Thursday, January 6, 2011


Welcome to Kenya! We just got back from our orientation in the Great Rift Valley (which was unbelievably gorgeous) - it was amazing. Here are some updates about what I've been doing:

Monday late morning/afternoon we got into our apartments; our balcony has such a great view (I was going to try to post pictures, but our internet's being a bit touchy today). We didn't have electricity for most of the afternoon, but fortunately it came back on right  before it got dark. We had dinner at this adorable corner bistro (totally ex-pat; Westlands, where my apartment is, is know for that) and walked back after it had gotten dark - it's amazing how dark a road can seem when there aren't any streetlights!

Tuesday morning we left for Naivasha, where we would have orientation for the next two days. We got a flat tire and had to wait on the side of the road for a while the big, strong Kenyan men fixed it. After that we were good to go, and on our way into Naivasha we stopped at an overlook of the Great Rift Valley, which was just breathtaking. We spent the rest of the day in Naivasha doing orientation stuff and walking around exploring the town a little bit. Naivasha's a lot smaller (and more conservative) than Nairobi, so we got a lot of cat-calls and "tsssssks" as we walked down the street. Being a "mzungu" in Kenya (white person) is definitely going to take some getting used to. Later that night we talked with our tour guide, Sabina - who grew up in Kibera, Nairobi's massive slum, and is an absolutely fascinating person - for about an hour about all sorts of things: development, the role of whites in Kenya's development, cultural differences, etc.

The next day we headed out to this really pretty spot on Lake Naivasha called Fisherman's Camp for some team-building and general relaxation. There were so many goats! We played some really silly games, and the little boy watching the goats kept sneaking glances at us and giggling, although I think he was laughing with us rather than at us. We all took our first matatu (14-seater van) to the camp - that was an interesting experience. African drivers are, hands down, the craziest in the world. DC drivers have nothing on them.

This morning was the dreaded "drop-off" - Lynsey, our program director, and her assistants drove us to remote areas around town, dropped us off, and told us we had 2 1/2 hours to find our way to a certain location. We were all pretty scared, but within 2 minutes of getting off the bus I found a really nice kid named John, who was about 8 or 9, who guided me to where I needed to be. Me and a bunch of other girls arrived really early, so we spent the next hour and a half talking to these three older shopkeepers, who laughed at our accents and had a great time teaching us all sorts of Swahili words. Everyone tries to teach you Swahili here! By the time we had to leave to meet the rest of our group, my head was so filled with Swahili vocab I thought it was going to explode.

We spent the afternoon on the bus back to Nairobi. It's been a really crazy three days, and it's hard to process all the stuff that's happened - the sights, sounds, and experiences. Sometimes it still seems a bit surreal that I'm really in Africa after all the time I spent thinking about it. The weather is gorgeous, and almost everyone we've met, especially in Naivasha, has been incredibly nice. Culture shock hasn't really set in yet, although there are some things - like the fact that Kenyans almost never drink anything, even water, cold - that are taking some getting used to. Other things are great - Kenyan tea is amazing! This probably hasn't been a very profound post, and I promise I'll try to post pictures when our internet is a bit less touchy. Until then, I hope everyone back home in the states in doing well. Appreciate your internet, electricity, and cold drinks for me!

Love to you all!


  1. Emily,
    Although Eric has been giving us updates, I have enjoyed reading in your own words the experiences of your first couple of days there. I'm sure it will take some getting used to the way they do things. It sounds like you are having a great time and I can't wait to read more. Keep the updates coming!
    Mama Loeliger

  2. Dear Emily,
    It sounds like things are going wonderfuly well - good for you! It's actually making me a little jealous that I never had such a unique experience. Although... when I was in college there were probably as many cows around as there are goats where you are and they laughed at my (Pitsburgh) accent too. :)
    I'm looking forward to your pictures so I'll keep my fingers crossed that the internet "behaves" for you.
    Take care....
    Aunt Patty

  3. Hey Emily!
    I think it is amazing that they just dropped you off in the middle of no where! There is no better way to get to know people and their country than by being a little lost lol. Haha, had a lot of those experiences in Cairo. I can't wait to see pictures!

  4. Emily,
    I cannot wait for another post! It makes me bubble over with joy that you are finally experiencing what you always dreamed of doing. Of course, I love the idea of you learning new vocabulary. :) And, I'm anxious to hear more about cultural differences, etc. Absorb every tiny thing you can: I'm sure this opportunity will fly by, my dear. Love and blessings to you on your journey!
    Melissa (Miss Matis)

  5. Emily,
    I am really enjoying reading your blog your Dad gave me the site. The giraffe story was great! You are such a lucky girl to be able to have such an adventure keep blogging!
    Love you and Be Safe,
    Linda Smith