Thursday, 31 January 2013

Supermarket love

I love supermarkets in other countries, I love seeing all the different products on offer (but I'm not one of those people to go 'oh look, they have McVities here! Weeeeee! Let me buy some at four times the price back home) Not me.

Look at these bad boys I saw just yesterday:

BRILLIANT. What a tourist I am.

Sun is shining... weather is sweet

Some photos from Kenya Land!

Much love from Kenya!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Things Kenya Has Taught Me...

Being here on my own in Kenya is great because I'm challenging myself daily and getting all independent at the grown up age of 28. All the things that are so easy for me back home are things I have to face here with gusto and creativity.

For example, if I need to wash my clothes, there's no washing machine, so things get hand washed (OK so I've decided to help the Kenyan economy by PAYING someone to hand wash it for me - is that so bad?).

I'm not much of a cook back home, the boy tends to do it all because he enjoys it more than me and it's a good way to avoid Crazy Katie coming out when she burns the rice and throws the pan through the kitchen window. So, when I was introduced to my new stove (I've called him Steve)...
Hi Stove! I'm probably going to kill you...
... I knew it probably wouldn't end well. Probably because I was told 'to light it, just hold the lit match against the gas tank and switch it on. SORRY, WHAT?!

Me and Steve the Stove are getting on ok, most nights I pick at stuff rather than having a full meat as it's just too damn hot to eat hot food.

So far I've learnt the following here:

* You can boil water in the microwave, I honestly didn't know this but I've found it a good way to get water when I'm in a mood with Steve and don't feel like torching myself.

* 'Make love' sounds an AWFUL lot like 'my club' in a Kenyan accent. Use your listening skills at all times, people but especially on a busy matatu when the guy asking you for a drink is drunk.

* I REALLY cannot dance. I mean, after a few tequilas, I think I can dance, but in reality, I cannot dance one tiny little bit compared to the women here. Might as well have more tequila then...

* Ants can find ANYTHING that you don't clean up. I am having to be the tidiest I've ever been in my apartment, that's probably a good thing

* Green bananas are plantains and are not sweet bananas. This is especially annoying when you think it's just an under-ripe yellow banana and persevere only to be rewarded with HORRIBLE HORRIBLE SAVOURY BANANA FAKER.


* Do NOT mention God in a conversation here unless you have a good few hours to listen to your opponent new friend express his views.

* Factor 40 is not strong enough, fetch the cement!

Conclusion: despite it all, I love it here.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Water lot of fun...

I've completely fallen in love with Kenya, there is so much I love about this place! Everyone is just so laid back about everything.

Over the weekend we had so many adventures, I need to write them down before I forget them all, I'm becoming very forgetful in this hot weather...

On Saturday we rented two beach cottages next door to each other and 12 of us hit the beach for Alice's birthday. Cue much fun! We jumped in the pool at the earliest opportunity and spent a very happy few hours diving, swimming and generally having fun before getting out and drying off...

... It was only at this time that we realised that Mandy (another volunteer here from Sweden) now had green hair instead of her usual blonde locks and my legs had turned a fluorescent shade of green from the knee to the ankle. We made quite a pair.

Not being a scientist, we assumed that there was too much chlorine in the pool and went to tell the staff. After explaining in broken Swahili and English that we were green from the pool we were met with the response 'yes, that is normal'. Errrr, no it's not actually Senor. I love Kenya.

Later that night I taught everyone to play Spoons, the best game in the whole world when we realised that Alice only had 15 minutes left of her birthday, and she wanted to do SOMETHING RECKLESS in that time, so we decided to jump in the pool (yes, the same pool that turned me green). We ran and jumped in with our clothes on and were laughing so much when the security guard came along and spoken in Swahili. I assumed that he was telling us to get out of the pool, but he was just telling us that we should keep the noise down. So it was ok for us to be in the pool fully clothed at midnight, but it was NOT OK to be loud in the pool. I love Kenya.

The scene of the green crime...
On the Sunday we took a glass bottomed boat out to sea and it just happened to be called the Ray Kate, so obviously that made my day already...

We sailed out to sea and the captain stopped the boat so that we could see the fish through the glass bottom which was incredible. Then it was our turn to snorkel and I've never snorkeled before and it was AMAZING. Apart from when everyone on the boat was throwing bread at us which made all the fish circle us - most distressing. 

Myself and Mandy (of the green hair) decided it would be a good idea to SWIM UNDER THE GLASS BOTTOMED BOAT AND WAVE TO EVERYONE ON BOARD - LOOK AT US! YAY! However, i totally misjudged the width of the boat and ended up surfacing right under the boat, smacking my head against it and having my body pressed up against the glass bottom - WITH EVERYONE LOOKING. A classic Bridget Jones moment, move over Renee.

Oh well.

Here's a few pictures of the beautiful beach to help me calm down and catch my breath again...

To conclude: Don't swim under boats that have glass bottoms. They're wider than they appear. Especially if the only experience you have of diving is for goggles in a pool... That would have made for an interesting insurance claim 'So you say she was swimming UNDER A GLASS BOAT?'

