Well, I made it to Kenya mostly in one piece. We've hiked, we've cried, we've danced, we've seen giraffes. Right now it feels like I've been here for years and only hours at the same time.
flying across the atlantic:
it can be summarized by "no sleep 'til brooklyn". That's right ladies and gentlemen, I got a total of 2 hours of sleep between my 17 hours in flight. My brain doesn't slow down in anticipation. The first flight was uneventful, save for the hours of constant tossing and turning in attempt to snooze. During our layover in Turkey (where we did indeed step foot on European ground and breathe the air), my friend Aubs and I race walked around the terminal until we found free turkish delights (they're not that good). On the plane ride to Nairobi I met a family that was taking their two young sons on a safari in the Maasai Mara (the mom was actually from Kalispell, MT near where I worked this summer). I also ended up sitting next to a cute Swiss boy gearing up to trek through the Lake Victoria area and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. We landed at 3 am Kenya time and went straight to Daystar University. On the bumpy road to school we saw a GIRAFFE.
a group from daystar led our orientation weekend called "Dulous" meaning servant leader in some dead language. They have brought our sun-burnt wzungu asses into their wide open arms. (wzungu means white people) They took us on a 3 hour hike to our own version of pride rock. My friend Tyler and I were really excited because it has a few good pitches for climbing and awesome bouldering prospects. During our first weekend the Dulous crew played many games and shared countless laughs with us. Joy, Lorraine, and Smith were the three main students hanging out with us. Joy calls us her children, Lorraine is sassy and taught me how to buy cheap dvds, and Smith is constantly laughing at his own jokes.
the pride lands:
one of my favorite activities thus far has been giraffe spotting with Jeff (our director), Tyler, and Dara. When we went to go take pictures of the wildlife, Jeff explained to us why it's illegal to get out of your car in the national parks (and frowned upon in most other places). The land here belongs to the wild animals. They are wild and this is their home-- we are not to disturb them. And they are much bigger and stronger than us weak mortals, and would probably like to eat us for lunch. Giraffes and zebras will run away, a wildabeast will charge you, and a buffalo will chase you up a tree then fling it's own pee at you so when you try to itch you'll fall off the tree. The "big five" animals in Africa are the lion (simba in kiswahili), leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo.
smoothies on smoothies on smoothies:
just off campus about 30 paces is a smoothie and juice stand. A smoothie will run you about 70 shillings, or about 90 American cents. I think I found my new hang out! They also sell fresh fruit salads. In the states I've heard people say "give up your daily latte and give that money to the poor." and now living in Kenya, my friends and I go to the smoothie for 90 American cents everyday. The juxtaposition of life is so weird.
so back to the whole "I made it to Africa in mostly one piece" statement. My first room had bed bugs. Massive amounts of bed bugs. The first night I was there I didn't get any because I slept in my microfiber sleeping bag because I passed out before they could give us bedding. The second night was a different story. I woke up the next morning to what I thought was a horrible, horrible break out. Then I looked down at my arm and I had at least 200 little red dots, and a few more on my feet (and that definitely wasn't acne). I got some meds from the clinic but I still look like someone colored on me with a red crayola marker. (sorry no photos for this one)
on being in a foreign country:
I am so happy to be in such a beautiful country during this time of year; it's a blizzard back home and I've already started my chaco tan. Life in Kenya and life in America are very different but similar at the same time. You can buy tons of American products, but Coke is made with sugar cane and you give back your glass bottles so the company can fill them up again.
The moment when it really hit me that I was living in a foreign country was driving down the highway to the grocery store. There were people driving cattle, riding bikes, hanging out, setting up makeshift stands, grilling meat, and walking along the highway. That definitely wouldn't fly at home.
The culture here is SUPER chill compared to America and much more friendly. When a person comes to say hi to a person within a group of people, they will greet every single person in the group with a handshake. (sidebar: a man said jambo to me and I thought that it was like an actual greeting but they just say it to white people kinda to make fun of them). There is also this thing called "Kenya Time." Kenya time means that a meeting is set for 8:30, but probably won't happen until 10:00 and class doesn't begin until most of the class arrives. I could get used to this schedule.
ps, mzugu means white person