Monday, November 16, 2009
From Nairobi to Kijabe
We were anxious for our driver to meet us and pack up to head out to Kijabe. Honestly we were a little nervous too. We took in all of the sights on the 45 minute drive and wondered what we would find when we got there!
Here we are - finally at our new home! This is our first look when we arrived . . .
This is the view from our front steps. The Kijabe Guest House is the building you see and in the back ground is the valley on a cloudy day.
This is half of the "sitaplex" (sita means six in kiswahili). Ours is the bottom apartment.
Here is where all the culinary magic happens. The kitchen is actually huge and very nice. Cooking a big challenge for me here. Everything is from scratch which is new to me. There is no last minute meal planning or running out to grab a bit to eat in a pinch. The stove is gas and I light it with a match every time I use it. We ran out of matches this morning and Rhett had to walk to the store to get some more so we could finish making pancakes!
This is what you see when you walk in our front door. The pictures don't do it justice really. It is really nice and very comfortable. We did take down some of the African decor that donned every wall and made it feel a bit more like home for us - a nice refuge for our family.
This is our living room which I love. I kept the elephant because I kind of like him!
This is the dining area where we spend a lot of time. The kids' toys are stored in those cabinets so they play in here a lot too. That will be our source of heat in the months to come when it cools off quite a bit at night. We are looking into having some sort of barricade made to keep little people away from the broiler in the middle of the room - "no touch" won't really cut it for this one.
After many years of our little pink bathroom this bathroom is spacious and so nice! The hot water heater is set at about 211 degrees F with no option to change it so we have started shutting it off at times and being really cautious when we use the water.
This is Claire and Ford's room. We imported the bedspreads but we will just ignore the curtains! We really need heavy curtains on the windows because the wind blows really hard at night. Really hard. About 6pm every night it starts to kick up and it howls all night long. Claire said she couldn't sleep the first few night because the wind was keeping her up! The cool wind comes in through the windows and makes it a bit drafty.
This is my pantry. Do you see anything interesting? How about the sacks of flour? I had the same sack of flour for 5 years in Birmingham. Apparently I will use quite a bit more here since I'll be baking so much more. Do you see the Kimbo? That is shortening. I've never bought shortening in my life much less used it. I'm not exactly sure what to do with it but I was told to buy some so now I have about 2 kilos worth just in case I figure out what to do with it. Do you see our milk . . . in boxes? We decided to start out this route. Many people here have fresh milk delivered from the cow each day. We haven't looked into that because it would mean pasteurizing it and we really don't drink that much milk even with the kids. Maybe once Gus is weaned we will switch. Freshly baked English muffins bought at the market, brown eggs . . . in a bag (not in the refrigerator). Not pictured is my three tiered fruit and veggie stand where all the good stuff is stored.
Out exploring the first day . . .
The fresh market where I go to buy all of our fresh fruit and veggies from the "Vegetable Ladies". The freshest days are on Tuesday and Saturday - if you get there early you might even find some strawberries or apples.
Who needs Publix when you have the Super Duka? Yes, that is the local store. They have a bit of everything there at a slightly higher price than Nairobi. The stores in Nairobi are modern and if you weren't paying attention you might think you were in Walmart. The prices are pretty high for some things (even by US standards) so you have to shop smart and avoid imported things. I frequently find myself buying "American Garden" brand items just because they are familiar. I'm sure as I live here longer I won't feel like I need those familiar items.
Here is the "Titchie" playgroud at Rift Valley Academy. The gate to RVA is just above our house. The "Titchie Swot" is the elementary school. It is quite a hike up through RVA campus to get there but the playgroud is fun and worth the trek for our kids! It is totally old school and takes me back to my childhood. None of this stuff would be considered "safe" by US standards today. But it was safe enough when I was 3 and way more fun!
This was the view when we were driving to Kijabe. The cluster of white buildings in the distance is Kijabe Station. We are on the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley so everyting is on a slope. The school (RVA) is at the top (considered Upper Station), the hospital and our house and a few others are down further and called Middle Station and below the hospital is called Lower Station where most of the housing is located.
The weather has been absolutely beautiful since we got here. It is rainy season and everything is green and blooming and is just wonderful. It feels like spring during the day before the winds kick up. I do have a few moments when I yearn for the height of autumn going on in the south right now but I can't complain about the beauty here at all.
We are still getting settled. Trying to get the lay of the land. Rhett is still home helping me get oriented and figuring out how to live here. We start Kiswahili lessons on Tuesday and plan to keep that up twice a week. Rhett has been hitting the Rosetta Stone pretty hard lately so I'm sure he will be the star student of our class.
The kids say "Jambo" to everyone they meet - it's so cute. The Kenyan people are very friendly and enjoy greetings and chatting. The kids are a little shy when it comes to shaking hands but we are working on that. They seem to really enjoy it here. There are lots of kids around and it is fun to see them playing with new friends. The family with 3 kids who previously lived across the hall from us moved out just before we got here so there aren't any kids in our building (mostly used for short term volunteers) but the family who runs the guest house has 3 kids (including a 2 year old little boy) and a play ground so we will be spending lots of time over there. I really am amazed at how adapable the kids have been. They haven't missed a beat. They just want to play and have us close by.