Kwa Heri Africa

trans. Goodbye Africa. Officially my last night in Kenya was last night. It was grand. Spent the evening at the White Sands Resort (super ritzy hotel on the North Coast) drinking sweet passion juice, dancing to bad 90's pop music, start gazing, watching the sun rise. What a send off!


Picha picha

I don't know how to make it right side up, but turn your head 90 degrees and see Shamsia and baby Sabrina, my hosts. I absolutely love them to peices.

Here I am at the orphanage, mauled by grimey hands. Can't get enough of my hair.
Here I am pitifully trying to dance like an African. I just don't have what it takes.

Last day on the job...

Said goodbye to all the kids today. I'm ready to go.
  • Danced with the big girls (This girl Dina, who is actually the Reverend's daughter is back from boarding school and she told me she'd heard that I dance well. Uh oh. She was super cool though. She reminds me of Denise from the Cosby Show after she goes to college. She's got the rasta braids, cool clothes, good advice for the younguns. I want to be her friend.)
  • Played "President or Lion" (aka Heads or Tails) with the little boys
  • Painted watery colored chalk onto the big boys faces (I know, what?)
  • Washed some dishes (actually I was in charge of the rinsing bucket)
  • The little girls played with my hair (they love my non-african "soft" hair. They love brushing it, can't figure out why it won't stay in braids without rubber bands)
  • Planned with the reverend (the guy in charge) how I'm going to build him a website. Sure, I can learn html during Christmas break...

Got it all covered. Man I love it here.


Maybe they're young, maybe they're smart, maybe they collect things like ashtrays and art

Little orphan Annie had it rough. After working at the orphanage I'm somehow more and more grateful for my family. Me and another volunteer were planning some Christmas activities for the kids (she'll be here for the big day, poor girl) and it is totally depressing to think that they don't get any Christmas spirit. We've planned all sorts of crazy fun holiday things like a nativity, advent calendar, arts and crafts, holiday piƱata and such.

I'll be honest I didn't like the kids here much at first. They weren't as cute as my Tanga kids, lets face it, my Tanga kids were hard to top. But these kids are still pretty sweet. I've become good friends with most of the teenage girls here. I figure being 15 at my house with 3 brothers was hard enough, being 15 with 35 other orphans must just suck. Absolutely no privacy. So we dance and chat, talk about boys. Normal 15-year-old girl stuff.

The littlest kids are afraid of me. They haven't seen too many with skin as white as mine before so they cry when they see me. My favorite kids is JJ. He's probably 7, he's always "home sick" from school, trying to jumprope but failing miserably. He likes to climb on my lap and cuddle. Ooh I want to bring him home with me! there's a USB drive on this computer so i'm gonna see if i can put a few pictures up. if not, you'll just have to wait a couple weeks and see them in person!!


Kompyuta Vibaya.

Bad Computer. I just typed up this really long and amazingly written update on life here and it all got deleted. So, I'm sick and tired of this computer and will give you a basic rundown. You'll have to fill in the gaps with my witty descriptions and anecdotes. In short:

-- I'm not MIA, it's just a hassle to get into town
-- Mombasa is kind of like NYC, with different "boroughs" - I live in Brooklyn
--To get to "Manhatten" I have to cross a little ferry
--The ferry line sucks. It's crowded, smelly, and people chew their peanuts loudly in your ear. Lots of pushing
--The ferry itself, not bad. Lots of fresh air if you're lucky enough to get a good spot. Otherwise it's armpit and sweat.
--Homestay rocks. I want to bring them home with me; mom, dad, baby Sabrina, food and all. Mahamri my new favorite carb meal.
--Two days off because Kenya's voting on changing their constitution and they were afraid of riots. Dang sick of African politics. Orange (No) Campaign wins by a landslide
--Orphanage is way fun when kids aren't at school. The girls braided my hair (painful and ugly, these braids aren't meant for mzungu hair) and try to teach me to dance (I suck. There's a pelvic, hip, stomach jiggle thing that they assure me I'm getting better at. I'm convinced there's no hope)
--Have a crush on Isaac one of the guys who helps at the orphanage. He cooks, he cleans, he minds the kids, best of all he's got the best body on the planet. Maybe I'll just stay here...
--Not missing Thanksgiving, I hate thanksgiving food anyway. I'll be happy filling up on chapati, mahamri and lots of beans.
--I'm sure I'm missing something. But this'll do. Less than a week I have to say Baadaye to Africa. Again, maybe I'll just stay here...



