It was very warm in Kenya, we went in December which is the equivalent to the summer here. The difference is it’s Africa and the equator runs right through Kenya so the sun there is extremely intense, especially when you are a very fair skinned person and it doesn't let up much at night. We walked a ways through the airport, me holding Malik and still in my valor sweat suit and UGGS. About five minutes in, sweating, pitting out, I look at Mark and say, “why is it so damn hot in here? Is the air conditioner on?” He laughed and said, “Welcome to Kenya babe, no air conditioner”. We get down to the baggage claim and there is one baggage carousel, one carousel for hundreds of bags. Mark says keep an eye out make sure no one leaves with one of our bags.
“What?! Why would someone…”
Mark interrupted, “hold onto the kids and let me know if someone walks off with one of our bags”
There were hundreds of people in the airport and hundreds more outside waiting to pick up the passengers. We are not in Kansas anymore I thought to myself. I stood there with the kids while my husband frantically tried to collect our eight full sized suitcases. He got seven and after some time realized that we had lost one somewhere. He sent me outside of the airport with his mom, while he filed a claim about the lost bag.
Apparently a lot of American Kenyans come home during the Christmas holiday and many people know this. So everyone shows up to pick you up from the airport. People were standing outside the airport door holding signs and waiting to see their loved ones. I was completely overwhelmed at this point because I was without my husband and I didn’t know what any of his relatives looked like. As soon as we got out the door, people surround us start hugging me and exclaiming over the kids, I’m saying hi and hoping I’m not breaking any cultural salutation rules as people introduce themselves to me. Each told me, I am your aunty, I am your uncle, and I am your cousin. These are the people that I met at the airport. I had never felt so welcome to a place in all of my life. Mark’s uncle would wait for him there while the kids and I rode with one of his aunts to his grandparent’s farm about 45 minutes away.
We got to the car, “I didn’t bring car seats”, I said. They laughed and said it’s not a big deal just get in the car and put the seat belt around you and the baby, Kaya can sit on one of our laps. I was uncomfortable yet I did it, I didn’t think I would get used to the no car seat things but you do. It’s not normal to put your kid in a car seat there. Seat belt yes but a car seats like they have in the U.S., no.
We drove away from the airport at midnight Kenya time and as we started to drive I noticed that there were four lanes of traffic but the cars were not in any real lane. Some buses were going off of the side of the road to pass everyone. Before I thought on it too long, “so are there lanes or do you just drive wherever you want?” slipped out. Laughter erupted throughout the car and his aunt who was driving said, “Here you have to be aggressive when you drive. There are traffic laws but they are not really followed.” Deep breath, I thought to myself, let go control and be open to the experience. We drove another 40 minutes or so to farm that Mark grew up on, twisted down a dark bumpy road until we arrived at the house.
We got out and were greeted by Mark’s grandparents. They are older but aged extremely well (this is the fate of all Kenyans actually). His grandmother grabbed me and held onto me tight saying something in Kikuyu (key-coo-you). She had the most genuine and loving energy of any person I had ever met in my life. She smiled at me then motioned for me to sit. They had tea waiting. We drank tea, and showered and then went to sleep.
I awoke to nurse my son in the morning, and then took my daughter to the bathroom. I walked down a hallway that opened up to a living room with huge windows. I had to blink a couple of times to refocus on the brilliance that was in front of me. I stood in front of the window and was in awe of the beauty. There were flowers and not just any flowers but huge brilliant flowers and they were everywhere. It was so green with trees and farm and flowers everywhere you looked. I stood at the window and before I ate breakfast, grabbed my camera and my shoes and ran outside to try to take in all of the beauty. This is what I saw:
Check in next week for another installment of My Journey. If you’ve missed previous installments catch up on them here! My story of Kenya will probably last a couple of posts because I have so much to write about it!