Thursday, September 2, 2010

Moving to Kenya

Our group arrived in Nairobi Kenya on Monday night. At first I felt like a shell of a person from all the travel. It took a while to get home from the airport, but when we finally got to Phyllis Byrd's house (our YAV director), I immediately felt at home with her family. She had made us a midnight snack, prepared a bag of supplies we would need for our time here, and then took time to explain enough of what we were doing to make sense for the next 24 hours.
The guys (Michael, Steven, and I) are staying in the apartment that I will be living in for the year. It is about a five minute walk from Phyllis's house. Phyllis showed us around the apartment (which is a lot nicer than I could have expected) and then said goodnight at about midnight Nairobi time. I had not really slept for over 30 hours at this point. When I went to brush my teeth to get into bed, I wondered who had put locks on my luggage. This is when I had the realization that this luggage actually belonged to a man from Australia meaning that all the clothing and supplies I had brought with me to this new continent were either at the airport or lost forever. This did not really help my level of stress from the move... Luckily I have amazing friends here and Steven gave me his extra toothbrush to use for the night. In my confusion and need for habit, I immediately brushed my teeth and used the tap water to rinse. This of course is exactly what Phyllis had just an hour before warned us not to do! The tap water is not as pure as what you get in the US and could have pathogens that could get you any number of diseases. I took an antimicrobial pill to counter act this mistake and went to sleep. The first day.
Our first full day in Nairobi started in the bright sunshine as we walked back to Phyllis's house. She really is a good cook. She let us have a low action day so we could adjust to our new country. She explained our training schedule which rocks! We are spending this weekend with our host families to get to know them. Next week we go to the cost of Kenya to Mombasa and a couple other cities and maybe beaches. Other activities include cultural and historical activities and time to understand the people here. We will take one day to learn how to properly barter for groceries and cook a meal for ourselves. Most foods here were grown here and not on huge industrial farms. As long as I don't eat like I did yesterday all the time, the food should make me healthier! We are also spending some time every day learning Swahili. I am happy with what we will learn and the people we will meet. We are definitely part of a very special group here in Kenya. I can't wait to get to know more people here! Thank God.
Phyllis sent me to the airport in a cab with her friend Stefania. The trip was a good experience to see what the area looked like in the day time. The luggage was much easier to exchange than I expected. Stefania and I got to talk a lot, as it was a long trip. I realized that some of the preconceptions of different groups of people that I bring from the US whether social, religious or ethnic are not all good and not obviously seen as sarcastic as I some how assumed they would be. I have no problems with any group of people, but I have to work on how I talk. We talked about racist tendencies in training that you might not know are there. I'm not racist right? I need to work on thinking about what I say before I say it. Stefania is pretty great. She just graduated with a degree in Commerce and is looking for a job. I was glad to make her day less boring by making her accompany me to the airport. She told me her mother was from Poland, and I thought (based on Phyllis's introduction) that she was Phyllis's niece. So I jokingly asked if her family was “into marrying foreigners.” Phyllis is from New York of course. Stefania blushed and didn't say anything... I stupidly took a minute to figure out what I had said. I wasn't trying to marry her just yet:) We got a good laugh out of it at least.
Overall, I am very happy with where I am. It has been a great introduction and there is so much yet to see and understand. Pictures will be coming soon. I just figured out from George (the internet cafe manager) that I can upload pictures from a USB port. The cafe is only a couple houses down from my apartment. Very convenient. Please let me know how you are doing!

1 comment:

  1. Woo hoo! What a great update and a crazy first night/day. Glad you got there safely bud! Can't wait to hear (read?) more stories!