While you're reading this, I'm already in Kenya. But I wrote a rough draft of this post before I left D.C. I really wanted to get down my thoughts and feelings before I touched down and first impressions could cloud me.
Right now, I am completely ignorant of what I'm walking into. Well, maybe not completely ignorant... But fairly so. I have never been to a third world country, let alone lived in one. And in the mad rush just to get everything in order to just get over there, I had little time to research as I normally would.
There are some things I am nervous about. Nairobi isn't the safest city, even by African standards. Where we're living, we'll have an armed guard 24/7. I'm scared of getting lost (addresses don't work the same way there). I'm afraid of getting mugged! That's why I'm leaving my wedding ring here in the states - absolutely not worth the risk for such a sentimentally priceless item. And I'm afraid of standing out. I've never been a minority before, and I don't like people's eyes on me. And while family and friends tell me I'm "ethnically ambiguous" (ha ha, guys) inside I know I'm a white American and that's all I feel like. It's hard to gauge at this point if this will even be an issue, but it's something on my mind.
There are also some things I'm dreading a bit. One thing I'm not looking forward to is the food. Layne and I love cooking and trying really good restaurants. This will definitely be less available to us in Africa, and there is some concern about food quality (and safety) in general. And water! Bottled water only, and I don't know how I'll feel about showering. Layne keeps reminding me that the water is clean; I just don't want to ingest it. But I can't get over it! The germophobe in me wins out. Also not super excited for the living conditions. I don't know exactly what to expect, but it won't be luxury by my pampered American standards. Most days I don't think I'll mind, but everyone has a bad day every now and again where you just want to come home and feel that sense of peace and safety. As you can see, most of what I'm dreading is simply being denied my creature comforts. The things I really like but don't necessarily need; the things I will miss.
None of those things stop me for even a moment from being so excited and grateful for this opportunity. I want to just walk the city and take it in. I want to meet the people and talk with them, hear them speak to one another in Swahili. I want to spend hours people watching, observing similarities and differences. I want to get out of the city and see the Africa we all think of; the wild animals on Discovery come to life before my eyes. I want something new and different and so far away from what I can imagine that it changes me. I don't want familiarity, even though I'll miss it. Moving to Africa has been hard so far - packing our house and getting vaccinations and finding a work situation for myself and the million little errands that had to be done in a rush before leaving the states for several months - and I want it to continue to challenge me. That's the whole point of something like this, right?