Monday, August 10

A Year (or Two) in Kenya: One month anniversary

Today marks the one month anniversary of my arrival in Nakuru. Even though we left from the States on July 8, the plane didn't land in Nairobi until the 9, and by the time we picked up our luggage and got out of the airport, it was too late to catch a bus or matatu into Nakuru. Thus, my lighthouse of explanation to penetrate the coastal fog of confusion which may have set upon any who knew our itinerary intimately.

For the rest, this anniversary provides a nice opportunity to pause and look back on those things I miss most and least back in America.

Chairs with backs Without a doubt, before anything else, these would be the first things I would import into Kenya. I have only found chairs with adequate backs in two places in Nakuru: the pews in the Catholic church and the easy chairs in the office of the center's lawyer. Everywhere else the backs are either broken or non-existent. My lower back will never take them for granted again.

Movie theaters Yes, the bootleg DVD market in Nakuru is flourishing. The turnaround from premiere in the United States to the main streets of Nakuru on a $3 disc with at least two other movies is under three weeks for most, but I do miss the full immersion offered by a proper theater with surround sound and the works. Something about a much smaller screen sapped of all color that occasionally goes out of focus just doesn't do it for me.

Wireless Internet from home Not so much in and of itself as that I have learned to absolutely abhor Internet cafés. They're slow, you can't take a quick break to relax your eyes because there's a line ten-people deep to take your spot and five different viruses minimum load onto your flash drive every time you plug it into the USB port. I read an article in the Kenyan national newspaper about café owners being concerned about losing business since high-speed cables were finally being laid and made available to home users. I just couldn't find it in myself to care.

Cheese I haven't had any cheese since coming here. It won't be long before I begin to crave something that comes vacuum sealed in plastic. Not yet singles, but those can't be far behind.

Western-style toilets I get ridiculously excited about these now. I keep a running list in my mind of all those I've found in town because they beat, hands down, squatting over a hole in the concrete every day. Especially when your flexibility is limited and you have to hold on to a crossbar on the door to balance.

Television There are only two or three shows that I try to keep up with and, even then, mostly when the seasons come out on DVD, but the house I lived in for the two months before leaving had a nearly complete cable package. It had only two of five possible movie packages, but that was still about 600 more channels than I had ever had before. Add in high definition channels and a DVR, and I always had something to turn to for distraction when I was the least bit bored. Now I find myself, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, with more time to read and write even with a much more demanding job.

American soda I hardly ever drink the stuff in the States. It's too sweet for my tongue, but they actually seem to care about taste here. The superiority of every flavor Fanta in any country not commonly referred to by a three-letter acronym that doesn't end in Emirates is already well known, but there's more. The Coca-Cola here is a bit more orange and a bit less dark than the American incarnation. Not exactly better or worse but different and worth a try. The Stoney Tangawizi is where it's at though. Imagine a grape ginger ale followed up by a sharp sour sarsaparilla kicker. Now that's a mouth full of flavor. Don't ever try Krest Bitter Lemon, though. It's like quinine with a splash of lemon juice.


Don said...

Nice article, Chris. Reminded me of our trip to Greece and Europe in 2005. I still kid Theo about her homeland, and the reason the Greeks were overrun by so many other countries is that they lacked window screens and fans. Any trip does make you appreciate all the creature comforts back home, but they say that to grow you really need to get out of your comfort zone. I wish you much growth in Kenya. Take care, Don

Jessie said...

In Vegas, the Coca-Cola museum will serve you a sampler of something like 24 different sodas from around the world. Some of the things that taste good to some people are mind boggling!

Also, I like your blog. I will continue to read it. I may set up an RSS feed.