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Another long frustrating day and then good news at the end of it!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This was another frustrating day in many ways.
Dragged myself out of bed and to work, where I have so much to do and then on top of it to deal with flu season which has just started. Am just glad this is normal flu, since we still do not have any cases of swineflu here in Kenya. But the numbers of sick kids are rising and many parents send them to school when they are sick.
We had some change-overs in our IT system and I realized my office email, which looked like it was working, was actually not working. So no wonder I got no answers from the Administrator on any of the mails I thought I had send her...... in one of them I was asking her whether the school is even contemplating offering me a new contract. Since time is running out and I havent heard anything. She did not really answer this, but when I asked her whether they would give me a payrise for the degree I now have, her answer was a clear NO! What a punch in the stomach!
Negotiations with the Paediatrician have not gone much further even though we had another 3 hour meeting last Friday. During the meetings we seem so much in agreement, so I do not really understand why he is not moving towards actually making a contract.
It is really getting me down.
Then I have not been able to exercise much last week. Usually exercise helps me to destress.
But the weather has been so dreadful, that I cant go swimming much and when there are my usual groups running I end up in meetings or otherwise busy. Since I have also been overeating I have regained 1kg. I hate it! I have been undisciplined and have been craving sweet things and then my bets friend used to come by my office to share her cakes and chocolates with me. It is sweet of her, but she is in her twenties and can still take these calories with less damage... I asked her on friday not to be bringing me anything to eat since I am gaining again,
This week I have done better. Since Sunday I have been within my caloric limits and I have run on Sunday and yesterday and swum a bit today. So I am burning calories.
But the swimming pool was only 22C, so it was actually a bit cold for my joints adn I only swum 20 laps. Then I had to get dresed quickly and bundle up since my joints started complaining. I guess swim season is over for now. July is the coldest month of the year here.
Also a parcel my Mum send me for my birthday has not reached even though it is registered mail. I will not get time to go to the POst office and start enquiries about it until Friday afternoon. But I was waiting for it so urgently. On the one hand Mum had put a woolen sleeve in it, which I coudl use for my painful ellbow at night. On the other hand she had put something else I really need.

Anyway i rambling.
By the time I went home I was still very down. And BF has not called in days, he had promised to call Sunday. I know he is so busy with Central Bank business with the budget coming up this week, but I would need him.... I was too low to call him myself.

But then I got some good news.
First a colleague called and we talked for long, she suggested I should approach the head of the personal committe in the school board directly and ask her privately about chances for a raise. I hadnt thought of that and had actually forgotten that it was that Lady now who is the head of the personal committee. I thought it was still the difficult who was there last year.
Then I opened Spark people and I found Idas Blogg that she is free of cancer!
Ida that honestly made my day! I am so proud of you and the fight you fought. And I feel priviledge to know you and have been able to follow you through your experience.

Well at least the day ends in a high note.
Lets hope tomorrow is better.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EOSTAR_45 6/12/2009 10:58AM

    Its a good feeling when horrible days end on a positive note. Hope the week has been more pleasant. How was the negotiation with the head of the personnel committee?

My mom in Nairobi has been telling me how cold it is getting and finally some rain. When I was home in December, it was so dry. Mom says they have planted maindi, terere, spinach and sukumas. The garden seems to be fairing well. Still there is water shortage though in Nairobi.

Anyway, hope your package arrives soon and you don't have to go hassle with the posta people.

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Help! I am stuck on a plateau!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now I have been hanging on this plateau again for 2 months or more.... doesn't seem to make a difference whether I am eating within limits or overeating, wheterh I am exerciseing a lot or not....
Last year I was stuck at the same weight. This 80kg barrier seems unsurmountable.
Last year I got over it by working out like a champion. I did 2-3 runs a week, went swimming 1-2 times, went to the gym 3 times. At least one run a week burned 100kcal, the others less, then when in the gym I did sprints and intervalls on all my cardio. Now this year my health does not allow.
My back is still fragile and I have to make sure I do not overdo things. Also right now I do not have the money for the gym membership.
I am trying my best, do at least 2 runs of 8-10km a week, try to get some shorter walks in, try to go swimming at least once or twice a week. Do my back exercise 3 times a week and try to be as active as possible.
But I do seem to be stuck.

I hate this!!!!!!
Does anyone have any bright ideas? My job as a school nurse is very stressful, but I do try to bring my own home cooked food and try to stay away from junk food, but don't always manage.

20th April,
Finally I have lost 1 pound.
Hope I will loose more.
Have not logged in my food and exercise the last week, since I was too busy and do not have internet at home, but I did keep my caloric goals and did exercise a lot. Only since I was staying at a friends, while having my house redecorated I did not manage to eat my snacks but ate all calories in 3 big meals. Now this week i will go back to ahvign regular snacks again.

