Quick and Dirty Kenya; the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I have received many of the same questions about Kenya and Kisumu from so many people.  Here is a quick overview of life at 0° 6′ 0″ S, 34° 45′ 0″ E.

FOOD

  • Good- Fresh tilapia from the lake (specifically wet baked with sakuma), juicy pineapples and mangoes available at corner stands, 5 for 5 ksh/ea tomatoes, avocados are abundant and make amazingly fresh guacamole, chips (french fries) are an acceptable meal substitute, veg friendly options are available almost everywhere you go, chapati is delicious and wonderful,
  • Bad- Just about every meal comes with potatoes, rice, ugali, chapati, or a combination which leaves you stuffed and a little drowsy like after a filling Thanksgiving dinner, ugali is hard to explain but basically the density of cornbread with the malleable consistency of thick mashed potatoes and the flavor of whatever you dip it in, bottled water is a must but can get expensive and heavy to carry around, expat friendly food is available but a little pricey, the only form of cooking I have available is stove-top gas so that greatly limits the variety of meals
  • Ugly- Half the time you really aren’t sure what is on your plate and about a third of the time it doesn’t quite agree with your stomach

WEATHER

  • Good- December-February is Kenyan summer which includes daily opportunities to lay out at the pool,you can smell the rain coming and it is such a pure clean scent
  • Bad- A summery December does not feel festive or Christmas-like
  • Ugly- Sweating every day, if you get stuck out in a storm during the rainy season I think you really might be swept away in a tsunami

PEOPLE

  • Good- Kenyans are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and will help you in any way possible, my coworkers are one of the greatest group of individuals I have had the pleasure of working with, the mzungu/expats living in Kisumu from all around the world might be the weirdest and most eccentric collection of white people from around the world
  • Bad- Right when I’m getting to really know, understand, and trust people here I’m leaving
  • Ugly- “No stranger I have known for all of 10 seconds, I don’t love you and think we are soul mates.”  This is my daily thought process after walking down the street.  “How are you?!?!?!!” has also come to be a disliked phrase because it is just shouted at you while walking down the street.

LANGUAGE

  • Good- My English with a Kenyan accent is coming along quite nicely.
  • Bad- My Kiswahili is a bit of a struggle.  I do know how to say and respond to hello in about five different ways and when people ask if I know Swahili I can say “kidogo” which means “a little”
  • Ugly- Every tribe has its own language so Swahili or English may be a child’s second or third language.  Most people speak in a combination of all three.  This only leads to further confusion.

HOLIDAYS

  • Good- I found a lovely group of Americans that got together for Christmas and New Years Eve. I would say, skyping with Grandmother on Christmas Eve was pretty darn great.  Spending New Years Eve dancing on a rooftop with sparklers is a fantastic memory.
  • Bad- Most Kenyans go back to their home villages for the holidays so I didn’t get to see my coworkers.
  • Ugly- It doesn’t feel very Christmas-like when you are sunburned and away from friends and family.

CLEANLINESS

  • Good- Running water.  Oh my goodness, how I love running water.  Washing your hands after going the bathroom is so much better with a sink then a pitcher.  You just feel so much cleaner.  I sat on the edge of the bathtub and scrubbed my feet for 15 minutes yesterday after spending a full 9 hour day on the pitch in the dirt and dust.
  • Bad- During the dry season there is a layer of dirt on everything, during the wet season there is consistently mud going an inch or two up your pants, you can’t go three steps without trash being all over the ground,
  • Ugly- The trash disposal might be the biggest pollutant I have seen.  Piles of trash are burning everywhere.  What does it burn? Everything.  The smell is pungent and disturbing.  It took such a long time for me to figure out what the smell was because there is burning going on everywhere.  The billowing smoke is so overwhelming when it blows your direction while walking down the street or just riding past on a boda-boda.
FAVORITE THINGS
  • petting a month old elephant
  • eating fresh tilapia with ugali
  • sitting on the lake at sunset
  • looking at the constellations at night and seeing enough stars to realize why the constellations make pictures
  • stopping for a fresh pineapple on the way home for 80 ksh
  • french fries are chips and chips are crisps

 

(Apologies for the G/B/U cliche, but its just so darn handy)

“… she inherited it from her father.”