So I'm in Kenya, and even though the city I'm in is less than 4 hours from Tanga, it is entirely different. I've been here about 3 days and I've found my first impressions of just about everything have been off. So, here's a list of my first impressions and how I was wrong.

Mombasa the city
At first, very overwhelming. Especially after being in Tanga which is really more of a town than a city. Dala dalas are everywhere and its nuts. Lots and lots of cars. Big busy streets. 10 story skyscrapers! Confusing.

We spent most of Sunday walking around and I realized it's not all that confusing. Yes there are lots of cars who drive fast, but if you're quick, you can still cross the streets. And, they don't pack the daladala quite so tightly here. What's more, I sat next to a guy in a dala dala wearing... [dramatic pause] deoderant. I know. Unbelievable. It's like the don't like smelling like BO. I can't get my head around it.

Other Volunteers
Cat was with me in Tanga, so I know her. As for the other volunteers, they seemed nice enough, but kind of bland. I'd be fine never seeing any of them again.

After a day of hanging out, I think they're all way fun. Chris is from England and is hilarious. He kind reminds me of Josh Forman, but with a huge bushy beard and of course an accent. There are two irish girls (a mother daughter team) who are working with me on my project. Bernie, the mother, is just so Irish. She walks with sort of a frantic waddle. Deirdre is planning her wedding for next year, so that's always fun.

Very important. On the way to my house are these really crap apartments. All dirty and noisy. Oh jeez. My homestay mom seemed really awkward.

After spending a night with them, they're all so nice and welcoming! The food is great, their English is good and baby Sabrina is adorable!

I'm working at an orphanage and a primary school. At first the orphanage seemed like it was falling apart. The school was great.

After a couple days working at the orphanage, I'm impressed. They do a lot with what the have, which isn't much. As for the school, it's fine. I just miss my kids in Tanga so much! It's hard to compare. These kids are smart, but boring.

Okay, so there's more, but I'll have to finish later. I'm so out of time. It's all good though.


I've got the munchies.

I was leaving Chuda yesterday and I swear to you I smelled a summer BBQ. Burgers, hot dogs, maybe even potato salad! mmmm I miss food.

I stayed at a hotel last night. The nicest one in Tanga. I had a hot shower, bad tv and even cereal for breakfast! Oooh I miss cereal.

Jenny leaves today to go home. I'm super bummed she's leaving, but still pretty thrilled for my next three weeks. Looks like my cousin Christie might be joining me in Europe.

I'm all packed up and ready to go. I have so much crap! Jenny's bringing home a suitcase full of souveniers for me. Christmas presents mostly. Can't wait for Christmas!!


I only have one more night at Chuda

Chuda is the name of the neighborhood where my house is and I'll be sad to leave it. To summarize, here are a list of things I'll miss:

Things I'll miss about Chuda
  1. Fatuma, our housekeeper. She speaks pretty decent English and actually understands sarcasm. She makes a mean chapati and has a beautiful daughter, Zawena. Plus, she makes my bed.
  2. Rashidi, our old guard. Okay, he doesn't work for us anymore, but he was the most adorable little guard ever. I think he was about 25 but he looked about 14 and spoke like a 9-year-old. No idea what he'd do if we were actually robbed. Probably cry.
  3. The 6 kids down the road. They love us. They chase after us and shout across the fields, not in an annoying way. Absolutely adorable.
  4. Rainy days. Sure there were a few leaks in the house, but now that it's the rainy season and the rains are piling up, its much more fun to jump in the puddles outside or listen to it POUND down at 2 am.
  5. Roomies. Brits, Irish, Swedes, Australians, and a couple Americans. We're quite the bunch.
  6. The shop around the corner and the guy that runs it. We buy lots of chocolate buscuits, he knows our usual order.