13th May 2009,
still stuck, nothing moved since that 1 pound, which I actually regained and then lost again. It is sooooooooo frustrating. i would love to go to the gym, do weights and interval training, and go for long distance runs, since I love doing it and it worked last year, but RA says NO. My joints are still hurting and I am not a happy camper! I am so tired of being fat!
Gosh give me either a mircale cure or a body that does not hurt. It has ben so long since I last woke up without pain. morning pains and stiffness are really getting me. Now that we have the longawaited rains here it is also too cold to swim. So what am I supposed to do for exercise? Walking is nto funny here either when it rains, since you get soak by the cars and everything is flooded. Drainage - whats that? You mean those diutches we use to burn our garden garbage?
Okay I think you are getting the gist. I am feeling low.
Have an appointment with my Doctor about the RA and I know he will comment on my weight, since he will expect me to have lost.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PEARL10 4/24/2009 7:18AM

    I hear you doll! I have been doing the same. I wonder if it's a plateau or more about being 42 for me. As we get closer to MENopause, there is less estrogen, so the body 'clings'to the fat to store or help make more estrogen. I am so not talking to my ovaries @ the moment!!! he he. My fluid fluctuations, thanx 2 estrogen once again, can be up to 2 kg. drives me nuts, batty7, insane!!!
I have no choice but to keep on walking thu this wilderness, into the promised land. Man, I hope it doesn't take 40yrs!! If I give up now, i'll go back to Egypt, the land of slavery.
So, here I sit @ 77 or 79kg, depending on the time of month. But certainly not budging the last few months. I 2 am a runner. I'm impressed with yr I have done an 11 km a few times & 7.5k fairly regularly.
Hang in there chick. Keep walking. The promised land is only there if u keep on going!

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STEPHLOKI 3/29/2009 1:16AM

    Havent stepped on the scale for more then 2 weeks. during that time I have done either very good or very badly with my daily calorie limit.....
Will try tomorrow morning.
Have not been able to exercise properly for 10 days now because of a bad flu and a RA flare-up.

Hope that things will settle soon, so I can go back to exercising properly.

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EOSTAR_45 3/12/2009 4:40PM

    Plateaus are hard! Nothing seems to work. I was on a long plateau last year that lasted for 5 or 6 months maybe even longer. Not even adding walk/ jog sessions made a dent. But eventually, I slowly climbed out of the plateau. I cannot be sure but I think what worked for me was changing from mostly long walks a week to shorter more intense exercises and leaving only a day or two for long walks. I did short 30 minute very brisk walks, 20 minute Tae Bo and added some strength training.

I have also learned to look at plateaus as a coin with two sides. One side is not losing but the flip side is not gaining. So keep up your spirits, you are still making progress. Eventually the plateau will end.


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JBMMOMMY 3/12/2009 8:05AM

    I wish I had some great advice guaranteed to work, the best I can offer is encouragement to stick with your healthy lifestyle, the scale will catch up. Take care.

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Trying to restart

Saturday, December 27, 2008

This past year has been tough.
2008 started in Kenya with post election violence that paralysed the country and gave us an inflation rate of up to 30%. Many of my friends lost relatives and proterty in the fracas and the whole country was in upheavel.
But things slowly came back to normal and healing is taking place. In the middle fo this I was working 55 hours a week (still am), doing a degree in distance learning and tried to keep a strict exercise program. I have finished the degree now and am waiting for the results. But I have not been exercising the way I wanted due to health problems.
The year before my knees have been giving me problems on and off, but I managed to keep an exercise program were I worked out 4-6 days a week. I was getting fit enough again for long distance running which I love. I even won our club cross country, which was 15 beautiful km through the former coffee plantations near Nairobi. Then a few weeks later my back started aching out of the blue. First I didn`t take it that serious, but it didn`t go away. It got so bad that I ended up with a corsett and Hydro therapy every other day. I changed my matress, my chair in the office and did my daily back exercise. But somehow it never went away. During that time I still managed to lose some weight and by June had lost a total of 10kg, I was on 76kg. I was so proud of myself. But then the back pain got worse again. My normal Doctors were not helping me much, so I went to a friend who is a sports physiotherapist. He took one look at me and told me what my problem was: I have a slight scoliosis and the pelvis is tilted the wrong way. Actually my knee problem was caused by this as well.
So we started a long, tedious and painful process of daily exercise at home, physio 2-3 times a week etc. I went for a wonderful holiday in July and things started looking up. We went to the Kenyan and the Tanzanian Coast and I swam and walked daily for up to 2 hours. I seemed okay, off course after the long trips by car it was worse, even so I had carried my pillows and was wearing a light back support. We also ate a lot of food and even though I exercised so much I gained 1.5kg. When I came back to work I continued my back exercised, and tried to walk as much as possible, increasing speed and length of the walks. I wanted to get back to running. But the back got worse again. So I went back to my friend. First he thought I had not been doing my back exercises well enough. But when he checked me I had loosened and straightened up a lot. So he said most likely the muscles are just complaining, after all they had been in a wrong position for over 40 years. So I had to slow down again and the weight kept creeping up. Psychologically I was really down. My biggest complaint was that I have been through so many medical exams in my life (being an RN it is normal to have them every 2 years or so and every time you take a new job) and Mum was a physiotherapist as well, why didn`t anyone see it earlier???? It would have been easier to train muscles and joints into the right position when I was younger.
I had to come to terms with the fact that this can not be changed. Meanwhile I missed my long runs, my running friends, and weight kept going up. There were times I got into binge eating and chocolate phases (just craving chocolate - adn eating it....), which didn`t help either. At work I have very little recognition and last school year it was so bad I was about to give up.
But somehow I plotted on.
Now I have learned to maintain my back at a level where I can do 1-2 shorter runs a week (between 5 and 10km) with out much of a problem. I am still not going to the gym, since I am worried about doing the wrong exercises. The guys who work there do not have very good training, so they can`t help me much.
Then my back muscles started cramping, sometimes out of the blue, always after a run. Now this is a problem that runs in the family. Most likely it has to do with our RA and the fibromyalgia most women in our family have.
Now I have found a drug that helps with that: Quinine (used to think that is for Malaria...Lol - well it cures Malaria and relaxes muscels, dosage varies). So I was getting back on track and about to rejoin the gym. Then I had a sinus surgery 2 weeks ago and somehow I hadn`t realised how long it would keep me from exercising again.
I can`t run, I can`t lift weights, I can`t swim. Now I am back to more then 80kg and I HATE it!
So I started walking every day. Have been doing 5.2km every morning the last few days. My nose doesn`t feel as tender anymore, so I have started increasing speed.
But I am also overeating. Can`t log my food in every day, since the internet is so slow at work that i can`t always get into the food tracker. But the few times I do get in I am always above 2000kcal! It is time I get back to a regular schedule, which will happen when we open school in 2 weeks automatically. but until then I have to try my Best:

