A Kenyan Wake-Up Call

Kenya, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Staying There, Volunteering & Giving Back, Wildlife & Animals — By on October 10, 2006 at 9:37 am

When I opened my eyes at daybreak this morning, a humongous, beady-eyed white monster was standing on my chest, staring back at me.

“Ahhh!!!” I screamed, hurtling my covers across the room.

“Bah-GAWK!!” shrieked the monster as it scurried away in a tornado of feathers.

“Oh my god, there’s a chicken in our bed!” I said, now fully awake, but completely confused.

Next to me Holly groaned and rolled over. Later she’d tell me that I’d kept her up all night sleep-talking, and she was convinced that this was just another of my wacko dreams.

The chicken squeezed its way out of the pine planked door to our room, only to return again a few seconds later to make another attempt at roosting on our bed.

“Scram!” I yelled in its face, now pissed that I’d been woken up at a quarter after six by a barnyard animal. The big white bird freaked out again, flapping its meaty wings spastically before making another u-turn out of our room. I kicked a large jug of water in front of the door to make sure it stayed closed, then fell back down again on the tiny bed.

Wow. Back home, roosters may act like substitute alarm clocks, but here in Kenya, the poultry actually comes inside your room to make sure the job is done.

It was our first morning at Common Ground, the volunteer program that the girls and I had signed up for in the small rural village of Kiminini (an eight hour bus ride from Nairobi). The small compound where we’d be working with young girls contained a school for 200 children, some farmland, a medical clinic and a few huts for volunteers. Ours, however, hadn’t been completed by the time we arrived, so Holly and I had been placed in a spare room flanking the program director Joshua’s small concrete house.

That room, according to our fellow volunteer Irene, is the exact spot where one of the chickens likes to lay an egg every single day.

“The family doesn’t mind it. In fact, they’d probably be upset if the chicken couldn’t get in there to do its business. So don’t lock it out.”

“But it’s taking our blankets and clothes and making a nest out them,” moaned Holly, who by now understood that the chicken wasn’t just another of my midnight hallucinations. “Why doesn’t it just stay outside?”

“Well it’s a pretty smart chicken. She’s figured out how to open up the bedroom door and close it again behind her. It’s almost like she wants privacy.” Irene responded.

“No way! Just like a Jurassic Park velocaraptor!” added Jen helpfully.

None of us could believe it, but during lunch that day, as if we’d arrived right on time to watch her show, the diva bird (which we eventually named Mariah) entered the front door to the house, shoved the bedroom door open with her beak and slipped inside. We can only assume that she hopped up on our bed to get cozy; we don’t know because she shoved the door closed behind her.

Without any real plan to prevent my bed from being turned into a hatchery, I cracked the door open and started to approach the bed. A flurry of angry feathers and squawks made the chicken’s intention pointedly clear: did I really want to lose a finger over a good night’s sleep?

I decided to back away and let nature take its course. Ten minutes later, a fresh new egg appeared and the chicken bolted out the door.

Over the course of the day, the chicken returned to our room two more times and delivered one more warm surprise on our sheets.

I never knew that chickens could lay multiple eggs on one day, or that they preferred human furnishings to their otherwise comfortable coops, but one thing was definitely for sure.

I had the answer to the age of old question of which came first….

The chicken, of course.

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    1 Comment

  • Dellie says:

    Light-hearted amusing story to the casual blog reader; serious life situation to the people and chicken involved! Did you get a free chicken egg every morning of your stay at Common Ground(to be used for breakfast)? That was one smart bird. I know what it’s like to deal with very loud birds inside the house and defensive overly-protective large peacocks outside the house.I actually had to carry a water-squirt bottle to keep the male peacock away from me.He thought that I was a threat to HIS female. He looked almost my height when he fanned his feathers and ran toward me with his beak. Those claws look menacing as well. You got one thing right for sure….yeah,the chicken did come first—before the egg and before you girls….Thanks for putting a smile on my face.