Saturday, December 20, 2008

A little taste of Kenya

I decided to take some pictures of the streets and the people as we were driving one day. I rarely have the camera with me and I am usually driving, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

Although some of the pictures are from an area about 20 minutes from our home, it is somewhat similar. The roads are the same if not worse, but there are always street vendors everywhere, on every corner, selling their most recent creations. They make everything here by hand and right there on the side of the road, even the staining. It is amazing sometimes to see what they start at the beginning of the day and see what beautiful masterpiece has been made at the end of the day. They are truly talented people.

Traffic is crazy. And with no traffic lights and no stop or yield signs, a 4 way traffic stop can be a tad bit difficult. A true free for all, if you can imagine. They also have a lot of roundabout traffic circles here too. Once you enter the circle, the more aggressive car wins. :)

Oh, and we haven't yet tried out that Chinese restaurant. I am sure it is most definitely the best quality around town. Ha

Enjoy the pics...
I can not get these darn pictures to line up correctly, so forgive the horrible collage of photos.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Perspective On Christmas

I wrote this well before Christmas as you can tell, but forget to send it.


I had another one of those moments here in Africa this week.

I was very excited to be decorating our Christmas tree this year as we were able to borrow our neighbors tree who went home for the holidays. We would actually have a normal size tree this year instead of our small Charlie Brown tree. As I decorated the tree, I was very happy, smiling, adding lights and ornaments while my housekeeper watched Chase (she was holding him so that he would not pull anything off the tree). We starting chatting about the holidays and I asked our housekeeper if they put up a tree in their community. She said normally they get a branch and put some lights on it. The lights they said cost around 200 Kenyan Shillings. This is about 1/3 of what they make in one day and comes to approximately $2.

Of course I felt a little embarrassed. However this is a feeling you get often along with many other emotions living here in Africa. You feel so lucky to have so much but then again, you know they barely have anything. What you begin to realize however is that they are good and happy people (for the most part). They cherish the things they have as well as the opportunities they are given. They do not roll their eyes in hatred at you for having more, they are respectful and honored to be a part of your home, your life, your family.

It has only been a few short months since we have been here, but I have a whole new perspective on the "things" that are important to us; of course our family, our health and our safety. It is now that I am take a second look at those little things that I thought seemed so important. At the end of the day, the month, the year, you wonder why did I need that and why was that "thing" so significant in my life? After moving as often as we have in such a short period of time, you have these moments a lot. However, now all those moments take on a different meaning. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. We will keep many souvenirs from our travels and hold on to many precious moments of our life, and of course, if any of you know me well enough, we will keep many many pictures. But I think it is going to make me thing twice about holding on to things and continue to think twice about those less fortunate than myself.

This place, after only 5 months, will continue and will always make a lasting impression on the way I look at life and its values. And I am sure many people can empathize as they realize that today our lives are different than we thought and our future will be different than we might have imagined. But the important things in life are not "things", they are our family, our friends, our health, and our happiness with one another. This is the meaning of life.

I will celebrate a wonderful Christmas this year with my family and also my Mom who is coming out in just a few days. I will have presents for my Mom and my husband, presents for the children and Santa will of course come to our home. And you know what... I will enjoy every single second! But it will still be different because of my short time here in Africa. I will think more about those that will not have this kind of a day and will think less about what else I could have gotten the kids. I will enjoy in what the true meaning of Christmas is; the sacrifices that have been made for me and my family, the joy of life itself and the celebration of each other.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Bizaar Bazaar for Shopping

On December 6th, we went to a great Bazaar for some Christmas shopping. It was much like something you would see in the US for a state fair or carnival, but without all of the rides. It took place at a horse race track. All the vendors had tents set up and there was straw laid out all over the race track. This is on top of the RED horrible dirt that you see everywhere here. It made for dirty clothes, but it was certainly an interesting way to do some Christmas shopping!

They had face painting, jumping castles and even clowns and performers for the kids. And they even had Santa (surprisingly a Caucasian man) but he also seemed to be a either a tad bit tipsy, extremely old or maybe just really tired. Ha. All I know is that despite appearances, Hannah was absolutely thrilled to see Santa! It was her first siting although we did not get to meet him this particular time.