1. Eat regularely again, with well planned snacks
2. Avoid alcohol
3. Stays below 1800kcal.
4. Try to be back to running 1-2 times a week by end of January
5. Rejoin the gym by end of January (no money before...)
6. Increase my running, so that I can take part in all my favourite races again, especially do the Halfmarathon in the Nairobi Marathon end of October

13th Jan.09
Seems like I am off to a good start have lost 1 pound in the last week. Also doctor has given go-ahead to start running a bit, not fully yet, but short and light runs. So I should be able to burn a few more calories now.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MBSHAZZER 1/9/2009 12:27PM

    Hi Steph - I was wondering where you have been. I am sorry that you had so many troubles last year, but I wish you all the best and continuing health in 2009!

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Life in East Africa - gets updated every few days

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another Sparker suggested I could be doing a blog on my experience here in East Africa. I thought it was a good idea.
I have never in my life done a blog, so I have no clue what i am doing, but am just trying.
I remember when I was in the US about 1 year before I came to Kenya a Lady at a church luncheon asked me why I am planning to go to this horrible place.... Well I went here for work, but I think Africa is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Life here is ever changing and you never know what will come next, but you get used. The loving friendship of my African friends, the beautiful landscapes and wildlife make more then up for it.
Last night when i was at the Hospital getting some physiotherapy a tropical rainstorm poured down. by the time i drove home there was debris from the trees all over the roads, even so it had just been rain, not much wind. Today we woke up to a beautiful blue sky and sunshine like nothing had happened.
Electricity can break down any minute, but you learn to live with it. I always know where my torch is and where the lighter and the candles are....Lol. And I do remember the days of power & water rationing some 8 years ago, where you never had both at once, but usually water for 2 days a week and electricity every other day.
We still don't get water every day, but all houses have big water tanks and I store some 200liter in the kitchen. So live is not too bad that way.
But imagine all the fresh fruit and vegetable we get here on the markets and moist of it biologically grown, since people don't know any other way. If you buy what is in season it is very cheap.
At the school I work we have banana plants, avocado trees, a Raspberry tree (honestly it is a full grown tree!), some yellow fruits where I don't know the name and the little forrest strawberries I remember from home.
At home my landlord grows avocados and mangoes in the backyard, but has a full farm south of Nairobi.
Okay enough for today. It is almost lunchtime and I can see my thoughts center around food....Lol

3rd September 08
Todays frontpage in the news paper shows a couplde of youths plazing with what looks like snow. snow at the equator? Well it wasn't really snow, they had a hail storm in a village near Nyahururu, where the famous thompson Falls are. The hail stones melted into a mush, which kind of looked like snow and the young people had a ball.
Feel for the old ones though, since our houses do NOT have any central heating, unless you are lucky enough to have a open fireplace.
In the morning it was raining and only about 15'C, this is supposed to be a hot & dry season.... So much about global warming...

