Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Greetings From Loitokitok

I am living with a family at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro very close to the Tanzania border. The mountain is a spectacular sight every morning and night, it hides in clouds during the day. My family is wonderful, Mama Mary, her son Francis, wife Mary, sons Daniel (8) and Peter (6). We have no electricity or running water as expected but everyone in Kenya has a cell phone. We live about a 30 to 40 minute walk from town and our training sight. Internet access here is VERY limited and very expensive (4 computers in town) so I will blog more hopefully when access is better and cheaper. Due to the devaluation of the dollar the Peace Corps budget has been stretched so they are condensing 12 weeks of training into 8 weeks; so there is tremendous pressure to learn Kiswahili, the culture, how to live on your own in Africa and our job for the next 2 years. There are overwhelming hours of homework done by lantern or candlelight. It rains most every afternoon ant it is very muddy, nights are cool and days are very warm. I love the food, lots of FRESH fruits (oranages, bananas, passion fruit, watermelon, papaya, mango) and veggies, some meat (cow and goat), lots of chai tea, no coffee. Your diet varies very little.

This experience is wonderful and challenging and not for the meek or timid.

More later . . . Salama sana and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The First Day, Plus . . .

Habari za asubuhi my family and friends!

The first day was good fun, meeting new people and generally getting oriented to the Peace Corps way and turning in paperwork, etc. We have a large group (43) from all over the US - 2 of us from Central Florida. Most are young people just out of school or very early in their careers, about 6 or 8 are closer to my age, all singles, I believe. Nine of them are Deaf Educators the balance of us are teachers, business and technology folks with a wide variety of backgrounds. The instructors are full of energy and a wonderful group of return volunteers.

Today we leave for Kenya; bus departs at 10:00 a.m. (of course I have been up since 5:00 a.m. or so) then our flight leaves JFK at 6:15 p.m. arriving in Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport) at 8:25 p.m. on Thursday. We spend one night at the Lukenya Getaway 30 minutes from the airport. We begin (Friday) with breakfast at 6:00 a.m. followed by a few hours of administrative paperwork, instruction and meeting our in-country Peace Corps staff. Then at 10:30 a.m. we depart for Loitokitok (where they are just beginning the rainy season and expect it to be very wet and muddy) by bus for a 6 1/2 hour (270 kilometers) trip. The next two days are spent learning about our host families, receiving additional immunization shots as needed. We started malaria prophylaxis last night and that will continue during our entire service. We will also meet our medical and training teams and begin one-on-one interviews with trainers, I expect for placement purposes. That is what I know for now.

I am thrilled to finally be on my way. I can't stop smiling, my heart is filled with hope and my eyes (at the moment) filled with tears of joy!!

More later . . .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008, today I depart for Peace Corps service, how appropriate. My life "reduced" to two (I hope not too heavy) duffel bags and a backpack. They have yet to tell me where in Kenya I am going, I assume they know or not . . .

Yesterday, I walked and walked, enjoying everything about the beautiful city of Winter Park I have grown to love and thinking about my wonderful family and the many friends I am leaving behind for now. I cherish each of you and will think of you often.

I have a few butterflies but I am filled, sometimes overwhelmed, with anxious anticipation to start a new chapter in my life.

Thank you for all of your love and support.