One wonderful thing about my new homestay is that my host mother makes fresh fruit juice regularly, nearly daily. It’s one of the only things contained in the small freezer, which is used as the only source of cold in the household. Throughout the day, I drink fresh and mouthwateringly tart tamarind and passionfruit juice. Passionfruit juice looks amost identical to orange juice, but brighter and more opaque. It is very sweet and a little tart. Tamarind juice is the complete opposite. It is brown and quite viscous, not unlike a smoothie yet incredibly tart, as if sucking on a lime. It has, however, a much richer flavor profile than the simple acidity of a cirtus, and I just can’t get enough.

Two plastic bottles, one filled with tamarind juice and the other passionfruit, with a glass in foreground filled with passionfruit juice
Passionfruit and tamarind juice

Outside the homestay, I have begun touring the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya. The Coast Branch of the organization has three separate facilities, one nearby and two elsewhere in Mombasa County. Yesterday I traveled by matatu (bus) to Port Reitz Rehabilitation Clinic, which houses children of all ages undergoing rehabilitation and surgery for club foot as well as other mobility-affecting disabilities. Because the children come from all over the coastal region and stay long-term, the facility also has a small school as well as recreational areas.

Today I visited the Likoni Furkiture Workshop, also run by APDK. Getting there required boarding the free ferry to the south coast, where the expansive worksop sits high above a beach. While seeing the facility I met many of the residents, who live and work within the workshop. Several members were deaf, and I’m sad to say I have forgotten most of the little sign language I learned over the last couple years, save for spelling about half the alphabet. The furniture made at Likoni is of a very high caliber, and the prices reflect that. I saw a small, 1 sq. ft wooden end table retailing for a staggering $120. I can’t imagine what the price of the luxurious Zanzibar-style living room set was.

Coming home from work is a nice experience. It’s hot here – although surprisingly not (yet) hotter than Champaign-Urbana in July – so returning to chilled passionfruit juice is a sublime experience. My host family is very nice, and cook food almost constantly following the Kenyan mantra “if you leave food on your plate, then you didn’t like it; if you eat it all, you want some more.” Despite the arduous walk back through the heat and haggling bubblegum salesmen, my spirits are greatly lifted when I’m handed a bottle of ice-cold tamarind juice as soon as I step inside the house. ❧