Monday, October 28, 2013

We Are Now Official Kenyans!

There are big bugs in Kenya.  Seriously, look at this monstrosity below:

I think those grasshoppers ate the dinosaurs.  Last night, Camille and I watched one spider catch another spider in its web, deftly spin the spider around and around in webbing, before sucking the life force out of it…all in our bathroom.  We’ve surrendered the battle against spiders.  They are all over the house, in various shapes, sizes, and life-force-devouring abilities.  One is actually typing this post right now as I dictate.  

About to devour his friend in 3, 2, 1...

Traffic circle.  I own traffic circles.
We are now officially Kenyan residents!  The whole family traveled to Nairobi to obtain resident cards and renew our visas before they kick us out.  The drive to Nairobi and throughout Nairobi was pretty uneventful, although my mom would have closed her eyes the entire time, and Dad would have just repeatedly said, "Woah."  Traffic is always interesting in Nairobi, and Kenyan drivers enjoy passing  (as do I).  
The seven step process to obtaining residence cards and renewing your visa:

Nairobi.  Nyayo House is the yellow building on the left.
Step 1: Find Nyayo House, which isn’t actually a house, but a 14 story skyscraper with a torture chamber in the basement.  Reminds me of my house growing u…kidding, kidding parents.  Our house wasn’t 14 stories.  The former dictator, Moi, used to torture people in the basement up until the late 1990’s.  Now, tourists can go visit.  We didn’t go.  The process was torture enough. 

Step 2:  Arrive at Nyayo, find no parking, park at a casino, walk to Nyayo, get stopped/checked by soldiers with guns, enter the building, go to the 9th floor, realize you are in the wrong place, return to go and collect $200. 

Step 3: Walk to the other side of the building, to the section marked "Aliens and Registration."  Nice!  This sounds like the title of the next Michael Bay movie.  Enter the building, have Camille wait in line, and release Eric.  Eric will run down a hallway, grab the pen of a guy who is filling out a form, and run off.  Oh man.

We liked this bus.  Buses and Matatu taxi vans love their crazy signage
Step 4: Find Eric, return the pen, walk back to Camille.  After waiting, learn we apparently need new passport photos.  Shoot, where do you go for those....oh, of course!  Find two guys taking passport pictures at a bus stop while holding a white t-shirt for the background.  Seriously.  We left the building to figure out what to do, and a guy approached us and asked if we needed photos.  Two blocks later-->bus stop, white t-shirt, and we have out photos.  Back to Nyayo!

Step 5:  Fill out applications, wait in line #7, give them your passports, get sent to line #5 with more forms.  Fill out forms, wait, turn in the forms, and get sent to line #2 with more forms.  Have Eric stand on the counter top, shake the screen, and yell.  He’ll like that.  You’ll also like that.  Not everyone will like that.

 Step 6: Turn in forms at counter #2, wait for them to call your name.  They called Camille!  Be escorted down the hall to room #15 to wait in line for finger printing.  Have Camille get finger printed, realize they forgot your form, send Eric back to line #2 to shake the countertop screen and yell.  Retrieve form, get finger printed.

Eric loved this woman. She played with him as we waited to get finger printed.
Step 7:  Return to line #7.  Get handed Saudi Arabian passports.  Sigh.  Tell them you are not Saudi Arabian, get your own passports back.  You’re done!  And you’re now Kenyan residents.  

How long was this process?  Guess in the comments and the closest person gets a prize.  I’ll try anything.  

Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, where Camille goes for meetings

Um, what up, Dad?
Teaching update! 
I can now relate to public school teachers who have to gear their curriculum and teaching style around standard tests.  It’s frustrating.  One of the goals for each of the boys at the shelter is to attend secondary school (high school) off campus.  However, all students are tested twice and year and must achieve passing scores throughout primary school.  Then there is one all-encompassing test to qualify for secondary school.  The test is based on the British education system, so the kids are required to write about Prince William’s baby on every assignment.  Actually, they have to memorize mundane and needless grammar rules instead of learning how to write and enjoy literature.  

Here is what I was required to teach during my first lessons: question tags, alternating between direct and indirect voice, word opposites, and alternating between active and passive voice.  Why does any child need to learn how to switch from active to passive voice?  Write in active!  Anyway, we’re still having fun, but I’ve realized these boys are pretty good at filling in multiple choice bubbles and answering one sentence questions.  Give them a paragraph, and ask them to apply these rules, or see if they can apply these rules?  Much harder.  

I’ve seen similar results in social studies.  The boys actively participate in regurgitating information, but when I ask for analysis or discussion, such as asking why it’s important to vote, I hear crickets.  The boys are impressively capable, but they are not used to critical thinking in class.  

All the boys in a meeting after lunch

I also brought Eric to the shelter.  Twice!  My favorite moments:

  • Eric would walk up a slide, slide down, and clap his hands while all the boys cheered.
  • Eric loved the geese.  He also loved trying to grab the geese droppings.  I didn’t love that.
  •  I brought Eric to see all of the teachers, who were having lunch.  They saw Eric, noticed his pale skin and blonde hair, and they asked if he looked like his mother.  I told them not really, and that she has dark hair.  They then asked if he looks like our neighbor. 
  • Right before a level 6 class started, I dropped Eric outside classroom, and he walked in alone.  All the kids turned to him, he stopped, and it was quiet.  Eric then threw up his hands and yelled.  We all burst out laughing, and they clapped.  

Wow, the cow is looking at me

Wait, where did the cow go?

I still can't find that cow!

Eric enjoyed his time with the boys.

Other notes:

  •  WARNING!  Animal lovers may want to skip this part.  So two calves were born at the shelter a few months ago, and groups of boys were assigned to monitor their feeding.  Well, the health of one the calves kept mysteriously deteriorating, and the teachers couldn’t figure out why.  The other calf was healthy and strong.  It turns out that the boys assigned to the ailing calf weren’t giving her its mother's milk.  They were drinking it.  Those boys were reassigned, but the poor calf didn’t receive any of the colostrum or essential nutrients from Mom’s milk…and now we think the calf has mental problems.  She’s a little stumbily and bumbily.  Feel free to awkwardly laugh or go “aaaaaaawwwwwwwww….”   

  • We have loved hanging out with the three new residents from UW, Alyce, Dan and Jill!  They are all awesome and really impressive.  I look forward to many more dinners.  
Mt. Longonot, post eruption

Lake Naivasha in the distance.  The surrounded land was once forests

Mommy and  Eric take their drumming seriously

Can you believe we'll be home for Christmas in 6 weeks?  Woah.  Thanks for reading!


  1. 4.5 hours is my guess--------Great blog again--Eric continues to grow and learn-his parents are awesome--keep up this fantastic blog.

  2. I will guess 6 hours. I truly hope it didn't take that long. I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing all your beautiful pictures!

  3. I will guess 9 hours including the drive, but hope it was less. Many LOL moments while reading this blog!! Don't like the to you all, and so looking forward to seeing you in December.

  4. Thanks you, all! I appreciate your comments.