The Fearsome Odor

Some time back, I travelled. To Kenya. I was hosted by my mom’s friend. A young, single mother of two. A boy and a girl. Beautiful children. She was a wonderful host.
Even though she made it clear to me to “make myself at home” that didn’t stop me from feeling uncomfortable. I am never comfortable staying at anyone’s house.

Even as a child, I never liked spending the night out…I hesitated to sleep in a different and unfamiliar place if I had to be with unfamiliar faces. As I grew up (read: became anti-social), I hated spending the night in someone’s home, even more. The uncomfortable feeling of not knowing how they will react to my late-rising-habits (I’m not a morning person. I have never seen the crack of dawn. At home, harsh methods are required to wake me up) or the continuous close companionship of people I’m not wonted to, that much.
I always feel better when I am back at home. I begin thinking about going home as soon as I reach my destination.

Waking up early (read: after everyone else), helping to clean the house, learning some Swahili (ubundi kuki ntazi Swahili?), watching TV and scrapbooking & writing – was my daily routine.

One evening I went with her to visit her friend. And to show me around.
The friend, a young woman. Short, big and beautiful woman. Though widowed shortly after her wedding, she was always joyous. Smiling often. Fortunately, her husband had left her with a baby. A healthy baby boy.
She lived in a small one bedroom house. Her place was spotlessly clean. Everything was in order.
That afternoon, we found her cleaning in her bedroom. And she kept the front door closed — I don’t know why. Maybe because there was too much sunshine. There was hardly breathing air inside. There was no window, and no other means of ventilation.

She served us tea and chapo (chapati). The delicious and glorious chapatis. I LOVE CHAPATIS! And Kenyan chapatis are, simply the best! Heavy and thick, but soft and buttery…they are so tasty (typing this with a watery mouth)!
I loved my time in Kenya and I was always overwhelmed with excitement over chapos.
I also enjoyed Sukuma wiki. At first, there was something about the look of cooked sukuma wiki that seemed very unappetizing to me (I never thought I could eat them!) But when I ate them…ooh my, I loved them! Chapos and sukuma…absolutely delightful!
In praise and glory of the Kenyan chapati, I’ll make another post. Meanwhile…Dear God, please take me back to Kenya!

Anyways, back to hot room…
Taking tea in the poorly ventilated room, I was literally burning like a furnace.
Then, there came a man.
He sat next to me. He was sweating. He bent down to wipe sweat from his forehead, using his index finger. His clothes were filthy. His t-shirt worn out, with tiny holes. He was smelly. He probably had been moving from town to town, going days without a bath in the dirty sweaty heat. I am pretty sure he only bathes twice a year on the equinox. But that au-naturel thing got messed up and he wasn’t self-conscious about the musk he’s producing. Even a buffalo wouldn’t love that!

AND… to put the cherry on the top of it all…he took off his shoes. I was too offended by the smell of his feet — gangrenous. Offensive to the senses. That fearsome foot odor. He grossed me out. His feet were stinking that if he was self-conscious of the deadly odor, he wouldn’t have took off his shoes. The sort of thing beings with adequate access to soap, water and shame shouldn’t be doing. He was a big pile of crap! If anyone was to stay inside with him, the smell would knock them out. I found it utterly repulsive to share his loathsome, foul smell of feet.

Amasogisi aratwishe twitahire” she told me. And we left immediately.
Whenever I remember that guy, I feel like puking!

To all guys out there with stinky feet, this is for you…some suggestions that may help tame that raging case of stinky feet.

1. Scrub your feet. A quick rub with soapy water in the shower isn’t enough. You’ve to get rid of any bacteria and dead skin cells that bacteria like to feed on. When washing your feet, exfoliate the entire surface of your foot with a brush and use anti-bacterial soap. And don’t forget to scrub between your toes.
2. Dry your feet, completely. And don’t
neglect the space between your toes.
3. Wear sandals or open-toed shoes. Wearing open shoes lets the air flow around the feet, keeping them cool and from producing as much sweat.
4. Change your socks daily. Putting on a dirty pair of socks for a second day in a row is essentially going to lead to a foul smell.
5. Never wear shoes without socks. Unless you’re wearing open shoes, you should always wear socks.
6. Go for absorbent socks made of cotton or wool. Non-absorbent socks (like nylon) trap sweat around your feet making them smelly.
7. Do not walk with only your socks on. They pick up lots of bacteria this way.
8. Rotate your shoes. Let your shoes dry out completely so that bacteria don’t set up camp in there. Otherwise, wearing the same pair day after day is a recipe for stinky feet.

Next time, people won’t wince when you pass by.