I'm a little behind in getting this posted (I've been here about two weeks now - oops!), but I wanted to follow up on the feelings of apprehension I had expressed earlier. Also, I may have published sooner but the Internet has been out at my apartment since Friday.
Africa - 1, Meghan - 0
As it turns out, I had no need to be nervous about security. You think having an armed guard posted outside your apartment 24/7 would mean that danger is everywhere, but largely it's a precaution. The dangerous part of Kenya - the part that got it its Travel Warning from the U.S. government - is the Kenyan border with Somalia, way to the east of us. Plus, everywhere I go I'm behind high fences with barbed wire and electric current, paired with security guards and their magnetic wands. My apartment, the office, restaurants, even the grocery store has an obnoxious three security stations before you're allowed in. Before long, you get used to living with a little added security. And as long as you're not doing anything dumb - waving money around, walking outside at night, wearing expensive jewelry - there's no reason to worry. Lesson learned: do not believe everything you read on the internet. Also, you can stop worrying now, Mom.
The food has been both better and worse than expected. I started by immediately ignoring my doctor's instructions and have been eating everything and anything that I want without too much trouble. And we have found a few restaurants that we have enjoyed. That's the good news. The bad news is that the majority of the food is just not quite up to par... Kenyans haven't embraced salt and pepper as I have, so everything is a little bland for my taste. We have some very basic kitchen supplies in our apartment, but haven't found a good butcher yet. Still, considering all the food has been edible and safe and even sometimes tasty, I can't complain!
Water is a different story... I'm still such a baby about it! I wash my hands and then immediately use hand sanitizer. How far does my snobbery go? Well...I wash my face with bottled water. Before you can say it - I KNOW. I hate myself! But I really, really, REALLY don't want to get sick from the water, and I have very sensitive skin, so... Feel free to shame me. I probably just need more time to adjust and then I'll relax and quit being such a germaphobe.
Also good news is our living situation. Layne found us a really nice apartment in a good area of town. We have the master of a four-bedroom apartment and share the space with two roommates. Fun fact: Nairobi is just about as expensive as the average American city, and more expensive than most. Roommates help. :) We really lucked out as they're both super relaxed and friendly! My two main complaints are 1) the mattress and 2) the internet. The mattress is too short for Layne so he lays diagonal and it is so hard that the first 5 days I found myself nodding off in the back of taxis as they trundled over potholes and around the infamous Nairobi traffic. Bumping around in the backseat was more comfortable than the rock hard mattress, and after sleepless nights I found that sitting on anything remotely soft could put my aching body to sleep. We remedied that by dropping some major cash on a mattress topper - comfort items are some of the most pricey items over here. The internet... well... we covered that already, right? It's still out, and even when it's on it's incredibly slow. Welcome to the third world, right?
The other thing I expressed some nerves about was being a minority. But I'm still gathering my thoughts on this one, so race will be an issue for another day. Let's just say that I do get an uncomfortable amount of stares, and I'm still figuring out how to feel about it and act natural. Learning some interesting lessons, that's for sure.
If you have any questions about living in Nairobi or a third world country, feel free to post them in the comments below!