Day 344: Malarial Running

by claire a. williams,

Seasons in Kenya are divided into Long Rains and Short Rains. Contrary to what you might think (or what Lara and I thought), "Long" does not denote the number of months that rains continue for, but rather the strength of the rains. Thus, since the Long Rains started this week, we are in the very rainy season. For running, this means that the red dirt turns wet, and our dusty shoes become muddy. But we are doggedly sticking to our marathon training schedule, and thankfully today have only to enjoy a leisurely 4.8 kilometer run (that's just 3 miles to you Americans).

Someone who won't be running today, though, is James, a young man who lives here at Tumaini. As a present for graduating from secondary school this month, James got Malaria, and after a day in the local hospital Wednesday is now lounging around on the couches in our apartment. James has had Malaria before, and like many Kenyans asserts that the medicine Kenyan doctors give for Malaria is better than what American doctors give, because American doctors are dually paranoid about Malaria and don't recognize it immediately. Malaria, even at the mile high altitude of Tumaini Children's Center, is not the rarest thing in the world, and sometimes the kids get it.

As a reward for sickness, James gets tea and magazines. Everyday we put out our 5 copies of Runner's World for the kids to look through, as we consider them valuable reading, and they have something to do with our larger purpose here as runners. The celebrity smut, though, is reserved for only those malarial individuals who happen to be older. Thus, James today "gets" to read US Weekly, People, and Life & Style. He is learning about Britney shaving her head, Reese dropping weight post-divorce, and whether or not Paula Abdul was actually on something when she did that crazy news spot with the Seattle TV station back in February and her head looked like it was falling off her body.

It's all very high brow.

Over tea (we have yet to learn at what time of the day Kenyans do not drink tea), James just told me while pouring through some Oscar fashion magazines that in Kenya it is different because you only see people dressed in "these kinds of clothes" when they are swimming.


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