(What I Got) Out of Africa

A Brief Peace Corps Experience Told in Short Breaths and Countless Letters

Thursday, July 10, 2003

10 July 2003--Dear Family

Dear Family,
So I'm officially in Naivasha now. The plane arrived late last night, so we spent the night in a Methodist home in the Karen District of Nairobi. Since it was dark, we didn't see much through the windows of the little bus.

I roomed with Lisa and spent most of the night talking and being scared together. Our lives are really about to change. Despite our late night, we both got up, ready to get to our homes for the next few months.

Driving through Nairobi, even the outskirts, left me with the impression of trash. Trash everywhere. The roads are lined with green hills which, if you look closely, are actually trash. And of course, the hils themselves are covered in trash, too, mostly blue plastic bags which will never biodegrade. And so many people. As we left the city, my impressions of Kenya changed to green and brown. Along the highways there are no barrier or sidewalks. Just green growth overflowing everywhere.

After an hour, we reached the Rift Valley escarpment. Even though it was an overcast day, it was absolutely breathtaking. I can't even put it in words. Browns, greens, hills and the valley resting in the middle for miles. All I could think was, "Human existance began here." As we got closer to Naivasha, we saw Masai men wearing their destinctive black and red robes.

We passed through some towns, although the term is questionable. The towns are mostly shanties and shacks pressed together along dirt byways and I suddenly realize that I might live in a place like that. And I feel ashamed at the horror I feel looking at these house I might be sleeping in.

You must visit. You have to. You have to experience this poverty and desperate need. I've seen poverty, of course, but there has always been an upside. Poverty is the way of life here. Everyone lives like this. I can't really describe Kenya. It's exactly like the photos you see in National Geographic, but pulsating with life.

I have so much to say and I'm completely unable to, as I am at a loss for words.


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