As my journey is getting closer to the end I wonder if after this experience Kenya will become a special place for me. Many Kenyans I meet are eager to ask me if I am going to return to Kenya. They want me to love it and hold it in my heart. Kenya has been wonderful to me. The people are outstanding and the fact that I have traveled to national parks, lakes, and beautiful beaches all over a weekend is pretty wonderful. At the same time I wonder if after just six weeks here I can consider Kenyan “mine.” Does that require me to have actually lived here for a longer period of time? Does it require calling Kenya home? What makes something feel like a home?
I hold a special place for Buenos Aires in my heart and feel like I actually lived there. I was there for six months, but what signified to me that I was at home there was when I had my first fight with a cab driver in Spanish after he ripped me off. I was not just another tourist he could pretend did not know where she was going! I also had traditions in Buenos Aires. For my time there almost everyday I visited the same Kiosko and saw the same man who owns it.
Is it the same thing for Nairobi? To really know some place well does it require you know your way around? (If that is the case then there are VERY few places I know even remotely). Does it require you to have a social group here? Do you need to have a certain attitude about you that says I belong here?
I am a list person and usually have a list of things I can’t wait to return to after spending time abroad. Of course I have that for Kenya, but this time I also wanted to come up with a list of things I will miss about Kenya when am in back in the U.S. Here goes:
2) The wonderfully warm and patient people here, especially David (our driver), Jane (the cleaning lady at our apartment), and the welcoming staff at my office.
3) Weekend adventures
4) Our beautiful apartment (even if Nairobi did not feel like home we certainly made a home for ourselves there)
5) Listening to people speak Swahili and learning Swahili words
6) Kenyan radio shows discussing hot topics and radio stations playing the most diverse set of musical genres.
7) Leisurely lunches in the sun with my Kenyan newspaper
9) Living right next to Nakumatt
10) Attitude of not obsessing about little details when they are out of my control
11) Best Indian food I have ever had
12) Observing interesting things and being excited to blog about them
13) Putting real life worries on hold
14) People being interested in my life here and reading my blog (please don’t stop reading)!
Things I am excited about returning to in the U.S.:
1) Friends, family, and my boyfriend
3) Summer clothes (sundresses, sandals)
4) No more skype calls (after skyping with Somalia a few times a week I have a deep frustration with skype calls)
5) Walking everywhere
7) Reliable showers and baths
9) Summer food (barbecue, watermelon, frozen margs)
10) Red wine
11) Summer activities (beach, outdoor patios – although this heat wave business might create a problem for me if it doesn’t stop before I arrive).
As I compare these lists I realized that the list of what I will miss about Kenya is longer than my list of what I am looking forward to in the U.S.! Although, I think returning to friends, family, and my boyfriend should probably count as five things on the Kenyan list! Maybe my long list of things I will miss in Kenya is a sign that I will hold a soft spot for it in my heart once I leave. Even after spending only 6 weeks here I still hope to get excited when I hear things about Kenya or meet someone from Kenya. I hope to hold my experiences and excitement here with me as I return to the U.S.