Saturday, October 17, 2009

On clothing

I'm wearing my favorite skirt today - very comfortable, moderately swirly, goes with everything from tank-top to nice sweater and in between. I happen to be wearing it today with a t-shirt and scarf (it's cold in St. Louis! And I just bought this new scarf that matches the t-shirt, all very exciting. Plus wearing scarves with t-shirts is something white people like), but it's making me nostalgic for Turkana once again.

While we were in the field, I had two pairs of shorts I particularly liked, a green pair and a brown pair. They were longer than regular shorts, they were rugged, etc. By the time midseason rolled around, they were practically the same color! Fortunately, when paired with the always stylish tanktop/white men's dress-shirt combination, they was flashy and exciting! Well, I always looked a little ridiculous, especially with the hiking boots and socks, the occasional huge hat (once I donated my Yankees hat to the guys, Neil wrangled up a huge ridiculous hat for me to wear), and the inevitable accumulation of dust.

We would send laundry into Loperot about once a week, and John Mark's sisters washed it. I felt pretty awkward about it, so would do my own laundry in the little red basin and hang it out to dry on the acacia behind my tent.
Thinking of the laundry tree that fruits wherever there are big groups of wazungu still makes me giggle (not all of the clothes in that picture are mine - my acacia was a good tree for hang
ing clothes on because it had a lot of smaller, lower branches which were especially good for socks!). You'd have to be careful to shake out your clothes really well after they dried, though, because almost invariably a few thorns would break off of the tree and get caught in your shirt, or your shorts, or your underwear.

All this talk about clothes is to say that I wore shorts all summer. I'm not a big shorts wearer in the real world, so this was the most time I've spent concurrently in shorts probably since I was a little kid. The first thing I did when we got back to Lokichar was go into my room at the Lokichar Guest House and put on my comfy skirt - the one I'm wearing right now! I came back outside, and Jonathon and Stephen (our mechanic and cook, respectively), stopped and stared.
"Irene! You look like a girl!"
"I looked like a girl all summer!"
"No you didn't! And how did you know how to dress like an African woman?"
"You mean the skirt and a t-shirt? That's what I wear in the USA all the time."
"You look like an African woman! People will start thinking you are a Turkana, And then they will hear you speaking Swahili and Turkana, and say to themselves, 'What is this? Is she an mzungu or a Kenyan?'"

No comments:

Post a Comment