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Thursday, May 14, 2009

An interesting week....

Thursday May 14, 2009

So far this has been an interesting week unfortunately filled with some disappointments but I guess this is documentary! On Monday we had two interviews scheduled with accomplished female athletes Edith Masai and Margaret Okayo. Both women are employed by the prison just like Catherine so I thought it would be interesting to speak with both of them about working with Catherine but also competing with her at prison meets and other professional races, Unfortunately, before we were to meet with Margaret Okayo she messaged to say she had an emergency patient and needed to cancel. We were to meet with her at noon, Edith Masai at 2 and then meet with Catherine to schedule some time with her. It was too late to reschedule so I did some work at home and then we met with Edith. She invited us to her home for the interview and she lives in an area called Ngong (pronounced with the “N” almost silent, more of just a nasal sound). Her home was lovely and warm and she was extremely nice. I also found her to be quite interesting being a divorced woman who did not start running seriously until she was 33 years old and a single mother needing to support her and her son! She is definitely a strong woman who decided what she wanted and went for it! She is now 42 years old and still competing; in fact she has recently switched to a manager in the United States (New York) so she can compete more in the U.S. instead of Europe where she had been competing for years. She also is looking to send her son to a college in the United States when he graduates next year so I was quite impressed with her as well.

Once we finished there we were to meet with Catherine to go over some scheduling but she had a 2pm massage and it was after 4 and she still had not been seen because the therapist had an emergency at home and he was now on his way back. So we decided we would wait until Tuesday and meet with her then. Instead, I wanted to film the sunset in Ngong Hills so Willy drove us to a place called Corner Baridi, literally translated to “Corner Cold” or Cold Corner because it is so high and gets so cold. Jon did some beautiful shots and there were a bunch of schoolchildren who watched and also sold us beaded keychains.

On Tuesday morning we went to Catherine’s house to go over some of the shooting schedule and to coordinate with her schedule as to when we can do some training footage. We spent a good part of the day just discussing what needs to still be filmed and then she took us for a drive to look at her training route and do some planning (if possible!) When we got back to the house Catherine went to change to go out and do a short run and Jon was going to run part of the time with her.
Like last time, the monkeys were out but this time they just came right up to us, quite close actually and Catherine asked Filhemena to bring a banana and she tried to lure the monkey with the banana! The monkeys seemed skeptical and finally Catherine said ok, we have to move on so she left the banana on top of the fence.
As soon as she left it, one of the monkeys swooped down and grabbed it! They were just too adorable!

We finally all got back into her car and as soon as we left the main gate it started to pour! It was evident that she was not going for a run so she took us by car onto her training route. It is amazing how hard it rains here at times and makes everything SO slick and muddy! The training route is beautiful; she even goes all the way up to Corner Baridi where we were yesterday. We got a nice tour of the different areas where Catherine trains.

On Wednesday the 13th I was very excited for my interview with Kipchoge “Kip” Keino who is one of the most noted athletes in Kenyan history and is also the Chairman of the Olympic Committee in Kenya. Now if you remember I said there were some disappointments so far this week, well this was one of them. We had a 3pm interview scheduled with him and when we arrived we learned he was called away to Eldoret for a state function. Evidently the State is known for calling people to meetings last minute. It turns out there was a burial that related to the post election violence some time ago and he had to be there. It was very disappointing but hopefully we will be able to conduct the interview next week when he will be back in Nairobi for an Olympic Committee election (Catherine is up for a seat on the committee).

Today, Thursday May 14th, we were ready to leave early and our rental car was due at 9am. I got a message from the person arranging the car that it would be there by 10; evidently the person who arranged for the vehicle was stood up and she had to arrange for another one. By 10:30 we still didn’t have a car and Willy’s car would not make the trip; we were headed back to Nyeri and Karatina, Catherine’s birth place. Finally, the woman organizing our car said we could have their van and driver which solved our problem even if we were now over two hours behind schedule. By the time we got out of there and stopped at the ATM it was time for lunch so we stopped on our way out of town.

We finally arrived in Nyeri around 4pm and went to our hotel to check it out. We had made reservations at Central Hotel which was reasonably priced (1000ksh bed & breakfast/approx. $12!) but I guess you get what you pay for. The bed was “ok” but the room was rather dismal and the “self contained” bathroom was missing a toilet seat (some rooms have one some don’t!) We were not thrilled with the place so we drove to a few others to check out and there were two that were just way too expensive and other less expensive ones were sold out. We drove around Nyeri Town and checked out the area and then stopped at a viewpoint to watch the sunset.
The spot we found was at an opening in a coffee plantation. I had never seen coffee plants before and learned that the beans actually are red when they are ripe and then the outer layer is stripped away to reveal a white bean. The coffee bean doesn't become black until later in the processing! It is odd how so much coffee is grown in Kenya but Kenyans are not big coffee drinkers; they do grow a lot of tea as well but they drink that!

We finally stopped for dinner but it was after 8pm and I guess Nyeri town is not a very happening place at night! The only place we found nearby that was open for food was at a bar. Poor Jon did not have many choices as I have learned this is a meat and potatoes type of area and not very vegetarian friendly (although there usually are a few things for him to choose from.) I needed to use the bathroom but once I went in I decided I could wait! I hadn’t packed my TP supply in my purse! I also wanted to wash my hands yet there was no soap or hot water! So just how do the employees keep their hands clean….don’t think I want the answer to that although before we ate they did come around with a pitcher of warm water and fortunately there was a bar of soap in the basin where you wash your hands.
After dinner we ended up back at Central Hotel and figured we had to be out by 5am anyway so it’s just a place to sleep. To give you an idea of this place (and you can see photographs) there is a condom dispenser mounted on the wall at the top of the steps at the first floor. The pillow felt like a sack of potatoes and it was pretty difficult to sleep between that and people outside talking; it sounded like they were in my ear! Fortunately I was so exhausted that it wasn’t that difficult to fall asleep but it was difficult staying asleep!

Central Hotel, Nyeri

the "bathroom"

at the top of the stairs......

but oops.....

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