An afternoon….

I’m guessing that at times it might be hard to imagine what life over here is like.

At least that’s my guess since I really had very little idea of what to expect before we come over.  I thought I was pretty prepared with my expectations as I’d taken work and witness mission trips in high school and college to less developed countries.

What I wasn’t prepared for (now I think, duh!) was how different everyday life can be from a 1 – 2 week visit to one of these developing countries.

It’s the everyday mundane things we might take for granted in the States that often take up my afternoon….that and work stuff.  So, I thought hey, I’d share what a typical Sunday might look like here in Kenya.

We wake up here daily, without an alarm (which never would happen for me in the States), promptly at 6:30am  every day because the sun rises and sets at the same time, every day of the year when you live this close to the equator.  And, if the sun weren’t enough to rouse me, I have a 3 year old who is happy to stand by my net enclosed bed to alert me that the sun is out and I need to get up.  NOW!  If I am lucky enough to beg off a few minutes, she is promptly back to remind me that my few minutes are more than over…..

On Sunday, we hang around and eat some breakfast until about 8:20 when Ian leaves to take the Centre girls to church in the van.   On some days this can be quite an experience, especially if the dirt road to the Centre from the main road is flooded in about 2 feet of water (as it is now) .  Thank goodness the Centre van has a snorkle on it.  Plenty of gripping on the roof handle still occurs as we plow through the water, along with Centre girls saying all sorts of exclamations in Swahili.  Ian usually arrives home by 8:45 when we need to leave to make the hour trip into Nairobi so we can attend church ourselves.

Church.  Thank goodness it’s only  1 1/2 hours long.  American-style.  Out by 11:30.

When they travel a very short 5 minutes to eat at the mall food court (really people, there aren’t any other choices, and the food court is the highlight of our week).  Usually we are accompanied by friends from church.  1 hour.  Customer service just doesn’t equate to quick or fast food in Kenya.

Leave food court & drive to what is in my opinion, the good  grocery shopping store.  Really, you all know what it’s like to shop in a store with a horrible layout and poor stock.  It’s not even worth the effort.  This drive takes 30 minutes.

Grocery shopping.  1-2 hours.  Check out can last 30 minutes (usual) or longer.  I think that 10 key instruction would revolutionize Kenya…sometimes I just want to hop on over that belt and whip some UPC codes out for those guys.   I’ll take a slow checker or broken scanner though any day over having all of the groceries scanned and packed, and then having the computer (yes they do use a computer system) turn off.   That happened 2 weeks in a row, with cranky kids (and me) in tow and that was enough to ensure that now I carefully investigate the checker technique and speed of each line before lining my cart up.

By the time we leave the grocery store (and this is speedy by most standards because I have a list and Ian and I divy it up) it is either 2 or 3 pm.

We then cram in the car  (generally 3 adults and 2 toddlers in a 5 person sedan)and prepare for the hour or  more drive back to our beloved home of Thika.  This generally involves the following statement, “Kids, go to sleep right this minute or you’ll have to take a nap when we get home.”   Amazingly enough, this is all it usually takes to have them conked out in less than 5 minutes…..because who really needs a 3 year old asking about 20 times where the camel was that she was too slow to see out the side window?

We arrive home by 3:30 or 4pm usually, unload the groceries and put them into the fridge/pantry.  Today I put them into a warm fridge because the power was out again.  Thankfully it came on within the  hour.  It is not unusual for us to have power outages 3-4 times per week for as little as 30 minutes, but also up to an entire day.  You never know.  Thankfully, I’ve relaxed a lot about food in general, and it seems like a lot less gets thrown out here than would at home.  The food police or Terry Goldman are going to need to come and help me when I get back to Portland because I’m sure that I’ll be allowing way too many unsanitary food practices to go on.

Then, I usually end up doing laundry (like all of you at home), but in my  dual drum washer that requires manual filling/emptying and transferring to the spin tub.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love this baby…..it has reduced laundry to a 2 hour chore instead of all day.  Then (like today) I might take a bucket of water out to my front concrete porch to wash off all of the mud that was brought in by the nightly/morning rain.  If you leave it, it gets tracked into the house like no ones business.  Such was the case today, so I washed the concrete floors in the dining/living room and the kitchen too.

By the time that was done, it was 5:30….and dinnertime.

Dinner prep, dinner, dinner clean-up.

Kid clean-up, Bed prep, kids to bed.

Now it’s 8:30, and I am getting ready for me time.

So, I guess that there are many things here in Kenya that are the same as life in Portland, just without the speed and modern conveniences we are accustomed to.  The slowness rather than being invigorating tends to drain the body of energy…..and we have never found ourselves staying up til 11pm like we might at home.  Perhaps it is the heat, or the need to shut the house up from the darn Malaria mosquitos at dusk, the darkness by 7pm, or the inability to go out on the town at night because of safety concerns…..but, I’ll be heading to bed within the hour.

At home I’d “melt” by 10pm and need to be in bed.  In Africa, I feel melted by 8pm.

So with that said, goodnight all, it’s 30 minutes past melting hour.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by connie clemens on April 6, 2010 at 8:18 am

    You left out the part about chasing down random giant spiders 🙂

    Reply

  2. Posted by Lindsey Goldman on April 6, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I will be sure to tell Terry about your food safety issues. I’m sure he would be happy to come over and re-teach you about food sanitation once you are back. Ha! He’s been trying to convince the Stoughton’s that eating leftover bean soup for 9 days straight really isn’t a smart move for your body, but they seem to be the healthiest people around. Imagine that.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Eve on April 7, 2010 at 12:14 am

    You could probably teach us all a lesson when you get back about food safety. Even T-Gold is coming around. Last night he said he would eat my bean soup as much as 3 days old. That’s an improvement over his previous insistance on 48 hours. Don’t tell Linds that Andy ate 12 day old bean soup once and survived. I fixed the kids and I something else though. Even I have limits!

    I don’t see how you resist hopping over the belt at the grocery store and task-mastering the 10-key. You have a lot of restraint.

    Reply

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