My cell phone alarm wakes me up. I open my eyes and hear roosters crowing outside and the honking of a car horn that inevitably occurs around 6:45 every morning. I walk to the bathroom and turn on the shower, hoping that there is water, and if there is, that it is hot. Lately, I have been disappointed since two weeks ago, the water suddenly turned to mud, and didn’t turn back – resulting in the shower head getting all sorts of messed up, and me covered in dirt. Since then, I have to get out the big pot and heat up some water on the stove so I can bathe myself out of a bucket.
Clean, but not refreshed, I leave the house to walk to work. Along the way, I will usually encounter a couple school buses (more like vans), blaring rap music and full of wide-eyed children staring, pointing and laughing at the muzungu (“white person”). I’ll continue walking along the half-paved road that looks like it was a victim of a meteor shower the previous night, while the owners of kiosks will stare at me with a guarded curiosity that hasn’t faded after four months of walking past them day and night.
After crossing the busy highway, which involves impeccable timing and agility to avoid getting hit, and saying no to several offers of taxis from drivers who I am pretty sure I say no to every morning, I arrive at the building where the USK office is.
I pass the guard with the shotgun and press the button to go up the elevator. I stand there wishing that no one who works on the 4th floor enters with me, but surely they often do. If it is a good day, I will make it to the 5th floor with no incident, but on more than one occasion, we will reach the 4th floor and the doors of the elevator will refuse to open. After being trapped in the elevator for about a minute, we will be able to force the doors open with some teamwork and I will exit to walk the flight of steps to the 5th floor.
A day at the office usually goes without incident, unless, of course, you count co-workers trying to convince me to find a Kenyan man to marry, sometimes even bringing bachelors to my desk to awkwardly introduce us.
If I leave the office after dark, I have to walk to the corner to find a taxi home. Usually, the drivers will start their price around double or triple the “African” price, but after a little drama, including walking away and forcing the driver to yell after me, I can get it down to a reasonable level, but never what a Kenyan would pay.
Returning home after a long day, I wash the dirt of the city off not just my face, but my hands and feet as well. I’ll cook some dinner and relax before heading off to bed, where I lie listening to the loud croaks of some frog-like animal that likes to use my windowsill as his soapbox every night. I will sink deep into my foam mattress and drift off to sleep, dreaming of a steady water supply, sane drivers, and the events of another day that make life in Nairobi anything but normal.
Posted By Kristina Rosinsky
Posted Sep 28th, 2008