First night in Kenya

I got off the plane to face my first obstacle- the visa people would not accept the money I had specifically set apart to pay for my visa. The rest of my money was hidden under my dress- not exactly easy access! Their reason? All my $50 bills were too old! They were from before 2004. Thankfully, after a few moments of searching through my stuff I managed to find $50 from the year 2004 I had hidden away. Whew.

Moving on, I went to claim my luggage. There was only one bag. Right before we had left my one duffle bag had ended up weighing 58 pounds instead of 50, so I ran inside and got a smaller bag for some of the heavier stuff. In it, I put whatever was on top of my big duffel- books and two 72 oz. bags of chocolate chips. Guess which bag showed up? Not the one with my clothes, toiletries, video tapes, clean underwear and socks! At least I have my chocolate and books. It just adds to the adventure I guess. Six weeks in Africa with only the clothes on my back! Really, a dream!

I had to travel 5 hours by car today to a remote part of the Great Rift Valley and there is no way I can go back (it would be about a $500 trip) to get it! So, I am hoping they will bring it to me for free whenever they locate it. Otherwise they’ll have to ship it back to the USA. At least for the next few days I will be roughing it!

As I walked out, kind of flustered, with my small little bag full of chocolate, I met Patrick. I hadn’t known what or who to look for but he was holding up my name and I was pretty relieved something was going right. We called the hospital, told them the deal, and then started our long, bumpy journey to Tenwek.

Along the way we were stopped by the police. Police with big riffles and machetes I might add. After Patrick talked it out with officers for twenty minutes, they started questioning me, but I didn’t understand them. I did understand that they were asking for money claiming that because we were missing lifesavers (triangle safety things) they would only let us go if we bribed them.

With thoughts of theft, rape, and murder, I told them I didn’t have any (a TOTAL lie), but they kept asking. I explained my suitcase had been lost at the airport. Then, they climbed in the car with their guns. In my head I was like, “Oh, fuck.” So I offered them some of my M&M’s and they smiled and grudgingly got out of the car!!

Lesson learned- chocolate and smiles go a long long way.

I arrived at Tenwek just in time for lunch. I met some fellow visiting staff, and was fed by a Kenyan family. It was a LOT of fun getting to talk to them. There’s another girl staying at the guesthouse with me – Petra, she’s from Germany, in her last year of med school, and here for the entire time I am.

After a long lunch, I got part of a tour, met some more people (there are over 500 people who work for Tenwek!!!), and was left to rest. Then I went to Lizah Kuyaya’s for dinner with her husband and niece, Maria. The food has been delicious, and I haven’t been asked to eat anything crazy (like in SA.. sheeps tongue or stomach or whatever it was!). I am in REALLY good hands!! Whenever I pass anyone they introduce themselves and are really friendly. Sadly, the White’s just left on a vacation for three weeks, so they are not here :(. I have yet to meet anyone my own age, but that’s okay!

Prayer Requests: 1) For my duffel bag, or I figure out a way to do without everything and still look presentable! 2) Health, I have a pesky cough that won’t go away. 3) Confidence and knowledgableness. I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I am really excited about meeting people, but the first question everyone asks is what I’m here to do if I’m not a doctor. Tomorrow I meet with Jonathon and will find out about my job as a visiting staff member of the Community Health & Development team.

I’ve met so many awesome people today- the place is incredible, but I am exhausted and have not slept in like three days.

I could use a fresh beginning too, all of my regrets are nothing new. So this is the way that I say I need you. This is the way, this is the way that I’m learning to breathe. I’m learning to crawl. I’m finding that You and You alone can break my fall. I’m living again, awake and alive. I’m dying to breathe in these abundant skies. – Switchfoot, Learning to Breathe

1 comment

  1. Hey lovely, looks like your making it! I had to stifle laughing when I got your “I walked into a cow” line 🙂 And than I smiled again reading your stories! Only the one and only Julia DeSantis would offer the Kenyan military, scary guys with machetes and rifles, M&Ms. 🙂 Good thinking. Hope your bag shows up soon! Can’t wait to read more.

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