My goal in coming to Kenya this first year of marriage was to get to know my husband’s culture and to learn firsthand how to understand some of the cultural expectations he might have that I could not have otherwise grasped. I’ve learned so much these seven months, and I’m grateful for that, but as time goes on, I find myself missing certain elements of my own culture.
- Free WiFi – We have WiFi at home nowadays, but there was a time that I searched the whole of Rongai for a place where I could use my iPhone to connect with people back home. There are very few restaurants and a couple of buses that offer WiFi, but waitstaff don’t take too kindly to people ordering water while they suck up some free WiFi, and you have to get off the bus at some point.
- Mail – The excitement of checking my mail every day used to have me anxiously watching the clock to see if the postman had graced my front porch yet. Here mail is not delivered to your door. Addresses don’t exist. There are postal stations with postal codes where you pick your mail (by the way, Kenyans say “pick” not “pick up”, so yeah, I said that right). Ours is a shared box in Nairobi with Ray’s uncle and I can’t remember the last time we checked it, so sorry if anyone has sent mail (be sure to contact me and let me know when you send something so I can go to town to get it).
- Shorts – As vain as this sounds, I miss wearing shorts. I’ve written previously about my struggle with dressing appropriately in my “You are what you wear” posts (Part 1 & Part 2), but on really hot days I still want very badly to throw on a pair of shorts. There’s a part of me that still mourns the fact that while I live here, I will never be able to wear a pair of shorts outside of the house.
- Driving – We don’t have a car, which isn’t too detrimental to us at this time because public transportation is so accommodating, but I haven’t driven since I left the States. I miss being able to hop in my car and go to the grocery store or to see a friend. I also miss being able to get from point A to point B in less than 15 minutes with minimal traffic. That doesn’t really exist here. Oh, it was also nice that people actually obeyed traffic laws too.
- Candy – Oh Dollar Tree, how I miss thee. How I used to frequent your aisles and buys gads and gobs of candy to satisfy my sweet cravings. Candy here may say “Twix”, but it will most certainly not taste like the Twix I know. They have Cadbury’s, which is pretty good, but a Cadbury chocolate bar costs as much as a bag of ugali flour, which can last us a few weeks, so it’s a bit of a splurge. Aside from that, Kenyans don’t generally favor a lot of sugar in their food, so even cake just isn’t the same. We did go to a cake festival last weekend and there were some stand outs that redeemed my faith in Kenyan cake.
- Long phone conversations – A typical Kenyan will not be on the phone longer than five minutes. The majority of phones are prepay, and people generally just top up 10-100 shillings at a time . To call someone can be 2-5 shillings per minute, so Kenyans have perfected the art of keeping phone conversations short and sweet. People constantly run out of airtime mid-conversation too, so if you don’t say what you need to say quickly, too bad.
- Chicken – Chicken here are about half the size of our hormone filled birds, so there’s very little meat on their bones and the meat is generally pretty tough. Beef is even worse. I like to be able to swallow my meat without fully chewing. Mmm, that’s some tender stuff right there. You have to give meat here a good 10-15 chews before swallowing. That’s not always the case though. I have had some great chicken at some restaurants, and Ray’s cousin has made some of the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life (she knows her way around the kitchen). When we visit Ray’s grandparents, his grandmother gives me four pieces of chicken because she’s been to America and she knows… she knows.
- Security – We lock our home with a padlock. I used to be able to leave my house without locking the door at all. ‘Nuff said.
I have no doubt that when we finally return to the States I’ll have a long list of things I miss from our home here in Kenya, so I appreciate all the wonderful things I’ve gained from living here, but it will be nice to get to sit in my car and talk on the phone while eating a bag of candy again some day.