Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some little things

Nairobi seems to be becoming the hub of my little ex-pat world. Friends are having job interviews, passing through, popping over for work –all great for me. My life here now seems more connected to my previous life in my recent past, the one where I lived in Uganda!

Uganda-where, I remember, the sun always shone (except at 4 pm on Tuesdays for Frisbee, or on the Saturday's I was free to lie by the pool!). Here in Nairobi, we have had an unusual amount of rain recently (I have heard this is quite late for the rain) and everyone at the 'w' place is getting a bit sick of wet plays and soggy fields. So it is good to remember the little things; the things that make me smile in Nairobi, even when it is raining!

These are a few of the little things on my list today:
  • Pouring fresh milk from a carton. No more fiddly plastic bags of milk or long life for me!
  • Kellogg's that stays fresh in a box, not stale, but crunchy and crispy.  I can also buy Dorset's Cereal too...for a treat!
  • Having my shopping packed into boxes and not one item per bag (if I forget my re-usable ones)-this is something that insanely annoyed me when I lived in Kuwait! Although having your shopping packed and taken to your car is always nice!
  • The sweet and kind local staff at school. They are so flattering and funny. I have to write a post all on its own for this...but I will share one example; A group of  teaching assistants were talking about me, then built up the courage to ask me if I used to be a model! Yeah they did! Once I had finished coughing-up the tea I was drinking, to ask if they could explain...one of the ladies said,  "I think it because of  the way you walk." Mmmm,ok! Sounds like it should be a compliment, so I'll have it!
  • The fact that I have still not tried all the cafes, bars and restaurants in my area, let alone Nairobi - and probably will never get through them all, as there are sooo many (good!) ones!
  • I have worn my Chie Mihara boots lots since my arrival. Yep, they were totally worth the *** Euros I spent on them!!!
  • Getting parcels without having to go to the post office to collect them (I will try to avoid that experience from now on!). A kind driver at the 'w' place now picks up my parcels and today I recieved girly gifts from my lovely friend Sara (that just got engaged!!!congratulations again Sara and Toby!)-of Scottish soap, soothing face masks and more!
  • The fact that,even though there are payment machines for parking (in most places), there is usually still someone employed to stand by the machine and press the button for you, or give you the ticket from the machine at the barriers. Love it!
    (PS- I watched 127 Hours last night on DVD and I keep thinking, 'Well, he had to cut his own arm off! "  Life is not tough.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being thankful

It is American Thanksgiving tomorrow. If I celebrated this, I know it would be my favourite holiday. Not as commercial as some of the others perhaps. Just time to be with family and eat LOTS! Sounds great!

Today, my class at school visited their community development link. It was there first visit to the Cheryl's Children's Home, the project that this year group support.

As every community development link, both sides should be able to learn and grow from each other, rather than just a handing over of money or gifts. But, I have learnt, these visits for children in International (or Prep) schools can be quite difficult. From large houses, cars, classrooms, filled with belongings that we forget we want, to empty, dark shells of buildings. No wonder some children feel awkward in the basic surroundings; wide eyed, quiet and too shy to meet new buddies. 

However, today was not like that at all.

The older girls and boys at the home, led my pupils on guided tours of the Home and chatted to them with ease. My pupils soon felt more relaxed and soon the building was a buzz of laughter and high pitched happy squeals. Songs were sang, lunch was shared and genuine friendships began.

Some of the children at the Home shared their story of how they ended up being in care. Honest and harrowing, but their stories all had a happy ending middle end-of-the-beginning; all were thankful for the help they had been given, thankful they had been found and are looking forward, to a bright future. Dreams were shared, hopes of  being pilots, teachers and nurses.

Everyone in the room was thankful. Thankful that the children in the Home were now getting the love and care they deserved.  Thankful for the love and care we have around us. Myself; thankful for the loving, understanding and supportive (the BEST!) family at the end of a phone, friends that make the journey through life much more fun, the education I was given to get me where I am, the job, the car, the shelter, the luxuries and comforts that we take for granted, a full belly (!), a healthy body that can run (half!) marathons and help calm my mind during yoga and thankful for the love I have been given to share with others.

What are you thankful for?

PS -I think I need to start up my 3BTs (3 Beautiful Things) again.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cities within a city

I forget where I am some days. Nairobi has many cities within a city.

I had to go back to the doctors for another injection for my dog bite, so needed to make my way to little India. Parklands is an area of Nairobi that during the colonial days, the British demarcated for civil servants and is predominantly populated with Asian families. The roads are ruled by tuk-tuks  and Tata trucks that have seen better days.

Later that day a friend took me to her favourite Shisha cafe. We stayed for hours, drinking mint tea, chatting and people watching (checking out the flashy Rolexs and hair styles!), I felt like I was back in the Middle East (minus strange orange trousers, that always seemed in fashion!) The music, language and wafts of shawarma and incense made me rather 'home' sick.