It was the confession from the mother that she initially never wanted her daughter to play football because she had never seen it before that brought a smile to everyone’s faces.  We knew what she was thinking because it is the mindset of so many in Kenya and around the world.  Last week we met with three girls that have received sponsorship to play football in high school.  This is the Kenyan dream.  Most children don’t receive access to education this readily.  But to use sport to enhance the chances of education and a career is the goal.

Judith, Emerelda, & Mary

The mother, Caroline Akinyi, spoke honestly about her questions of whether the school actually existed, her ability to support her daughter’s athletic dreams, and what makes her and her daughter happy.

 

The best thing to do right before going into a new year is to witness the impossible.

December in Africa is quite a trip.  I’m a midwest girl.  23 years of Kansas winters followed by 3 Chicago winters doesn’t prepare you for a holiday season that includes sunburns, sweating, and beaches.  Don’t get me wrong, I will take a beach any day of the year.  But its hard to realize you are in December and next thing you know its January 4th and its been a month and a half of amazing Kenya that hasn’t been shared.

KYFA

I am falling more in love with my work family every day.  I feel like the awkward sibling you let tag along even though you know she is not cool.  You explain the tiniest detail to her because you aren’t quite sure if she “really gets it” and when she has a good idea you practically give her a standing ovation.  That’s me and I love it.  The first week of December was Camp KYFA.  (please enjoy this lovely little piece of video mastery Tobi and I put together)

Every day from 8:30 AM until 1:30 PM was 30-60 kids between 4 and 10 playing football, dancing, and making arts and crafts projects.  These kids were so great.  We broke the kids up into groups by age so Monkeys were the youngest, then Elephants, and the oldest kids were the Simbas (lions).  I loved the Monkeys.  We played Duck, Duck, Goose! and they liked making me the goose so they could touch my hair.  I have to admit, I have a favorite.  He is Junior(Evans) and he stuck with me all week. 

While learning Waka Waka, which I will happily perform anytime like I just demonstrated New Years Eve on the Duke rooftop, he was next to me and did all the steps really well  They were just a second or two delayed from when I was doing them on the beat.  He tried so hard, even the girl part of the dance he stuck with me.  We let that slide he was so darn cute.  And in grand, children are the same all around the world, tradition we had Joel who would love to cause trouble.  My manager even spoke to his mother.  We separated him but somehow, when we weren’t looking he would sneak back in with his buddies and start some trouble again.

We gave out awards through the week for the best footballer, dancer, and arts and crafts(er?) each day for attitude/creativity/etc.  The kids were so excited.  All the prizes were given on the last day.

Please take note of Nicole’s game face.  This girl was our best female footballer and she could throw down with any of the guys.  Love her.  We gave her a KYFA jacket that I am beyond jealous of.  She looks more official then I do.  Spending a week with these kids was amazing.  Really getting to know their personalities and having them stop you to say hello in the street in the afternoon is such an amazing feeling.

I truly enjoyed spending time outside the office with my coworkers.  During breaks I was able to really get to know them and hear their life stories.  These people are amazing.  My first week in the office I met Debra and Mercy who come in and clean three days a week.  This is their way to earn money and contribute to the family.  Debra and Mercy are also volunteer coaches, paid referees, and some of the biggest football fans I have ever met.  Debra is 21 and quite possibly the most amazingly upbeat, helpful, and all around phenomenal person I have met.  Her parents died when she was very young and she went into an orphanage, which is quite common around here.  Then she went to live at her aunt’s house.  She finished primary and secondary school and wanted to go on to become an lawyer but didn’t have any of the funds.  Her aunt is taking care of her and her cousins and can’t afford to put them through school.  Debra is working in the KYFA office to be able to lift the cost of her food and clothing from her aunt.  She tells me how she helps to raise her little cousins.  I ran into them in town one day and saw how much they love being with her.  While mixing paint for one of our craft projects I got to know one of our top referees who is an artist.  My coworker Moses and I were able to exchange injury/scar stories which he won by a landslide with his “I was a really good footballer and the other team’s goalie literally stomped and jumped on my head and I went unconscious” tale.  I had to bow to the master.

