Little James turned three on Saturday, an event that was celebrated quietly at the house of Elisabeth and Kyalo on Saturday night. I dressed up a bit, figuring the gesture would be appreciated, and trudged through the mud and water down to the clinic.

I had been told dinner was at six, so I came early at six thirty to help with the setup. My outfit was duly admired and appreciated – by wearing nice clothes I was showing that I thought this was a special event. At seven, Kyalo sent Faith to get the other guests. They all came piling in and immediately segregated – men at the table, women on the benches by the wall. Kyalo offered thanks and we started up the buffet of chicken, rice, chapati, matooke, and beans (with eggplant!). According to custom, we ate as much as we possibly could – going into Unfillable Stomach mode. This wasn’t hard, as Elisabeth’s cooking is absolutely heavenly. Whoever says that African food is bland is sadly wrong. I decided to calm down after fourths.

A wonderful cake was presented, cut, and passed around. Tea cups followed, as did Elisabeth with a thermos of tea and the sugar. We chatted about various wild animals, and exchanged stories. James unwrapped his presents with much difficulty and immediately gave them away to the various guests, who smiled and thanked him, then slipped them back to Elisabeth.

Slowly, the various guests trickled out the door, until the remaining few decided to call it a night. We walked out, waving our goodnights to everyone, gumboots squelching deliciously on the path.


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