Then...to Karen...a suburb in England. Girls in tutus going to ballet, driven by mums in big 4x4s. (I know...I can't talk!)

But, really, the past couple of days I could have been in any city in the UK. It has been pretty grey, chilly and wet. It was so hard getting up in the morning that I called off my 6am personal training session (the first one I have bailed from since my arrival). And, I've worn tights and boots two days in a row...shock horror. The school will have to increase wages at this rate!

As I drove home this afternoon, the sun came out...hooray, at last. I am in Africa after all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Switiching off the white noise-the story behind the retreat

It is lovely to put up photos of the beautiful scenery that I get to enjoy in Kenya, the big sky of Africa and the animals that live here. It is lovely to hear comments about how lucky I am. But it is not always the life I get to enjoy; real life gets in the way sometimes. 

Last week I could have been in Barry or Beillericay (thanks Tania for the box set!!) as it is that time of year again...report writing.

I was feeling rather low, but that was not the only reason for it: I have lost my running legs and fear they will be hard to find again. I haven’t had time to enjoy the white shiny cafes and bars that I was looking forward to so much when I was in Uganda and I miss my friends that know me. My mind was busy with pretty negative thoughts and it was hard to swtich off the white noise.

Something I haven't admitted to you is how hard it was arriving at Jomo Kenyatta airport knowing that the African Adventurer was not meeting me. It. was. tough. I am not as tough as I think I am, sometimes. 

It has been hard to meet friends outside of school...as I seem to spend most of my time there this should not be surprising! I was a bit over excited when I drove someone I met at yoga home the other night...!Saddooo!

So...as a little pick-me-up; to help my body and soul get back into shape, I went off on a yoga retreat on the weekend. 

It was  held in a little lodge a few hours north of the city. I spent the weekend in the bush, beding my legs into Lotus, sweating in downward dog and attempting to lift my entire body on my little pinky. (Well not quite!!-but I do suddenly have muscles where I never had them before!) We talked in hushed whispers, preserving the peace and quite.  Spent hours gazing into the yellow moon and burning it into our memories - thinking only about our breathing.  But when my mind did drift, I thought about my friends and family around the world and thought about how lucky I am.

Oh dear-those photos of skies again!

PS- I met some lovely new friends! And I am off to yoga tonight to see them! Hooray!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

walking in silence

 I'm back from my first weekend yoga retreat and all my secret hob nobs are still in the box!

Photos are from our walking meditation near Lake Elementaita. 

I'll tell you more about it another day.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend. xx

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My birthday weekend

Armed with birthday breakfast goodies from Artecaffe, my friend Jeni and I heading to Nairobi National Park to hunt down some lions and their cubs.

The 5am get up meant that there were not that many other cars in the park (not surprising for a Saturday morning..!-but it also meant that by lunchtime I was ready for nap!).

Once the early morning mist had lifted the animals came out of their hiding.

We searched high and low for the lions, but they were not at number 5 or 7 where they should have been!hmm. Eventually we found a lone lioness on the prowl-  we thought she was going to go in for a kill at one point; the zebra nervously huddled together and the four ostrich trotted off to protect their eggs...but the lioness didn't seem that bothered and after sniffing around for a while continued on her journey.

It was a great start to the day-but I am still quietly hoping that next year I will be able to run the NYC marathon!

PS-  I know I have hundreds of photos of zebra-but that doesn't stop me taking hundreds more!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Remember remember the 5th of...

Morning safari and sushi. Messages and unwrapping gifts. A pretty great way to celebrate my birthday. Thank you x

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nutella or...

Interesting selling point! It won me over! 

PS- tomorrow I am making edible sparklers with my class to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night (read-my birthday!)-Israeli style!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Running in Nairobi - the 'help'.

As you may have heard on the news, Kenya is at 'war' at the moment. That means security has tightened up in Nairobi. Some boarding schools are not encouraging teachers to leave campus at the moment due to the security threats -but for me life goes on as normal (thank goodness).

I had my first visitors last weekend. My friends Stacy and Tim had trained for months for the Nairobi marathon - some people I hear, were not sure if running the recent Nairobi race would be a good idea; people like to talk and worry others, but it went ahead and with tight security. Backing out was not an option for those that had trained. I was planning on doing the 10km this time-but with stitches in my leg I became the 'help' - I had the vital role of carrying energy snacks and drinks, and cheering on my friends and the other 60 or so non-elite marathon runners.

I heard of no security problems. The only problems were the guards trying to close the gate after 4 hours and 30 minutes of the marathon...(I sorted that one!) and water stations running out of water.

 Even though I was on the sidelines of the event, I enjoyed being part of the day, listening to the stampede of elite runners in action, taking photos of a car free Nairobi city and being part of the marathon experience. (It was no Cape Town though!) After the 4.30am get up and cheering on the athletes for quite a few hours, I honestly felt exhausted when my friends crossed the finish line...I might as well have ran the thing...!!(Hmmmmm!)