Another bit of motivation came in the form of a visit from the Dutch Ambassador.  KYFA is supported by the Royal Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) and our founder is also from the Netherlands.  We gave him a tour of the office and went to visit one of our rehabbed fields where we put together a friendly between two of our ladies teams.  He planted a couple trees and took a couple PKs on the goalies. 

Friday after camp we wrapped up life in the office for December.  We hit the ground running today planning meetings and setting the schedule for the new year.

Massive THANK YOU goes out to everyone in KC that has football donated gear.  We have over 200 pairs of shoes, soccer balls, jerseys, and some money for shipping.  This is amazing!  Our entire office is extremely grateful for everything you have done.

Home Sweet Home!

Yes, December 31st I moved again.  But this is my final stop for the rest of my stay.  I sadly had to say goodbye to Elizabeth and Morgan my old roommates.  They had been here for 3 and 2 1/2 years respectively and definitely knew the ropes.  They helped me get around and meet some great people.  I was sad to leave the bunkbed and purple room in the flat in Migosi.  But there was so much waiting for me in this other part of town.  Blue living room?  Good.  Full size bed? Good.  Refrigerator?  Good.  Running water? BINGO!  Magical…

I also have a lovely new roommate Jayne.  She is another one of us really great American girls hanging out.  She is here working on a water sanitation project.  She tells me she likes to look at things from the point of view of an environmentalist.  She makes a mean guacamole.  I don’t foresee any problems with us getting along.

Cross Country Road Trip

The day after we finished camp I hopped on a bus, Modern Coast which I think all my Megabus trips were training me for, and headed a little over 14 hours to Diani Beach in the south coast.  It was a last hoorah for my roommates before heading back to the States, a final chance for my manager to say goodbye to her two best friends in the country, and my introduction to the Indian Ocean.

The view from Chatelets

Yes, Indian Ocean, it was lovely to meet you.  You and all the wildlife that also like the view.  These colobus monkeys were quite lovely.  And the baboons were also nice to see.  I didn’t enjoy the monkey that stole from my room and eventually stole the bag of tea for our sugar.  That was just down right rude.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the food available on the coast.  Nothing is better then a man walking up to you carrying a basket full of lobster and giant fish.  Elizabeth and Napolean did a fine job of picking out the good ones and negotiating the price. Dinner is served.

Wednesday we parted ways with the beach.  It was a quite beautiful and well worth the travel time.

Making our way back across the country we had a little bit of a stop in Mombasa.  Just enough time for ice cream and a little camel ride on the beach.

One wrong bus station and and stop for some pilau dinner and Tobi and I were back on a bus, Crown this time which was not nearly as cozy, and headed overnight from Mombasa to Nairobi.  The bus only broke down once but it was down for about 3 hours.

Finally Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.  This could be one of the most congested and busiest cities I’ve visited.  Luckily it has many redeeming factors.  Two of these are the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage  and the Giraffe Centre .  These places are just dandies.  Where else in one day can you pet a month old elephant and be kissed by a giraffe?  I believe that this quite possibly could have been the best day ever.

        

Outdoor wedding in December? Splendid idea!

Jumping on the matatu from Nairobi, just 64 kilometers Southeast is the beautiful town of Machakos. This is my stateside friend Maryann’s hometown.  I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the weekend in her town, see the wedding at the Machakos Golf Club and visit with her family and friends, and enjoy the best shower I have had in over a month at the wonderful Garden Hotel.

I didn’t know what to expect going into a half Kenyan, half American wedding.  This was absolutely beautiful.  The giant white tents with pink flowers and the green lush backdrop of the countryside were a perfect combination.  The bride was stunning and the groom’s smile never left his face.  The whole day was such a treat. First the ceremony followed by reception.  

The guests were instructed to go ahead and get food and a seat while waiting for the bridal party which had left to take pictures.  The buffet was delicious and included so many wonderful Kenyan treats.  You will have to check with Maryann to identify the name of each food.  But trust me, it was all tasty.

