Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gabriel's Lament

Finding time to acclimate into life here in Kenya was non-existent.  Some would even say demanding.  With a quick change from a "penda" (like) to a "taka" (want) lifestyle, there were only a few short weeks to find any footholds in the Kenyan loose soils.  In just three short weeks we had several field exercises, a week-long expedition to one of the country's notable national parks, a day living in a Maasai home, a day-long excursion for research in Amboseli NP, as well as 3 papers due in the space of 3 days.  To top of this hot-list of to-dos, I'll be diving head-first into a dashing ocean known only as Finals on Friday morning, only to surface from the dashing waves of graded-answers to find myself swimming towards my next destination: Directed Research.
   It is a time of great turmoil here in the second session of the semester.  We were told the next four weeks would be hell, but that we should trudge through like the merry-men of Malarky, pull on our caps, and forcefully whistle a happy tune to the beat of research and development.
   But in truth, I'm more at peace here in East Africa than I have been in the past 2.5 years of studying at UNC.  Not to say I haven't enjoyed my time on the Hill, because I most certainly wouldn't trade my Tarheel experiences for anything.  However, stepping outside of my plans in politics and law enforcement, my two majors (political science, and peace, war & defense), to flail about in an environmental management and ecological studies setting was one of the best decisions I could've made.  When one finds themselves distressed by swimming in the same pond for a long time, I have found that it is best to swim to shore, step out, and find what adventures there are to be had outside the waters.
   My findings have drastically altered my feelings.  It's quite a thrill to know that I'm successful in a setting so unlike my safety-net I find at home in North Carolina, and it has given me quite a confidence boost.  I'm walking on air here in Africa, and there's nothing quite like knowing that air is filtered directly from the majestic snowy peaks of Kilimanjaro (in fact, it's so defining that even the chill it brings while you're in the outdoor shower is powerfully bracing!). 
   It occurred to me earlier today that I am acclimated to the lifestyle here.  I am a citizen in my heart.  I laugh with the locals and play with their children.  I dance with the Maasai mamas, and lounge in the shade drinking bah-nah-nuh bee-uh with the papas.  I've milked goats, helped with the birth of a baby cow, have conversations in Kiswahili daily, and I've even become a master of drop-choos (also known as squat-pots, or holes in the floor for restroom activities).  Baboons are as regular an occurrence here to me as gray squirrels at home, and I'll surely miss waking up to having them sleeping on my front porch every morning.
   The more I hear from my family and friends, the more excited I become.  Excitement, however, can be applicable to several situations, including positive and negative feelings.  I'm nervous about leaving here because life is so simple, and direct... and to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I'll be comfortable driving on the right side of the road back in the U.S. anymore.  But I'm also very happy about walking out of baggage claim in Charlotte and into the arms of my parents, as well as the flailing ones of one of my best friends. Plans are being made, both now in the present, and for the future... and I know I can handle them all.


  1. WHAT!? It has taken you 17+ years to become a master of drop-choos? I'm so proud to be your mamma! LOL

  2. I am glad to know you have enjoyed you time there Kris. It will seem like not enough time and yet too long away. It is a time that you will never forget, and always cherish and you can appreciate alot more of your life back home and not be like everyone else and expect all or most of everything you "must have". Appreciate the little things which I know you will! Love you