Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 23, 2008 - Our New Ride!

Kristoffer and I got our new car today! We no longer have to rattle around Nairobi in the very-old-and-without-shocks Toyota Corolla, although we are infinitely grateful that the WFP lent us that car this entire time.

So our new car is a used SUV in very good condition, or maybe it is a crossover SUV, but either way anyone who knows Kristoffer will know the ultimate irony of this (if you don't know him take my word for it that he is very, very green). While we are saddened to now be contributing at a greater rate to the negative impacts of global climate changes when previously we were public transportation and/or biking addicts, it is really more safe and practical for us to have a larger car here. For one, there is no mass public transportation and biking is among the most hazardous things one could do. Second, large cars are much less likely to be car hijacked than smaller Corolla-type cars, which is extremely important given that Nairobi is the car hijacking capital of East Africa. Finally, the roads here are often so horrible that 4WD definitely comes in handy and we like being higher up in the new car along with feeling much safer now that we have airbags! An added bonus to our car is that we can finally go up the short, steep hill that leads to our compound's security gate without rolling back into the street or having the guards push it up. Go us!

Our new car is an Isuzu Wizard and while we did not intentionally buy a Harry Potter-themed car, we are pleased with the coincidence. We bought our car for a very reasonable price from a family that lived in Nairobi/worked for the WFP for the last 18 months. Apparently they really like car stickers because there are several, including one one about Maltese poodles and one that says "Our children's safety depends on your driving." We like a car with character! You can see that our car is white, which means it will get dirty a lot, but when the long rains come we shouldn't have to worry about car washes. Again, go us!

The completion of this transaction, which we started a month ago, comes on the heels of getting more furniture last night so we basically feel like we have won the lottery. We now have a couch and two chairs in our living room that will be completed with a coffee table and an entertainment center tomorrow night. We are very close to resembling normal married people in a normally furnished apartment. Dare I say again, go us!

I would classify today as a good day because any day when you get a new car is! We even tried a new place for dinner to celebrate our new car, and because we really wanted to drive it somewhere. The downside is that we went thinking it was a nice restaurant when in reality it was a fast food chain. Note to self: don't eat Mexican food in Kenya. Think "Chipotle", but really bad.

Even though I am hungry, I am happy. Tomorrow I am going to a meeting of the UNIASC: the United Nations Inter-Agency Spouse Club. It sounds like some kind of sorority, doesn't it? Who knew that after all these years I would finally go Greek?! In reality, this is a social group for spouses (I suspect all wives) of UN staff and I am told that they have a book club, do charity projects, visit cultural places of interest, and have weekly coffees/discussions. It sounds like something right up my alley, so let's hope that when I go to the meeting tomorrow I will meet some really great would-be friends.

Good things are happening for us this week, but sadly the political situation in the country remains in a stalemate. Kofi Annan finally arrived last night and was scheduled to start meetings/dialogue with the government and the opposition. Unfortunately, tribal violence in the last few days has been rampant. There is a horrible story of a man in the Rift Valley (that is one of Kenya's 7 provinces, west of Nairobi) who was attacked by a mob after dropping his children off at school. Because he did not speak the same language as the mob they torched his car and he burned to death. Even today in Nairobi, where life seems very normal compared to other cities, a government building was torched following a memorial service that ODM held for victims of election violence. I will be honest and say that today's incident scares me because it hits much closer to home and to my immediate life. Tomorrow is supposed to be another day of "mass action" demonstrations across the country, but I think most people are hoping that ODM calls it off in light of Kofi Annan's presence.

Despite the turmoil and given the time and place, it is nice for Kristoffer and me to have our life seem as regular as it can be, and for us to feel a little bit more like we belong here.


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