The wedding party was escorted across the lawn to the reception area with a large amount of dancing and chanting.  It made you want to get up and join the party.  Fortunately I had a front row seat to enjoy the festivities.  Later that night, back at the hotel, Maryann and Mathew enjoyed their first dance together along with many dances with all their friends.

The day after the wedding I learned there is one stop you must make before leaving the town.  I had no idea this existed and may never again be as amazed as something as simple as this.  I guess it is a little funny to call it simple when you are literally witnessing the impossible.  Magnetic Hill.  This is a spot where you see the laws of gravity being broken.  This is a location where water flows uphill.  A car in neutral will move up the side of a mountain.  A bottle rolling downhill will stop itself and go back up.  It is truly an amazing feeling to know you are defying most laws of physics.  You are witnessing what is believed to be impossible.

Yes, I’m sure there is a completely scientific reason that explains this phenomenon.  But I personally believe that doesn’t matter.  Gravity is supposed to be this all encompassing force that you can always depend on.  I trip and fall all the time and know its going to hurt every time.  But if there is a place on Earth where gravity can’t stop water from moving uphill, what else are we missing out on.  What else have we convinced ourselves is a hard fast rule or necessity that doesn’t matter?  When I woke up Sunday morning 18 December, 2011 there were many things I believed to be unquestionable truths about myself and the world.  When we put the car into gear and finally drove down the hill I knew it wouldn’t be the same.  It is a feeling I will never forget.

I jumped on a plane leaving the States only 2 months and 3 days ago and I already know there is so much about me that has changed.  I’m learning so much about life and myself and this crazy and fantastic world we are all in.  It can be fun and terrifying to feel a bit different almost every day, but that might be the best part of this adventure.  So, Happy New Year and cheers to a world where gravity isn’t a constant and nothing is impossible.

So much to be thankful for…

It is 7:00 AM here in Kisumu and I have been up since 6:00 AM watching KU play Duke in Maui, Hawaii.  The score is 35-31 Kansas at half.  It is already Thanksgiving here and if watching a basketball game on the other side of the world doesn’t make me stop, re access, and be thankful then we have some big problems.

I want you all to know I am beyond thankful that I have your love and support over here and I can definitely feel it.  I’m thankful I grew up in a house that had running water and electricity that doesn’t go out every time there is a storm or the city feels the need to turn it off.  I’m thankful for playing all my different sports in a matching team uniform and never thought to worry about whether I would be putting on shoes.

Just one year ago I was hanging out with Kyle, Cam, and our turkey Jive having a very Denver Thanksgiving.  How time flies and life changes.  This year the Thanksgiving celebration will be a potluck with all the Americans in Kisumu at the Walter Reed Center.

An extremely big ASANTE SANA to the St. Joe middle school for helping me put cleats on the feet of the kids here they have never even met.  You are making a huge difference in the lives of these kids.  Thank you to everyone back home that is helping with the collection.  Your efforts are amazing.

I know I’m not the most sentimental or emotional at times.  But I do appreciate all of you and I wouldn’t be who I am today without all of your influence, advice (whether I asked  for it or not), care, forgiveness, and love.

Thank you.

The Tourist In Me

I have been having such a difficult time balancing all my thoughts.  On one hand I have all these amazing trips and the country to see.   But on the other I have work and the real reason I am here.  What started as taking a lot of effort to organize became thoroughly simple.

Here is the great and beautiful Kenya.  The fun stuff you put on a postcard

It took a total of .3 seconds for me to realize how beautiful Kenya is. The plants, the animals, the sky, and the people all create this aura you can walk around in daily.  The food and the tea breaks don’t hurt either.  Two weeks from my last post and I’m feeling so much more at home.  That is most likely due to the fact that I really am home.  I moved in with two American girls in their 20s that have lived here for 2-3 years each.  They know their way around Kisumu inside and out.  They know the cheap & clean juice places, the delicious and affordable all-you-can eat Indian buffets, and most importantly good people like pikipiki drivers, tour guides, and friends.

