Friday, September 25, 2015

My very own grownup blog

UPDATE:New continent, new blogging platform. I figured if I was going to blog for real, I needed to leave Blogger. Welcome to my new, grown-up blog with an official domain. I think it will be a better fit for a more visual blog.

Follow along at First post up on the new blog? Safari through Lake Nakuru National Park!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Step Into the Unknown

While you're reading this, I'm already in Kenya. But I wrote a rough draft of this post before I left D.C. I really wanted to get down my thoughts and feelings before I touched down and first impressions could cloud me.

On our way to our first safari - blog post coming soon! 
Right now, I am completely ignorant of what I'm walking into. Well, maybe not completely ignorant... But fairly so. I have never been to a third world country, let alone lived in one. And in the mad rush just to get everything in order to just get over there, I had little time to research as I normally would.

There are some things I am nervous about. Nairobi isn't the safest city, even by African standards. Where we're living, we'll have an armed guard 24/7. I'm scared of getting lost (addresses don't work the same way there). I'm afraid of getting mugged! That's why I'm leaving my wedding ring here in the states - absolutely not worth the risk for such a sentimentally priceless item. And I'm afraid of standing out. I've never been a minority before, and I don't like people's eyes on me. And while family and friends tell me I'm "ethnically ambiguous" (ha ha, guys) inside I know I'm a white American and that's all I feel like. It's hard to gauge at this point if this will even be an issue, but it's something on my mind.

There are also some things I'm dreading a bit. One thing I'm not looking forward to is the food. Layne and I love cooking and trying really good restaurants. This will definitely be less available to us in Africa, and there is some concern about food quality (and safety) in general. And water! Bottled water only, and I don't know how I'll feel about showering. Layne keeps reminding me that the water is clean; I just don't want to ingest it. But I can't get over it! The germophobe in me wins out. Also not super excited for the living conditions. I don't know exactly what to expect, but it won't be luxury by my pampered American standards. Most days I don't think I'll mind, but everyone has a bad day every now and again where you just want to come home and feel that sense of peace and safety. As you can see, most of what I'm dreading is simply being denied my creature comforts. The things I really like but don't necessarily need; the things I will miss.

None of those things stop me for even a moment from being so excited and grateful for this opportunity. I want to just walk the city and take it in. I want to meet the people and talk with them, hear them speak to one another in Swahili. I want to spend hours people watching, observing similarities and differences. I want to get out of the city and see the Africa we all think of; the wild animals on Discovery come to life before my eyes. I want something new and different and so far away from what I can imagine that it changes me. I don't want familiarity, even though I'll miss it. Moving to Africa has been hard so far - packing our house and getting vaccinations and finding a work situation for myself and the million little errands that had to be done in a rush before leaving the states for several months - and I want it to continue to challenge me. That's the whole point of something like this, right?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Is this real life?

When Layne first told me about the opportunity with Yum, my thoughts were so jumbled and contrary it left my head spinning. The very first thing I said was "I know NOTHING about Kenya!" We talked a little about what we did know... Mt. Kilimanjaro, Lion King, fast runners. It was a frighteningly brief conversation and embarrassingly surface. We weren't even exactly sure where in Africa it was (the East side, right? Turns out it's smack dab on the equator and while Nairobi isn't on the coast, Kenya does touch the Indian Ocean so we were right in thinking East.)

Then the wanderer inside my soul said "YES- let's do this!" And I went from thinking it was somehow important that I knew nothing about Kenya to being all about it in a matter of seconds. Before even the first interview, I felt my heart soar and land somewhere on maybe the east side of Africa. I have a constant itch for change, and this felt like the perfect chance to propel myself out of my comfort zone and have an adventure. I could already feel the hot African sun on my skin, feel the dust of the Serengeti under my shoes. 

But with my next breath, I retreated - back to questioning how we were going to do this and if it even made sense at all. We began running the scenario through our minds, tossing over details of our five-year plan like they were movies in the $1 bin at the store. Suddenly, if those plans didn't align with Kenya, they were entirely fungible with safaris and third world living conditions. 

But this was all happening waaaaaaaaaay too fast. This was just the first conversation we had on the subject, and in 20 minutes I'd tried to tackle it right, left, and sideways. After a night spent frantically searching google, I felt like I had brushed up on some basics of Kenya, but had no further insight into what our path would be. 

Fast forward a few weeks. Interviews had continued, and we knew a job offer was headed our way, yet we were no closer to knowing if we would take the leap. There were a lot of conversations with family that followed the same format: "Kenya, huh?" And with a breath seemingly deep enough to suck in the entire span of space between America and Africa, I'd shake my head a little and say "Yeah...!" Even my neck and my mouth could not agree on an answer. 

But once the job was officially Layne's for the taking, they wanted an answer fast. We took two days to decide, and in that span I probably waffled back and forth with 100% certainty every ten minutes, convincing myself that going or staying was the only logical option and the other option was lunacy. In the end, the only certainty that lasted was the feeling of rightness in accepting the job. <
So... here we go! Yes, it uproots our whole life. But that's just what I love about it. Now is the perfect time for an adventure. 

P.S. I've only got two songs on my Kenyan playlist so far - this one, and this one. Any suggestions???

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time for a change

Not even sure how to begin this one...

 I guess if you're wondering why I re-started my blog only to immediately drop it again, it's because I have some news. We're moving... To Kenya! 

In fact, Layne is already there and I leave next week.

 It's been a bit of a whirlwind, to say the least. Layne got offered an amazing opportunity to be CEO of a startup there (think: GrubHub). We're not exactly sure what it will all entail, but with his consulting background, they want him to come in and help with their exit strategy.

Kenya was never part of our plan. But you can either take an adventure when it comes along, or you can stay the course and go the traditional route. I've done both at times, and this time it felt right to take a leap. A 7,550 mile leap. Gulp.

 Wish us luck!

 P.S. I'll be blogging the experience to document my own thoughts and feelings, so feel free to follow along and ask questions if you have them and I'll do my best to answer.
How am I going to leave someplace so beautiful?! 
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