Monday, October 13, 2008

Winding Roads

As I finished the first iteration of this blog post yesterday and the power suddenly went out, I remembered I should never be composing in blogger (and, the $38 I was debating for a surge protector might be a good idea after all). The past few days have been full of house hunting, and while I was proud that for the first few days I kept my cool about how challenging it has been, today has been the first down day I've had. I always know in the back of my head when everything is going well that at some point, there will have to be some feelings or experiences to counter the euphoria of what feels like perfection. Still, it never makes it any easier when they hit. I found out today that I did not get a really wonderful cottage I'd found that had been recommended by a contact from Monterey. The delightful British woman who bought the property in 1958 and has been feeling under the weather lately, "you know, a heart attack or some nonsense like that," as she said, had promised it to a guy who hadn't yet deposited. She wanted to follow through on her word and give him another chance, and sure enough - he showed up today to sign the papers. My other leads have fizzled - some due to a loose interpretation of what "unfurnished" means (I can handle getting furniture, but buying my own stove top might be pushing things a bit). Another strong lead - right price bracket, right area, turned out to be scam - you know things aren't good when they ask for 3500 shillings before you've even met in person. There are so many factors to take into account - the prices are quite a bit higher than I expected (I'll likely pay close to what I paid for my room in Berkeley this last year, and could easily pay more than I did living two blocks from the beach in Corona del Mar). More importantly though is safety - both Kenyans and ex-pats alike will indicate just what a property must have to give you a slightly better chance of avoiding robbery - you can take your pick from a 24 guard (mandatory), electric fence (suggested), guard dogs (favorable) etc. I also have to balance out transport as I naively thought I could get by without a car here (oh the irony of having a car that won't sell in the states, and knowing thateven if it did, it wouldn't even buy you a car that runs here!). I haven't yet mustered up the courage to take on the matatus, the exceptionally over-packed Nissan minibuses emblazoned with names like "White Gazelle" and "Teenz Club." They slow just enough to let people hop in to what little space there is before flooring the pedal and weaving through traffic (did I mention I've been prohibited by everyone to whom I've mentioned the possibility of riding a bike here?). I'm still getting the lay of the land and fear getting on the wrong matatu and ending up somewhere I'm not familiar with. I'm also still a bit shaken by the hi-jacking that happened when I was in Kenya last year that resulted in a driver and fair collector being beheaded. Sure, it's not likely - but I'm only human - stories like that stay with you!

On a much less stressful note (for my own and any readers benefit!) I continue to have moments each day where I just can't believe I'm here, or having the conversations or experiences I am. I have a major goal to make progress while I'm here in getting a test area in Africa paypal accessible. On Friday I met someone at a party who is actually interested in the same thing. We have slightly different motivations, but it's always great to be able to churn ideas over with others. I also met another young Kenyan at the same party who was very excited about my studies at IDS (Institute for Development Studies). Many people have told me how much the research and policy recommendations IDS makes are used by the government and various NGO's in Kenya, but his excitement lay in the students he said I'll share the program with. He said the type of thinker the program attracts is very creative and fascinated with innovative approaches to Development and Kenya's evolution as a whole (which everyone I come across seems actively invested in). Young people in general here are very politically astute, informed and motivated to see their country progress and embrace its role as a leader in Africa. It's an exciting time to be here - the business sector is up for the taking and that means there is tons of room for being proactive in the development sector - and hopefully extending the benefits of profit to people throughout the country.

For those of you who pray, please throw a few in for me and my house search and banking issues (won't go into details but suffice it to say I am hitting a lot of roadblocks in terms of timing for getting my funds to my account here in time to pay my tuition and start classes on Monday). Continued thanks for all the encouragement as well!

1 comment:

Hye said...

don't really know why...but reading your blog brought me to misty eyes...

I think those tears are partly for that I blame my selfishness for not having been able to see you off to Kenya on the day of your departure and for that how proud and envious of you I am to see you live out your dreams...

Dear friend...I'll think of you and keep you in my thoughts... hope your intense will and high spirit will keep you safe. I'm certain God will work his plan and fill this chapter of your life with unforgettable moments and unbelievable experiences for which you're there.

lots of kisses and hugs... Good-nite...