Sunday, August 15, 2010

Last Day at ARO

Thursday was my last full day at ARO Centre. We got to a slow start in the morning, especially because the laser cutter was not working. There was some sort of communication problem between the computer and the machine and we couldn't figure out how to fix it. Fred, Rodgers, Kevin, and I did a mini photo shoot after much nagging on my part, which was really funny. I wanted to have some pictures of us to keep.

Afterwards, Kevin returned to his post, tending to patients, and Fred, Rodgers, and I headed to Bondo so I could use the ATM and to print some photos. When we got there I was fortunately able to withdraw enough money to cover all of my bills from the last two weeks, and then we walked around the town for a while. We bought some sesame seed balls, sesame seeds = sim sim in swahili. They had a bit of honey (or some other sweetener), sesame seeds, and a few groundnuts (peanuts). They were definitely a different sort of taste, but they reminded me of something one might find in the middle east and they were good.

I happened to see an electronics store, so we went over to check it out and see if they had any components. Buying components anywhere near Majiwa is quite difficult, but Bondo is just a 10 minute drive away, so having components available there would really help in terms of the sustainability of the lab. After our failures in Kisumu, I was not very optimistic, however, I was wrong. They even had a list of all of the components and ICs that they carry. We wanted to photograph the list so that people in the lab could know what was available when designing their circuits, and after a LOT of convincing, the shop owner finally allowed us to do so. She also told us about two other electronics stores. The first one again had a list of available components, so I took photos of that list as well. The last store didn't have any consistent stock, so it was not as helpful.

The power has been in and out all week, and unfortunately the power was out while we were at Bondo, so we ended up having to find a place powered by a generator to print our photos. Fred and Rodgers had been hinting that they were going to make me a picture frame, but I wasn't sure. Unfortunately, the girl who was assisting us was dreadfully slow, so we waited almost an hour to print 5 pictures! I told Fred and Rodgers that they need a Kinko's. They were amazed when I explained that they could do all of the work themselves in a timely manner if they were in the US.

Finally we were back in the matatu, headed to Majiwa. I had a very late lunch, then began finishing up some various taks, including settling my bill and going shopping at the small outlet run by the Majiwa Modern Weavers. By the time I went back to the lab, Fred and Rodgers had managed to fix the problem with the laser machine. I'm not sure what they did, but I came back to find it working. I think they reinstalled some software or drivers on a different computer and got it to work. We were supposed to go meet Fred's mom in the afternoon, but it was raining and starting to get late, so we didn't have time.

After dinner, Kevin, Fred, Rodgers, and I spent the rest of the evening in the lab, as we do every night. I was working on some emails and blog posts until the internet turned off, and then just hung around for a while. Another guy who had been away for most of the time I had been around came by to say hi/bye to me, so I talked with him for a while, then went and packed most of my things. Fred and Rodgers were hard at work on something secret, which they had hinted was a gift for me, so I let them be and went to watch a movie with Kevin. I finally watched the whole movie of Up (I had seen the first half before). Even Kevin liked it, and he doesn't like cartoons usually.

Fred and Rodgers both slept over at ARO, in Kevin's little apartment. Friday morning, they were up at about 6 finishing up some wooden boxes for me to take to display at Maker Faire RI. After breakfast, I went and found them in the lab and they gave me my gift. They made me a picture frame that has a picture of the three of us and each one of them picked out a quote for me. It was so sweet of them that I almost started to cry. I'm really going to miss them. We had such a fun two weeks. We headed back out to where the taxi was waiting for me and they went to wake up Kevin. He came out half asleep and I said goodbye to everyone. Then it was off to the airport. The taxi driver was crazy and going way too fast, but luckily I made it safely.

The day in Nairobi went by very fast. I met up with Lawrence, another guy from the lab, to interview him, and he ended up roping me into helping him with a bunch of errands, so I didn't get home until early evening. I met up with Claudia around 7:30 for dinner and we hung out for a while, catching up and stuff. She left early this morning (Saturday) for safari, so I'm sure she'll be having a great weekend. I was supposed to see some people from University of Hartford yesterday as well, but it turned out Clarice had arranged for them to go to Mount Kenya, so they won't be back until this afternoon.

I can't believe I'm flying out tonight! This trip has certainly flown by and I'm not sure I'm ready to face reality back at home quite yet. At least I just have to get through one week and then I'm off to San Francisco! Can't wait.

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