Sunday, 16 October 2011

TaD vs the World

16th October
TaD vs the World
Back on the sofas at Kerio View, TaD reclined as he drank his Kenyan tea. ‘Week five of thirteen’, he thought to himself. He breathed a long sigh of relief. Throughout the week TaD had been forced to draw upon his enormous reserve of perseverance to combat the series of inconveniences that his harsh Kenyan surroundings had thrown at him. Not only did he have to cope with broken technology but Mother Nature, too, had thought that she could get the better of him. How foolish she was.
Morale is still high and another Mazungo Sunday is still being very much enjoyed despite the fact that the past week has contained what has felt like a number of battles. We haven’t had to endure anything particularly dramatic or unexpected; indeed, all of the ‘battles’ TaD has courageously fought this week have been with things that we were prepared to face. The only problem is that all of our bad luck seems to have been packed in to one week.
TaD vs Technology
Our struggle with technology began two weeks ago when, after my laptop had been stored incorrectly whilst at Kerio View, my computer screen failed to work. This instigated a mission into the back-streets of Eldoret city to find a computer repair shop. Thankfully the looming threat of having to buy a new laptop or computer monitor was averted and I returned from the busy city with a fixed laptop.  
But it didn’t stop there. As all the avid followers will have noticed, last week’s blog was uploaded a day later than expected. This was due to the internet service we use apparently taking a little ‘Sunday rest’ of its own. We we’re back online by Monday afternoon only to be struck by a series of evening power cuts. Power cuts are apparently pretty common, so perhaps we were just been lucky in our first few weeks by somehow avoiding them.
We took this in our stride. When the power goes out in the evening we simply have to put the head torches on. However the power-cuts contributed to the scuppering of Dougie’s evening plans. Dougie, who unashamedly wears his heart on his sleeve, often enjoys a ‘Skype’ call back to his girlfriend Jenny (who I promised I would give a ‘shout out’ to). Even when the power came back on however Skype struggled. There seems to be something about trying to access Skype from the Rift Valley that makes it a bit of a lottery whether you can connect or not. Ever resourceful, Dougie has often found mechanisms to thwart Skype’s games but this week he simply had to admit defeat.
Even I, Skype-less though I am, have fallen victim to a malicious attack on my communication technology. After leaving my mobile phone in a damp coat pocket (after a day of torrential rain- see below ‘TaD vs Weather’) the phone keyboard had broken thus rendering my phone useless at texting.
TaD vs Weather
The ‘rainy season’ in this part of Kenya usually occurs in September. We heard all about it from our mates Myles and Dan (henceforward ‘MaD’), who came out here before us and had to endure a few weeks of heavy rain. The rain, however, has returned with vengeance, accompanied by a cold mist. The rain itself, though quite annoying, isn’t too bad. The consequences of heavy rain, however, can be dire. First, there is only one tarmac road in Iten. The rest are dirt tracks which can very quickly turn into swamps of sticky clay when they get wet. The red clay gets everywhere and makes the act of running, even walking, anywhere quite difficult. It also covers your shoes and trousers. Second, periods of heavy rain, when one lives without heaters or tumble dryers, make cleaning and drying clothes and shoes very difficult. If you don’t think ahead a few days of rain could mean that you have a few days wearing wet clothes.
TaD vs Utilities
Not only did we have to overcome the irritation of intermittent electricity and the wet weather but for most of the last week we have also been without running water. Ironically, our lack of water was initially brought about by the weeks of baking hot, dry days we experienced since our arrival five weeks ago. However, even during the height of the recent rains our water supply failed us because the generator (which pumps the water from the tank into our compound) had broken.
Lack of running water meant frequent 30minute walks down the swampy clay road the supermarket to buy, and subsequently carry back along the swampy clay road, 10 litre bottles of water.
We each have a membership at the ‘High Altitude Training Centre’- the only place in Iten where we can access hot running water and get showers. Unfortunately the HATC’s water is heated by solar power. Do I need to explain the consequences of back-to-back cloudy days when one relies on solar power to heat the water? Washing ourselves this week has, furthermore, involved using the bottled water purchased at the supermarket. Meaning more trips to the supermarket... in the rain.
TaD vs the Kenyan Way of Life
‘No problem’ I hear you say, ‘at least you had a cook to prepare you a hearty hot meal each night.’ If only. Kenyan’s are an incredibly relaxed people, for whom the concept of rushing anywhere, or for that matter, sticking to a deadline, is alien. Perhaps this is a stereotype, but this is at least true of the majority of Kenyans we have met- including, it must be said, our cook. Whilst, at times, this can be a truly admirable quality, even endearing; a quality that makes Kenya a very homely and leisurely place to live and train, it also has definite downsides. Valentine cooks a great meal but from time to time she decides at short notice that she can’t work, or that she won’t come to work until a bit later than usual. Sometimes she even makes these decisions without letting us know. Like, for instance, on Friday night- after a day of heavy rain and power cuts.
TaD the victorious
Really, this week hasn’t been that bad. In fact relatively speaking, it’s been a great week. We’re living as full-time athletes and things like power-cuts and cold water are the only things we every have to worry about. Things could be a lot worse. For example, the aforementioned ‘MaD’ have had a very similar week but have also had to cope with bouts of food poisoning. Myles has even had to visit the local hospital as a result. More so even, we are surrounded by hundreds of Kenyan runners who are living in even more basic conditions; who have been for years, and who will continue to do so for years. They all just get on with it.
Many of the Kenyans don’t even have the chance to come over here, to Kerio View. This week, however, I can definitely and unashamedly say that we are making the most of our Sunday and our brief reminder of some of the comforts of life at home.

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