Returning Home Highlights: #5-7

Now that we have both finished our last call nights here at Tenwek, I'm sure we will have tons of leisure to post speculative cross-culture blogs. On with the lists!

7. Reliable road maps: We have a map of Nairobi. We also have a map of Kenya. You may think that the general idea of a map is to help one to find one's way, but these seem to be made for someone who already knows the way. Some of the complications of road maps around here are plain inaccuracies ("what do you mean this road doesn't go to that town?") and no way to figure in the quality of the road, which is essential in trip planning. Time estimation on google maps? Ha! Our first 8 trips or so to Nairobi, we got lost every time. Now we know our way, and the map is awesome.

A few months ago, we suddenly remembered a time in West Texas, right before we left, when the interstate was closed for a freak snowstorm. We looked at our atlas, plotted a course through country we had never before laid eyes on, and arrived without incident. Amazing!

6. Driving at night: A related but separate joy. We don't drive at night here. Our supervising agency actually tells us not to. Aside from safety concerns about violence at night, there are no street lights, which provide difficulties on potholed roads that keep animals and darkly-clothed pedestrians on their fringes day or night. I did it once after an incident where my nerves were already shot, and that was enough for me.

Again, the simplicity of this fact at home was always taken for granted. The sun is down? Why wouldn't you drive? There's still plenty of time to head out to your local 24-hour grocery store and pick up anything you might want!

5. Seasons: We recently wrote about the charms of the weather on the equator, and there is certainly an upside. However, after two years of basically the same weather every day, though a lovely mix of spring and summer, which is, at the same time, not really spring or summer, the seasons have grown in their allure.

I don't think Kenyans would get this, and in fact, I freely admit that it is not superior to temperate weather every day, but it is nevertheless good, and it's ours. We've been shocked at how the simply turning of the year holds so many deep associations with other elements of culture. The first snow, Christmas, snow days, a slow thaw, finding the ground underneath again, the first wildflowers, the first day you can wear shorts (which is never here), riding a bike again, spring tree blossoms, planting a garden, getting out of school for the summer, picking fruit, swimming, vacation bible school, the changing color of tree leaves, apple picking, pumpkin carving, thanksgiving... The list goes on, but they are all so tied to the passing of seasons as we remember them, that our hearts can ache with the beautiful memories of it all...

We'll see how we feel if we spend February in Michigan.


Anonymous said...

Is that a real road sign or clip art to support your point? nana

The Drs. McLaughlin said...

clip art