Okay so now things that I will NOT miss

  1. The leaky roof. Now that it's the rainy season, we're accumulating more and more puddles...indoors.
  2. The bathrooms. The one in the hall has a light straight out of a horror movie. When you turn it on it flickers for a good 25 seconds before any steady light.
  3. Tiny kitchen. Impossible to cook.
  4. Bananas on toast for breakfast...every day
  5. Smelly refridgerator
  6. My room is a freaking toaster. Even with the fan I want to die. It's so hot.
  7. Mosquito net the sinks down at the end, tickling my feet.
  8. My bed is not long enough for me, and at 5'2" it shouldn't be a problem
  9. The half hour walk down the railroad tracks when its hot out (always)
  10. Everyone but the little kids who tracks us down to talk to us ("Hey. Hey. Hey!!!" I turn to look, "Hi Mzungu") Get a life.
  11. Showers. They're cold, they're sporadic, they're uncomfortable. No getting around that.

Needless to say, it won't be too hard to move on.


Kenya info, not that there's much time

This time it's homestay, so I'll be living with a local family.

Mr. John M. Kiambi
P.O. Box 1244 - 80100

++254 722703665
++254 721852844

Pretty dang exciting!

Random picture of my family 5 years ago

On my mom's company's website. I'm the second one in on the right... What a party


Whoa Bessie...

Just back from Zanzibar. I know I was planning to go to Mombasa, but I figure by the weekend I'll be living there, so why bother. Plus, I had some friends going there so, why not pop off to paradise for the weekend? Zanzibar is an absolute dream. Perfect beaches, great history, lots of cool things to do and see.

The town itself reminds me of a cross between an old, stately Mexican city and Venice. This is because while there are many main streets around Stone Town, most of the residential area is little alleyway streets. With carved doors, elaborate balconies and winding paths, it makes for a pretty picturesque neighborhood. At night, in the Forodhoni Gardens, there's a big street food fair where everyone in town comes and hangs out in a big park. I had some good chapati, some interesting Zanzibar style pizza and even Baracuda!! Besides being semi-stalked by a crazy old Nigerian refugee, it was a pretty nice night.

Because it's right on some very big trade routes, the culture in Zanzibar is a cross between African and Arabian. On the mainland, most of the Arabs and the Africans are pretty separate, but in Zanzibar its a fun mix. Beautiful African skin and exotic Arabian clothes and makeup.

Zanzibar is much more touristy than Tanga (it doesn't take much) so there was LOTS of shopping to do. Even some places that accept credit cards!! All this means I'm just near done with Christmas shopping, and a little more too...

Now that I'm back on the mainland, I have real things to worry about. Mohammed, the guy in charge here is basically a lying, cheating, dishonest man and everyone can't wait to get out of here. Jenny confronted him while we were gone and it got ugly. He threatened to call the police, she cried, it's really no good at all. Lara and Cat are gone on Wednesday, I'll probably head up to Mombasa at the end of the week, as soon as I can get in touch with the (much more stable) coordinator up there.

It's prety disheartening the whole thing. Mohammed closed down the school so now I don't even get to say goodbye to most of my students. After all my hard work, I deserve that. They deserve it. I think I'm going to storm the villages and track them down, just for pictures. I'll miss my kids lots and lots.


So, I know you thought I would be in Tanga forever, but...

So it's a long story, but I'm moving to Kenya for the last three weeks I'm here. I'm going to Zanzibar this weekend to celebrate the end of Ramadan, then I'll finish up my business here and catch the bus up to Mombasa next Sunday. It's absolutely crazy. I'm not sure what my placement will be there- either teaching AIDS orphans or primary school again- but I'm going for sure. Everything is still kind of up in the air right now, but I'm sure it will be sorted by the end of the weekend.

Nothing to with Africa, how cute is this boy!

Just got these pictures of my nephew, Rees. What a stud!! He's teething and everything!!