build one." as there was no hardware store to run to, he did just that, from wood he had to harvest himself. he also made the hole for the spigot in the 500 gallon vinyl water tank with a screwdriver, as there was no drill or cutting implement to be found.

the gentlemen below are responsible for security at the school. hall monitors of a sort. there's a certain faction who consider educating and feeding children to be a threat to the local economy - or at least to their lucrative business selling hootch and drugs. if you look closely, you'll see the business end of one fellow's rifle resting between his feet. their job is less to keep the children in class, than to ensure that outside interference stays outside.

as Luke finished work on the eaves troughs one day, a newfound friend offered an invitation to join his family for a meal, which invitation they were pleased to accept. their time in Nairobi had already taught them that they were sometimes awkwardly ill-informed regarding local social conventions, so they asked another friend if there were some protocols they should be aware of, regarding a dinner invitation. the conversation went something like this:

"Well, it would be polite to bring a chicken."

"Where can we buy a chicken? There is no store here."

"I think I may know someone who might sell you a chicken."

so off they went to the home of this lady.....

Luke waited in the car while, after a pleasant conversation with their friend, the lady agreed on a price for a chicken, of which there were none in sight.

she received her payment, reached inside her house for a tin of something, and scattered a handful of it round her feet. a flock of chickens immediately and magically materialized out of empty air, pecking cheerfully at her feet. just as cheerfully, she reached down and snatched one of them up by its feet, which she bound together with a piece of string found in her pocket. by now the chicken was less cheerful.
it made a terrible racket as her customer opened the back door of the car so she could toss the desperately flapping chicken on the floor at Luke's feet.

i'll let him tell the rest of the story in his own words. "i felt so sorry for the chicken, Mum. i just wanted to pick it up and cuddle it and tell it everything would be o.k..... except that would have been a lie.
.... and i didn't want to make friends with dinner."

shortly thereafter, lad and dad continued on to climb Mt. Kenya, which i believe he said is the 2nd highest peak on that continent - where only 25 non-nationals make the summit each year. he was determined to be one of this year's 25. today i received a note from him via facebook, posted from his cell phone, "3rd person this year to summit point Batain via north face of mount Kenya. Also the 3rd canadian to do it in 6 years. no big deal... :p"

credits for all photos but the chicken (which i stole from a web archive somewhere) go to our intrepid adventurer, Luke.


Linda said...

i think either i don't see your photos or they just up and left the premises...oh well, your writing is descriptive and painted a wonderful picture of your son's experience...and he sounds like a lovely person as well, loved he felt sorry for the poor dinner-i could never raise, feed and care for my food... dinner to boot! i guess sometimes school comes around at some point these days, my daughter would like to figure that very same thing out but i think not.

thanks for your lovely comments today on my posts, i thoroughly enjoyed reading and writing you back!

gfid said...

i had the same problem.... they DID up and leave!!! nervy of 'em. have re-posted the pictures as downloads rather than cut & paste.

clairesgarden said...

what an amazing experience, very much a different style of life there.

gfid said...

claire - it's been an eye opener for him. they traveled to his da's homeland after Mt. Kenya. he may be in your neighborhood right now!

susan said...

You've definitely got yourself some fabulous children. Luke's adventure this summer will be one he remembers all his life.. the chicken story high among them. I love his ladder and the idea he climbed Mt. Kenya. His classmates at university are bound to be impressed.

gfid said...

su - they're a nice bunch, aren't they? ...and they have some very cool friends too!

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Granny f

Thanks for providing this interesting update on your remarkable son who no doubt relished his African experience. Sounds as if he is as practical and resilient as his Mom with the addition of a mountaineering bent. Great pictures.
Best wishes

gfid said...

lindsay - i love your new avatar! i fear youngest son is more adventurous than practical. when he was learning to walk i had to put a bicycle helmet on him to prevent permanent brain damage. no exaggeration! he wasn't clumsy - he threw himself into his efforts, body and soul. he's an artist at heart, so his pictures are always well composed.

Rachael Byrnes said...

Hi Granny F! Dad's Avatar is a photo I found of him and mum on their wedding day ... I put it up here for him... thought it was amazing! It really captures the era and thier vibrant youth! I hope things are going well for you. Cheers Rachael B

gfid said...

Rachel - it's a lovely photo. i can't look at it without smiling back at them.

Vincent said...

You are a very talented writer.

gfid said...

vincent - thanks for your kind words. perhaps its as much a love for good stories?