Soap and stones

Kisii Travel Blog

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This morning at breakfast we met with Komoko, Alex and Jake. Komoko runs an center for orphans and vunerable children outside of Kissi, and Alex and Jake are students at the University of Virginia who are helping her for the summer. After breakfast we all piled into the van to head for the center. We had to take a different route because a trailer had rolled over on the highway. The alternate route was not much better because a truck was stuck in the mud on that road, too. The traffic was insane. In what would be a one-lane road in the U.S., people were driving like it was three. School buses, trailers, minivans and trucks were packed onto the muddy road waiting for an opportunity to move. Eventually we made it through traffic and up to the children’s home.


The kids at the center made toys out of anything and everything. A group of boys kept giving each other rides in a wheelbarrow, and another boy had made a push toy out of wire and bottle caps. We decided this would be a good place to leave jump ropes. The kids had obviously jump roped before, and we amazing at it. They loved trying on my sun glasses, and all took turns wearing them. The center is working hard to be self sustaining. They collect most of the rain water that falls on the buildings by catching it in gutters and storing it in big tanks. A pump slowly fills a water tank on a high platform so that they have water pressure throughout. They just started a new project of raising chickens for the eggs. I had a picture of orphanages as being depressing places where the kids just sit around and were sat.

But the kids here were so happy and positive. It was fun spending the day with them. We left them with protractors, rulers and card games. Then it was off for Tabako.


Tabako is an area where there is a lot of soap stone. The rock is heavy but soft, and is easily carved and polished. We saw some amazing pieces of art. The process of getting the soap stone ready to sell has a lot of steps. When I went in to watch how the stones were dyed and polished, the women working there put me to work, too. I spent a lot of time talking about the United States while I helped polish the soap stone. The first step is to get the stone out of the hills, and then a carver carves the shape out of the stone. We saw little things like hearts and zebras, to great big sculptures and elaborate chess sets. After they’re carved, they’re smoothed with sandpaper and water. Once dry, they are dyed with bright colors, coated with shoe polish, and then polished again with fibers from rope. I bought a ton of stuff here, and can’t wait to show it to everyone.


We went out to dinner at a local restaurant called Dalas, and I tried fried beef and French fries. It tasted a lot like beef jerky, but I don’t mind because I like beef jerky. After dinner we went back to the room and I fell asleep.


I am really excited because today I get to see the school where my books will go next October. I’m also sad, though, because today is our last day in Kissi. Even though the guide book wasn’t too complimentary, I really liked getting to see some of the true Kenya.

Real_PeaceWarrior says:
Just goes to show, you can't trust a guide book
Posted on: Jun 09, 2009
kelleeoo says:
I plan to visit Kisii on my next trip to Kenya. Thanks for sharing.
Posted on: Jun 09, 2009
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photo by: Paulovic