4th September
Just found a message on my sparkpage that my friend Julia has survived Gustav adn is back home, even electricity came back on! Hurrae!
Today the sun is shining. My little junk of a car - 18 year old Nissan Sunny B13 - has gone for repairs. I had changed almost every part, so Iu gues the fuel pump felt lonely as the last old-timer....Lol Also the tires are behaving funny, the rubber bulges and when you drive slow or on a smooth road the car wobbles. No wheel balancing and alignment are fine. So I guess my tires (2 are 2 years, Pirelli, 3 are about 5 years, Firestone, but all local production) need to be replaced as well. Since we have an inflation rate of 25% and above since the political unrest after the elections early this year things are getting tough. Kenya is definitely not cheap anymore and our local salaries (I am not an Expatriate with a UN salary) have not been increased much at all.
I was dreaming of winning a pick-up truck in our mobile phone company raffle.
By the way mobile phones are much more developed here then in many Western countries, since landlines are so pathetic. They are also cheap, so even many people in slums have mobile phones. If they live without electricity, they can go to kiosks that offer the service that you can charge the battery there for a few shillings. We can pay some of our bills via something called M-Pesa ("mobile money"), where you send it from your mobile phone to the account of lets say the electricity company etc. Or when your friend is stuck somewhere & needs cash. if he subscribes to M-pesa you can send it that way. Internet banking does not function well here, since internet connections are slow. Also if you are on pre-paid and need credit, someone can send it to you via the mobile.
A few years ago we still used to go and queue for all bills: You go to electricity house to pay electricity, to the water company to pay water, to your ladnlord to pay rent and it would take for ever. many of us would pay some jobless guy in the neighbourhood to do this queueing for us. Now we can pay electricity even in some supermarkets and at the post office, so it has become a lot more convenient. Banktransfers are expensive and take several days.
Have a nice day

8th September,
2 days ago mny Dad turned 70. Wonder how the old man is doing. He lives in Greece on the island of Crete. I never seem to get him on the phone, so he seems to be up and about a lot. He doesn't like computers, so emails are not an option. The difficulties of communicating with loved ones makes life far from home sometimes difficult.
My Brother told me that he talked to Dad not so long ago and he seemed to be doing fine.
It is still raining and drizzling a lot, I guess these are early October rains.
We only had a 5 second power cut this weekend, what a nice surprise. Off course it came exaclty when the Soccer game fot eh National Team against Namibia was getting started. But since power came back almost immediately it was not bad. It was agood game, Kenya won 1:0, could have won 4:0 if they had scored more of their chances. But Kenyan soccer is definitely improving. In the Worldcup qualifiers we are leading our group now. Looks like for once we are getting closer to the dream of taking part in the world cup. Since the next one is in South Africa, it would be close enough for at least better of people to go and cheer for their team.
Lets wish the Harambee Stars (our national Team) the Best!

9th September,
Can't think of much new here, so let me talk of old things.
I - like most people here - do not own a washing machine. When i first came I had wringer washer, but my X-husband spoiled it, when I left him I left it behind. Washing machines are now widely available and have become more affordable, but with powersurges, water shortage and cheap labour available, mnost people just havea maid who does the laundry. But since most of these maids use too much vigor & soap when they wash and I am not there to supervise, I have been washing maself for many yars by hand. Once you are used to it it goes quite easily. My maid cleans the house and irons my colth. She comes once a week. i hate ironging so that works out well. Some poeple see it as arrogant to employ someone to do this work. but since finding work here if you do not have much education is difficult, I see it more as helping some one to earn a living, or (like in the case of my maid) to improve their lives. She works as a cleaner full time and asked me if i would know someone who needs a part-time maid, so it works out well for both of us.

10th September,
The rains seem to have come a month early and with a vengeance. We have ahd torrential rains on Monday evening, now yesterday it was even worse. Funny thing it always starts around 4pm / 4:30pm, so you get wet when going home. first the rain came horizontal, so my office got wet, but only near the entrance. Of course the umbrella was in the car, so I got rained on while running there, then most roads where floaded. In one place it was so deep I was sure the car would stall and water come in the door. But I made it through alright. Then a few km down the road when I was near home the car started studdering. I made it home somehow. the I tried to let the car idle to dry it up, but just when I had finished talking to the mechanic it missfired and went off..... Has refused to start ever since.
So now I asked for a lift to work from a teacher, no idea how I get home. Are you surprised I prefer the dry season????Lol
I am glad the car stalled when I was home already, so no towing or other complications.

14th Sept.
Right now I am at our small boarding house from the school I work in. I do extra hours as a boarding parent, just to make ends meet and be able to afford my car.
The other day it was fixed quickly and had only been waterlogged. so at least no major repair cost there.

Have been sitting here trying to get anything done in the internet, but since yesterday the connection is so slow again, that i feel like tearing out my hair....Lol Right now it is a bit faster, so let me try my luck.

Have a nice Sunday, everyone.

17th Sept.
Today we got the sad news when we got to work that Shamala one of our gardeners lost everything he owned yesterday. His wife had left a kerosine cooker on and went to the shops. the house cought fire and burned down to the ground. He had kerosine & diesel for his generator stored in the house. We are thankful that neither he nor his wife or 3 children got injured. But of course he had no insurance. He had saved so hard to build that house adn buy the generator, so it really pains us to see him having lost evreything. but we are trying to see what everybody can give them to help out.
these tragedies happen quite often here, since the kerosine cookers the poor people use are very dangerous. but they just can not afford the gas cylinders and don't want to use charcoal cookers or open wood fires. The electric cookers here use so much electricity that that is no solution either. But the beauty about people here is that they know tragedy can hit anyone and they really come out to help. I know every one of us employees will go home today and check what we can do without, so that by tomorrow Shamala and his family have the basic things and from there we will pick up and see how he can get more. this sense of togetherness and helping each other does not exist anymore in Germany.
Lets pray for this family.