 With my first Kenyan staple of fish (eyeball included) and ugali out of the way during weekend 1.  I was ready for my first full week of work and adventures.  Evenings were spent just getting situated and nesting.  Loving my new purple room with purple bunkbed and purple sheets.  I have so much storage space that I want to fill and decorate.  
Yes, the first thing I did was put up my KU flag.  Wouldn’t that just be assumed?  It is taking everything in me to keep my nesting to a minimum.  So far so good.  Oh and by the way, people use real keys here.  Heavy metal things that fit into old school key holes.  Amazing.

After a full week of normal living we are off early Saturday morning for a grand new adventure.  Kakamega Rain Forest.  Our odd little trio evened out numbers 2 to 2, Americans to Germans, this time.  Fellow KYFA office mate Tobi joined in the expedition and he was a welcome treat.  Not only is he my neighbor, but he is also quite adventurous.  It was perfect.  So off we go matatu style North to Kakamega where we snag a taxi to the rain forest entrance.  800 shillings for the long tour (3-5 hours, but really only lasted 2:45) and 600 shillings for the entrance fee (400 ksh for residents).

I was immediately satisfied considering it took all of 7 seconds for us to see our first animal.  Can  you see it?  It camouflages quite nicely.  I guess when you are one of the most deadly snakes in the world that is to your advantage.  Tobi here is about 24 inches away from the rhinoceros viper that our guide said “Oh, if you touch it you will be poisoned.  If it bites you, in less then five minutes you are gone.”  Yes, I believe it would have been a lovely statement for him to make before telling us to look in the bush for the deadly little guy.

And here I use the term “little” quite loosely.  Our guide explained, a bit unnecessarily, why the viper was named rhino before he got around to telling us not to touch it.  Personally I had no desire to pet him, but on principle alone I would have liked the warning first.

Anyway, turning around and walking a solid 87 seconds toward the forest provided our first of three species of monkeys.  Then we moved on hiking and the vegetation is so lush and green.  The air is always damp (hence rain forest) but our guide explained that the way the rain falls heavy and then dries out is a natural way to prevent malaria carrying mosquitoes.  And I will say I didn’t feel like I was swatting at anything during the hike.  While learning all about the plants and trees and their symbiotic relationships our guide came to a complete halt and made sure to have our undivided attention.

The Safari Ant: Very aggressive.  They were everywhere.  You almost had to jump over the streams of them crossing the path.  And you didn’t want to disturb the stream.  DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS!  The next type of ants we met were “not as aggressive as the safari ants, but don’t mess with them”.  Again, I jumped over those little guys and left their path undisturbed.

So two hours, what felt like a million giant and beautiful butterflies later, we made our way the lookout.  It was absolutely amazing to be up in the canopy level.  Getting a bird’s eye view is very impressive.  Crossing back through on our way to the entrance we were shown the grounds where people can stay the night.  I found that option exciting, but slightly more terrifying.  So we politely declined and decided our beds back in the city were the best option for the evening. Rounding out our hike was the monkey family we so nicely met playing around above our heads.  It was almost unreal.

Once back out of the rain forest we finished where we started but were introduced to the “Community Butterfly Project” where they study and identify the different species of butterflies that make this part of the world their home.  One butterfly fell in love with me and rode around on my head or my hand for a good 10 minutes of the tour of the butterfly garden.  It was a great way to end the tour.

Our matatu ride back to Kisumu was complete with a little 10 minute stop by the sign telling us we were on the equator.  All the locals were laughing at the three mazungu taking pictures with a sign.  But we were happy to be touristy considering the three of us spend most of our days trying to fit in where we stick out like a sore thumb.

Compared to Saturday’s adventure Sunday was low key.  Rachelle and the kids met up with all of us girls and we went to a hotel pool.  It is quite lovely to pay to use a hotel pool since they don’t have community or public pools here.  When you have swimming weather all year long this is very important.

This weekend was my first full weekend to stay in Kisumu.  It started Saturday morning on the pitch at Shaurimoyo school with the KYFA Kids Can Kick clinic.  It happens every week and is for kids 5-8 years old.  I would have to say my favorite part was either when I slid on the dry rocky ground and skinned my arm/hand/leg or when I used my first aid skills to take care of the boy whose bare foot was stepped on by a boy with cleats.  When I was pulling clumps of mud out of the boy’s foot with my bare hands and trying to get the bleeding to stop I realized I have my work cut out for me.  And getting some boots on these little kids is definitely one of my top priorities.

