Posted by: kam6761 | May 18, 2008

Work and Play, Work and Play

Friday afternoon we were greeted by our regular group of visitors, plus or minus a few kids. Shortly after their arrival, they insisted that the boys must go outside and play with “Master Dan” (I don’t know if they just mispronounce Mister or if they’re actually intending to call him Master. I hope it’s the former, because the latter would be a bit weird), while the girls stayed inside to play with me. Dan took the boys out to play the guitar, which they absolutely love. They love it so much, in fact, that they fairly regularly end up breaking one of the strings while they are playing. After the guitar was rendered useless, Imagine insisted that they “play this one” (he said this while motioning as if he was holding a baseball bat). Imagine hadn’t even been there when we played baseball the first day, so word must have gotten around that it was a pretty fun game. The boys then took turns attempting to hit the ball when (AND ONLY WHEN) Daniel threw it to them. If another boy would try to pitch it, the batter would refuse to hit the ball and insist that “Mister Dan must do it.”

For your viewing pleasure, ladies and gentleman, I present Imagine, our most mischievous visitor (and one of Daniel’s favorites). The second photo shows the boys in the midst of their baseball practice.

Imagine, our most mischievous visitor (and one of Daniel\'s favorites)

The boys, in the midst of their baseball practice!

Inside, we girls were having fun on our own. Meameno and Paulina kept begging to see the video of Rachel (the daughter of Lauren, Daniel’s sister), so we spent a lot of time watching Thoman home videos. For those of you that don’t know, the Taos brought over videos of Rachel and Brennan to keep us up to date on what’s going on with our wonderful niece and nephew at home. The video of Brennan shows, among other things, him pointing out Namibia on a world map and telling a ridiculously cute story centered around a “mystery guy.” The video of Rachel shows her attempting to sing the Winnie the Pooh and Veggie Tale theme songs. As you all can imagine, these are the greatest videos ever created. The girls had seen the video of Rachel singing the Veggie Tales song the day that the Taos came to the village, and since have continually imitated it and asked to see it again. It was really fun to see them pointing out “Meme and Tate Tao,” as well as my sister and her family (whom they have never even met—they just recognized them from my pictures!). Meameno and Paulina watched the movie while Laina, the little girl who I wrote about in my last post (picture below!), sat on my lap and carefully examined all of my fingers and touched my hair.

When the kids left, we specifically said: “Do NOT come in the morning tomorrow. If you want to visit, you MUST come in the afternoon.” As you could probably guess, there was a knock at our door before 10 am. It was Meameno and Paulina, and we politely told them that they must come back in the afternoon. We went on with our morning tasks, and about an hour later Daniel went outside to fetch water (our water in the house has been out for several days at this point), only to find Meameno and Paulina cleaning our yard. Yes, they were on their hands and knees, pulling up grass. We didn’t really want them doing hard labor until the afternoon, so we told them to come inside. I figured it was a good time to try out the painting supplies that my sister had sent, and I must say that they were a big hit. They had never seen paint or paintbrushes before, so it took them some time to get the hang of it, but I think their creations turned out quite well:

After painting they insisted on cleaning my windows:

Once they deemed my windows up to snuff (and let me tell you, I don’t think they had been cleaned in years. They were so gross that I had just decided to always keep the curtains covering them!), they reminded me that I had expressed an interest in “pounding mahangu.” Mahangu is, as far as I know, just millet (the grain that we use to feed farm animals in the U.S.). They pound the grain to create the flour they use for oshifema (their traditional porridge) and oshikundu (a traditional drink). I agreed to go over to Paulina’s to try my hand at pounding. Although I’m quite sure I thoroughly embarrassed myself, it was really fun and interesting to see the process that goes into producing the flour. I would pound for about a minute and then would need a break, and then watched Paulina and Meameno (who are in Grade 6, mind you) pound for many minutes without breaking a sweat. I took the less labor-intensive job of sifting the pounded grain, which removed the coarse pods from the finer flour. I should also mention that I learned later that the tool I was using to pound (a giant piece of wood) was actually the tool that children use, and then watched as Paulina brought out an even bigger piece of wood (it must have been at least as tall as me). She then proceeded to pound using the adult tool, furthering the proof that I am a giant wimp. I actually forgot to take pictures, but I have a few pictures of the oshiini and the oishi (the container they pound in and the implement they use to pound) from when we pounded to make ojove oil when Daniel’s parents came. By the way, the tool that Meameno is pounding with in the picture is the “child’s tool.”

The village boys had stood around watching all this (everyone thought it was really funny to see a white person attempting to pound mahangu), and I nonchalantly mentioned that Mr. Daniel was home and that they could go see what he was up to. Shouts of excitement and joy, accompanied by many of them jumping, ensued and they quickly ran off to see Mister Daniel, who I’m quite sure is their favorite person in the world. Apparently I had mentioned at some point that the yard needed cleaning, so when they arrived they informed Daniel that they were there to clean. I swear we’re not running a sweatshop here, these kids seriously just love and insist on helping and working. It’s so weird.



  1. Hi Kathryn: Well your return has certainly been eventful and it looks like everyone is getting their fair share of exercise! I also wanted to say how much I have enjoyed the new additions of distinctive art that accompanies our blog names. They look like designs of native cloth and I wonder if you chose them and if they have any special meanings? Speaking of eventful and exercise, I fractured my tailbone over a month ago coming down from a training climb…so this has put a little bit more than just a dent or cramp in my spring/summer mountain climbing. I am so glad I was able to trek the Torre and Fitz Roy in Argentina and also get in some ice climbing as I do not know when I will be in ship shape to attempt any tough summits. On top of this, we recently received very upsetting news concerning David’s Aunt Lorna. She is facing a very difficult health challenge and is currently undergoing chemotherapy, so we hope you will hold her in your thoughts and prayers. David and I are really happy that you and Dan were able to meet her last Thanksgiving. She has been reading your weekly entries and is very proud of both of you and quite amazed by your journey. The photos of all the animals have brough her a lot of joy. I also wanted to add that we were very touched to see Daniel with the binoculars around his neck in MANY of your holiday photos. In hindsight, I think that was a very good choice of parting gift ; – ) Much love to you both, Elizabeth

  2. i love that your kids (yep, i’m calling them that, too!) love to be invested in your lives. it’s so evident in the way that they come over and ask to rewatch videos of brennan and rachel and call mom and dad “Meme and Tate Tao.” ahhh i just love it!

    oh and…that “child’s tool” does NOT look that childish to me!

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