Birthdays Abroad

I am way behind on this post as Layne's birhtday was in October and mine was in December, but even if just for my own memories I want to record our birthday celebrations. I'll start with Layne's.

Layne loves his birthday. Usually, we hold Birthday Week and every day I give him a small present or a special meal or something, celebrating with a bigger gift on his birthday. We'll also often try to incorporate something Halloween-themed since his birthday is October 30. But, Kenya does not celebrate Halloween and Birthday Week seemed excessive with all the wonderful trips we had planned. Layne in particular wanted to go gorilla trekking, while I was slightly more wary given my encounters with primates, so we decided that trip was to be his biggest present. But he still wanted to celebrate the day with his friends and staff. The night crew very sweetly decorated the office for him as a surprise, and we ordered a cake from ColdStone. (Yes - they have ColdStone in Kenya and it is just as amazing.) They also got him a little trophy that said "World's Best Boss."

In Fletcher tradition, we played "the game." It doesn't have a name, but the idea is simple. Whoever we are celebrating that day, everyone tells them something they like about them or why they admire them. It's a nice way to make someone feel extra special on their special day. Listening to the staff say their favorite things about Layne was so sweet, and when it was my turn I was oddly emotional and teared up a little. Not cool of the boss' wife to cry in a staff meeting, but that's just the kind of embarrassment I am!

The staff loved the cake, and some of them said it was the only time they got real dairy. Not a concept we are familiar with in the U.S., right?

The staff loved the cake, and some of them said it was the only time they got real dairy. Not a concept we are familiar with in the U.S., right?

After work, we hosted a bunch of our friends for a traditional Kenyan bbq. We cooked on a charcoal-burning jiko in the open air, and it was just one of those slow, loud nights where you know there's no place else you'd rather be. Our cab drivers were some of our best friends in Kenya, and Layne invited them to the party. They were so sweet and each got him a gift. Maina bought him a hat (a shared love for both of them), Simon got him a cake and a book to learn Swahili (of which we learned very little - it's super hard!), and Robinson got him an entire branch of baby bananas (one of my favorite Kenyan treats).

I am less keen on birthdays. With my birthday being December 13, it was always eclipsed by holiday celebrations. My little sister's birthday is a month later, and my mom would often just combine our parties and host it in January. In college it was always finals week, and one year my brother even left on his mission on my birthday, which left a veil of depression over everyone and tainted the day. Needless to say, I keep expectations low. And this year, I was - of course - sick. I desperately wanted to go to Egypt while we were in Africa, so that was my combined Christmas/birthday present. 

Still, we celebrated. The staff got me a ColdStone ice cream cake as well, and it was so fun to celebrate with them. But the main thing we did to celebrate the day was a visit Giraffe Manor. You all know how much I enjoyed feeding the giraffes at Giraffe Centre. I couldn't wait to do it again and get even closer! Giraffe Manor is a beautiful private home converted to a hotel. 

Super love for these gorgeous paned windows. 

Super love for these gorgeous paned windows. 

One of the best things about Kenya - the indoor/outdoor living. No A/C and near perfect temperatures year round means doors and windows are always open. 

One of the best things about Kenya - the indoor/outdoor living. No A/C and near perfect temperatures year round means doors and windows are always open. 

Unlike Giraffe Centre, there's no fence between you and the giraffes. You can even walk directly under their necks as  you feed them! I scheduled an afternoon tea, and we had the place basically to ourselves.

So happy. So, so, SO happy. 

So happy. So, so, SO happy. 

Giraffes are gorgeous!

Giraffes are gorgeous!

The baby giraffes don't eat the pellets, but it was so cute watching their mamas feed them. 

The baby giraffes don't eat the pellets, but it was so cute watching their mamas feed them. 

Both of our birthday celebrations were very fitting for who we are as individuals, and they were definitely amongst our most memorable birthdays! It will be very hard to top them next year.