Monday, November 21, 2011


Life continues to take me by surprise here, despite years of experience as a resident. But, I can assuredly say, we are adjusting. The evidence is as follows: 

Kai & Mika's diapers are exceptionally surprising - they are apparently adjusting internally on several different levels. 

Chris is picking up more & more Swahili - I'm still working on days of the week but am generally improving as well.
We have made some friends - one who even came to help me clean our new apartment today (more about the apartment later.) 

I don't feel my heart rise into my throat every time Chris drives, and it's not because I'm no longer letting him drive - he's getting better! Note - the word 'drive' in Nairobi actually means 'fight for your life without costing others theirs'. 

I can pick up several items at the grocery store now rather than picking them out - the linguistic difference between 'picking up' and 'picking out' may be linguistically subtle but the actual life significance is huge.

We know where the matches & candles are when the power goes out, and where to strategically place them so it is easy to find them in the dark when the power goes out unexpectedly. 

Similarly - we have learned to capitalize on power outages & the subsequent need for candlelight. Late at night, power outages can be an opportunity for a forced romantic ambiance - carpe nocte.

I now plan to only accomplish 1-2 errands in a day, and absolutely nothing else. The only definite guarantee is that something, possibly everything will go slowly, confusingly, or not at all. The corresponding guarantee is that nothing will go as hoped or planned - the power will be out at the pizza place so they can't make pizza, there will be a tree in the road as a the result of heavy rains and I’ll have to drive another circuitous route to reach a geographically close location, a truck will be tipped over blocking the entire road resulting in gridlocked traffic for hours, customer service reps at various businesses will troubleshoot for 30 min only to send me to another location for further assistance, appointments can begin late and run long.

There is a saying 'no hurry in Africa' or as Lion King so fondly coined 'no worries - Hakuna Matata'. The actual truth is hurrying is not an option and worrying would only result in excessive grey hair, increased risk for ulcers, and potential early demise - not to mention humiliation & increased irritation as a plethora of people laugh at my worry & frustration manifesting themselves through any number of ungraceful and attention drawing behaviors. These behaviors so far have included, but are not limited to honking, groaning, sighing loudly, rolling my eyes, tapping my foot, saying ‘seriously?!’,  or giving up in the middle of a conversation, saying ‘ok, thank you’ and walking away mid sentence.I offer my sincerest thanks to Kenya for being so gracious with my fumblings.

So, we adjust (or don’t) and now only attempt 1 or 2 errands a day. It is actually possible to spend all day running an errand, a single errand, and not complete it. And it could be something simple like refilling your gas cylinder for your gas stove. 

My hyper productive self is reeling, and I have begun to consider the most inconsequential of completed tasks to be massive accomplishments:

Avoided a pothole - +1 on the accomplishments list. Found Mika’s pacifier - +1. Successfully sent a text message from my touch screen phone - +1. Remembered to drive on the left side of the road - +1. Remembered where I was going & how to get there - +2. Had a conversation with an adult that wasn’t centered around moving, how something works, or directions - +3.  Saw my husband without any children, work, or moving details being our reason for interaction - +4. Didn’t cry for the morning - +3, for the afternoon - +3, for the evening - +3, and for the whole day - +10. With this system of measuring success, I am actually still accomplishing quite a bit.

On a more serious note – we are actually making substantial progress at getting ourselves settled here. Despite Chris’s having some work travel, we have successfully found & leased an apartment. I’ll post pictures soon but the general specs: 1st floor, great security, wood floors, marble & wood kitchen, 3bedroom, 2.5bath, laundry room, patio, & huge pantry (my favorite part, easily). It’s located about a mile or so from Chris’s office so he’ll be able to get to work quickly, though if he were in a car, traffic would make his commute about 30 min. LA traffic doesn’t stand a chance in a competition with Kenya – truly not a chance.

We’re moving most of our things to our apartment tomorrow; the move will essentially look like a trip to the airport as all of our belongings remain in suitcases & trunks. We ordered all of our furniture this past weekend and should get it within the next week or two – in Kenya, handmade made-to-order furniture is significantly cheaper than buying it in the store.  We’ll start sleeping at our apartment once the majority of our family has beds…we’re hoping for Saturday.

Since it is the week of Thanksgiving we’ll be celebrating with some good family friends on Thursday, and some new friends on Saturday. Yeah for friends!

I’ll write more again soon. Sorry for the gap between Kai’s last posting and this – I’ve been without internet for the past 5 days due to some idiocy on my part, and an inability to identify my idiocy on the part of the customer service people I spoke with at several different establishments.

Keep reading – pictures coming soon, as well as some more stories, maybe Kenyan food recipes, and more accounts of our unintentional and unsolicited adventures.


  1. Thanks for the smiles and reminding me, as I now enjoy easy life in America (I know it isn't all easy here!)what my life is normally. I hope you have found enough tissues/toilet paper to help you through the tears. Good thing you are normal in those adjustments. Good thing to realize 1-2 tasks completed in a day is a good day. Good thing to realize getting upset is really not worth the energy or the risk. At least now when the power goes out you aren't trying to get an English assignment done :) Hugs-

  2. Sarah,

    Great to see your post and thoughts. I'm pleased to hear things are going better. You are awesome!


  3. Miss you guys. Glad to hear you are settling some and crying less. Love you

  4. Kenya is great! Wooden floors! Bespoke furniture at cost! Don't forget cheap pot plants on the side of the road! Candlelight dinners and Java coffee!


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