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A photo diary catch up...

Every time I sit down to update my blog I get distracted by something shiny (normally a Tusker beer...) sorry.

UPDATE: I'm learning lots of Swahili and putting it into practice as much as possible. The sun is still shining here while it snows in England so I hear. I've been on most types of public transport now, matatu, tuk tuk and boda boda (excellent names don't you think?) I keep forgetting that you can't wear skirts on the matatus (public buses that are the same size as minivans and you just bang on the roof to get them to stop) as you have to climb over people to get a seat, so I've flashed a lot in the last few journeys...)

I've been out for a Swahili dinner where we had the most delicious food and ate with our hands while sitting on the floor. Good food, good company and passion fruit juice are all things I can get on board with:

From left to right: Isaiah, Neha, Alice, Mandy and Stella = New Bezzies
I've also done the complete touristy thing of standing in front of the tusks on Moi Avenue:

Blending in with the locals, yo
I've hit a few beautiful beaches - Mombasa North coast really does have some amazing beaches:

I've seen some amazing sunsets too!

This is on the roof of my apartment block - jealous yet??
Come to Mombasa, I'll show you around!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Finding contentment in a new place

Uh oh, it's going to be one of those centre aligned days...

I feel so bloody content right now with life that I could burst! I had that moment the other day when I was sat in my new apartment with the breeze coming in and having my new laptop and Kenya internet connection working and some music from the street playing and I was just like 'Yep, this is going to be fine'

It took a loooooooong time to decide to leave my comfort zone. I then had a long notice period where it was easy to forget that I would soon be leaving the magic circle of comfort and heading to Kenya. 

Leaving home was the worst part, I almost clung onto my sofa shrieking 'Nooooooooo! I like my life, why am I changing it??!!' but once I left the house and started the long journey to Kenya, nothing was going to stop me being here.

I went from a crowded train to Manchester Airport...

To getting a motorbike taxi across Mombasa for around £1...

 In conclusion: Leave your comfort zone and find a new level of comfort in new places and you'll be surprised at how much fun it can be!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Where am I? What have I done?

Oh yes, I'm in Kenya, having the time of my life... the HOTTEST time of my life in the literal sense, it's around 32 degrees here most of the time, which is pretty hot. Almost hot enough to cook something that doesn't take long to cook - you get my point, it's quite hot here and that takes some getting used to. Office life feels like a lifetime ago that's for sure...

Just so you're up to speed, I'm living in a residential estate called Vescon in the Bamburi area of Mombasa. I'm here for the next few months and since I arrived last week I've spent most of the time lying in front of the fan in my apartment.

I've also:
* Got myself an internet dongle thing
* Queued for 1.5 hours to get a Kenyan phone
* Dined on a floating restaurant
* I've eaten watermelon and enjoyed it for the first time
* Almost welded my leg to a hot leather seat in the sun - farrrrrrk
* Been bitten by evil mozzies - no signs of Malaria yet!
* Ridden as a passenger on 3 motorbike taxis
* Lost count of the Tusker beers I've drank

On average I'm sleeping soundly for 1.5 hours per night, I generally haven't been to bed before midnight as there's too much to do here and I quite like being noctural in such a hot place when the sun goes down.

My apartment is on the top floor of the apartment block, so I get the music blaring from the bar over the road through my window until 5am, at which point the call to mosque rings out and when that finishes, the roosters start. So it's pretty hectic, but I'm running on adrenaline!

It's taking time to slip into the routine and realise that I'm not just here for a week, so there's no need to rush and do everything RIGHT NOW. I've never had this experience before and so far... no regrets - life is too short right? Sure it was scary and leaving was HARD - no one wanted to sit next to the crazy crying lady on the bus journey after my goodbyes :)  but now I'm here and doing it, I know I did the right thing.

In conclusion - follow your gut and follow your path and don't get a tattoo just because everyone else is :)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

So I'm flying to Kenya today...

I'm a little nervous, I'm not going to lie.

A few months ago on a cold and rainy Monday evening, the boy came to collect me from work and had sat in traffic for over an hour by the time he got to me *cue bad mood*

*Cue flashback* We'd had a weekend at friend Rachel's house in the Black Country, staying with her mum and dad, who just happen to be the coolest parents (ours aside of course!) and we got talking about how much we'd love to travel. Rachel's dad told me that he'd taken a few months off work when he was my age and it had actually HELPED his career. He also said it was the best time of his life and taught him so much.

I myself was teetering on the edge of heading off around the world but really didn't want to leave Josh behind as I knew we'd have an amazing job, but there's a huge step involved with leaving a salaried job that gives you comfort but not necessarily satisfaction.

I'd asked for a career break at work before that weekend but been told that it wasn't possible, which was fair enough as we're a small team, but that still left me with the dilemma that I wanted to travel...

