It’s hard to believe that five months ago I was living in Tala, working as a VSO volunteer. Life was good then, simple — I was living in a rural area of Kenya, hakuna matata (no problems). I didn’t particularly enjoy teaching, but I loved my colleagues and the pole pole (slow) life was easy to get used to. Teaching was a great experience, and sure it was challenging, but I just didn’t enjoy it. I want to be the guy hacking the computers, not the guy writing about hacking computers on a blackboard!
Life at ILRI has been great since I started in August, 2009. I wear khakis and a collared shirt once or twice a week, and jeans and a t-shirt the other days. I’ve worn a hat before and nobody seemed to mind, but I promise I won’t make a habit of it. Scientists at ILRI are all brilliant, and I’m learning new things about molecular biology and bioinformatics every day. I’ve always had a hobby interest in science, and it’s fun to be surrounded around “real” scientists.
It will be two years ago tomorrow that I moved to Kenya with Sara. After a few months living in Tala we were evacuated due to the post-election violence after Kenya’s 2007 Presidential election, but I came back soon after. In that period I’ve taught computer classes as a VSO volunteer, traveled all over East Africa, learned Swahili, forgotten English, and gotten a non-volunteer job in Nairobi. Who knows where the hell I’ll be in two more years!
Tomorrow is also the annual Nairobi Marathon, in which I’ll be running ten kilometers. I’ve never been a runner, per se, but I’ve always been into sports. I want to do the run more for fun than anything else (besides, ten kilometers isn’t really that far — a whole marathon is forty-two). For the past two months or so I have been training (if you can call it that) with some buddies at work. We run at lunch time, anywhere from five to ten kilometers, through dirt roads, corn fields, etc. It’s a great way to get out of the office if nothing else. Not to mention the countryside is very beautiful, especially when you’re running in the rain. Also, I don’t feel so guilty when I go out and eat a pastry at the coffee shop afterwords.
My two years as a VSO volunteer are coming to an end: I’ve accepted a position as a Linux system administrator with a Kenyan-based non-governmental organization, ILRI. I’ll be working with ILRI from August–December, and then we’ll see after that. I’m done with VSO. That means I’m done with teaching. I’m done with snakes and scorpions. I’m done with Tala. I’m moving to Nairobi. I will miss this place but maisha iendelea (life goes on)!
I arrived in Kenya in October, 2007 and was supposed to stay until October, 2009, but I’ve changed my mind. I began looking around for jobs in April or so I think, and I had just about given up hope when ILRI contacted me in June. Before then I hadn’t heard anything from any of the seven positions I had applied for. Nothing! Not even an automated “Thanks for your application” response. I guess the sheer number of applications makes those sort of courtesies impractical? Who knows.