Saturday, November 22, 2008

-I like to ride my bicycle-

It has been a while since I’ve updated, pole sana.

Today was wonderful. We went to Naivasha for the day (about one hour outside of Nairobi), to a cute little lakeside restaurant right on Lake Naivasha. We spent the day relaxing, and a several of us rented bikes for an hour and went off roading past donkeys and bathing children and fisherman to get a great view of the lake. It felt so good to get on a bike again, and it was beautiful! After a picnic lunch we all went on a boat into the lake, in which we saw several hippos. Unfortunately, we got sprayed with the lake water because of choppy waves, so here’s to hoping we don’t have bilharsia, a parasite that is in all fresh still water in East Africa and burrows into your skin, enters your blood stream, and sets up shop in your liver. Yay! :-)

Otherwise, I’ve been more stressed in the last week or two than I have been in my entire college career. Not that the work is harder than AU, but being in Kenya makes every simple process ten times harder than it should be. It takes me three hours daily to travel to and from school or work, and two days out of the week I don’t get home until 9pm, after leaving the house at 7am. And being in Town during rush hour sucks the life out of you, so by the time you get home you just want to watch some West Wing, drink some chai, and fall asleep. So I’ve been miserably stressed the last fortnight, and it looks like it’s not slowing down before I leave for travel.

There are some great travel plans in the making though! Next week from Thursday to Sunday I plan on going to Uganda, where I will be white water rafting Level 4 and 5 rapids on the Nile. Ahh! Me and five other girls are going over our self-created Thanksgiving Break—we only get Friday off, but we got excused from USIU by explaining that this holiday held “very important cultural meaning” to us. Then after finals the entire program is hopping on a train to Mombasa, the second biggest city in Kenya that is on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We will be staying for a week in a resort and finally being using those shorts we packed! Finally, after Mombasa I will be heading down to Tanzania with a couple of friends, where I will be spending a couple of days in Arusha. And no, I will have absolutely no money when I return to the States.

On the whole, this blog has been very positive about my experience here. And that’s because, on the whole, I’ve loved being here. But I think it’s important, since this is something I can look back on after I’m back, to record the frustrations I’ve been feeling. So here they are! I’m tired of being a mzungu, being a money sign, being a sex symbol. I want to walk down a street and just be Erin, or at least just be a person walking down the street. I’m tired of the rude gestures and comments that I experience almost everyday.
Also, I’m getting really really tired of the anti-Americanism. Now, I’ve never been much of a patriot, and there are plenty of reasons to dislike U.S. foreign policy. But I’m tired of being told I have no culture. I was in fact told this last week by a fellow intern who is French. She said this while listening to American rap music, a distinctly American cultural movement and followed up by saying that she really wanted to go to Canada. Also, Kenyans are outraged that America put a travel advisory (read: warning) on Kenya following the post-election violence. They think it’s because we hate Kenya. Actually, it’s because over 2,000 Kenyans were being slaughtered by their neighbors and police force. But I’m being sensitive at this point. Grr.
I’m tired of being in a place that doesn’t work. And it doesn’t. Development is never going to fully work and people are never going to escape poverty as long as there is no revolution here. The government is horrible, full of bribes and people that don’t give a shit about what happens to their people. People are resigned to it, there is no fighting spirit left in the population. Nairobi hasn’t had an urban growth plan in 30 years, and is growing at a rate too fast for any city services to function. When I return people will tell me I’m pessimistic, but this is reality, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Development is not what they teach in classes or put on TV. And I’m glad I know that even if it means I’m more cynical, because now I will approach development in a realistic way that might actually help some people.

West Wing time!

8 comments:

Gary said...

Vive la France, whitey!

Don't lose hope for Africa - Zimbabwe just refused entry to Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan. It doesn't get much better than that.

Your plans for rafting on the Nile make me feel vindicated for all those hours that we've spent standing in line for the Fury Of The Nile ride at Worlds of Fun. Consider yourself prepared. :-)

Stay safe, and we'll look forward to updates.

Gary said...

And another thing. Just what exactly is "French culture"? I submit that the modern version consists of: (1) rap (!) copied from American artists, (2) elective unemployment, (3) making sure that immigrants don't stray too far from their slums, and (4) generally resting on the laurels of the Renaissance. Oh, and Impressionism, which largely consisted of painting the French upper crust at play. No wonder your French colleague wants to visit Canada - it beats whatever France has to offer.

Done.

Gary said...

Sorry, Emily. Dissenting opinions are welcome. :-)

G AND G O. said...

HANG ON ERIN, YOUR FAMILY IS AWAITING YOU WITH OPEN ARMS AND ALSO THE GOOD OLD U. S. OF A., STILL THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, DESPITE ALL OF ITS ILLS AND AILS. HOW STRANGE AND HOW SHORT THE NATIONAL MEMORY OF SOME COUNTRIES SO QUICK TO TONGUE BLAST US, AND THEN SO QUICK TO CALL US FOR HELP TO SAVE THEM FROM A TYRANT'S GRASP. "DEMOCRACY IS THE WORST FORM OF GOVERNMENT, EXCEPT FOR ALL THE REST." FROM WINSTON CHURCHILL. HAPPY RAFTING AND KEEP THAT PFD HANDY!!! AND HAPPY HOMECOMING SOON. LOVE AS ALWAYS, G AND G O.

Kate said...

bilharsia sounds horrendous. please take some anti-parasite pills or something.

Justin said...

bilharsia sounds fun.

I completely agree with your point about how their current system will never work, sad but true.

Yeah, Candaian culture, also know as French and English culture, nothing like it! Fuck French people.

I can't wait for you to be back home and be Erin again either.

Justin said...

Also...

Thank you Gary for your opinions on France, wonderful. French culture is so over done, not to mention completely invented. Napoleon III built all of that shit long after anything historic took place. France just puts the monuments of DC with the racism of Texas. Yay for culture.

And... Don't give them too much credit for enlightenment ideas, the only thing they've ever been good at using them for is showing how aweful they are at democracy. What are we on the 5th republic? What the hell is this a Star Wars saga?

Gary said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Miss Erin!