D was fortunate enough to overlap with his predecessor for about a week, which was not quite enough time to learn everything he needed to know to do his job. But at least it afforded the opportunity to settle in before the full weight of the job was transferred to his shoulders (read: before everyone in the Embassy realized who he was and started directing work his way). He got a checklist of 30 offices he needed to visit in order to become acquainted with how the Embassy runs (he got through 26 and decided that was close enough). S likewise made several trips to the Embassy to attend various briefings (none of which were particularly brief) and to obtain her very own badge so that she could come and go without requiring an escort. Unlike D’s blue badge, S’s is yellow, meaning she doesn’t have a security clearance (yet), but at least she no longer has to be attached to D’s hip when she comes to the Embassy.
We are also feeling more at home in our new surroundings. Our first weekend, our social sponsors took us to an outdoor market that made S’s eyes glimmer the moment she set foot inside. There are few places that S likes visiting more than markets – fruits and vegetables, crafts, spices, you name it. A lot of the fruits and vegetables are similar to ones we’ve encountered in Latin America, though of course all the names are different. There were, however, a few new finds, most notably the aptly named pixie oranges from Sudan, which are small but so sweet and juicy that it feels like they are laced with pixie dust.
It also didn’t take S a long time to get the house in order. D’s predecessor recommended her house help – she had gone through 3 different housekeepers and as many gardeners before finally finding ones that were hardworking, honest, and trustworthy. We interviewed them, drew up contracts, and once D’s predecessor left post, they started working for us. S is very excited about our gardening possibilities and has gone plant and herb shopping with our gardener several times.
Most importantly, we got the house wired with internet. At first, we used the wifi connection at the Watering Hole, the bar/restaurant that’s on our compound, but we live just far enough away that we just get the signal in our backyard. Next, we tried the dongle, which sadly was not nearly as fun as it sounds. The dongle is essentially a USB modem that relies on one of the local cell phone companies for connectivity. It worked great at 2am, but was painfully slow in the afternoons and evenings. And with a dongle, you pay for the data you transmit, so skyping was out of the question. Finally, we caved, and decided to fork over the monthly fee to install DSL in the house. It still comes and goes, as does the electricity, for that matter. But most of the time, we are digitally connected with the outside world. Next on our list is acquiring a vehicle as Nairobi is definitely a driving city.