Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 30, 2008 - The Long Rains Have Come

I am so sorry that I have not posted our Easter pictures yet, but the rainy season has started here and when it rains (usually from about 6pm through the morning) our internet connection does not work! Also, since the rains started our internet connection has been much slower, even when it is not raining, and the website has not been able to upload the pictures. I will try to post them on the UN compound sometime this week because some of them are really great! In addition to slowing down our internet connection, the long rains are absolutely destroying the roads of Nairobi. There have always been pot holes in the roads here, which we have learned to navigate well because we mostly drive the same roads, but within the last 2 weeks of rain the number of pot holes has more than tripled along with the size of the pre-existing pot holes. Now everyday is like an obstacle course as Kristoffer navigates the new holes in the road (some of them are 3 ft. wide!). And if we thought it was scary to drive in the company of Kenya's crazy matatus (mini buses) in good weather, believe me when I tell you that the fear is amplified while driving in torrential rain! The final thing to report on the long rains is that with them have come this crazy type of moth - which I unaffectionately call "rain bugs" - whenever it rains. They have long papery wings, they are attracted to light during the rain, they have somehow managed to get into our apartment even when we don't have any windows open, they die very quickly and leave their wings all over the place, and when we leave the house in the morning our stairwell is covered in them. ICK! I am not a fan of these rain bugs and hope that maybe they are plentiful at the start of the season but will all die off and leave me alone!

On Thursday of last week we received a yellow slip in our mailbox telling us that another package was waiting for us at the post office. Of course our previous experiences left us pretty jaded about going, but we also knew that the post office was charging us for storage so on Friday afternoon we headed into Nairobi's busy downtown during a torrential rain storm. I am very happy to report that we had our best post office experience to date! They quickly found our box of Easter goodies from Kristoffer's mom and we breezed through the following layers of bureaucracy very quickly. Kristoffer practiced his Kiswahili on the postal workers, which they found very entertaining, and we were out of there in 20 minutes. Of course, with the rain and the Friday traffic, it took us over an hour to get home...but at least we had Easter chocolate to eat on the drive!

The other event of this week for me was my first book club meeting yesterday morning. Four women had committed to participating but on Friday three of them cancelled on me, so I went to coffee house hoping that someone showed up! To my delight, one woman did come and we ended up having a lovely conversation about both the novel we read and being a "UN Spouse." The woman is very involved in helping UN spouses find work in Nairobi and she was really impressed that my volunteer work at UNICEF is so quickly turning into a paying job. She is Bulgarian and her husband is German, so she has 20 years of experience in what people here call an "international marriage"; she could really identify with the challenges, sacrifices, and compromises that are unique to international couples and she shared her experiences being in Nairobi for the last two years. I think in the end it was a blessing for me that she is the only one who showed up, but we are hoping that next month we have a better turnout!

Kristoffer left for his week-long WFP conference in Rome at 1am this morning; I have the week to remember what it was like to live alone! In NYC, where I lived alone for the better part of 4 years, I was always so busy with my work that living alone never felt too lonely, and I always had the telephone to keep me constantly connected to my family and friends. Here, I don't have any lessons to plan, papers to grade, or people to call so I think it will be a more solitary week than I am used to. But I am sure that will only make me more grateful for Kristoffer's normally-constant presence in my life and I will be happy to welcome him home next week.

On the political scene in Kenya, the new "coalition" government made up of PNU (the President's party) and ODM (the government's opposition) members with power-sharing between the President and Prime Minister-designee is at a stalemate one month after Kofi Annan brokered the power-sharing agreement. Both sides cannot agree on how to share the many ministries in the country and have not made progress in days, even going so far as to ask Kofi Annan to come back to help them. I think he turned them down, because really he cannot rescue them every time they disagree on something - these are big boys who need to grow up and become the leaders they claim to be. While the violence is at a minimum in the western part of the country (and there is always some violence over land and cattle at this time of year) and Nairobi seems very much back to normal, there is a lot of tension about the delay in true power-sharing. Sadly, there are still hundreds of thousands of people in IDP camps throughout the country and last week 3 women died from exposure to the cold and rain. The sooner the government gets its act together, the sooner they can increase aid to IDPs.

Hopefully I will get new pictures posted on here soon. I hope you have a good week!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know it must be exstremely annoing, but it is also really funny, that you internet slows down in rain. Does your internet go by car or what?
We "borrow" internet from a school across the road until we get our own and its odd to think how all the information fly across the street.
Happy weekend to you and your paper wing roomates.