22nd Sept.
We went with a gorup to visit Shamala on Saturday. It is a miracle how the sitting room got saved! The fire started next to the sitting room in the kitchen shed from there it ate along the ceiling beams adn into the bed room. For now the roof is keeping out the wind, but before the next tropical rainstorm he will have to change the iron sheets. But at least we were able to give them 3 beds and a matress and numerous other things. They were very happy and encouraged by our visit.
when i got home I found I had no water in my place. The tank was empty. Apparently the water has only be cominmg an hour or 2 a day with no pressure, so it has not been going into the tank. Thank God I always store at least 150l of water in my kitchen. now I only washed basic cloth and used as little as possible for cookign etc. I hope we will get some into the tank todaythough, otherwise by tomorrow evening i will be running dry...If need be I will have to shower at the school. But I have not been able to buy any 20-25l jerry cans in the Supermarkets, so carrying water home will be a problem. The big containers I have are difficult to transport and the lids don't close tightly.

23rd September,
Jippeeeh, when i got home yesterday I had about 100l water in my tank! Better then nothing. I filled most of it into containers and drums, in the hope that more will come today.
Went swimming at lunch time, since the school pool is free during my lunch break on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Really enjoed it, my first swim in almost 2 months. Also enjoed a thorough shower afterwards and getting my hair washed....

Today I get off at 5pm, so i will be home early. Maybe a chance to go to the club later?

6th October,

still no proper water supply, by now the whole topwn is affected. They claim it has to do wiht the poor rain fall. Which poor rainfall? Last rainy season was supposed to be over end of May it rained until Auguts. My private suspicion: Some big shot (Politician????) build a farm along those rivers that supply our water dams for Nairobi and is diverting the water to his farm. Don't see any other reason why the dams should be empty, since they are not leaking.
In my Estate they also say that the borehole has no water. what borehole? and how comes 'ours' is empty and the University farm next to us still has water in plenty? do now get water from the school where I work in 20l Jerry cans to add to the little that trickles out of the pipe every once in a while. Hope the sun comes back, then i can go swim at the school pool and take showers there....
Am tired of bucket baths.

10th October,
still on bucket baths, but at least water is coming every few days and with a little more pressure now then the last 3 weeks.
Today it even came early in the day, so I was able to fill all my containers & jerry cans before I went to work. Went swimming before work and took a long shower there.....
The newspapers have been full of stories the last few days that the economic world crisis is going to hit Kenya hardest of all Africa. Hope not! We have just been through such a hard year thanks to the Post election violence we faced in January.
But finally the government has done something about the fuel prices. The Oilcompanies had been keeping the prices unrealistically high, even when the crude oil prices went down. Now the governement forced them to go down by about 10,-Kshs, which is about 12-13,-cents per liter. So live has become a bit easier. The Oil companies are still making an enourmous profit, so don`t worry about them. They make about 15-20,-Kshs profit per liter here!

Nice Friday every one! It is Public Holiday to the Honor of one of our previous Presidents.

22nd Ocotber
The rainy season has us in its grip. We need the rain. But the daily thunderstorms can get on your nerves. Luckily at the moment they are mainly at night. Lets hope the rains will be sufficient for a good harvest and for the dams to fill up.
Water situation improved immediately after the Nairobi Agricultural Show...... We got water the day after it ended. So much about the borehole story.....Lol. Now I get water with enough pressure to get into the tank at least once a week adn with less pressure a couple of times. So i do not need to carry water from the school any more. And if I use it sparingly I can have a proper shower with water from above most days of the week.

Was reading a report right now from a group of officials who went to Lake Turkana for a cultural festival. That is in the far north of Nairobi about 2 days travel. Okay it is only 600+ km, but only the first 200km aree on proper roads. They were talking about the hard trip and that they had 15 punctures. Sounds like they need better tires and do not kow much about how to drive on those rocky paths.....Lol That road used to be my drive way when i worked in a small mission hospital near there. I never had more then one puncture in one trip......Lol. I loved it up there. But you do need good equipment to survive out there.
Right now I am still in my office in the First Worlkd part of Nairobi, we are near the UN and the parts of town where all the rich Ex-patriates live. What a difference to that part of Kenya! But the real Kenya is not to be locked out: Right now one of the crazy Matatus drove by with booming music. My furnture vibrated. Matatus are private public Transport. Named after the former price (3 Shillings fare 3 in Swaheli is Tatu), in Tanzania they are not quite as crazy in the way they drive and are called DallaDalla (Dollar Dollar, guess thats what they used to pay). They are the way to survive here. one can rely on them more then the real public transport. They are usually Minibuses or minivans and really dodge the traffic. You can never get anywhere as fast as they can. But the do love their music loud......
Have a quiet evening. I am saved by the bell and go home now.

