Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Years Resolutions

This post is quite late, but I figure its never too late to set some goals. I've had some things of my mind lately so I figure instead of just thinking, I should probably turn that into doing. Here goes!

1. Treat myself.
Usually I'm a really, really frugal person. Or I don't think I deserve stuff. Or I save it for a special occasion. My friend Ali brought me some Kraft Dinner from the great white north and I've been hoarding it for some reason. I decided that today was a special occasion, because I wanted it.

2. This is Africa.
Not a resolution in and of itself, but more of concept that I am hearing everywhere here. It is usually what I hear when something doesn't work out as planned or when something is different than what you're used to.
-"The water has stopped working and the electricity is out".....This is Africa.
-"Sorry, we gave your order to someone else so now you can't pick it up".....This is Africa.
-"You're supposed to start volunteering in a few days, so we'll figure out the particulars 'soon', ok?".....This is Africa.
You get the point. I need to accept that this is Africa.

3. Appreciate more.
Every once in a while I wonder why we wait for certain occasions to show the love. We wait for someone to go missing or die or go away before we say how great we think they are or how much we care for them. I think that's silly. Life would be a whole lot better if we knew how much we meant to the people in our lives. So I will appreciate more.

I will start by saying I love and appreciate anyone reading this blog! :)

4. Be a bit healthier.
I'm not ridiculously unhealthy, but I could take a lesson. Since I got to Kenya I've learned that Africa is the worlds largest Coca Cola market and half of that is likely attributed to myself. Ha, kidding. But also, to pay more attention to what I eat- I don't eat 'nyama' (meat) and I should pay some more mind to getting the proper vitamins and nutrients and other unexciting health stuff.

5. Let it go.
It can, and does, take me a long time to let things go. Sometimes I think of a bad thing and it just stays in my head for a long time, or turns into a bunch of other bad things. I am going to try to not let that happen and to replace each negative thought with a more positive thought.

6. Read More.
It should be known that I do read already, it is just usually either textbooks, the news, or perez hilton. Right now I am just finishing Gretchen Rubin's 'The Happiness Project', then hope to get 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho, 'The Fate of Africa' by Martin Meredith, and 'Shake Hands with the Devil' by Romeo Dallaire read as well. Books suggestions welcome! I need to broaden my repertoire.

To be Continued!

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Wageni, mwakaribishwa! Kenya yetu, hakuna matata!"

The wonderful thing about having Ali here is that I:

1.Get to have a lovely friend around to spend my time with!
2.That I get to experience things I normally wouldn't.

After hiking the Ngong Hills/Rift Valley, going to Maasai market, and seeing a bit of Nairobi, we got down to some even more interesting stuff. I was worried for a while that it might not all pan out, but of course it did in the end.

We stayed at Bamburi Beach Resort in Mombasa. The staff were ridiculously kind, and as you can see the view was amazing as well. If any of you come to visit, I'll be sure we stay a night here. Best Part: All Vegetarian menu. Worst Part: Beach Boys (they wait on the beach for you to come from the resorts, then offer you 'snorkelling, dhow rides, and more')

Our next exursion took us to Naivasha, a town about 1.5 hours out of Nairobi. Its a small town in and of itself, but is home to tons of flower farms and Hells Gate National Park, where we spent out day.

The beginning of our Naivasha trip, before moving on to the gorge. Something silly happened here but I can't for the life of me remember what it is.

We hiked down into the gorge, which was carved from the volcanic eruption of Mt. Longonot which occurred in the early 1900s. The spot we are in here is called 'The Devils Bedroom', titled by the Maasai tribe because of the many of them killed here post-eruption. Joram had a 'family emergency' that day but was able to join us :)

Ali expressed her distaste about the black mamba baby we almost stepped on. Hint: This type takes home the prize for being among the the deadliest snakes in the world--its the fastest, most aggressive, is highly poisonous, and it attacks without provocation. We felt brave afterwards.

The view was breathtaking.

I took Ali to the the Nairobi restaurant called Carnivore. Concept: They walk by your table with a variety of meats, and slice it directly onto your plate from the sword it was roasted on. Until you flip the sign Ali is hiding behind over, in all you can eat meat defeat. Ironically, this place had the best vegetarian food I've ever had. Some drunk tourists were singing this song that went "Wageni, mwakaribishwa! Kenya yetu, hakuna matata!". Translation: 'Foreigners are welcome! In our Kenya, we have no problems!'. I'm not sure they were welcome after their 3rd bottle of wine/10 millionth recitation.

We went to the Giraffe Centre in Karen, where you can feed the giraffes--and they are eye level! Apparently you can use some feeding technique to get them to kiss you. I did not want to find out much about that however.

