post africa feelings.

i learned a lot about america when i was in kenya. one main thing was that out of all the volunteers, the people from america were the only ones that didn’t know more than one language. a lot of people i met knew three to five languages semi fluently or they were totally fluent in all of them. even the kenyans are taught english at an early age. i don’t understand why america doesn’t see the importance of being able to communicate in other places but i guess majority of countries know english so we can take the easy way out.

another thing i learned is that we are the only country that calls french fries, fries. everyone else calls them chips and they use cutlery while eating them. when we were out to dinner you could always tell who the americans were versus the people from the UK or other places just by how they ate their fries…or chips…or whatever. we also feels it’s okay to burp and talk about bodily functions…not all cultures feel that way lol. i’ve learned that i’m no where near being “proper” but i’ve also learned that people from the UK call hair ties, bobbles, and backpacks, rack sacs. chips are crisps and fries are chips. nothing makes sense. i learned that it’s harder to understand someone with a thick english accent than it is to understand someone with a swahili accent. generally, people from the UK talk a lot quieter as well, which i had a hard time with because i’m used to hannah talking too loudly in my ear.

so far, i’ve been okay with adjusting to the time change (although i have been going to sleep around 9:30 and waking up, wide awake, at 7am. it’s annoying, but nothing that can’t be adjusted slowly or tolerated for the time being. i’ve definitely adjusted to the hot, clean showers and delicious food soaked with flavors. i’ve also grown fond of having comfy couches and big beds to sleep on with comforters and puffy pillows. 

however, i’m having a really hard time adjusting to how quick things are here. you can ask hannah, i used to volunteer to drive because i found it relaxing and i would have rather done it than trusted any of my friends behind the wheel (sorry guys, but it’s true). but now, i find myself scared on the highway, going only 55mph and struggling to make it to 70; frightened of the speeding cars that zoom passed with ease. i hate it. i wish the concrete was replaced with dirt just for the fact that it would make people go slower. i miss tuktuk and matatus. in fact, i miss public transportation all together. paying 40-50 shillings (50-60 cents) to get to where i need to go without ever filling my gas tank with a wallet full of cash. 

and although i love being clean. i love being able to lay on the floor without the fear of bugs crawling on me, parasites finding their way inside of me, or just being flat out dirty. but i miss the acceptance of dirty feet, sand covered toes, and dark soles from not being properly washed in weeks. i miss it being okay. i don’t like feeling like i have to wash my feet every time a speck of dirt finds its way onto my feet. i like being able to be clean but i don’t like not being able to be dirty. that’s something i NEVER thought i would say, but it’s true. there was a certain relief from not having to shower everyday, being able to smell bad because the locals stench would always have you beat, and having feet that turned the color of pavement within five minutes of being outside but no one would ever care or judge. 

i love it here. i love my house, i’m grateful for everything i have, but there’s a part of me that feels like those people, living in mud huts and stick built bungalows, have more than me. i have a strong understanding of “things”. they have  strong understanding of the earth and what it provides for them. they make fences out of fallen down palm tree leaves. they’re resourceful. they eat with their hands because silverware gets in the way and only slows them down. plus, you have to wash silverware and why would they want to waste perfectly good water on that?

 

as i was uploading my pictures onto my computer (soon to be on facebook) i was smiling the whole entire time. i can still hear the kids laughing and i can still picture them signing to me, grabbing for my hand, and i can still feel them holding me so tightly any chance i gave them. they are so incredibly loving and i struggle with the thought of not being there with them. i miss them constantly. i wish it was easier and quicker than a full day of flying to get there because if it was i would be there every single day.

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Yikes..

So you know how I said we were laying at our gate waiting to take off last night? We may or may not have fallen asleep and we may or may not have missed our flight. I woke up from my nap to find myself surrounded by empty seats. I stood up in a panic and told Hannah we missed our plane. It turns out there was a gate change so we ran to the other gate only to find there was a gate change there, too. We got to the final gate and the lady said, “the doors closed right minutes ago.” needless to say, I was a little bit upset about this and all I wanted was to be home. It turned out to be a good flight to miss though because I had ample people in Chicago I could have called to save te day. My grandpa was out the door as soon as I told him where I was and we waited no longer than a half hour for him to arrive.

Although it would have been nice to get home yesterday, I’m more than happy with an end of the trip visit to my grandparent’s house where we slept in cozy beds with fluffy comforters. We also got a hot shower and breakfast this morning so it worked out great.

Now we are waiting at our gate to board our final flight home…again. Our eyes are wide open an our ears are listening for any gate changes. We have an hour or so before we start boarding and then a quick hour long flight to Detroit where my mom and Hannah’s mom and sister will be awaiting our arrival.

Driving to the airport my eyes and brain were over whelmed. I don’t remember the last time I saw so many billboards and advertisements to keep my eyes busy. I didn’t even feel like I was in a car on a road. Everything was so smooth and bump free compared to any type of transportation in Africa. I thought things were weird in Kenya but they began to feel normal. Sara from the special school said she had friends that went home and had problems coping with the American way of life. They were there a year or two so I’m sure readjusting after only a month won’t be that difficult. I already sense the feeling of people’s urgency here compared to the laxidasical mind set in Kenya. It’s easier to be stressed here but it’s easier for my mind to be at peace at the same time. Kind of confusing lol but I don’t know how else to describe it.

Coming to an end

Exhaustion has officially set in. I don’t know how long it takes to fly from new York to Chicago but I gaurantee I was asleep before we even took off and didn’t wake up until I was forced to put my seat in it’s upright position. Even then, I could barely open my eyes.

