Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Journey - Kenya - Baggage Claim and Revelations

In the last “My Journey” post I highlighted some of the really great things that I love about Kenya but as with anything, it is not perfect. I was in a spectacular place, with really great people but I was struggling and trying to get a grasp on my health situation among all of the newness that was around me. The one thing that was a blessing and a curse was that I had packed all of my medications, with the exception of what I would need for the plane ride, in one of my checked bags. This just so happened to be the bag that was lost somewhere in Europe. I was without that bag for a week and without my anti-depressants for a week. When you are on such medications it is a really bad idea to just stop taking them. In this case I didn’t have them so I didn’t really have much of a choice. I was off of the meds for six days and during that time I was able to realize how huge of a hold these medications had over my mind. I came crashing down...hard. For the first couple of days there were long random moments of crying. This coupled with the complete disarray that I was in over being in a completely different place made for a doosey of a time.

Kenyans in general are very composed and rarely show emotion so to have this blubbering white chick around was not going to go over well. I spent the a lot of the first week in my room pretending to be “sick” to avoid Mark’s family seeing me in the state that I was in. This did give me ample amounts of time to sit with myself and to think about the situation of my health. I realized that the drugs, undoubtedly, were changing my mood. I realized that I hadn’t cried since I had been on them. I realized that I hadn’t really felt much of anything since being on them. I realized that as soon as I was suddenly off of them, my mind kept wandering back to many “issues” that I carried guilt over from my past.  I also noticed something different happening after being in Kenya for a couple of days. My body felt really great, even when I was off of the medications. I felt vibrancy inside of me that I hadn’t felt in years but emotionally I could barely hold it together.

I am a big journaler and  although my head was spinning from the lack of anti depressants, I wrote down my new revelations that I was having and vowed to deal with them on a later date. A week after being in Kenya my bags finally came and I decided to take the anti depressants so to stop my head from spinning and to help take away the constant crying and emotion that I was experiencing, I was not yet ready to deal with it all. That week of solitude gave me a good amount of time to adjust. But even just being in the house, there were things going on that aided in huge perspective changes on my part. One thing that is for sure in Kenya, is that the power is not a for sure situation. The first time that the power went out we were all sitting around the dinner table. It went out and everyone except for me continued on as if nothing had happened. Conversation kept on and food was still being eaten. About a minute into it, I blurted out, “its pitch black in here, am I the only one who noticed that the power went out?” Laughter erupted and they started lighting candles around the house and explained that it is very common, especially out on the farm where we were, to have frequent loss of power. And I realized just how true that statement was! There was a good week without ANY power which means no hot water. They had big coal burning units that we heated water with to take “baths” in. And I say “baths” because it was really just a large bucket and a water pitcher. In this instance I realized that although I wasn’t bathing in my shower with its ten setting shower head, I was still clean at the end of the day and not even any less clean. I was the same amount of clean with the bucket and the pitcher as I was using gallons of softened water back home.

Another thing that was a huge realization for me was the pureness of the food in Kenya. We were eating fresh, beautiful, clean food. Nothing processed, nothing added, just real fruits, veggies, meat, and dairy and I felt really great on the inside. I realized that there had to be something to this. When we went to the markets even the people who were selling the produce and goods had great skin and straight white teeth, they were healthy. There were people walking every where. Women with a baby strapped to each side and a huge bundle of firewood balancing on her head were seen frequently. As a whole, working class Kenya's work much harder than the average American. There is no large scale government aid for the poor so each person has some sort of hustle that they are pushing to make ends meet. It was very hard for me to sit and have any sort of self pity on myself when everywhere I went I saw people struggling. They were struggling but they were happy. This juxtaposition really blew my mind. If I was in many of those peoples situations, I would not be happy. So how could they be?

One of the greatest realization during that first trip was the disgusting mount of over-consumption and fantasy that American’s live in. I realized that to live, and even to live well, you don’t need as much as you think you would. I realized how much American’s spend on holidays and how spoiled American children are. When you drive by a slum in Kenya with millions of people in it, when you see children with no shoes and tattered clothing, when you see whole families living in tin structures the size of one of my bathrooms, when you see people starving and pan handling just to feed themselves just once a day, you are changed. And when you see these same people still smiling, laughing, children playing with an old tire and a stick, mothers loving their children, and happiness inside their eyes, you are even more changed. You begin to realize how great your life is and how much you have. The idea of what is important becomes very clear and everything else seems to stop being important and it falls away from your minds existence. It was these sorts of moments over a six week time frame that changed my life and the person that I am, forever. I left Kenya a different person, I had a new lens with which to view my life with and I was ready to make some big changes.

Check in next week for another installment of My Journey. If you’ve missed previous installments catch up on them here!


  1. Yeah!! I've been waiting for a new post! Love this :)

    1. I've had so much going on lately that blogging has taken a back seat! I will have a new post up shortly!

  2. I had a very similar reaction when I tried going off of my anti depressants...I'm interested to see if you go off of them and how. Good posts :)