Day 387: Par for the Course

by claire a. williams,

Given this weekend's mutiny, we were not able to do our long 26 kilometer run on Sunday as planned. Thus, today was the day.

Before the 3:00 pm run, though, Lara and I did the one million unplanned things that generally come up when you happen to live with 170 hysterical children all vying for first place in the elusive race to be the most like a "mwenda wazimu" (a crazy person).

Most importantly, we took five Tumaini kids to begin their new lives at college - a truly amazing achievment in these parts. Although their school is only 20 kilometers away, it is a huge adjustment from life here. The amount of freedom they will have in their new lives can only be paralleled with, well, exactly the type of freedom Lara and I were first handed on Day 1 of freshmen year at Stanford.

During our drive to their college, Lara and I engaged in lots of reminiscing about our first day of college. We loved retelling the hilarious (to us) tale of being placed across the hall from each other, with roommates who had nearly identical names with different spellings, and how that caused constant hysterical (to us, again) confusion. I realized, though, at some point in my fifth retelling, that I had become my parents, and that the Tumaini teens just wanted their own memories to make and were sick of me rehashing mine. It didn't stop me, of course, but it made me feel that I should have.

By the time I had already lived the length of three full days in one, it was time to run for over three hours. This fact made me think a lot about what life was like when I was doing long marathon training runs a year and a half ago, on a hiatus from travel in California. During that period, I used to run alone, at exactly the pace I wanted to, listening to LOST podcasts, and carrying my cell phone to pick up urgent social calls (I like to multitask). I would reward myself afterwards with things like Mexican food and baths and American reality television and think about how amazingly accomplished I was.

This year, things are a bit different, and my 16 mile run today consisted of what have become the usual concerns in these parts: listening to a ten year old in Aqua Socks and an elderly person's 1950s church dress talk for four miles about why the matron was angry when her father came to visit on Sunday and why the matron wouldn't let her father see her; wondering whether the homemade Gatorade recipes we are using with food coloring will actually trick our fair runners; organizing a search party as dusk approached to find two missing (they were actually happily eating supper) high school female runners.

There was no bath to greet me upon completion, nor Mexican food to speak of. Instead, I made popped Maize (tastes like popcorn, only nuttier) with 14 young children in our kitchen, and then entertained/were entertained by 6 high school boys singing inappropriate rap songs in Kikuyu.

It was all very par for the course.

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