1. Africa is dusty. Anything and everything you wear (bar intimates) gets covered in the terracotta-colored dust on roads, ditches and fields. It gets particularly bad in the dry season, we hear, and will only get worse in Jan-March (it’s dry now as well). At the end of a long day, you find it under your nails, on your clothes (all shoes turn brown in a matter of days), in your nose, in your hair and in your room. Makes for some dramatic scenes driving along dirt roads at sunset (the colors are stunning), but can get very frustrating when trying to scrub it off clothes in a cold-water bucket after work.
2. Africa is dark. There are NO street lights to speak of (at least outside the very center of town) and consequently no light pollution either (you can see the Milkyway in the sky at night!). Although our town is safe, people (including locals) don’t venture out at night without a cab.
3. Power comes at a premium. Outages are common; recently also toilet and shower outages at our hostel (always pleasant, especially given point nr 1).
4. Greetings REALLY matter. “Mambo” to which you reply “Poa” (translates roughly as “What’s up”, “(Things are) Cool”, ) is the ubiquitous greeting dished out to all but the most senior people you encounter (You greet them with “Shikamoo” which translates as “Hail”). It’s automatic and almost like a reflex for the locals also because you’re (almost) always expected to say “good”, regardless of your presumably fluctuating levels of happiness and well-being.
5. Mosquitoes have been surprisingly few and far between so far. I’ve only gotten stung once and we’ve been really good about covering up at sunset and using the nasty DEET sprays we brought with us. Fingers crossed all this high-altitude-few-mosquitos goodness continues in the coming weeks although we hear they’ll come out in droves during and after the short rainy season in November.
(We had a great day today, visiting the Amani farm, painting cardboard box houses with the kids, playing football – more on all that later…)
Much love to you all, we miss you.