28th Oct:
What do we do when we need a new dress for a function / party etc.? Go to the next store / boutique? No way! First the readymade clothes in the stores are too expensive, secondly they are mostly either teenage or grandma style. nothing there for a 40-somthing like me.
So you go down to Biashara street to one of the many shops for materials, choose one of the beautiful african prints, then you go to your "Fundi" (=tailor) and tell him what you want. In less then a week you then have a beautiful made-to-measure dress for $50,- or less! I even have my office suits made there, since I have problems fitting in ready-made ones!

5th of November
I thought Obama Mania would cool down now. The last 1 week Obama was the main item in the news, as if we have no other news here... The Luo community, where Obama's father comes from, were holding vigil over the elections. Whereever they were they were glued to the TVs, police has been on alert and ready for the celebrations. The road to the home village of Obama sr. has been graded and Kisumu Airport is supposed to be upgraded to international airport in anticipation fo the win.
But the crayiest thing came this morning, after Obama's win was announced: Can you believe it? The Kenyan President has declared tomorrow a public holiday, because a "Kenyan" (never mind his American herigtage, upbringing and passport) has won the American presidential election. It is amazing!
The poorly educated people in the slums will now be surer then ever, that in future any Kenyan can travel to the US without a visa and Obama will be buildign roads and bringing development to Kenya. They have been talking about that for long anyway. And nothing you say can convince them otherwise. Every Luo is already trying to find a connection to the Obama family in their family tree. It is so funny.

19th November
Big excitement at school, Kindergarten is having a football tournament in our school. They have taken the cup in the past several times already. We will see how they will do. Up to 11:15am I have to be in my office since the rest of school is on. Then since it is a parent teacher meeting day the rest of school is released early. Then I will definitely go to the field to watch. 3 other teams have already arrived in their cute little uniforms, which mostly include hats because of the hot equator sun.
Last weekend I did one of those memorable trips, which you wish you could do more often. My BF took me to his upcountry home, which is about 440km from Nairobi in WEstern Kenya. To get there you drive first up to the escarpment, then down into the Great Rift Valley, then on the other side onto the other escarpment up to about 8000ft, then you get into the high plains of Eldoret and Kitale. You go through most of the Kenyan climate zones some of the most beautiful country side. A total of about 50km of the roads are still really bad, but the rest is okay (by Kenyan standards...Lol). It took us 6 hours to get to Kitale, where we stopped for dinner in the Kitale Club and then another 40 minutes to his house. Cliff loves trees, especially palm trees. So he has planted a little forrest in his place and lots of different palm trees around the house. It is so beautiful and peacful there. The next day we went to a place where he and a friend are developing a gated community. It is in the very early stages. Right on the main road to kitale, they will arrange for water & electricity for each plot. People buy 1 acre plots, then there are some provisions on the size and style of the house and Roads, fencing and security will be provided. It is on a Hill side and many plots have a view of both Mt. Elgon and Cherengany Hills. Gosh i wish I had money to buy one.....
On Sunday we went back to Nairobi on the scenic route. We wwent via Webuye back to Eldoret, then on to Iten, where the High Altitude Training Camps for the Runners are. From there you drop down 2000ft on winding roads into the Kerio Valley (look all those places up in the internet and you will know what I am talking about). On the other side you climb again, not quite as high up to Kabarnett, then from there you drop into the Great Rift Valley again coming out near Lake Baringo, which is famous for its Flamingoes, Crocodiles and the hot springs nearby. Then you drive past Nakuru back to Nairobi.
I was so glad I was not driving since I was busy looking in all directions at the same time....Lol

4th December 08
Now that it is the season let me tell you what Chruistmas is like in this part of the world.
A lot of how christmas is celebrated has to do with the first missionaries. who often had to make do. Thats why Kenyans believe Christmas trees have to be decorated with popcorn strings and cotton wool and balloons.
The Asisan community likes christmas ornaments, thats why now you can get some in the bigger malls, but I do miss variety here.
Off course you can not get fir trees, but there are some cedar trees and other needle trees. But many people use artificial trees.
Most shop windows are decorated with Santa Claus, mistle toe leaves (as if they'd knew what they are...), snowmen and snowflakes. Since this is the hottest part of the year (remember we are south of the equator), it looks ridiculous. Also all these black guys in Santa clothes, some put a pillow for a stomach, but most are just poor guys earning another shilling. So you have skinny guys in Santa dress.
For most Kenyans Christmas used to mean going to the village and getting new cloth (Fancy shiny dresses which then will only be worn for wedings and church). then there would be a slaughtered goat or at least a chicken and Chapati (something the Asians introduced and we love them). Then there would be lots of alcohol for the men.
All these people traveling upcountry at the same time cause annual traffic problems and the busfare goes up several times. Now with the economy being so low more and more people have realized one can actually have Christmas in the city and stay home. Others want to immitate the white people and go to Mombasa. But prices in the Hotels there go up drastically for Christmas and you have to book early. Nairobi is almost dead over the holidays.
I enjoy the quiet then. I will actually be working in the boarding house, but since we will only have a few adult interns there i mainly have to make sure the kitchen staff is there and all supplies are there, so i will not spend the whole day there. Only at night I have to sleep there.
With my BF being upcountry and most of my friends being out of town it would be boring at home anyway so i do not mind working and it means many extra hours to be paid. I am a bit behind with boarding house hours anyway.
Merry Christmas to all of you!

