Leaving a place we have called home for several years, there is always a temptation to make a mental list of the things we will miss, and a corresponding list of other local peculiarities we will happily do without.
Posts tagged ‘Nairobi’
In Nairobi, almost all of our friends either had young kids or were actively trending in that direction. Though at times we felt a bit left out, we were not ready for children. We had gotten married two weeks before arriving in Kenya — our first posting with the State Department — and we did not want to jump into parenthood right away. So, we got a puppy instead. Some friends joked that Emmie was our proto-baby. Watching her interact with Munchkin now, it seems there was quite a bit of truth to that jokey statement.
On one of our safaris in Kenya, we visited a tribe of Maasai. These warriors live in mud-and-stick dwellings under the open skies of the African plains. When the youths complete their rites of passage, they marry and leave their parental homestead to start a new settlement. This tradition produces a curious cyclical effect: because the young tribesmen all embark upon married life around the same time, their kids also tend to be born one right after another. Our globetrotting lifestyle could not be much further removed from the lives of the Maasai, but even though we are far away from many of our friends, in a way we too feel like we belong to a tribe. Like tends to attract like, and now that we have started filling our social media posts with baby updates and photos, we have also become keenly aware of just how many friends we have who are going through the same stages of parenthood at roughly the same time as us.
With the clock ticking down on the last hours of the year, we indulged in a bit of nostalgia, looking through our photographs from the past twelve months and reliving the highlights of a busy and adventure-filled year. We split 2013 between three continents, starting the year in Kenya, spending the summer months on home leave in the United States, and moving to Moldova in August. In addition to exploring a bit of our own homeland, we set foot in eight other countries, and hope to visit many others in the coming year.
I wasn’t scared one bit. Oh, ok — you got me. I am not being entirely truthful. I just told you a small white lie. Truth be told, I was a tad nervous, but I can’t help it: I was born nervous. My mother might have attributed it to bad genes or the fact that I never knew my father, but I never got the chance to ask her. She was run over by a car when I was barely a week old. Foster care. Adoption. My siblings were scattered to the four winds.
While we were busy reliving last month’s travels, winter has quietly crept up on us. Not only has the cold set in again after a pleasantly mild October, but also the days have gotten much shorter — a phenomenon we had happily forgotten in two years of living on the equator. And now that we’ve set the clocks back for winter, nightfall begins well before 5pm. By the time D leaves work, pitch-black darkness has already engulfed Moldova’s unevenly illuminated capital, significantly raising the bar for what makes going out worthwhile.
During the two years we spent in Nairobi we rarely saw our Kenyan colleagues socially. Friends serving at other posts recounted how they were invited to every birthday and wedding, even when the inviter was barely related to the people whose marriage was being celebrated. We had friendly relationships with many of our colleagues in Nairobi, but they tended to stop at the edge of the Embassy compound. That’s why we were very excited to be invited to a wedding soon after our arrival in Moldova. One learns a lot about a culture from its celebrations, and weddings in Moldova are very important.
After a busy week, we were looking forward to catching up on our blog this weekend. Last week we attended a colleague’s wedding and, having finally sorted through the photos, we were hoping to share some of our impressions and the joy of their celebration with our readers. After the events of this weekend, however, it has been difficult to focus on our small lives and marshall our thoughts away from the tragedy unfolding in our previous home in Kenya.