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Weekly Wrap Up #4

March 26, 2010

General Observations and Witty Remarks from the First Month in Kenya:

  • I’ve been here for over a month! Part of it seems like it’s been much longer than that, part of it seems like I just arrived yesterday.
  • On Tuesday, Stella (“boss lady”) and I had a “Twist Off” to East African music. I love dancing in the office!
  • Kenya has many, many ironies and seemingly contradictory situations. I would love to document them all, but I would never get anything else done! One example: alcohol, especially hard liquor is really cheap compared to US prices BUT! It is very dangerous and socially unacceptable for me to drink a lot.
  • Kenya smells like sweat and burning trash – Thanks to Kirsten for putting it so concisely!
  • It’s really hard to pronounce “Erin” for most Kenyans. I’ve been called everything from “Irene” to “Iris” to “Irish”. I’m pretty sure my coworker Josephat has given up on trying to correctly pronounce my name.
  • Sometime this week (the days blur together a bit) I found out that a piki piki driver was murdered in Milimani (the neighborhood where I live) – so comforting.  I got to see  the funeral procession in the streets from the window of my office. There were tons of piki pikis, bodas, and trucks carrying people and covered in leaves, all blasting their horns to announce the death.
  • I have a list of pictures that I want to take… and it just keeps growing!! I feel like my eyes are never big enough to take everything in here. If you want a picture of something specific that you’ve heard me mention or are curious about, leave me a note on this post and I’ll try to get it for you!
  • There are more cool looking, flowering, crazy awesome trees in Kakamega town than I’ve seen in all of my travels across the US and Europe.
  • With the help of my host bro Garry, I have been studying Kiswahili – I can now say that I know at least 110 words! I need to increase my knowledge of verbs a lot, especially since Stella really enjoys torturing me by talking only in Kiswahili.
  • Names are done very differently here. I tried to have Mama Eunice explain it to me last night, but all I got was “Garry is named after so and so, and so and so, and Betty has 4 names that she can choose between to go by.” I thought my sister Anne’s name was complicated with a hyphenated last name!!
  • In down time this week, I started searching and applying for jobs in the US for when I get back. Also had my first long-distance  phone interview! The 7 hour time different between Kenya and DC meant that my interview was at 10 pm.
  • Tuesday night was my first (and probably last!) attempt at cooking American food in Kenya for my host family. I figured Mac ‘n Cheese with hot dogs and broccoli is a pretty easy dish to throw together and also relatively “American” so I ventured to Nakumatt to collect the ingredients (in the rain). It took me forever to find everything that I would need! It was also relatively expensive… cheese isn’t common here and therefore is highly priced. Nonetheless, my dinner managed to come together relatively well with the expert help of Garry and Betty so that we could give Mama a night off from cooking. Unfortunately, besides the hot dogs, mac and cheese (and especially the broccoli!) was not a huge hit with the fam. I guess it’s payback for serving me omena – which are whole, tiny fish. Definitely NOT my favorite.
  • Since Kakamega is the capital of the Western District, it’s not uncommon for me to see several soldiers on the way to home, dressed in camouflage and fully armed with large guns.
  • I went to church last Sunday with my host family. It ended up being a 3 hr long affair with both Kiswahili and English blasted out of speakers in a very hot room. I took notes – the pastor covered his first point in an hour, and the remaining 9 points in 15 minutes.
  • There’s a mouse that lives in the couch – I could hear it scurrying and squeaking away!
  • According to Garry, whistling at night is very bad – it means you are calling the witches! It’s been really hard to remember not to whistle anymore!
  • This blog has officially been published on the FSD website! In case you want to check out the “fancy” version of the selected entries, you can visit: http://fsdinternational.org/blog/Kenya/Wendt

 Favorite Quote of the Week:   Garry- “I’m a tricky monkey!”

 Favorite Moment of the Week: Conversation @ last Saturday’s meeting between Nick and Damaris:

Damaris: “I love old men. I love to spread the wrinkles.” (This was statement was accompanied by hand motions)

Nick (through laughter): “That made me sweat!”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary J. permalink
    March 29, 2010 6:44 am

    Whistling is considered bad luck in Bhutan too. You’re not supposed to whistle at night or inside buildings there. (Btw, love reading the blog. A very interesting perspective.)

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