Enrico and Lilli by the Secchia River, San Michele, Italy.
For the past 14 years I have been friends with Luca and Gloria Tracendi who live in San Michele, Italy. We have met many times in Italy, Canada, Florida and Barcelona. I rocked their son Enrico when he was three months old. We met serendipitously on an internet chat site in the very early internet days in the late 1990’s when I was working in Bosnia and have chatted online every couple of weeks since then. Enrico is now almost 13 and as tall as his Dad. I enjoy visiting them from time to time and they make me feel very much at home. I now know the neighbours and family. What a delight to have them as friends. This week I am visiting them again at their home in San Michele. Yesterday Enrico and the dog Lilli and I did some wandering by the river and the hills around the village, appropriately ending up at the top of a big hill where a crucifix overlooked the village below.
For the past 9 years, I have made a point of visiting the Moiko family who live just outside Nairobi on wonderful piece of land that has a panoramic view of the Ngong Hills. I have watched their family grow up and grow in size. Last January when I was at their home, Liz was pregnant and hoping that the baby would come along any day. Little (actually not so little) Charles was born in mid-February and so this past weekend was the first time that we were able to meet. He is a robust, happy, curious child that is well loved and cared for by the extended family that lives at the Moiko compound.
Sandra. a toddler when I first met her, is now a tall 10 year old in Class 6. She goes off to school, six days a week, taking the school bus at 6 am and not getting home until 7 pm. And then there is homework to do. African students spend many more hours acquiring their education than Canadian children do. Education is seen as an important responsibility and opportunity to get ahead.
Another tradition is to hike through the hills to a cliff above Kona Baridi where I soak up a spectacular view of the Rift Valley. There are two trees that I visit there every year and a few minutes spent sitting quietly listening to the wind and the birds and the j angle of distant cow bells is something that I look forward to am would not want to miss. This year I hiked up to the hill with Daniel, Stephen’s nephew who has matured into a responsible young man over the years I have been visiting.
The four generations of this family all living in the compound – from Stephen’s elderly grandmother, Gogo, who still milks the cows to young Charles splashing in a bathtub in the sun in the yard, make me feel right at home. I am privileged to be part of this traditional but progressive and modern Maasai family.