27th Dec.08
Christmas is over. It was strange. Most people didn`t travel upcountry and town was packed. they flocked to the parks adn shopping malls. Busfare had gone up in some areas by 10 times, so many could not afford to go home. I couldn`t believe it when I was caught in a traffic jam on 23rd... But then the oil companies are playing fuel shortage with us. Kenya Pipeline says they are pumping at full capacity and are supplementing by fuel tankers by road. The oil companies, claim there is not enough fuel and they do not get supplies. Most effected is Diesel, which most fo the public transport vehicles use. since they had just been forced by the government to reduce pump prices by more then 20 Kshs (about 35 centUS) - they had never adjusted down-wards when crude oilprices dropped, this is not really surprising. It makes it only look like they are palying games with us and want to artificially push pump prices up. Many petrol stations did not have any fuel at all, others had long queues, where cars lined up in tripple lines and the police had to come and direct the traffic. My favourite petrol station had no quues adn only missed duel on one day for a few hours.
On 24th there was a tragic event where a fuel tanker supplying a petrol station caught fire and 8 cars lining up for fuel also burned down. But Thank God nobody got injured.
BF has come back from Kitale, but today he is flying off to South Africa for a business meeting. He will stay a week at the head quarters of his company. So I will be alone on New Years as well. but I will be off-duty. So I have already ordered a ticket for the dinner dance at our club. It is usually nice and they do have enough single people around and always a casual corner, so you do not feel out of place as a single.
Happy New Year to all of you!

13th Jan.09
This year seems ot be off for a good start for me personally, but a poor start for Kenya.
I just got my Research Project paper back for my degree course. I got an "A"! Now in a few weeks I will have my certificate and can go looking for a new job at a better paying level!
Kenya is rattled by scandals and corruption in the highest level again.
The fuel shortage was caused by high scale corruption. The company which had won the importation tender, Did on the one hand never import enough on the other hand they coluded with the Pipeline Corporation to give out the fuel to other customers without the legally required signatures from the financiers. Now 3 major finance companies have lost about 7billion Kshs (about 1B US$). Several of the most senior staff of Kenya Pipeline Corporation were sacked already.
The food shortage, which we have known about for 1 year, was escalated by further corruption. Details are not all clear yet, but apparently some politicians have managed to divert a lot of the locally produced maize (main food source here) to South Sudan where it fetches higher prices. Only 1/3 of Kenyan maize reaches Kenyans. Also there seems to be a scandal about the Prime Minister and the Grain Bulk Depot in Mombasa. He is denying it, but it reminds me of another scandal his family was involved in years ago......
"Solution" so far: Governemnt has declared a state of emergency and asked for food donation. Since the big shots are involved no one wants to get to the root of the problem.
So Kenyans have no food, no fuel and soon no water. Again a lot of the Forrest Land has been invaded by Squatters (often encouraged by Politicians), meaning all trees are being cut down. The Forrests are being distroyed big time and with that the water catchment areas as well. Drought persists. We are building ourselves our own desert at this rate......
So we are getting ready for more water rationing and hunger among the poor.
We do have fuel in most petrol stations now, but they are warning us about problems in the next few weeks.
We will see how it will go.

6th March 09
Just realized I haven'T written in a while. Have been too busy. We had classtrips to prepare in school, then immediately after I had the screening examinations for the kids to orgnize. Lots of logistics. Am just starting to breath again.
None of the political problems have been solved and yesterday the Mungiki had threatened again to cause havoc. it went well with heavy police presence every where. Only a few places had small problems. But the public transport was paralysed. I took 3 of our staff home myself, since otherwise they would have had to walk far. The in tthe evening 2 people were assassinated in town, after in the Morning the government Spoekesman in his weekly speech had warned one of them to be careful with what he says. I do hope that the government is NOT behaind the killing, but it looks bad.
Today transport is almost back to normal. Hope it stays that way.

My certificate for the BBA in healthcare Management is on its way have received emails from DHL and the University to that effect! am so looking forward to holding that paper in my hands!!!!
Also have started negotiations for a new job.

20th May 2009
Wow it is 2 months since I last wrote here. Life has been Helterskalter again. Well what else is new...Lol
The certificate finally reached and it felt soooooo good to have it. Since it is an internationally recognized one it has the signature of the Secretary of State appended. My aunt told me, that when i am in retirement and need money, but don't need that certificate anymore I can always sell Hillary Clintons autograph....What a thought.
What is really tickling me at the moment is that while we continue with our usual corruption (MPs bribing each other into how to vote in parliament, a White Farmer Lord.....getting only 8 month in jail for murder etc.) There are all these great scandals in Europe. in Germany they have their own "Anglo Leasing Scandal" of sorts (Anglo Leasing here was when some influential bigwigs and MPs made lots of money giving government contracts to nonexisting international companies and the money ended in their pockets instead) and in England there si that big scandal about MPs claiming mones for not only their London flats (which they are allowed to) but everything else, like a new carpeting for their tennis court, costs of the husbands porn movies etc. So there is corruption everywhere as we can see. Only in England those MPs are now going to step down. The Speaker has already promised to step down next month- Wait a month?????? Guess he needs this months salary and claims to pay some bills....