For me, the shopping was awesome! They had everything from baskets, pottery, jewelry, handmade wood furniture and even your favorite Obama t-shirts. And everything was made here in Africa and mostly by villages or missionaries who would then get a majority of the proceeds. You can't beat that and it was a lot of fun. They even had lots of alcohol for the adults (the guys-ha). The perfect environment for the whole family. Ha Ha

Below are a few pictures of the kids with their faces being painted as well as some of the bazaar.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Halloween

We had a great Halloween at the Rosslyn Ridge compound. It is a nice compound of over 80 homes that basically looks like any normal neighborhood. We however live on a smaller compound of only 20 homes. We enjoyed being there and getting to visit so many houses for Hannah's first real trick or treating. We were not quite sure what she would do and as expected, she was ready to stop and eat her one piece of candy after the first house. After we bribed her telling her that she could have more candy (meaning Tom could have more candy) if she went to another house, she finally dragged along. We were the last ones left of over 100 kids, but she was very cute and we had a lot of fun. Although some of the houses had already turned off their lights by the time we got to their homes. Regardless, Hannah had a good time and Chase was a trooper in the stroller the whole night. They both lasted until after 9 pm. Wow!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Piper is Here!

After 4 long months of no Internet and no Piper, they both have finally arrived! We could not be happier for Piper to be here, we missed her horribly but know she was well taken care of by our family back in Atlanta. Thanks Dads!

It was a tough trip for Piper as she had to leave Atlanta Tuesday evening, arrive in Paris, France Wednesday morning around 10 am, then leave Paris to go to Nairobi at 7 pm that evening (spending the whole day in Paris by herself). She then arrived in Nairobi around 6 am on Wednesday our time. We were very nervous and rightfully so as we have heard many stories about pets getting lost, getting out of their crates at the termial and things I can not even think about during layovers and transitions. Horrible stories!

So, when we got the call from our contact at the airport that no pets arrived off of the plane from Paris...I am sure you can imagine our reaction. I was Hysterical!! I called Tom crying wondering if something horrible had happened, if she has taken the wrong flight from Paris to who knows what country or possibly someone stealing our wonderful little Piper. Who knows? I called my Dad around 2 am his time frantic and did not know what to do. He was calling France checking with the airlines and Tom was trying to work his angle at the Embassy while I sat patiently awaiting some phone call from someone telling me our sweet little Piper was OK, even if she was still stuck in Paris.

After waiting a very long two hours to get any sort of news about Piper, we finally received the call. She DID actually make the flight and that they had been misinformed. Eeeeeggghhh!! For those of you that have pets I know you can empathize.

Now she is safe in our new home in Nairobi with Hannah chasing her around the house, constantly using her as a pillow to lay on and Chase chewing on her paws and grabbing her fur any chance he can get. She is yet again, part of the busy Rhodes family...full force whether she likes it or not. Ha

If she has any complaints it is that in her nice but small backyard only has about a 10 x 10 foot square of red dirt, the rest of the yard is stone. Our little Piper is so spoiled that our snooty world traveling dog will not go pee-pee or poopy on the dirt and we have to walk up to the playground in order for her to go to bathroom in the grass.

Oh Pippee, we missed you...

National Holiday in Kenya

Well, not only do the Kenyans believe that "their son" has now become president of the United States, but they have made November 6th a Kenyan National Holiday in honour of Barack Obama. The Kenyans have a number of holidays and I have not quite figured them all out yet; however, what I do know is that Tom has been off work for about 4 or 5 extra days this month. I can't argue with that!

I have attached a few pics of the local newspapers from November 6th. In one paper there is a full page picture of Barack Obama for your wall if you would like to hang it up. :) Or of course they also have t-shirts, flags, rugs and banners if you are intereseted in any of those as well.

However my favorite Barack Obama item they have here in Kenya by far is a new rap song. They play it at least 15 times a day on the awesome radio station named Ghetto Radio. We also have one other station we can listen to, Indian music. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The United States Presidential Kenya!

It was quite the experience to be living here in Nairobi, Kenya during the United States Presidential Elections. It was difficult to follow coverage as we only had CNN covering everything. But as you know, all the channels pretty much say the same thing.

No one here was really sure what would happen here in Kenya when we received the election outcome. Would there be riots if he did not win? Would the streets be crazy if he did win? Neither happend (although many were prepared if they did), but it was certainly the most talked about event that has happend to this country (the country of Kenya) in a very long time. It was so strange to me that even though Barack Obama's father was from Kenya, that they would have such a connection to him, almost as if he was running for President here in the country of Kenya. It was quite an interesting experience to be here amongst the Kenyans during this time. I am sure it is a time I will always remember and I am sure never to forget.

