In Norway life is comfortable. We have machines, gadgets and systems to help our daily life run as smoothly as possible. I’m starting to settle down now in Kenya and leaving my little “tourist bubble”. With this I’m also beginning to miss certain things that made my life easy in Norway. Even though the living standard is lower here I’m glad that it is the way it is because I really feel that it adds to the experience of a year in Africa. I’m not living the tourist life with comfortable hotels and nice neighborhoods, I’m living the normal Kenyan life which most Kenyans will live their whole life. Here are some things that I can’t take for granted while I’m in Kenya:
1. A good bed. The bed I’ve been using in Kenya is a spring bed, which is, to be honest, horrible. I often wake up with an aching back in the morning and the fact alone that I’ve never slept longer than nine o’clock the last two months really says more about the bed than that I’m a morning person.
2. A washing machine. The way I’m washing all my clothes here in Kenya is that I’m pouring some washing powder, some cold water and the clothing of choice in a small bucket, letting it lay for a while and then scrubbing as well as I can. My clothes never really feel clean anymore. I’ve applied the rule “If it looks clean and smells OK, then it’s good enough.”
3. Clean water. I drank the tap water, I got sick. Not again. Water here got to be boiled, filtered or bought.
4. A sofa or a good chair. A place to really relax that is not my bed. A place where It is possible to read or watch a good TV-series comfortably.
5. Security. I miss sitting on the bus with my smartphone listening to music or surfing the web. I can’t take my smartphone with me outside the gate of where I live because it might get stolen. I also miss walking the streets of Stavanger downtown in the middle of the night completely unaware of the fact that in other parts of the world this is not possible at all. We have walked through Nairobi downtown one time after dark and that time we got robbed in the open street.
6. Cultural life. I went to music high school in Norway and therefore cultural life has been an important part of my life. Going to concerts watching live bands and artists like Thomas Dybdahl or BigBang. Sitting in cafés with my friends talking and drinking great coffee.
7. Norwegian bread. In Kenya they only have something similar to what we Norwegians call “loff”. Something like “kneip” is impossible to get. Also they really do put on top of their bread, as far as I know, is peanut butter or jam.
8. Oven. All the food we make we have to make in a sufuria of frying pan. There is no electricity at all involved in making food here. Also, from January and onwards I’m going to have to do without a fridge, so things like cold milk must wait until I’m home in Norway.
9. My bedroom floor. I have to use slippers when I’m walking inside my bedroom because the floor is dirty. I’ve tried to clean it so I can walk barefooted, but it’s very hard to achieve that on the concrete floor.
10. A clean washroom. I’m sharing a washroom with the whole center where I live. I keep my own toilet paper in my room and I’m bringing it whenever I need to go to the washroom. I kept a bar of hand soap by the sink, but the Kenyans used to take it in the morning and washing themselves with it in the shower so I also keep that in my room now. From January and onwards my toilet is going to literally be a hole in the ground. That is as most Norwegians would agree with, challenging.
11. Hot water. I took the first hot shower in two weeks today. The hot water in the shower keeps disappearing often. Also, in the sink both in the washroom and the kitchen it is only cold. That means I have to shave in cold water, which is often painful.
12. A mosquito-free environment. I have to sleep every night with a mosquito net and every night from seven and onwards there are a lot of mosquitos and I have to apply a repellant to keep from being all bit up.
While I’m in Kenya I really get to do something that is outside my comfort zone and I get to try living a life that most Norwegians never will get to experience and for that I’m actually glad. It broadens my horizon and also makes me appreciate the things I have in Norway. And also, I’m sure that when I return to Norway I’ll write a list of things I miss in Kenya!