Around the Neighborhood

Today’s photo credit belongs to Kamau. He’s a young man who just finished a mechanics program and is now attending driving school. He spends his free time at the school, and I asked him if he’d like to take pictures around the school’s neighborhood. That’s Royal Kids School behind those tall trees. It’s located in Mikindani, which can best be described as a suburb (although it still has an urban feel) of Mombasa, the second largest city in Kenya. It takes about twenty minutes to drive from Mikindani into town.

If you didn’t turn down the road towards the school, and kept going straight, you’d come across these shops on your left. This area’s usually teeming with goats, but I think their owners took them to another school’s grassy field for nourishment.

If you make a right from those shops, you’ll eventually see this valley. This area is called Bangala (in English it’s known as Bangaldesh). Many of the day students on the school’s feeding program come from this area.

And now for my daily commute to the school. I’m staying with the school founders, Grace and Ngao, in an apartment building a fifteen-minute walk away. This section of Mikindani has the main stretch of shops. It’s called the Plaza. If you look closely in the first picture, there’s a cow in the center. In the early mornings, I frequently walk through several cows being herded in an alleyway between two apartment buildings.

However, before I reach the Plaza on my way to school, I always pass by this vegetable stand and this seemingly out of order fuel pump. I usually chat with the woman who owns the vegetable stand. I was surprised to see the turkeys at her stand, since they normally stay near another house. The turkeys are crowded around a warming unit for a snack of deep fried potatoes that is sold in the early evenings all around Mikindani.

Once I pass the Plaza and cross the main road of Mikindani, I usually have two options for my route to school. I either arrive at the public field, greet these goats, pass these stalls and arrive at the front side of the school. Most shops have bars in front, and you request various items from the stall owner. These stalls are beside the barbershop in yesterday’s update. The advertisement on the stall is for a blend of seasonings popular in a dish called “Sukuma” which is kale and an inexpensive vegetable. The dish is called “sukuma wiki” since it’s a meal that can “push the week.”

Or I can take the back way around the school. From the public field, I cross this ditch on a plank made from scrap pieces of wood. Then I pass by the school’s playground.

After the field, I pass the school’s kitchen on my right, then a one-story building divided into several units (the most common style of residence in Mikindani), and turn right at that pole.

And then I arrive at this spot, from behind the blue house on the left. We’ve now come full circle, and this is the view of the school’s road from its main gate.

Hopefully this post gives a better sense of the school’s neighborhood.  If the day students don’t participate in the school’s feeding program, they usually walk home during the 12-2 lunch break.

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