As promised, here’s an account of my first full week in Kenya. It’s tough to decide out of a week of new experiences what is the most interesting, but I’ll give it a shot:
The town where I’m based, Nanyuki, is a crazy, crazy place. What I think strikes me the most about it is its density. While it’s a town of only 30,000 people, and there is only one major street, there are several intersections that are insanely hectic. Cars, vendors, motorbikes, pedestrians all headed every which way at the same time. As superspy Sterling Archer would say, it’s necessary to have some situational awareness. Also, I am terrified for the moment when I do drive here. Whenever I’m riding in a car and it gets a little crazy, my immediate instincts in my head are “SWERVE TO THE RIGHT!” which doesn’t work so well in a country where everyone drives on the left. I do have the ability to drive though, since the Kenyan government recognizes US licenses. Which makes sense, since all Americans know how to drive stick and are used to driving on the left (…oh wait).
The weather here in Nanyuki is absolutely fantastic. Highs in the 70s nearly every day and lows in the 50s, with only occasional humidity. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, I think I’ve been conditioned to the mindset of when it’s summer, you wear shorts and a T-shirt regardless of what the weather is going to be. Nanyuki might be the only place where I can get away with this approach to dressing, since the weather’s so consistent. Apparently to people living here there must be some diversity in weather, since I’ve seen locals dressed in shorts some days, and scarves and jackets on other days. Maybe I’ll reach a point where I’m wearing a jacket and complaining about 60 degree weather, but I’m not there yet. It has been a little cloudy though—I live at the base of Mount Kenya (the image at the top, I was really proud of myself when I decided to make that my banner) but she’s been a bit of a tease so far, there have only been a couple days when she’s even been visible. I’m really excited about the possibility of climbing it at some point here.
Another element that I can’t get over is the dichotomy in racial composition at the various places in town. It’s possible to go from being the only mzungu (European, but the blanket term used for all white people) around while walking through town, to feeling like you’re in Portland when stepping into the expat coffee shop or bar. Apparently there are places that are a little better integrated that I’m excited to hit up, but for now, bizarre experience.
Lastly, thank goodness that my co-workers are such awesome people. There are two of them that I live with, commute with (about a 20 minute walk from the outskirts, where we live, to “downtown”), work with, spend time with, everything. We all get along really well though (or at least I think we do, maybe they’re just humoring me), so it’s been a lot of fun so far.
Okay enough discussion, here are some pictures:
The first picture was one I took close to the center of town, while trying to make it look like I was just texting on my phone. The second is the path that we walk on our commute to work every day, and the last shot is of our house on the outskirts of Nanyuki.
So that you know when to check in (and so that I force myself to keep writing), I’m going to plan to post 3 times a week when I’m not in the field—every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. So check then (or if you’re on the West Coast or nocturnal, every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings), or, you can subscribe and get email updates by clicking the signup link on the right.
Talk to ya soon!