Here Kenya and Uganda are in a big tussle over a miniature Island. There is an Island of less then 1 acre in Lake Victoria which is within 500m to the border with Uganda. It is basically a heap of dirt full of shanty buildings for Fishermen, since apparently the fishing is good there. Now Uganda claims that our maps are wrong and the Island belings to them. Kenya want to spent 109 Billion Kshs (about 1.4 Billion US$) on new surveying. What???? Why so much money? a simple survey of less then 1 acre? Even surveying the whole boarder ebtween Kenya and Uganda should not cost that much. i guess lots of hands get greased along the way.

Meanwhile life at School is getting, well lets say difficult, for not wanting to use a strong word. So i am really desperate for a job elsewhere. Our tightknit community which does not have much of a live and only talks about the school the Embassy and what people do or supposedly do. Now there si a young man who is a nurse. Never met him. He wants my job and has heard by rumour that I have another job. So at any party where he meets people from school he is talking about wanting my job. And those people party a lot. Having my own life outside the community I am highly suspicious to them and subject to a lot of gossip already. Now the school has not yet offered me renewal fo my contract. Those who make that decision (the Members of the School Board) are in the same circles with this guy. So I am wondering wether I would even get a new offer for a contract.
So when last week I had another meeting with the Doctor I had been negotiating with in March and we reached to a point where we can now start working on a contract it came to a big relief for me.
I will be so glad when i have a contract in my hands and can tell the school that i do not want to renew with them....
Wish me luck!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEARTOLOVE 5/19/2009 8:22PM

    Cool that you have your BBA. Bachelor in Business Administration, right?
That took alot of work. Congratulations.
Love your Blog...
You never think of all the corruption in other countries when you are living in the soft and lofty land of the United States of America...
We're all in our own little world of Denial here!
Take care, and "thanks for the spark goodie' it was a real shot in the arm.
Love, Pam.

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EOSTAR_45 3/6/2009 3:42AM

    I just returned from my annual visit to Kenya this week. Had been there since end of December. As with my other visits, I spend most of my time in Nairobi where I grew up and where my mom still lives. Other than a brief stay in Mombasa to visit my younger sis and nephew, I did not venture outside Nairobi as much as I would have liked.

Right now, I am still fighting jet lag and found myself up at 1:30 a.m. but I know it usually gets better as I adjust to the change in time.

Great blog about life in Nairobi.

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LORRAINE-D 12/25/2008 8:09PM

    Hi Steph,
I just finished reading your blog. I so enjoyed it and I love reading about your adventures. How much were they selling the acre lots for in your blog? Sounded pretty neat!

Merry Christmas!!!!



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BIENKE 11/9/2008 4:40PM

    Steffi, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your blog. I am glad that there are others who also enjoy reading about your life in Kenya.

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LOLCATS4ME 11/6/2008 3:48PM

    How awesome to hear from someone who actually LIVES in a place different from ours, with all the every day things that you just live with and are accustomed to. Can you imagine what we in the states would do with no water? The second the lights go out, everyone calls the electric company to find out what is the matter. Those who have been affected by the hurricanes can attest to your lifestyle; they know what it's like. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us -- we are truly enriched through this "thread" of life and experiences.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Karla Klos Fox (my late husband had relatives in Germany. Some younger cousins may still be living.) P.S. My miden name was Rehwinkel.

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GLADGAD 9/23/2008 12:13PM

    Thank you for sharing your life with us through your blog. I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in South Africa about 12 years ago, and those memories are still fresh in my mind. Africa probably has the most beautiful places in the world. All of the people I met were very kind, and I never felt so at home in such a far away place.

Thanks for bringing a bit of Africa to us.

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    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I forget how spoiled I am as an American. My husband and I have been considering doing a homestead on some raw land that we have been given. The prospect of carrying water and having to work harder at just the basics of life have caused me to be hesitant. However, daily the desire grows. In about 5 days we are supposed to get some news about some resources that will help us to drill a well and get start up materials for shelter. We have looked at wall tents, yurts and geodesics. We truly desire to live off the land and get back to our roots.
Once again, thanks for sharing.

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DDOORN 9/9/2008 9:58AM

    Your lifestyle is even more amazing than I thought it would be when I suggested you share in the form of a blog!

Financially, I am so tethered to my geography that I always find it fascinating to hear about other lands / people and the common threads we all share.

Thank you SO MUCH for inviting us into your special corner of the world!

Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals SparkTeam

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    Oh my gosh! What an ADVENTURE you are living! I'm so jealous! Well, mostly! It's HOT there! LOL! I hope you keep the blogs going and tell us what life is like for you there! Please!

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