“Hot on top of hot.”

Nassir, Mike and James celebrate Eid ul-Fitr in Isiolo, Kenya.

Nassir, Mike and James celebrate Eid ul-Fitr in Isiolo, Kenya.

Eid in the morning is nice and peaceful.  All the muslims in Isiolo are celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast by heading off to the local stadium for a massive group prayer.  The children are dressed in their Friday best.  All is well.

Eid in the afternoon is a bit of chaos.  It seems to consist of hundreds of women shouting cooking instructions and ordering people to eat.  During the mass confusion, I ended up getting settled with my friends Nassir, Mike and James.  The food looked (and was) excellent.  Rice, chilies, tomatos, goat, etc…. But the instant we started digging in, we all winced as the food was HOT.  So hot all four of us burned our fingers during the meal.  After 10 mins of painful, yet scrumptious eating, we had managed to to spread the food to get it cooling off.

“Give them more!” a mama shouted immediately.

Mounds of steaming hot potatos and boiling goat meat stew was thrust upon our rice.  I felt like our plastic platter sagging under the weight and heat of the feast was the perfect representation of the overwhelming sense of doom we all felt.   We paused and looked at each other from across the mass.

“Ay, man, this is too hot,” said Nassir. “And they are adding hot on top of hot.  We need reinforcements.”

Regrettably, I agreed.  The second after he asked for help a group of 6 adolescent boys descended on our platter.  Eating was not eating.  Eating was racing.  Hands were diving in from all direction.  I remember rice under finger nails, mouths-a-fire with chilies and the conflict of eating vs. taking a photo.  In under four minutes the food was gone and I was still hungry.

“Survival of the fittest,” one of the mamas told me while laughing at my plight.

From fast to feast, I guess.

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