If this past month has taught me anything, despite the hardships, stressors, and unfortunate circumstances that brought me to Nairobi, I have strengthened my confidence in myself and gained appreciation for true friends.
So, I guess I will begin by explaining a little bit about what brought me (and Claire) to Nairobi. Over the past month, beginning during IST in Nairobi with the rest of my education group in the Peace Corps, I started receiving unwelcome text messages from an anonymous phone number. They progressed, and Claire began receiving them as well once we left IST and headed back to our sites. It was stressful and the outcome was not really ideal, but the sender was identified. Claire and I came to Nairobi to meet with admin and talk about it because it was an unusual situation and left a lot of unanswered questions and uneasy feelings.
But, like I have said before, these difficult situations often create pockets of hidden opportunity – and this week in Nairobi was no different. Claire and I traveled to Nairobi together by bus on Friday. We arrived around 6pm, very drained and stressed. We were quiet most of the trip – but this trip was better than the first trip to Nairobi… we didn’t accidentally get off in the wrong city like last time or get dumped in the middle of town… and we brought books and music and word searches. It just sucked we didn’t feel like doing anything, and I am pretty sure we were both too stressed to get any sleep.
But, we arrived in Nairobi and I picked out a taxi cab my dad would have been proud of. The back row was a one way street, since the handles weren’t in the mood to function, the gear shift was just naked in the middle, rugs everywhere, dents and scrapes all over… It was a major clunker from the 80’s. Claire fired me from making any more transportation judgments. We arrived at our hotel and got a room together. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting, but no worse than Afralti. We did have wireless, at least, and a toilet and a shower that was supposed to be hot.
The Peace Corps scheduled appointments, which lasted for about an hour every day, and the rest of our time was free here in Nairobi. Unfortunately I don’t mean free – financially. Things here are much more expensive than in the village… but it was definitely therapeutic just to have these luxuries that help you feel home and comfortable when you feel so stressed and overwhelmed… like frozen yogurt, or pizza, or walking around without strangers shouting and pointing. Coffee, toast, cold drinks, internet… things that just help you feel like you are the same person. So often I feel like I’m not even Kelsey anymore.. I guess coffee and yogurt make the difference. Ha.
So, anyways, we did a lot of talking and a lot of reflecting. and we made a lot of lists. here is one I will share with you:
Stuff that sucks:
- Lack of privacy. It is so hard to go through any type of hardship when you are going through it in public. People are watching your every move, and you are honestly NEVER actually left alone while at site, so dealing with stress is even more stressful.
- Isolation. Even though I am constantly around people, it’s not really people I can completely relate with. Communication is really hard at site, for many reasons, but having to buy airtime as you go (from a far market), finding good network (especially on rainy days, since I usually sit outside), and keeping your phone charged. Not only am I removed from my closest family, but at these times, it’s hard to even contact my peers or staff here about problems.
- Managing stress/feeling in control. This was something that was discussed at length while I was in Nairobi, but there are just some things that you don’t have control over, and that you never will be in control of. How you handle it, though, you can control…. and that’s kind of where I’m standing now.
- How awesome it is to have something like frozen yogurt with toppings, Indian food or pizza. Special little treats that mean so much to me here.
- Feeling extreme emotions to the point that I feel like an insane person, then discovering about half of my group is experiencing the EXACT same thing as me.
- Finding my way around Nairobi. Walking somewhere and KNOWING where I am going.
- Peace Corps Staff. I am always supported and safe. Even though this situation has been incredibly stressful, it made me aware of the support group I have here in Kenya. Admin was awesome, and they were there for me the entire time – and are still checking up to make sure things are alright. It’s kind of amazing how much they invest in each person here, when there are SO many people in Kenya… but they just really care about us.