Bright and early Sunday morning was the big excursion for the weekend.  6:30 AM we met Titus out at Hippo Point ready for our boat ride.  The sun was just coming up and it was beautiful.  There were so few people out and we were the only ones on the lake looking for hippos.  The view itself is worth taking the boat ride.  Seeing all the women along the shore washing clothing and the boys and men fishing is great.  Mix that with all the different species of birds and flowers not to mention two different hippo pods and you have a great day.

Titus is great.  He has an eye for everything and leads the way from the front.  The man in the back was steering and working the engine.  They had the most impressive hand signal system.  It was full of pointing one way then gesturing another.  Titus’ arms came together then they flailed all the while the engine would speed up, slow down or the boat would turn and follow the shoreline.

Up ahead in the water all of the sudden you see bursts of air and water coming up out of the lake.  And then you look closely and see those bursts of air and water are coming out of a giant rock.  Then the giant rock goes under the water and you realize you have found the hippopotamuses you have been looking for.  These guys are huge.  Our guide informs us that the family of hippos are used to boats and people so we can get closer to them then normal ones.  But that the hippos we would find further out in the lake we don’t get quite as close to.  I was fine with that.  While doing my Kenya research I learned hippos are the deadliest animal to encounter because they are fast on land and will trample you and are fast in the water and will tip your boat.  Here is a video of the hippos from the boat.

The Adventure Begins

Welcome to Kisumu International Airport.

I must say, for the 48 exhausting hours it takes to arrive and 9 hour difference in time, this is one spectacular place to land.  Flying in over Lake Victoria gives a view of the city that just draws you in.  The fishing boats on the lake and lush greenery is very enticing.  The bright orange Fly540 jet also clues you in on the idea that nothing is going to fade into the background anymore.  Be prepared for everything to be loud, colorful, and full of personality. (visual tour)

Thursday’s 6:30 AM EAT (East Africa Time) flight into Kisumu was very low key and relaxing.  This was beyond necessary considering my body had no clue what time it actually was and how it was supposed to function.  I was picked up by my new coworkers Kevin and Moses, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and Competitions Officer respectively.  I received a bit of a guided tour through the area on the way to my home for the weekend.  With my future roomies in Nairobi for the weekend at a huge rugby tournament I was given temporary housing at my manager Rachelle’s house.  I got the bottom bunk in her girls’ room.  Thursday was used to nap and attempt to adjust myself to the new time zone.  That is when I met Seth, Rachelle’s husband, their girls and Karolina, a German volunteer with Kiwanis staying in their guest room. http://sites.kiwanis.org/kiwanis/en/home.aspx  Karolina has been helping me brush up on my Deutsch while both of us are working on picking up Kiswahili.

The weekend was spent going on excursions around the city and out.  Finding the office, coffee shops in town, getting a local cell one number and internet access were all helpful in making this really feel like my home.  Saturday we took a matatu to the Tea Hotel in Kericho.  It is a tea plantation that grows 80% of the tea consumed in Kenya.    Kenya is a former British colony so you can imagine the amount of tea consumed here.  Sunday included sightseeing around town and my first introduction to Lake Victoria and the authentic local cuisine.

Here is some quick information I have gathered over my first week of travel and “assimilation”

1. The mode of transportation can create an adventure in itself.

Walking- People stare, call out to you, try to make friends, and rumors about pickpockets but I haven’t experienced that yet, little kids point and yell “Mazunga! Mazunga!” which means “White person! White person!”, a little boy blew kisses at me.

Matatu- Large van that races around the city and is the main means of transportation.  Each one has a different personality and apparently a good name is very important like “More Money, More Problems”, “Exodus”, “#1 Stunner”, “B.I.G.”, and many more just as interesting including the lovely “Fire Mama”.   My favorite was the matatu we jumped into Saturday evening the had the black light and rap pumping none other then KCMO’s very own Tech N9ne.

Bodaboda- Bicycle with an extra seat over the back tire for passengers that can get you anywhere in the city, this is a great way to get around when you don’t exactly know where you are going.  This is a standard means of transportation and there seems to almost be an expectation that if you can afford it you use it.

