Our Home is Not Our Own….

When some people back home imagine life in Africa, they often envision images of Masai Tribesmen tending cattle, African Mamas precariously balancing water jugs on their heads, and small children playing in the dust outside their families dung hut. If you visit Kenya, or other countries in Africa, you will undoubtedly see these images, as they exist in abundance. However, Nairobi is a bustling city that has a thriving middle class (unfortunately the divide between rich and poor is vast and extremely bottom heavy). We are fortunate enough to live on a beautiful campus in a suitable home. The “sacrifices” we have made (other than being away from our family) have been quite minimal. We have access to nice restaurants, movie theaters, well stocked grocery stores, and very nice hospitals (Sophie will be born at Aga Kahn Hospital here in Nairobi and, no, she won’t be delivered by a witch doctor). We of course miss restaurants back home, have changed our diets slightly due to the excessive prices of chicken and other products, and have had to get to use to furniture that’s comfort level is less than ideal. But all in all, life here isn’t that much different for us. One thing we have had to get used to is that our home is not our own. We have learned to accept that certain creatures are going to share our living space. We have several house geckos that run across our walls and ceilings, timidly watch us in the shower, and hide in dark places that we occasionally have to reach into just to find one of our friends (we actually love these little guys now and if we go a few days without seeing one we, well Jamie, will search for them). We have a wide variety of ants in our house that just can’t be killed, and as long as they aren’t the type that will get into food we have accepted them as housemates. We frequently find large furry worms crawling across our tile floor and have recently started finding crickets that like to hide in the far corner of our hallway, which is the perfect spot to cause their chirping to reverberate off the tile floor and disperse throughout the house. The other day we opened the curtains to find a huge banana slug methodically slithering down the fabric. The presence of these creatures is highly due to the beautiful and temperate climate we live in. Most of the time our windows are open in order to capitalize on the sublime weather and there are several “ventilation” shafts throughout the house that are for the same purpose. The windows and ventilation shafts have screens but the creatures still find ways in. The most annoying of all are the flying termites. Whenever it rains (which is almost every evening right now) termites flock out of their mounds. They are attracted to lights so they swarm porches and infest homes. The shed their wings and many of them die in the rain, so they day following a rainstorm you can find termite wings and remains strewn all over your porch, and often, inside your home. We once made the mistake of leaving the windows open and a light on in the living room while we were out. As luck would have it a rainstorm hit while we were away. After spending 45 minutes sweeping up termites and wings when we returned home, we vowed to never make that mistake again and we improved the screening on our windows. It is actually a custom in Kenya (for some, not all) to eat these termites. Needless to say we haven’t been hungry enough to try them just yet. The plus side to our critter infestation is that we have yet to find any rodents (which we can agree are the worst kind of critter to find in your home).  We do have Vervet Monkeys that occasionally climb on our house (and as of last week break the frame on our back porch), but they haven’t moved inside yet.

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