Merry Christmas Eve!
I will admit that it is very strange to be at a mall food court in Kenya with an African band playing "Feliz Navidad" on Christmas Eve. Today is the most homesick I have been here; it just doesn't feel like Christmas at all! But Kristoffer and I are going to make the most of it. He found out today that the UN compound will be closed until January 2nd. This means he doesn't have to work until then! It is great news, especially for me so that I am not alone all week, although a little notice would have been nice. We will try to spend at least a few of the days outside of Nairobi on safari. With the presidential election on the 27th, security is a bit dicey. We will get permission from the diplomatic police before we go anywhere to make sure it is safe. There is always a fear of riots, rallies, and violence in anticipation of or in reaction to the election. We will be extremely cautious in whatever we do.
Yesterday was an interesting day for us. First, we went to church for the first time here. I found what I thought was a Catholic church (St. Mark's...sounds Catholic, right?) and we went to the 11:00 am mass because it was in English. I am still not sure if it was Catholic or not. There were definitely Catholic elements to it...for example the Gloria and the Nicene Creed. But, the order of mass parts was very different, many parts were missing, and there were many parts that a regular Catholic mass (at least the ones in America, Italy and Denmark) does not include. I am sure it was very nice for the people who were used to it, but it was over 2 hours long and we just didn't get it. We had to stand up to be welcomed and clapped for (you can't really hide when you are the only white people in the church!) which was okay, but in general it was very awkward and, again, I am not sure if it was officially Catholic. We left after 1 hour 45 minutes because there were still so many things on the agenda (their program was really like an agenda) and after several baptisms, a history lesson, a few musical performances, and a guest preacher, we were just done! We found out later that it is pretty customary and most church services here are 2 hours long. Hmm...I think we will continue to shop around for a different church.
After church, we mustered up some energy to place orders for some of our furniture, which will be ready on January 4th. Because we are white with diplomatic license plates on our car, the prices were definitely jacked up for us. Our negotiations didn't go that well...we, the mzungu (the Swahili word for white people) should have brought a Kenyan with us to negotiate. Even though the prices were "high", they were still extremely cheap (by American and European standards) for what they are making us so I don't feel that bad about getting "taken". The carpenters are not exactly wealthy here so if they make a little extra money off of us before Christmas, that is OK by me.
We also attended a holiday party yesterday - which felt more like a 4th of July BBQ - at our landlord's house. We met the wealthy class of society here. She has a tight knit group of Kenyan Indian friends as well as her friends she works with at Citibank. They were extremely welcoming and nice to us, even though we didn't exactly feel that they were our crowd. There was another "new" couple there who arrived from Pakistan recently with a 1 year old daughter. The wife and I got along well and when they move into their house I may spend some time with her, as she is also not working right now (although trust me, I am really ready for a job!). It was really nice to be invited over and we had a good time (Kristoffer even had a beer...!).
We cannot get internet access in our apartment until January 3rd (at the earliest) so I am not sure how many blogs there will be between now and then but I will definitely write again before the new year. In the meantime, Kristoffer and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! We hope some of you are getting some snow and enjoying it on our behalf. We miss and love you :)