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Weekly Wrap Up #11 – The Last Kenyan Entry

May 14, 2010

It’s been an emotional week to say the least. On this, my last full day in Kenya, I woke up and the only thing I could do was cry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about coming back and seeing my family and friends again. It’s just the thought that I may never see my Kenyan family again that absolutely tears me up. It’s hard to even walk down the street, thinking of the “lasts” – the last time I’ll eat dinner with my family in Kenya, the last time I’ll get up splattered up to my back from the rain, the last time I’ll get to tickle Garry, the last… everything of this part of my life. It’s hard not knowing the future of when I could possibly make it back to Kakamega. I’ve never quite experienced this before. With my “real” family in the States, I always know I’ll get to see them again – it may be a while, but they’ll still be there – still reachable. With my Kenyan family, I don’t know those things. Even if I did know that I’d be able to come back in 10 years, it would still be too long. To come back in 2 years would be too long without them.

It’s funny – two weeks ago all I could think about was everything that I missed from home. Now, it seems like all I can think about is everything I’m going to miss about Kenya. I love my home, I love so much about life in America… but it doesn’t really make leaving this life any easier. I know I’m going to want to come back almost as soon as I leave.

Before I finish up my last post from Kenya, I thought I’d include some of my final observations and maybe even a few witty remarks in the style of my previous weekly wrap ups.

  • There’s a product called “Nice and Lovely — for men”. Looks something like a hair recolorant… but instead! It’s a make-your-skin whiter! Why anyone in Kenya would want to look more like a mzungu is beyond me
  • My coworker Ephantus randomly busted out with “who let the dogs out” at one point this week.
  • The informal sector in Kenya – like running a yard sale every day .. and living off of the profits.
  • The post office branch in Milimani (my neighborhood area) = a table on the side of the road with a small sign and 2 guys sitting at it all day
  • They make keys by hand here…I’m impressed…
  • I found out on Thursday that suicide is illegal in Kenya — so trying (and failing) to kill yourself constitutes attempted murder by the current kenyan constitution. Having no legal right to what you do with your body is… just a scary thought to my Western mind.
  • I wore pants into town for the first time during the week on Tuesday because I was FREEZING ( thanks, malaria). I never before realized how much wearing pants makes people think that you are that much more of a mzungu.
  • There are few, if any, institutions for housing and caring for the mentally insane in Kenya, so a lot of them end up on the streets. There’s one in particular I see frequently around town… who wears burlap sacks and plastic bags.
  • I’m having a lot of difficulty reconciling how relatively cheap everything is here with the amount of room in my luggage. Tonight’s packing session is going to be interesting.

How do I even begin to describe what my time in Kenya has been like? What I’ve learned can’t be taught, what I’ve seen can’t be captured in pictures, what I’ve experience can’t be read in books or heard in speeches. The indescribability of this whole experience is completely overwhelming. What do I say when I get back home and someone asks me how Kenya was? When I tear up, how do I explain that it’s with a feeling of immense thankfulness that I’ve gotten to have this experience — to meet these people. How am I going to be able to walk down a street again and only see white people?! My mind can’t even begin to fathom what it’s going to be like to not be ‘mzungu’ anymore.

And yet – here comes the future! By tomorrow afternoon I will have left Kakamega for Kisumu, where I’ll catch a flight to Nairobi, and then another red eye to Paris. A way-too-long layover in Paris, then another flight back to Atlanta… then the 4 hour drive back to home. If I have my way, I’ll sleep most of the time from Nairobi to Atlanta. And on to the future, with Kenya behind me… and always with me.

To Mama, Betty, Garry and Alvin: I love you all like crazy, I’m coming back to visit, and I’m gonna miss you tons!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Cheryl Brunger permalink
    May 15, 2010 2:00 am

    Dear Erin,
    Thank you for your incredible descriptions and remarks about your stay in Kakamega. I looked forward to reading your blogs every day and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated you sharing your experiences in Kenya. I am sorry to hear that you have been so sick and hope you will be completely well soon!
    Have a safe trip home … and a safe trip back to Kenya one day 🙂

    Cheryl Brunger

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