I love Kenya.
I love it far more than I could ever express in words.
I’ve said it a million times.
Living in Kenya is a lot of work though. Nothing is simple, from brushing your teeth to making dinner, it’s a process. Since the water isn’t filtered and far from clean, never should you ever put it in your mouth. I go through at least a case of water a week. Brush my teeth with bottled water. Clean vegetables with bottled water. Use it for cooking. For making coffee. Everything. (I do my dishes with sink water though..not sure if that’s gonna make me sick? I use soap..it hasn’t killed me yet..?)
Going to the grocery is a whole ordeal. It’s never just running in a grabbing what I need. It’s being stopped by a dozen people who just want to say hello or ask me questions or random children coming and holding my hand or..the very weird, strangers rubbing my arms and asking about how I got the “paintings” to stay on them. The other day, I was waiting to check out at the market and an older man got in line behind me. I was looking at my phone waiting for my turn when I felt a soft touch on my elbow, then the touch moved its way from my elbow to my bicep. Slowly turning, I find the older man rubbing “Rosie” and quietly just repeating the word “tattoo.” I said, “Yes, tattoo.” He simply looked at me and smiled….and kept touching my arm.
Driving through town is always funny. People always staring, waving and sometimes shouting. I get hissed at on a regular basis. By strange men. I have been told it’s a cultural thing, hissing to get my attention and not meant to be degrading. But it feels very much degrading, and I really don’t like it. News flash Kenyan men, girls don’t like to be hissed or hollered at. (Or at least I certainly don’t.) I have learned to be less friendly with men in public. I have learned to lie and say I have a husband. Never will I ever say I am single..ever again. I have learned that Kenyan men LOVE my dimple and therefore I shouldn’t smile at them. (My single dimple usually only makes an appearance when I smile.)
Exchanging US money for shillings is very much like a drug deal. It always takes place in random hole in the wall hardware stores ran by strange Indian men who take me into their offices covered in stacks of money where we go back and forth until we are both happy with the exchange rate and then he does his very quick counting and we exchange and I shove the money into my bag and quietly walk back out on to the street.
Driving through Kipsongo to go to the school is very similar to being Justin Beiber walking Times Square in the middle of the day. Everyone wants to say hello or wave. I even get “Kiki, Kiki, Kiki!” shouted at me as I wave back. Which will always been strange. I have quickly caught on that while everyone somehow knows me, I still know just about no one. Having your name said by random children and people is new and I’m not sure that I’ll ever get use to it.
(Photo unrelated. I just love these two. Dorcus and Viona)
Oh Kenya, I do love you even if you are a bit of work, because being surrounded by smiling faces like those two above is enough to make it worth it..along with a billion other reasons why it’s more than worth the extra work. I could give that list but then we would be here for the next year so I’ll save that for another day!