It’s been an exceptionally busy, though joyously productive, couple of weeks for me. I was very relieved, then, when I discovered late last week that through a series of reschedulings and cancellations I had a *whole day off.* A weekday, too, so I could run errands to my heart’s content and not worry about everyone having packed up and gone home to the shamba for the weekend. I skipped my morning coffee, so eager was I to get on with my day.

This was perhaps a mistake. I’m nothing without a reckless daily infusion of caffeine. I’d been on my merry errand-doing way for no more than ten minutes when I turned a corner and saw an acquaintance of mine, to whom I waved. She waved back, loudly commenting, “I love that dress! You look very smart!” I’d taken some degree of care to put on shoes that complemented my dress that complemented my earrings, so as I kept walking, I turned back to thank her. In that microsecond of twisting my head, I was transported through an unexpected rip in the time-space continuum. Possibly. I was sucked me into a wormhole vortex and deposited inside a Marx-brothers movie, because I had taken no more than two steps when I slipped on a banana peel and went sprawling. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, it isn’t just a slapstick humor trope. It could happen to you, your family, or someone you love.

I wish I could say this was the first time this happened to me. Or even the second. But no, Kenya heightens my own spastic, clutzy energy to previously unknown peaks. In America, it was not uncommon for me to mistime the turning-the-handle-relative-to-your-forward-momentum art of opening doors, leaving me to smack face-first into it to the delight of onlookers. Here, I feel as though I can barely go a week without tumbling down stairs, tripping over chickens, breaking someone else’s dishware, or stubbing a toe/shin/funnybone on a student desk and taking my willpower to its farthest limits in an attempt not to swear loudly in front of impressionable students.

To compound my indignity, I was not two meters away from a Kenyan beauty salon, packed with women getting elaborate weaves placed and primped for the upcoming weekend. A moment’s silence, as the entire world paused, holding its breath with enough force to stop the world from spinning. Then: uproarious laughter. I’d describe it in detail, but … picture it, and use your imagination. You get the idea.

If I’d been injured – twisted my ankle or something – I could’ve made them feel guilty for their glee. But no! I was denied even that minor victory. With the exception of a generous coating of red dirt and a slightly bruised tail bone, I was utterly fine. More’s the pity, perhaps.

I tell you this story less because it’s that a genuine knee-slapper (“This one time I was walking and then I fell down”) than because it’s as apt an allegory for the Peace Corps experience as I can render in 500 words or less: one day you’re saving the world – a mover, a shaker, a difference-maker. The next, you’re picking gravel out of your hair while an entire village worth of mamas with combs sticking out of their wigs is filing away your misadventures for funny story time at the church picnic.

Or maybe I’m just passing on the schadenfreude, an Eid gift, from me to you.

Smug yellow bastard.

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