Monday, November 30, 2009

No turkey this year...

Thanksgiving didn't involve sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie for me this year. I didn't wear a warm sweater and sit by a fire. And I didn't see a single relative. Despite all that, I was with "family", had an amazing feast, and relaxed with my tummy full (in a bikini that is). This year Thanksgiving was spent with my dear friends on the Kenyan coast. A girls' weekend! We laid on the beach, sipped cocktails, ate fresh seafood every day, and worked on our summer tans. (It's summer south of the equator right now.) It was a wonderful time to get some much needed rest with people I love. Couldn't ask for a better weekend!
Of course, being at the beach, relaxing in the sun, on Thanksgiving, made me reflect on the last year. These were my Thanksgiving thoughts...

I'm sitting by the pool this morning watching the colobus monkeys swinging from the branches. The sun is peaking through the tree branches and settles on my knees. The next time I experience this will be to get married. And I feel so blessed. This year has been one of the craziest and most difficult of my life and at the same time, the best. I am grateful to God for the hard and the bad that has strengthened and grown me. I'm thankful for the good and the amazing that has also made me stronger and grown me and made me happier and more loved than I have ever been, more than I knew existed on this earth for me. How can God give me so much good in this life? Because He loves me. I don't deserve any of it, but He's the best Daddy in the universe who takes such good care of His daughter. And I am blessed beyond measure by that love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Living on the Equator

When people hear that I live on the equator, they assume that it is HOT all the time. Not true. I live on a high plain at about 6,000 feet above sea level. Although I'm just two hours south of the equator, the weather never gets too hot or too cold. Our lows are probably in the 50's and highs in the 90's - perfect weather to thaw out the Alaskan in me. Lately, because of the rains, the weather has been quite cold. (Alaskans, make no comment.) Animals have died from hypothermia, not because it's below freezing, but because they're so weak from the drought that when the rains finally came, their weak bodies couldn't handle the cool air and water.

If you drive 20 minutes out of Nairobi to Limuru (where Will's house is and where my home will be in less than four months!), you rise 2,000 more feet and the weather is even cooler. I'm usually wearing wool socks and sweaters when I'm there at night - no central heating, just cement walls and doors that everyone always leaves open. On the street you'll see people bundled up in winter coats, stocking caps, and gloves. The temperature gets down in the 40's, and you can definitely feel the difference when you're coming from Nairobi. When I tell Kenyan friends that I'm moving to Limuru after I get married, their response is usually, "It's cold there!" I agree!

How does an Alaskan girl, who walked to the bus stop in 30 below with frozen eyelashes, think 40 degrees is cold?! Blood thins. It's all what you're used to I guess. And it makes me a little nervous to head to Alaska in December. Will I be like the weakened African animals and die of hypothermia? Probably not, but my family is sure to see me layered in the three sweaters I currently own. Looking for Christmas present ideas?... Sweaters are at the top of my list!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A cheetah bit my butt!

On recess duty today I saw a lone third grader sitting on a bench, so I went to see how she was doing. When I asked her if she was sad, her response was, "I'm not sad. I got bit by a cheetah, so my leg hurts." She went on to tell me how she was petting a caged cheetah this weekend at a park, and it attacked her. Our conversation was several minutes long about her trip to the hospital and stitches, but my favorite part was when she got a smile on her face and said, "It hurts to sit down because the cheetah bit my butt." The smile, the sentence, the cute French accent... Gotta love teaching in Africa.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bowling Night

A bit of the day-in and day-out kind of stuff...

The city of Nairobi doesn't have a whole lot to offer in terms of entertainment after a year of the same restaurants. And you can only go to the movies so many times in a month, since the selection is not that great. So we decided to mix it up a little with a night of bowling on Thursday. Just a low-key night out with friends, and I was thinking of my blog fans when I took my camera...
Will and me between rounds.

Friends Adrian (Will's housemate) and Kami (my dearest girlfriend in Kenya).

Will chillin' while Carmen (another housemate of Will's) bowls for a strike.

Kami and me - BFF! :)

It was a great night out with good friends. Next time I blog about bowling, it will be to say I scored over 100! Here's hoping...!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Real Life

After living in Kenya for over a year, the novelty has worn off. Driving in chaotic traffic, passing donkey pulled carts on the street, and unlimited access to mangoes and avocados has become a normal part of every day life. A trip to the coast is still exciting, but nothing new to blog about. Safari pictures of elephants, lions, and cheetahs have been posted time and time again. The things that were blog-worthy have already been written about, so my blog is slowly losing its appeal. What is new about my view of Africa? It seems like everything here is just normal, filled with the day-to-day to-do list like everyone else: work, friends, family, grocery shopping, and the occasional dinner out on the town.

It's amazing how quickly a foreign place becomes familiar. I feel I've been reaching to find something new to write about and find nothing to grasp. Yet so much in my life has changed this year... I'm getting married. I'm changing jobs. I'm dealing with the joys and the stresses that comes with major life changes. To be honest, I haven't wanted to write about the real-life part of living in Africa, the part that isn't much different from living in America, the part that is very personal.

My view of Africa these days... It's real life like anywhere else.