Monday, September 12, 2011
My small town, sheltered, Canadian self.
My largest fear about living in Kenya is living in fear. I know as a Canadian that I take many things for granted. My health and my safety are virtually guaranteed as a Canadian.
Clean drinking water is available for free wherever you go in Canada. Cities, towns, or walking up a mountain stream. I can hydrate myself, my children, my pets and my gardens any time I want. I don't have to wait for the rain.
I know I will have to throw all organic purchasing standards out the window and just hope that the produce I buy is grown chemically free. I will however be bringing 12 jars of organic peanut butter with me. Peanut butter is a staple with my children, so I won't take my chances there.
No insect here can cause me serious harm. Mosquito? No big deal... it's a small itchy bite. Not Malaria, or Dengue Fever. My daughter seems to be a smorgasbord for mosquitoes and there is a small possibility that she may have already contacted Dengue Fever in Costa Rica, which of course makes a recurrence very risky. I prefer not slather my children in deet and other chemicals. In Kenya, I will have no choice. True fact: - Malaria has killed more than half the people who have EVER lived. I realize there are anti malaria meds, but is this applicable for someone who lives there? Is it safe to take these meds for upwards of a year? Obviously, I have some research to do here.
In addition to the Mosquito, there are also Tsetse flies, baboon spiders etc. Not to mention all the venomous and lethal snakes. I've got bears and cougars. I have never run into a cougar, and I am not afraid of bears. I can take Kenya's lions, crocodiles etc... but the insects and snakes that can invade my personal space - I am not fond of!
Crime. I know this may be hard for some people to believe, but I have never had to lock my doors. Ever. Crazy? Hardly. I have always lived in small, safe communities. (Read - not city smart. at. all.) I have never felt afraid in my home towns and I can recall only 1 time where I felt unsafe in all of Canada. Not to say that nothing ever happens here... it is just very rare. I have never had to worry about being pick pocketed, or having my purse stolen. I'm telling you, I have a hard enough time keeping track of my purse, that I simply won't be able to carry one! I'll have a darn neck wallet, money belt, ankle pocket etc at every end of my extremities! My children, who also take their safety for granted and do feel very comfortable talking to strangers, will also have to be strapped to me. In addition to all that strappage, I will prefer to also have a dog. I have this fantasy that I will take in a local stray dog to keep my family safe. Yes, that is likely the only thing that will allow me to sleep at night. Speaking of night... I like my freedom to travel at night. I believe that it gets dark pretty early in Kenya and it is deemed as unsafe to drive or walk at night. Does this very early dinners if we want to eat out?
Crossing the street. I have never been to a country that drives on the wrong side of the road. (Or right side? Who am I to argue...) Traffic will be nuts I'm sure, and now we will have to contend to...stop, look...oh, look the proper way, and look again just to be sure you looked the right way, then walk. Heck... I struggle to remember to get out of a taxi on the sidewalk side, not the street side while in other countries with crazy roads and traffic. (Once had my taxi door slammed into, in Mexico for this very reason.)
Clean, mountain fresh air. I don't have to contend with air pollution, and never have. I'm sure Nairobi has it's fair share!
Health care. I have some research to do here. Obviously we need a good health insurance to cover us while we are there. I am told that the hospitals and health care is good in Nairobi. Good in a world standard I am sure, but I am also sure it won't be the level of what we can expect in Canada. I will be packing my suitcase with every kind of vitamin and natural remedy I can find to keep us healthy and out of the hospital!
The election - Aug 2012. Pre and Post election violence scares the jeepers out of me. Seriously. I don't want to live confined to the 4 walls of our apartment. Enough said.
Now that I have clearly defined myself as a spoiled, melodramatic westerner... let's add some reality to this. The one reassurance I do have is that I know first handed that everything regarding safety travel is always exaggerated. Secondly, I have spoken with other Mothers who have been to Kenya and feel that it is safe to move their children there. There are also plenty of Expat's who live in Nairobi with their families and they seem to do just fine! Not to mention that Kenya is visited by 10 million tourists a year. It can't be that bad! Right now I am simply preparing for the worst and hoping for the best!