Settling In… (and in search of a creative title)

So it’s official.  In September I’m moving to a place called Slum Gardens.  Don’t worry.  Its looks nothing like the image the name projects.  There are about 14 people living on the compound, all split between about 4 houses.  Here I will have my own bedroom and bathroom.  While I really like my current roommate, it always goes without saying that having your own place is some sort of special.  Most of the other people at Slum Gardens are about my age and are there for 3 months – 6 months with the odd person staying longer.  It’ll be nice to meet some other people that really want to maximize their off-work hours and see the country too.

I forgot to mention earlier that there are monkeys who come to work with us!  I am fortunate to be in the new offices and apparently the monkey sightings these last few weeks (I’ve only heard of 2 monkeys) means that they are finally getting used to the new buildings.  The buildings have been built with a variety of self-sustaining/energy-saving technologies.  In the center there is an open-air atrium and the path is lined with tropical vegetation.  My initial thought was along the lines of ‘I am working in a building oddly similar to that in the movie Paycheck – so cool. I never guessed it would be like this.’  I suppose it makes sense when you have the environmental program and human settlements programme, all for sustainability and eco-friendly, in the same building.  We also have geckos in the office, which I don’t mind so much.  I’m just glad there are no spiders or cockroaches – not even coming up the drain when it rains!   Such a nice difference from Ghana.  On the topic of critters, I just fixed my bug net above my bed.  I was woken out of a deep slumber the other night by a sharp stinging on the back of my neck. Eww… there was no way I could sleep after that.  My mind racing a mile a minute all night means that,  yes, I have officially needed to try the coffee.  All in all, I still prefer tea, which I should; after all, I am in Kenya.

Friday was International Humanitarian Day so way to go to all my friends and fellow humanitarians out there, especially those working behind the scenes.  I celebrated Friday night (because every reason for a celebration is a good one) with another Canadian, Kyle, who started work the same day I did, and his Kenyan friends.  It was quite nice for a change to spend some time with people who grew up here.  Then Saturday we two Canucks explored the city some more and later headed to a restaurant for dinner with live jazz where I ran into some people from work and a co-worker was singing.  I guess this really is a small world; living in the expatriate bubble.

Sunday I met Danika for breakfast and we shared much laughter.  She completed the same post-graduate program I did and is here working in the shelter sector also, but with completely different work.  We planned out the following weekend, which I am so looking forward to!  This Sunday we plan to go, with three others, and ride bicycles through Hell’s Gate National Park.  You can ride alongside the buffalos, gazelles, zebras and giraffes without having to worry about lions, cheetahs or leopards.  Apparently the only thing to really watch out for is the massive lammergeyers (­or bearded vultures) that like to drop bones from high heights to crack them open for the marrow within.

The plan for Saturday is to visit the host family and organization my roommate used to live and work with in Kibera.  I’m looking forward to learning more about what she has been up to and also to better understand the context of urban developments.  I’ll have to share some stats with you on urban growth, particularly in developing countries.  It is quite astounding.

I will also share some really cool quotes I happened across that are quite related to my work.  Unfortunately however, that will also have to wait as I don’t have them with me now.  In the meantime I can honestly say that I still really like work, which is great!  I was at a Capacity Development workshop on Monday; Tuesday my boss took the time to sit down with me and sincerely ask what my objectives working here are; Wednesday (today) the work started piling; Thursday (tomorrow) some of the others in the office will show me what exactly they do.  We have a small branch – there are only about 10 of us, maybe, so I’m looking forward to knowing each person’s role/contribution.

Also, new to the German School Boarding House this weekend was a guy from Sweden who has been out in the field on a fellowship working for the World Food Programme.  He doesn’t know how long he’ll be here, as it sounds they’re going to ship him out to the field again, but I have a million-and-one questions for him so hopefully he doesn’t go too soon.

Today there was a ceremony as the world’s youngest nation, The Republic of South Sudan, was recognized with by flag raising.  Now their flag stands tall and proud in the procession of flags lining the still surreal, walkway.

Unfortunately I have to end this here.  There is still so much to say, so little time.  I will write again soon.  In the meantime, please forgive any grammatical errors as I am utterly exhausted.

Bon nuit  tout le monde!


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