Kenya: Land of Heat, Land of Beef

Kids at the Junction

Kids at the Junction

During the day it’s easy to come up with a million brilliant things to write about, but once I return home, there’s nothing but data waiting and exhaustion after that.

We went around and continued a survey of shops here in Mbita. Mostly, I tagged along taking GPS readings while secretly dying in the heat. We probably walked more than 10 kilometers total and I probably shook more hands than a politician. All along, I got to hear great tales of employees running away with the day’s profits while the boss is at lunch, stories of false representatives of the “health council” that demand exorbitant weekly payments, how horribly lazy the men of Mbita are, and women who get their hair halfway cut and then run out without paying.

At the end of the day, my survey guy started complaining that he was hungry. To be honest, I’ve never had a survey person ever complain of being hungry. I’ve watched (with awe) Africans go without food and water for far longer than I’m able to. Malawians seem to be able to hold out the longest. (That’s not a generalization. That’s truly my experience.) I have to admit, I was really ready to eat something but was going to hold out until the work was done.

By some bizarre stroke of luck, we happened upon the house of one of the survey managers, who, with no prompting, enthusiastically invited us into his home. Next thing we know, heaping plates of ugali (boiled rice meal) and Nyama Choma (grilled beef and the National Dish of Kenya) are being served up. It was fantastic, of course.

I can’t summon the strength to write much more, so I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures.

Barber shop in downtown Mbita

Barber shop in downtown Mbita

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

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