Pikipiki (picky-picky)- Motorbike with an extra seat on the back.  This is considered the most risky form of transportation but it gets you around town fast.  This is the only one I haven’t used yet.

Tuktuk- Three-wheeled covered rickshaw is the most expensive form of transport.  It can carry about four people and is good for going off the matatu routes and can get you there quickly.

2. Kids are kids everywhere you go.  Between the time I have spent with my nephews and nannying I have spent a lot of time with kids under 10.  After spending the weekend with a 7 year old and 3 year old it is evident they are all the same.  The 7 year old likes to provoke her little sister and when the little one swings back the 7 year old is quite quick to tattle and get the other in trouble.  She also won’t hesitate to wake me up at 6:30-6:45 AM if she is awake and wants company.  The 3 year old never stops asking “What’s this?”, “Where are you going?”, or any other question.  They are so curious, like to push buttons, and think they know everything.  I don’t know anyone who can tell me his kids don’t fall under those areas.

3. Putting together a rag-tag adventure team can be an advantage.  Saturday’s adventure team included:

25 year old girl from Kansas/Chicago in her 3rd day in Kenya

28 year old girl from Germany in her 3rd week in Kenya

29 year old boy from Kentucky/Louisiana that is in Kenya for Peace Corps

… this means that every time we were turned around, got a little muddy, sat and waited over an hour in the matatu, or had to walk a ways, one of us would say “its just part of the adventure”.  I am really learning how great it is to 

4. In the immortal words of Doc Brown, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads.”  Yes boys and girls, wise Dr. Emmett Brown wasn’t talking about the future.  He was talking about Kenya, where no one is really required to drive down the street.  My first experience with the was in the traffic jam going to my hotel from the airport.  There was a huge delay due to rains and flooding so the 15 minute drive turned into 60 minutes.  I was fairly entertained however, by my driver’s ability to take up any one of the five lanes of traffic.  At any given point any one of the five lanes would be going a different direction with bicyles, motorbikes, and people walking in between.  It was quite amazing.  All week I have been in awe of the people walking between cars going different directions and no wreckage.  Tonight’s expedited trip hope included a tuktuk ride instead of matutu because four of us from the office were going the same way and we were pretty late.  The tuktuk was rarely on the road, not caring if it was going the same direction as traffic.  Oh man.  We dodged people, bicycles, cars, trucks.  Basically worked our way around anything that could or could not move.  Very impressive and a little out of control.

5. What comes to most people as common sense can be slightly difficult when you don’t really have solid footing.  My advice: keep your head up as much as possible when walking.  Muddy and rocky ground is a very real danger and you want to keep a look out for your footing.  If you don’t watch your footing it is very likely you will lose your flipflop and cause a large traffic jam by returning to claim your belonging from the mud.  The locals will give you dirty looks when this happens.  They are not entertained.  But, if you aren’t careful you may look up a little late, like I did, and be run over by a pack of donkeys.  I define a pack of donkeys as about six.  This can be quite startling and cause you to lose the footing you were working so hard on retaining in the first place.

Well there you have it.  My quick introduction to Kenya.  More exciting tales to come include my upcoming trip to the rain forest in Kakamega and all about how I am adjusting to life in the new office and new apartment and new language. Kwaheri!

I leave Kansas and then I Wake Up to a Rooster

I made it safe and sound.  Everything went very well.  Three wonderful gentlemen from KYFA greeted me at the Kisumu airport yesterday.  I am currently in the KYFA office getting the grand tour and my new work description.  I can’t wait to get started.  Everyone is absolutely wonderful.

I have heard more roosters crowing in the last 24 hours then I have ever heard in a 24 hour period.  I will send a much better update soon, but I wanted to let everyone know I’m safe had no problems.

More good news is that I have already made two German friends, Karolina and Tobias.  Karolina will be showing me around the city and helping me get my new Kenyan cell phone this afternoon. And by this afternoon I mean your morning.  We will also be going to a tea plantation tomorrow with another American friend of hers.  Time to get to work.  Have a great day.

Happy Friday!