asher63 (asher63) wrote,

Africa Trip: Ol Kalou and Kasuku, Kenya

Yehuda met me in the hotel lobby and we got into the car. The driver took us north along the highway out of Nairobi. We passed a wildlife preserve and I managed to snap the obligatory photos of zebras through the window, for the folks back home who wanted to see pictures of African wildlife. But I'd come to Africa to meet people, not to look at animals.

Ol Kalou (rhymes with "allow") is a village about 100 miles north of Nairobi, in the Great Rift Valley. Yehuda lives in a studio apartment with a shelf over the door proudly displaying American, Kenyan, and Israeli flags.

Yehuda and I chatted into the evening and got to bed. The next morning we headed out to meet the community in Kasuku - a remote village not on any map. We took a motorbike, which is how you get around in that part of Africa. I had never ridden a motorcycle - even in America - so the idea of perching on the back of a bike with no helmet and riding around dirt trails in the boondocks of Africa was terrifying to me at first. But after about ten minutes I got used to it and then it was nothing but a thing.

Yehuda's father, Yosef, greeted me at the door of their home. "Shalom, karibu nyumbani!" he said. "Shalom, asante sana!" I replied. I'd learned a little Swahili before leaving - it's actually a very fun language - but English is widely spoken there.

Yehuda and I presented the gifts I'd brought - mostly books on Jewish learning and practice (Rav Kook, Aryeh Kaplan, Kalonymus Shapira) and some Hebrew materials, books and flashcards. I helped Yosef sound out the Hebrew words on a set of flashcards showing wild and domesticated animals, and it occurred to me that the 'keves', 'tarngol', and even 'pil' would be much closer to this family's daily experience than to most of the urban Jews I know. Even as we sat there, a tarngol wandered in through the door and looked around.

Tags: east africa 2016, hebraica, hebrew
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