So yesterday was our drop-off, where we're dropped off in small groups
all around the city and told to get information about a specific site.
My site was the NAIROBI HOSPITAL!! We walked in and asked if we could
walk around and check out the facilities, and she told us to write a
letter to the hospital CEO explaining who we were. So we did, and
waited an hour and a half (people don't really DO the on-time thing
here, which might be a rough adjustment for me. They follow Africa
time.) Then the receptionist took us ALL around the hospital -- it was
amazing! We went in the endoscopy ward, regular ward, children's ward,
maternity ward, delivery ward...
everywhere! The charge nurses in each ward showed us the rooms, even
ones with people in them! We saw a newborn baby pass us by, and
children with casts and head bandages sitting in their “basking room”
– a playroom in the sun. This hospital is private and was founded to
serve the European population... so it was really really really nice.
Which surprised me! But the other group went to the "black" public
hospital, Kenyatta, which was waaaay less nice. So interesting to see
the remnants of colonialism. I kept wondering… “Where does all this
money come from??” I’m sure I’ll be answered in time. Our hospital had
MRI machines, endoscopy scopes, beautiful "en suite" private rooms...
and is also the most expensive hospital in Kenya. It was beautiful,
with open balconies everywhere, but they will also turn you away if
you can't pay straight-up. Real talk. It's so interesting to see the
dichotomies and divisions, and I can't wait to learn more about the
healthcare structure here.
Today we went into the city with our Swahili teachers and did a
walking tour of Nairobi. It's so interesting -- it's a regular city,
but everything is like 30 or 40 years old and hasn't been kept up at
all. It's like there was a big influx of money, but then everything
was abandoned. The buildings are dirty and cracked, there's trash
everywhere, the buses are old and the upholstery is splitting. There
are people EVERYWHERE, and they're all staring at us! We totally stick
out -- we saw a total of 10 other white people the entire time we were
in the city. I've never been such a spectacle before!
We had lunch at this place called "Sizzlin", which was super yummy!
Everything in Kenya is super starchy, so I'm probably going to have a
little belly when I get back : ) I had "chicken fry", which is
actually fried chicken, with chopati -- a sweet-ish tortilla thing. SO
GOOD! A group of girls and I all ordered different dishes and shared
them with each other, which made me feel like I have friends : ) At
the hostel, we've been eating mashed potatoes with peas, chicken,
french fries, beef stew with chopati... etc.
Just dropped off my bags in my little hostel room in Nairobi! This has already been the best day of my life, probably. I met up with about 8 SIT kids in the Amsterdam airport, and I’m really excited to get to know them. They seem like cool kids : ) The flights went seamlessly, I got my visa, my bag wasn’t stolen or lost (although it was the third-to-last bag to be unloaded from the plane, so I was on the edge of panic watching the bags circle around the carousel…) Miltone, Jamal and Mary were there to welcome us. We hopped on a big bus with all our bags strapped to the top (precipitous!) and headed down bumpy Kenyan roads to a small Catholic church compound/ hostel. I was smiling out the window the whole way – it’s so hard to believe I’m actually here, after all the planning and anticipation! We ate a bit of dinner and then called it a night. My room is small, but I get my own bed complete with mosquito net above it! We’ll be staying at this hostel for a few days of our orientation.
Woke up and ate breakfast
Visited a GIRAFFE PRESERVE WHAT!?!?! I even got to French-kiss a giraffe (twigga, in Swahili.) Don’t worry, mom, giraffe saliva is antiseptic. Wikipedia that shit.
Came back and took a nap, but I woke up freezing because it’s so cold here! I’m wearing a sweatshirt over my fleece. It’s certainly not “Africa hot” here quite yet, which is kind of surprising.
Went to an orientation meeting and learned more about the classes: Health and Community Development seminar, Kiswahili instruction, Field Study Seminar and our final month-long independent study project. I can handle all this, but when they told us about THE DROP-OFF tomorrow, I kind of stopped breathing.
THE DROP-OFF. In itself, not so scary. In relation to me, an extreme reason for concern. In every SIT program, they drop off kids in groups of three all around the city. They then have to find their way back to the bus pick-up site. Not so hard, right? Hapana, bwana! (NO SIR!) I have absolutely zero zilch nada sense of direction. I always budget an extra 15 minutes driving time to account for the 3 U-turns I inevitably end up making. I hope my group-mates are more savvy than I.
I’ll just practice my Swahili with randos on the street. “Gina langu ni Hannah!” I’ll say. My name is Hannah! And they will reply, “Una toka wapi?” Where are you from? And I’ll say “Nina toka America!” And we will smile in mutual understanding.
Or, more likely, they’ll just say, “I speak English, stupid.”
I took my first malaria pill this morning -- accompanied by a Twix cheesecake I made last night, of course!
Yesterday, I was so worried that I'd have nightmares when I started my malarone. I ended up having a nightmare last night -- before I'd even taken my first pill. It's all in my head : )