On that Monday evening, we'd both had particularly shitty days at work (classic Monday stuff, nothing heavy) but twinned with sitting in heavy traffic in the cold, rainy darkness just tipped Josh over the edge. He took me straight to the pub (good lad) and we sat and had a serious chat about getting out there. He had that 'What am I doing with my life? Why am I here when I could be out there seeing the world?'

We'd talked enough. It was time for action. And red wine.

Over dinner we made a plan. I wanted to go back to Kenya (have I mentioned that I've been before?!) and live in a new country, learn a new language etc but that wasn't something Josh was as keen on, so we decided that I should go ahead and do that first and then Josh would come out to join me, we'd experience the travel life for a short time then come home and make a plan for further travels in 2014.

So I'm going. Today! I really should pack. Just a short flight to Dubai, a 3.5 hour stopover, a flight to Nairobi, a 4 hour stopover and a 1 hour flight to Mombasa and I'LL BE THERE!

See you there dudes!

Conclusion: Rain makes you quit your job, buy an umbrella.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Unemployed Life: Day 2

It helps massively that the boy is also off work right now (he's on annual leave, I'm the crazy one who quit her job to go and travel in Kenya for a while, but I don't fly until next week) or else I'd easily rise at noon and eat sandwiches then watch reruns of Come Dine with Me and Man vs Food allllllll day...

Today we decided to seize the day and get up at 6.30am and drive to Whitby.

Let me tell you, getting up at 6.30am when you're used to rising at 10am is painful, feel bad for me.

But anyway! The mission: drive to Whitby, drink tea in a cafe, then attempt to walk to Robin Hoods Bay from Whitby... it's 6 miles.

On a clear day, it's supposed to be a beautiful walk!

But it was not a beautiful day. It has rained A LOT recently and there are no fences to stop you slipping in the mud straight off the steep cliffs into what I think is the North Sea but I'm not sure (look it up).

Therefore, the walk took four hours and I don't think I've said so many swear words and cursed so many different things/people in that space of time before. I can safely say I had my eye trained on the path for 90% of the time, so I couldn't tell you what the view was like. It felt more like an endurance test than a nice afternoon walk. At one point I was clinging on to a thorn bush panicking trying not to slip down the muddy path into the sea, when we WERE OVERTAKEN BY AN OLD COUPLE. Where's the justice? I need new boots. And some of those walking poles.

The only positive we were clinging on to was that it wasn't raining.


*Cue rain*

On arrival, we stomped around a wet and cold Robin Hoods Bay, neither of us really caring at this point what it looked like and only just on speaking terms together. However, once we were in a comfy chair in front of an open fire in a pub with a glass of red wine (me) and beer (him) things looked a little better. And actually Robin Hoods Bay is well worth a visit, it's so cute!

Then we got the bus back to Whitby where we were RIPPED OFF (£3.80 per person for a single) But we decided to pick our battles, find our car and drive back to Leeds where it's all nice and not muddy and the buses are not as expensive but are still expensive.

Roll on Kenya next week baby! This time next week I'll be sweating bullets with an ice cold Tusker in my paw.

In conclusion: Mud is bad and dangerous and also looks a lot like chocolate when you're delirious with hunger and panic. Do NOT eat the mud. Also, buy walking poles, it doesn't matter how old you are.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Unemployed Life: Day 1

Today is my first *official* day of being unemployed! Technically my last day of full time employment was Christmas Eve, but EVERYONE has been off over the holidays, and MOST people are back at work today.

Not me though.

I am unemployed because in one weeks time I'll be on a flight to Dubai and then a flight to Nairobi and then a flight to Mombasa. Where I'll probably instantly melt in the evening heat.

Here's how I spent my first day of proper unemployment:

10am rise - early morning for me, wake up, stretch

Cup of tea in bed and read a few chapters of current book 'Cloudstreet' it's from a charity shop, I'm not into it yet but I'm persevering, thanks for asking.

Breakfast - porridge, attempt at low fat diet after Christmas diet of cheese, meat, chocolate and cheesecake.

Shower - shampoo AND conditioner, what's the hurry? I even used some body scrub such is my lack of haste.

Watched 'A Little Princess' with Josh (he's got a week off work) and even while I went upstairs and got ready he stayed and watched it, he LOVED it.

Headed out to get some travel vaccinations. Standard. Menningitis seeing as you asked. Next week I'll treat myself to some Malaria tablets! What a treat!

The boy and I then went and had a lunch together, on a weekday!

More shopping, came home, watched Keeping up with the Kardashians. They went shopping and fought about something in case you missed that episode. All Kaught Up.

The lovely Honor came round in her gym kit which is always a treat. Hi Honor!

I purchased some train tickets and also called my Nan.

You can get so much done if you don't have a job, you should look in to it. Unemployment rocks. Fully appreciate that I will need an income fairly soon.

But for now... yaaaaaaaaawn... time for bed. How was work today by the way?


In conclusion: Being unemployed gives you a certain level of smugness and means you can catch up on lots of trashy TV. Win.