Day 430: Fat Suits

by Lara,

Nearly a week later, you would think that the marathon recovery was over. But I have just rubbed some “deep heat” (as the kids call mentholated muscle cream) into my legs in an attempt to eliminate the last bits of ache and pain that have made it this far. As someone near and dear pointed out to me: “you can’t just expect a marathon to pour effortlessly out of your body; you’re not exactly 17 anymore.”

Since my attempts to force the kids to respect me have made me christen myself a few years older while I’m here, and since I am surrounded by 17 year olds who did bounce back within a day, this point is particularly true and cruel. Especially as I saw each and every marathoner hauling wood and picking maize this morning, and even more of them going for an afternoon jog. I don’t long for high school again, but as I creaked along in a desperate attempt to get to my caffeinated drug of choice, I felt my orphanage-invented age of 27 was sneaking rapidly close to 80.

Until I actually had to spend time with real adults. A mission tour of over 27 came through here today. They liked our running idea, they prompted a scrumptious lunch that we got to enjoy, they told me I was a “whippersnapper,” and they were gone in under 40 minutes, leaving all us young’uns to enjoy our tea. Their quick departure was some kind of record in Kenya, the land of the eternal ceremony, and I was left feeling like the bad teenager who was skipping out on class.

Post whirlwind of visitors, in which the Guka (grandfather) alarm sounded only once to bring the kids running from every corner of the place, the other volunteers headed to the equator and I headed to bed. I tried my hardest to stay there, but a crew of mumps and chicken pox infected children had requests that could not be denied. It has been contagion week here at the orphanage, no wonder we are sick.

Tee-shirt size changes, paper distribution, mediation of arguments over who is the biggest troublemaker. All such chores only become more darling when demanded by 8 year olds with bumps on their faces or ten year olds with mumps that make them resemble Eddie Murphy in his fat suits.

Those days at the guesthouse recovering from the marathon, our impending safari…all such vacation days are truly essential to survival in this place where schedules and solitude go to die. But the return is just so precious…I honestly can’t think of August.

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