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.