Last but not least! City Park in Ngara. I lured Ali here under the pretense that the monkeys were actually pretty friendly, but after one ran up my back and sat on my shoulder I changed my tune. Ali ended up getting comfortable with them but I was still so distrustful. Ha! I felt betrayed.

A wonderful time having Ali here. I hope she will come back, but until then you all are invited!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Canadian comes to Visit!

I am overjoyed.

My friend Ali from Victoria has come to visit me in Nairobi and I couldn't be happier! It is so lovely to have a friend from home to experience everything I have been talking about for the past 2 years. To have a Canadian conversation, and to talk about home and have someone understand! It has been good.

On her first day, I took her to the American Embassy Memorial Garden. It commemorates the 1998 terrorist bombing of the American Embassy. 213 people died here and thousands more were injured. It makes me feel extremely thankful to be alive and to be from a country where I can feel so safe.

I also took her to the Maasai Market along with our friends Joram and Paul. It is quite possibly the most hectic place to be. Everyone says 'Sista, Karibu sana (You're very welcome), or 'Pole pole (Slowly), looking is free! I'll give you a good deal!'. It was good to have some Kenyans there with us to ensure that was in fact true! Haha. She got some cool gifts for the family back home.

Together we went for a hike up the Ngong hills (about 50 minutes from Nairobi) and down into the Rift Valley. It was a beautiful hike! The top of the hills had these huge windmills, and from that spot you could look down into the Rift Valley, where we went of a walking safari. Ali (and I) were excited to see a baby giraffe that had just been born. It was still taller than we'll ever be.

More pictures to come!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kenya vs. Canada: Things to Consider.

By now you might know that one of the reasons I am in Kenya is to volunteer in Kibera slum and to experience a way of life much different to the one I am accustomed to in Canada. My curiosity has gotten the best of me, and I came across a website offering a comparision of basic living standards between my two countries. Here is what I found:

If Kenya were your home instead of Canada, you would...

-Be 16.8 times more likely to have HIV/Aids.

-Have a 10.7 times higher chance of dying in infancy.

-Be 4.7 times more likely to be unemployed.

-Have 3.4 times more children.

-Die 22.47 years sooner.

-Use 99.24% less electricity.

-Use 97.2% less oil.

-Make 95.83% less money.

-Spend 98.18% less on healthcare.

-Experience 32.4% more of a class divide.

An interesting comparision to say the least! If you want to check some sources, the link the information is from is: . I checked where they got their information, and the CIA World Factbook and World Health Organisation seem like legitmate, peer reviewed articles (See how college life has gotten the best of me?).

Just some food for thought, feel free to leave a comment or concern below. My intent is not to make anyone feel badly, but hopefully to inspire anyone reading from Canada to appreciate the wonderful place they live!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kelvi-ni & Niko-lay's Wedding in Mombasa

Sorry for the lack of updates lately! Internet here is anything but reliable.

On the 17th, I met with Nikole, her mom Lorene, and maid of honor, Kasondra (Lovely ladies!). We took the bright and early Coast bus to Mombasa, arriving at Nikoles later in the evening. We stayed at Nikoles place for the night, and the next few days were filled with baking in the hot Mombasa sun and last minute wedding stuff! Amazingly, Nikole still had time to take us out and about in Mombasa.

Nikole took us to this market, in Mombasa's Old Town. We picked up some hand mixed spices for chai masala. (Photo courtesy of Lorene MacGregor)

To prepare for the wedding, we had our dresses fitted and picked up some sandals for Nikole. Both hers and ours were handmade, which was lovely. On the 20th, we went to the wedding rehearsal at Butterfly Pavillion in Bamburi. I think these two are great for each other. They are equally silly.

So were Kasondra and I. (Photos courtesy of Lorene MacGregor)

The day of the wedding was perfect. The temperature was just right, and Nikole looked beautiful. Lorene (her mom) has a history of doing hair and makeup and did an excellent job of it. Kelvin was looking quite sharp in his suit as well. The ceremony itself was small (40 people--although there were some people who just showed up anyways), but the reception was huge! About 300 people attended, and had fun eating biryani and dancing the night away. The experience reinforced my idea that Kenyans are the best dancers. I looked like a fool by comparison.

Wedding Day. I think this photo captures such a sweet moment. Kere (Nikoles Dad) is giving Nikoles hand to Kelvin, and they are just looking so sweetly at each other. Mom in the background, snapping away and looking lovely doing it. (Photo courtesy Ben Kiruthi)

The Ladies. From Left to Right: Myself, Rahab, Nikole, Lillian, and Kasondra. (Photo courtesy of Ben Kiruthi)

How thankful I was to be a part of this wedding! Thank you to the new Mr. and Mrs. Opiyo for having me in Mombasa, the MacGregors for welcoming me into their home at Pa Pweza, to Kasondra for being a lovely new friend and to Rahab for being just too great for words!