Chapter 9- Finding Myself in Africa

It’s hard to believe that one week ago, today, I was leaving the States to come live a life I knew nothing about. I’m learning a lot and trying to keep an open mind. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but this life here is nothing like what I expected.

It’s so quiet this morning since Rose isn’t here waking up at 5 a.m., turning the lights on and playing her music so I sleep in until 11 a.m. before slowly getting out of bed. I walk into the dining room to see Lydia and Virginia sitting at the dining table in silence, just enjoying the quiet morning.

After breakfast I get dressed and we make the mile and a half walk to the Nakumat. Shops line the streets selling clothes that look like they’ve been handed down and come from other countries. They sell for so little, jeans are priced at about 1 shilling.

Once we’re at the Nakumat we decide we want to eat as much good food as we can before the family returns from their trip.

We buy frankfurters and I buy ketchup and am lucky enough to find some presents for people back home. After that we walk over to the market to buy fruit for a fruit salad. We only get fruits with a shell to keep the flies away from the good stuff, this includes pineapple, mangos, apple-mango and watermelon.

There are mini busses called Matatu’s that we can take back to the house for a shilling, but I request we walk. I know the sun is hot and our bags are heavy, but I miss running and my body aches for some form of exercise.

Our 3-mile round trip walk takes a little longer after having to dodge obstacles such as cars, people, gaping holes in the ground, pipes, goats, garbage, chickens, and every half block jumping a drain that is actually a deep trench dug horizontally in the sidewalk. We have to watch where we are walking for fear of spraining an ankle or getting hit by a car.

The whole way home people sitting outside their shops or huts shout out to us “How are you!” We don’t respond because getting pick pocketed is a big problem in Kibera. When we don’t answer they yell “Mzungu!” meaning white person. Adults and children alike do this, and some shout “Mzungu!” just because they think it’s funny that we don’t respond.

People seem to approach me more than the girls, at one point a man runs up to me and asks me to take a sip of his water. It could be because Virginia and Lydia seem to fit in here more, or it could be that I am wearing a NY Jets hat and a finals blowout t shirt from college, looking like a typical American.

Twenty-five minutes later we arrive back at the house, sweating and out of breath. I think the walk made Virginia sick because she goes to lie down and Lydia and I begin making lunch. I feel like royalty looking at our spread of leftover pasta and vegetables and our fruit salad and frankfurters. There is so much food and I don’t know where to begin, so I dig in and even go back for seconds.

The rest of the day is spent relaxing and I figure out how to use a VPN to access my Netflix account which feels like a real achievement. While the girls play on their phones I am hit with fatigue and go lay down. After a small nap I am called to the table for dinner. Still half asleep, I sit down, glad to be eating a good meal for the second day in a row.

It is our goal to eat all of the food we bought before the family gets home for fear of them eating it, so I’m told to have a second helping. I don’t feel guilty about eating so much, knowing the next day will most likely be Ugali and knowing I will probably go to bed hungry.

We wash the dishes together and then sit in the living room and just enjoy the silence. There are two kinds of silences, awkward silence and comfortable silence; this being the latter, I sit back and enjoy the tranquility.