When we first moved here I was surprised that whenever you would meet a Kenyan, they would all mention Barack Obama since they knew you were from the United States. He will be your next president, they would say. It is so wonderful, they said. I would smile nicely and nod my head wondering if they actually knew that we really didn't know if he would be President or not and that we had not even had our elections yet. They when make sure to tell me that his grandmother lives here and that he comes to visit here. All as if they knew him personally.

Now a little side note about Africa:
Everyone is of course from tribes and/or villages. There are many, I have no idea how many, but there are a lot. They have their immediate family members, but they also have many other aunts, uncles, brothers, and many grandparents all whom live in their village, their tribe...and they are ALL family. An example of this made itself clear many times with friends when one of their gardeners would say his mother had died. Then the next month she died again, and two months later his mother died yet again. If you had no idea of their connections with their village and their community you would of course not believe them. And on top of all that, they have to get paid time to go to the funerals (normally around 2 weeks) and you are expected to give money to help in their travels to get to the funeral (as sometimes it can be all the way to West Africa) and the expense of the funeral. So having a death can be quite an expense for an employer as you can see.

So anyway, when people speak of Barack Obama, I am not sure if they are from his grandmother's village of if they know his grandmother, but he is a Kenyan through and through and there is no doubt they are VERY proud and honored that he was even running for the presidency of the United States, but obvioulsy thrilled now that he going to be President.

Moment of Zen:
My moment of zen today was when I asked my housekeeper what it meant to her that Obama was now president of the United States. Her English is not great, but she said they were happy. I asked her what that meant for her people? She said we know now that we will get taken care of and that we will not have to worry anymore. This of course made me a little confused and also very sad. In my mind I wondered what she was expecting from our US President? What did she really think he could do for the country of Kenya?

I do hope, after living here in Kenya, that the president can do something for these people. But if anything, I think Barack Obama brings them hope just as he has brought so many American people. Personally, I did not vote for Obama, but I do put my trust in our next president and hope he will do the right thing for our country and our people. And I also believe in our system, in our democracy, our freedoms and hope that one day all people will have this, even hopefully one day, the people of Kenya.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We made it to Kenya!

Well, we made it to Kenya safe and sound, in case you didn't know. It has been a busy few months, but we are settling in very well. We received our household shipment from Israel a few weeks ago and now feel a bit more adjusted and feel a bit more at home in our new place. The one main problem is that we have had no Internet access. This by far has been the hardest as we have not been able to keep in touch with people as much as we would like.

I had every intention of starting a blog when we went to Israel but have finally decided now would be as good a time as any. As you will see from the blog, I started it a few times last year but never kept up with it. But knownow I will...promise! (as long as I can get online-ha). I found out by trial and error that downloading pictures onto a program like Shutterfly will take days, so this is going to have to work best, just a few at a time. I know the grandparents will not be happy about this, but is the best we can do for now.

Africa in general is nice. It is still a third world country that is a bit hard to adjust to, but overall I think it will be a fun 2 years. I managed to get over the driving on the left side of the road on the right side of the car thing. However, with the many pedestrians walking in the street, it can become a bit difficult swerving out of their way, avoiding pot holes and trying not to hit oncoming traffic.

There should be some fun stories to tell so please keep posted and bare with me as I try to figure out this blog thing. Hope you will enjoy our fun adventures!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Our First Safari

We went on our first safari this weekend to the Nairobi National Park. It was only 45 minutes away from our house(without traffic). We got up somewhat early, around 6:30 am and arrived at the park around 8 am. It was a long day in the car for the kids, but all in all, it was a great trip and we got to see lots of animals. There were lots of zebras and girafffes as well as ostrich, peacocks, gazelle, wildebeasts, crocodiles, warthogs and all sorts of different birds. Our only disappointment was not getting to see any lions or tigers. Supposedly you have to get up before 6 am to see those. Maybe next time.

Chase with Zebras behind him crossing the road and Hannah with a Giraffe.

A beautiful view of the park. It is hard to believe that downtown Nairobi is only 30 minutes away.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yo Gabba Gabba! if you have seen this strange show, Yo Gabba Gabba on Nick Jr., then you know. Its freaky! However, my sweet child is addicted to it and I can not help but let her watch every now and then. She likes it so much, I decided to make her these no sew dolls for her to play with and they are pictured below. IF you want to see how freaky this show really is, go to the site........and you will see. How are you to deny your child when they ask for it when they wake up, all day long and when they go to bed? I am convinced it is just because she loves the dancing and likes to say, Gabba Gabba. :) You decide....