Yep. My tongue turned black in Africa.

Categories:Kenya

Randomness from the other side of the planet

  • On Wednesday morning, I woke up and my tongue was black. Yes, of course, I freaked out! I thought, “Oh, snap! I’m in Africa, and my tongue is black. That can’t be good!” Jennifer, my roommate, kinda gasped when I told her; she thought that was pretty not good too. Heather said she thought it might be from the medicines I was taking (sleep meds, malaria meds, a regimen of stomach meds) or that I was turning into a giraffe (they have black tongues too :-). I texted Chris, “My tongue is black. Please look that up.” So, I thought I might die at any minute the rest of the day. It went away when I brushed my teeth, and I kept checking all day to see if it grew black again. It did not. About twelve hours later I did speak with Chris on the phone, and he confirmed that it had just been a reaction/interaction of the medicines I was taking.

  • Though the kids thought my name was fun to say (they pronounced it more like kooky with a stretched out oo), they didn’t actually know what a cookie was. Their word for cookie in English is biscuit, which is why they would often call to the bus as we were driving in, “Give me biscuit” or “Give me chock-a-late” in little raspy voices. It was the first time in my life that I met new people and they didn’t think my name was funny.


  • Though the Kenyan children were very physically affectionate, they don’t hug. That’s just not something they do. The first few times I tried to hug a child, they didn’t really seem to know how to respond. They found it awkward and perhaps even a little inappropriate. They were very comfortable holding hands, shaking hands, rubbing our arms, playing with our hair. They would say, “You have very smot (smart) hair.”


  • I kept flashing back to my Anthropology class in college where we studied (and I do believe) that no culture is better than another. It’s even judgemental to think of one culture as more advanced than another. There are just groups of people who do things differently, and it’s pretty cool to study the hows and the whys of various groups. I’ll come back to that point in my next post, but one of the differences we noticed in the classroom was though “thank you” is a huge concept; “please” is not. It caught a few of us off guard when a student would ask for something in class, and it came off sounding like a demand – though his face or disposition didn’t communicate that. Their “Give me yellow” was equivalent to our “Please pass me the yellow colored pencil.” It’s just not part of the way they communicate. Though they are such gentle and polite people.


  • On some days there were passion fruits in our lunchboxes. After a little coaxing from one of our trip leaders, we agreed that when in Africa, you eat your passion fruit. Just because it’s a passion fruit in Africa. You cut the top off and suck out the contents. It does have a fruity taste, but the consistency is that of an oyster full of sunflower seeds.

  • I did learn that if you totally pack each nostril with tissue all the way to the bridge of your nose, you cannot smell a thing. That was useful the one time I used the outdoor facilities.

Other Fun-ness from the week


  • On Wednesday afternoon, some of the Maasai came to the mission to sell their beaded wares: bracelets, earrings, key chains, tribal necklaces, beaded sticks and canes, etc… I bought a tribal necklace and then stored it in a gallon-size Ziplock bag to bring it home. When I opened the bag here, I was surprised. I received a smoky whiff – the scent of the hut my necklace was strung in. I inhaled big and left the necklace in the bag, resealing it quickly to keep the smell.


  • After shopping, a contingent of us had to walk across a narrow river to reach two of the buses on the other side. The red bus was stuck in the mud, and the white bus had driven over to help free it. It would have taken too too long for the buses to drive back around to where we were, so we walked through the river to the buses. That was a fun adventure and was the only time we actually just walked through the bush.


  • There were many many transportation fails during the trip. One bus had a flat tire shortly after we left the airport. Another broke down completely at lunch on that same day. The red bus was impounded and stuck in the mud, and I feel like I’m missing others as well. Good times… Seriously!


  • On Thursday, we attended a dedication of the Black Tank water project. My hubs, Chris, worked on this water project during his trip in June. In November, during our trip, the project was given to the community – for them to continue to work on and maintain. I had the cool opportunity to speak at that dedication service.

  • Then we headed to Sweetwaters Tented Camp. Amazing, amazing, amazing! We saw lots and lots of super cool animals (my pics didn’t turn out too hot) and everyone had the option of going on a night safari. Cool stuff!

Planning to wrap it up tomorrow…

And that's about all I have to say about that...
Meet Sara

One Comment

  1. Mary Nell
    Mary NellReply
    December 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks so much for posting! I’m loving learning about Africa through your experiences :).

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