Kenya, Pictures

Living in Tala… so far

Alan at VSO’s officeKaribu sana to Kenya! That is, “Welcome very much to Kenya!” We’ve arrived and all is well; the in-country “training” seemed long, but served as a week-long transition period we and the other fifteen or so volunteers came to appreciate. Aside from lectures on VSO’s development goals in Kenya, this first week was spent venturing into the hectic city center, visiting VSO’s office, taking Kiswahili lessons, and practicing our “my name is” and “I am from” phrases with the staff at the guest house. We ended the week of training with a nice dinner at a local pub before all the volunteers and employers set off to their corners of Kenya. Sister Euphemia had come from the college for the training and she happily took us shopping in Nairobi for household necessities before bringing us to our new home at the Holy Rosary College.

Alan and Sara at dinnerWe’re now settling into our quaint little house in the fairly remote village of Tala. The village is only about an hour and a half east of Nairobi, but it’s far enough that the electricity is shotty, the water needs boiling AND filtering, and the only internet connection for miles around is the 128Kbit link at the college we are living at. Did I mention the town is small? It appears as if there are only one or two non-Africans in this town any given year. One day Sara and I walked the twenty minutes into the center of the town and caused quite a spectacle for the locals, especially the elementary-aged crowd! They either point and yell “Mzungu” (which means “white person”) or ask “How are you, British?” It’s pretty hilarious.

Johnson teaching us to make chapati!Our house!Aside from the epic battle between Sara and the bugs which takes place nightly at dusk, we’re slowly getting used to the “simple life.” That is, doing our laundry by hand, showering with a bucket of water, burning our trash, sleeping under a mosquito net, and going to bed at eight o’clock at night. It’s kinda like camping, and you know I love camping! Sara’s still warming up to the idea of a two year camping trip. We immediately realized that our kitchen repertoire is rather limited, and luckily we’ve made a friend in the college who loves sharing local recipes. Yesterday we learned how to make chapati! Chapati is delicious.

That’s all for now, so hang tight and stay tuned. Please bear in mind that although the college has an internet connection, it is slow, unreliable, and shared with both the college and community of Tala!

Thanks for reading!


9 Comments to “Living in Tala… so far”

  1. Mom Nanci

    Oh my gosh! Buckets, bugs, and boiling water. I hope it gets easier or you get used to it fast. But… once you get beyond it you can handle anything! The pictures brought tears to my eyes. I am so inspired and proud of you two.
    Love, Mom

  2. Piper

    Hi Sweeties – GREAT to have photos of you both in Tala! Hurrah! Your digs look very nice from the outside. Inside shots and shots of the town in the next installment?

    Bugs? What KIND of bugs?

    Are the staples turning out to be corn and such, as you had heard?

    In Japan it was “Ara! Gaigin!” (outsider/ foreigner – but reserved for those who did not look East Asian and esp. for White folks). In HK it was “Ah – Meigwokyahn” (Oh! Americans! (when we opened our mouths and they realized our Cantonese did not have a British English accent). And of course “gwailoh” (ghosts -because westerners looked, to the Cantonese, sort of deathly pale)… Ah well.

    MISS having two Tiggers around!

    Love and many hugs,

    Momswa (Mom #2)

  3. Michelle Tiernan

    Hi Sara and Alan,

    Hunter is here with me and we are enjoying your blog. Amazing. We left the parents and boys at home and Hunter and I went to a play last night, “Suzical the Musical” and she spent the night here. Hunter says: “Hi, it’s me, Hunter. I really, really miss you. Tell Sara I don’t like bugs either.” I think about you guys all the time, glad to hear you are adjusting. What a huge adjustment, to so many things.

    Be well,

  4. Darrell Bartlett

    Well, I for one love bugs and am jealous as heck. So glad to hear you two made it. I feel like, well, the world is better already, just having you both there, doing good things. I can’t imagine the transition you are now making. It has to be over the top exciting and scary, but if anyone can handle this, it is you. The key word it trust…of yourself!!!

    All the best from Lorna and I

  5. Claudia

    You finally made it—you had to wait so very long. I’m excited about hearing about your adventures and every day life in that part of the world. You guys are great. Andy and I are doing fine and so is Muggins—we miss you.

    Peace and Happiness,


  6. bri cooney

    hey alan!
    just wanted to let you know i’m thinking of you and hope everything’s going well with your transition over there!
    love, bri

  7. Why are you showering in a bucket? I fixed the electric shower in that house to a working condition before I left. *sigh* give my respect to the bugs and watch out for snakes, scorpions, bats and rats. Mark

  8. casey parks

    Alan! I love reading all about your trip and your gardening experiences. It’s like living vicariously. Keep writing. It’s so fun to read.

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