Now we’re laying at our gate just waiting to board our last and final flight to Detroit. It’s been an alright journey so far but now I am eager to just be home already. It feels like forever ago that I was in Kenya.

I found that ordering food here is stressful. People tell you to sign here take this ticket number wait here go there grab this do that. I miss being able to hand over shillings and sit back to see if I would receive the currect change or not. I don’t know if it’s my overly tired eyes or fed up with people brain but it seems like this airport is seriously over crowded.

I think it’s time to be home.

Back in the states!

Three flights down and two to go until we land in the Detroit metro airport. It’s a surreal feeling being back in the US and I don’t think it will actually hit me until I’m outside of an airport and I see my family and friends. I was expecting movies on our last flight but that wasn’t the case. Eight hours without being entertained was hard for me but Hannah and I both made it through! We are now sitting in JFK airport waiting for our next flight to Chicago. We’re surrounded by mzungus speaking English and it’s weird to be able to understand everyone again.

I can’t wait to reach our final destination.

7:18am Brussels…

7:18am Brussels, local time.

Today I had my final encounter with a long drop toilet. The stall I chose to go in and there it was in all of its glory. It was glistening in what I pretended was water but in reality…they’re unsanitary if you catch my drift. This one  had stairs leading up to it, the top one flush with it’s bowl which was new to me. I will love to see real toilets that don’t have to wait ten minutes in between flushes. At the house once the toilet was flushed you had to wait for what seemed like forever for it to flush again. We did a lot of “if it’s yellow let it mellow”.

Our first flight went flawlessly but it was only 45 minutes. Then we had a seven hour layover in Nairobi. We could have explored the city but because Nairobi is known for it’s traffic jams (we got stuck in one that was over two hours long after our safari) we decided to keep it safe and lay around the airport. We listened to music and read books until we could check our luggage. After our bags were checked we did some last minute shopping and eating. We found what seemed to be the only cafe in the airport and the food was good and the service was fast. Faster than anything in Watamu by far.

We just got off of our second of five flights and are waiting to board our flight to new York. We found a Starbucks which was the first sign we are getting closer to home. Not half way there yet, but getting close.

Last Saturday

Today we had an amazing day on the beach. The tide was out so we explored the coral and the shallow waters before getting a tuktuk to a beach that has less seaweed. The wind started picking up so I was woken up from my nap by a cool chilly breeze. We got a ride back to the house in time for showers and hanging out before dinner. After a nice dinner at a place we’ve never been, pilipan, we headed over to oceans for the wifi and “disco”.

Tomorrow we plan on spending all day at the special school so we get in as much time with the kids as possible. The nights at the school are an enormous amount of fun and I’m sad we didn’t figure that out sooner. Sara has been so generous to take us under her wing and explain Kenyan culture and also take us shopping for shoes and underwear for the kids. Without her this trip would not been nearly as amazing.

All of the volunteers at the moment are making it hard to even think about leaving. We’ve both grown attached to all of them and even some locals as well. Dan, our tuktuk man, is cooking a farewell lunch for us at his house tomorrow. He showed us his house today which consists of wood and grasses with some rocks towards the bottom for support. He’s got chickens running around and a nice dog named snoopy. Nothing like any house I’ve ever seen but it’s hard to not love something when it’s surrounded by nature.

It’s surreal that our stay here is coming to an end. I feel as though I’ve been away forever but only been here a few days. The safari seems like years ago, yet I can remember every animal perfectly. I’m jealous of those staying until August but also jealous of those that are already home. I’m craving a hot shower, carpet on my feet, and not having a mosquito net suffocate me at night. There are things that I will not miss (long drop toilets. Look it up if you don’t know what it is) and having every meal take three hours after ordering. But the trees, lack of pavement, and culture is going to be hard to leave behind.

Our flight is on Monday and then we official start our trek home. I’ll try and keep everyone posted about our travels. For now…disco time.

 

Hmm

Today we took an early day off at the special school because Sara has a rule that when teachers cane she leaves the school grounds. We decided to leave with her and went to a resort called Aquarius for lunch. We ended up going back to the school around six for a night time slideshow some of the other volunteers that are leaving tomorrow made. That was only after Sioned and I chased a monkey out of our house and then fed it our leftover sandwiches from lunch…no wonder they keep coming back lol.

The kids loved the slideshow and I loved to watch them enjoy it. My heart seriously goes out to all of those beautiful children. I made another volunteer promise she will take Sharon for morning walks. I can’t stand the thought of her sitting stagnant in her chair again. I wish I could stay here forever but be home at the same time.

The volunteers leaving tomorrow have been here on and off for two years now and they told us it made their departure so much easier knowing we are here. They can trust that we will actively engage ourselves and try to do the best we can for these kids. And it’s true.

People are chatting around me and my food just came so I’m having a hard time focusing. Because of this, I’m cutting this blog short but I want everyone to know how amazing this trip has been and how eye opening everything I’ve seen here is. Sad to leave, can’t wait to be home.

Words from hannah: hi friends and fam! Today has been another great day spent with all me friends at the special school. We ate at a lovely place for lunch that overlooked the ocean and some big rocks. I’ve been learning Lots if kenyan sign language and thoroughly enjoy spending my afternoons at the school fir the deaf. Although i’m anticipating going home in a few days i must say i’m quite sad to be Leaving. I’ve fallen in love with kenya- the people, lifestyle, and most of all the kids. I’m excited tonsee all my homies but will be leaving kenya with a heavy heart. However, only a few more days until i’ll be home safe and sound in ma and pa’s arms and able to celebrate andrea’s birthday with her!! I love you all and am excited to be reunited with everyone. Hugs and kisses!

aquarius resort overlook