Monday, September 13, 2010

Sleep Deprived Thoughts on My First Three Days in Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya reminds me of Johannesburg, extremely confusing to navigate, crowded, traffic congestion that makes I-15 look empty at 5:00pm on a Friday, but also with all the amenities that you can find on any American Walmart run.  Yet, you still know you are in Africa where only minutes outside this sprawling city people are hauling goods on carts with mules and the reason I am here...bikes.

Initial thoughts....people are friendly, every business seems to be run by Indians, there is a much larger Muslim population than I would have even expected.  They are not trying to burn the Quaran here so apparently they have one upped the whack a doo American pastor from a little town called, Intolerance.

I don't know where I am going to ride which is freaking me out and one of the major reasons for my continued jet lag.  I don't ride, I don't sleep.  It's not so much an activity thing, it's more a mental thing.  Riding soothes my overactive, stress producing brain and I haven't been on my bike in almost a week.  

The company I am working for is big thinking company backed by a strong support system.  I have such an amazing opportunity to sell thousands of bikes with the tools to help me do that.  

World Bicycle Relief was founded in 2005 by FK and Leah Day, in response to the Tsunami.  They were moved to help people get back on their feet and to provide a source of income to the survivors, a bike.  They moved their efforts to Zambia and recently entered Zimbabwe and Kenya.  To date they have distributed over 70,000 bicycles.  I am the new Country Director for WBR in Kenya and my goal is to sell 12,000 next year.  My personal goal is to sell 15,000....15,000 more Kenyans on good bicycles makes me very happy.

Saturday I attended my first event after arriving Friday night and hitting the sack for a solid 1 1/2 hours of sleep.  The jet lag induced manic phase throughout the night helped me unpack my three large bags (yes, they all arrived intact including my bike) and settle in.  Mike, the current Country Director, George and Joyce all went to an agriculture show in Naivasha to demo and sell bikes.  Naivasha is about an hour and a half drive from Nairobi into the Rift Valley.  Like most places in Africa the drive into the valley was breathtaking.  After a busy morning and early afternoon the rains came and essentially ended the show a bit prematurely but all in all it was a success.

Last night I slept on and off with a myriad of dreams, some very uncomfortable, but I slept.  Today, more work with Mike bringing me up to speed, a shopping trip to the Walmart of Kenya, Nakumatt (bares no resemblance in inventory to the Kigali Nakumatt, there's actually stuff you want to buy here) and then a really good Sushi dinner with Mike and more business.  

I head home thinking, I'm going to sleep like a baby.  Turns out like a baby with colic!  So, why not be productive since I'm going to be worthless tomorrow.

Thoughts....I live in an apartment, very nice one, in Nairobi.  I'm still a country girl at heart.  This will definitely take some getting used to.  

Mosquitoes...back to swatting, hearing the buzzing, skin welts and fear of malaria.  People ask me if I liked living in Las Vegas.  Lack of mosquitoes and bugs alone would do it for me.

My world is bizarre even to me at times.  I still can't believe I'm here, doing this, living out my childhood dream.  Saturday I'm going to a bike race to award some WBR bikes for prizes.  After we drop them off Mike and I are going to run over to the Rhino park for a little impromptu safari before we head back to present the prizes at the end of the race.  

My cousin Anne just "friended" me on Facebook.  We haven't talked in years, maybe even a decade.  I was one of her bridesmaids 22 years ago.  Still lives in Michigan with her high school sweetheart and three kids.  Sometimes things like that make me wonder why I just can't seem to settle down, settle in and be fulfilled like she is.  My physical wanderings are simply a manifestion of my emotional/mental wanderings.  Being settled for me seems unsettling for everyone else.

Thoughts...I don't do "alone" well.  I prefer a home filled with friends and family.  This is my test.  I will need to learn to embrace being on my own...until I make a bunch new friends.

Leaving never gets easier, moving never gets easier and the first two weeks in a new place always tend to suck a little bit.  My military moving sister tends to agree so that's my touchstone.  

"There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest."  -- Anais Nin

That is can I get an Ambien?  I think I need to sleep....


  1. Kimberly. Nairobi is kind of crazy. Lovely people though. Good luck with finding a place to ride...I anticipate you will but do take care. It is no Kigali for sure as you have already experienced. Peace to you as you begin to settle.

  2. Kim; We all have some type of calling and this is your mission no matter where it takes you.. Some of us never make it that far others like yourself do. You have a fierce but kindred spirit. What you may not realize is that each time you move on to something outside of your comfort zone you become a stronger person. If it wasn't for you I would have never heard about the coffee farmers and project Rwanda.. Thanks for opening my eyes. God Speed in your travels and adventures.

  3. It will all come's just the type A rising to the top.
    Miss you you
    Mom and Dad