Kenya Exchange 2007 travel blog

our short stop in dubai

I got one for you mommy!

my street in Nairobi

fun on the beach- when we were all still white

our audience for class

welcoming us to bodo


I have been writing sections like this in my journal whenever I see something culturally interesting so I thought I'd share them with everyone.

Things I've learned in Kenya: (In no particular order)

*Giraffe Saliva= antiseptic.

*Kenyan students can receive Es.

*Nairobians are mad at Canada (sorry to shy Americans.)

*According to my school handbook: The national pastime is lying.

*GM has brought Hummer to Kenya, must to local excitement. This is the new symbol of wealth and prosperity. Naturally, all political candidates have one.

(Rumor has it: the opposition candidate received the money to purchase his from his American cousin: Barack Obama.)

*Be carefully what you ask for because Kenyans will do anything to help you: even if it means inconveniencing themselves.

*US State Department Travel Advisories are politically motivated.

*Kenya (supposedly) supports terrorism.

*Kenyans are some of the most politically savvy people I have ever met and would give most Americans a run for their money.

*Kenyan party politics make no sense and changes almost daily (or so it seems to me. I have given up my dreams of comprehending how it all works.)

*If you are an American in Kenya be prepared to support Obama- whether you do or not.

*Electricity and water are not guaranteed (living in the city or otherwise.)

*Always make your own plate- your Mama will serve you way too much and you're expected to take seconds.

*Avocadoes are a dime a dozen here- the size of melons, on every street corner and cost about 15Ksh= 25 cents.

*Don't shout out if you are robbed= Kenyans believe in social punishment/justice and will beat the thief, sometimes to death.

*The desire for a cell phone is universal.

*"Wal-Mart" is universal- even if it uses a different name.

*Pedestrians never have the right of way.

*People "stay" in Nairobi- even if they've lived in the city their entire lives it is not considered their home. The location of their tribal ancestry is their home, a place they own in Nairobi is just a house. They're two different words in Kiswahili to help with this distinction.

*T.I.A= this is Africa= used whenever you find yourself in a situation/circumstances so peculiar and foreign that it can only happen in African. Used endearingly.

*African time: If you are suppose to arrive home by national bus at 6pm, expect to arrive around 8-9pm. Lecturers are commonly late as well.

*It is not considered rude to show up late, or not at all, to a personal appointment.

*There are NO tourists in downtown Nairobi. You can walk around for hours and not see another Mzungu.

*We are already beginning to dislike tourists.

*It is easy for me to forget that I'm white.

*Mzungu= white person. Expect children to run after you yelling this.

*Children want to be a Mzungu's best friend.

*In a rural village: expect say Hujambo=Sijambo to every child who has run from their houses to great you. It is very tiring.

*If your vacationing in Kenya and pressed for time, do not even bother with Nairobi and head straight for Mombasa.

*In Mombasa, you are not a Mzungu (white person); you are a Mwanafunzi (student), which is so much nicer.

*If you are allergic/not privy to coconut, good luck finding food in the coast region (especially during Ramadan.)

*In a rural village: everyone wants their picture taken. There are no mirrors, so this is one of the the only times they see what they look like.

*If you want to find a Mzungu anywhere: look in a cyber.

*Washing machines are God's gift to tired woman everywhere. If I were told I could only have one modern appliance for the rest of my life, I'd choose a washing machine.

*Seeing the color your clothes leave in water is eye opening.

*It is nearly impossible to truly clean clothes without running water.

*Ingredients of a Kenyan shower (in Nairobi): a bucket of boiled water, a bucket of cold water collected from the kitchen sink, and an empty tub.

*Washing and bathing are a healthy exercise in creativity.

*Monkeys love to bother you in your outdoor shower. Clearly, only when you are stark naked- those pervs.

*Fiber supplements are MUST, when strictly eating traditional coastal food.

*Landline telephones are nearly nonexistent, making a calling card highly ineffective.

*Wearing a tank top in Mombasa (no matter how hot it is) is asking for trouble.

*Nearly all refreshments come in a glass bottle, which you are expected to return or pay extra to enjoy on the go. Plastic can only be found in the supermarket.

*Coke is everywhere, while Pepsi is hit or miss.

*The record for most jiggers (creatures kind of like ticks that live in sand and attack your feet) is held by Katherine (girl that lived in my house two semesters ago) and is speculated at 20+. Currently, I have had 2 removed.

*In rural villages, jiggers are removed with sharpened sticks and kerosene is applied as a disinfectant. I was lucky enough to undergo this procedure.

*Much of Kenya's southeastern landscape resembles Northern California (the desert part, not the wine country.)

*Television and eating are the main sources of daily entertainment.

*The day revolves around food: finding it, preparing it, and consuming it.

*Kenyan men will commonly ask you for your number. This is not necessarily sexual. However, you should give them the wrong digits unless you want frequent 2-minute check-ins informing you when they are traveling or eating dinner (it is now common for my rural host brother to inform me of these activities.)

*The natural personalities of American females causes Kenyan men to believe you will marry them and take them back to America with you. Several girls have already found themselves in highly awkward situations as a result of this.

*It is nearly impossible to explain to Kenyan men why they do not want an American wife. They respond with puzzled expressions when you explain that they would need to learn to cook, clean and change diapers.

*An American passport is gold.

*You have to be weary of who is truly interested in getting to know you and who wants a chance at a green card.

*Families will try to give you their young children to take back to the States, they are not joking.

*If you look like you know where you are going and throw out a little Kiswahili, you will be left to your business.

*Medical officials here believe that the stigma of HIV/AIDS is on the decline.

*Microbes do not cause disease in Kenya- spirits and ancestory cause disease.

Alright, I'm getting tired and quite random. At least you got a sampling of Kenyan culture. Until next time. I hope all is well.

P.s. My attempt to upload pictures was unsuccessful (I wish I could get the last 45 minutes of my life back), but I will continue in my resolve to post them and try again with smaller versions in the next few days.



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