There are a lot of things that make life in our Kenyan apartment in the city very different from our former life in a suburban house in America. For example…
All the keys in houses are skeleton keys, and all the doors handles are levers. Having lived in South Africa, where it was the same, I hardly noticed upon arriving here!
Our water doesn’t just get hot and stay hot all the time – we have to turn on our “water heaters” (which are basically large electric kettles) with a switch on the wall about an hour before we want to use hot water. We have a heater for each bathroom and one under the kitchen sink to heat water for washing dishes.
Speaking of electric kettles, they are extremely and pretty much everybody has some sort of kettle. (People here love their Kenyan tea!)
Electricity is out frequently, usually several times a week, and it has stayed off for as many as twenty-four hours at a time. Sometimes it is because someone hit a pole or a fuse box, but it is generally because the electricity just…runs out. (As in, there isn’t any more to be had.) Too many apartment buildings + no extra power = no electricity
Many people don’t have “pets” here. They’ll have guard dogs, cattle, goats, chickens, or even a stray cat, but no real family pets. In fact, a majority Kenyans are afraid of dogs, which is why our loving little dogs are such a novelty.
A dishwasher? Why, yes, a 1998 model named, Samuel Hoffman.
I always wanted a canopy bed, and now I really have one…made of net. Yes, mosquito nets are nearly a necessity here, especially in the hottest part of the year (December- February). A necessity, that is, unless you enjoy being wakened to a high-pitched buzzing in your ear and bites all over you!
The windows here don’t have screens. Honestly, in a place where our windows are constantly open, it is quite a bother: the dust and dirt of Nairobi coats everything, making it hard to keep things clean. It would be nice to have screened windows simply to keep the bugs out!
The outlets here need to be turned on and off when you use them. Seriously, they have switches. (Unlike windows with no screens, this is a good idea, especially considering that the power comes out at 220 volts, twice what it does in America.) As a side note, there are no outlets in bathrooms (not a good or convenient plan when it comes to hair styling).
No carpeting here – wood floors and tile are pretty much all you’ll find. I like wood floors, but they are a little slick for baby Aviya!
Not many people have an oven, and I am very thankful to have a tiny but nice Elba oven. Some people have stoves (called “cookers”) or hot plates to heat meals, but many people use LP tanks, parafin, and plain old fires. While we’re on the subject of kitchen things, there aren’t crock pots here…plenty of rice cookers, though!
We, like most of the population here, don’t have a clothes dryer. Actually, we do, and it is free, though not always available: the sun. Mom and I, together, spend a total of about twenty hours a week doing laundry for our family of five. It is a lot of work.
There aren’t any built-in closets; all our closets are cupboards (and take up lots of floor space!).
We have a big gate to enter and exit our apartment complex, and armed guards 24-hours a day. The guy in the photo is our day guard, Wycliff, and interestingly our night guard has the same name!
These are just a few of the things that make our life in Kenya so interesting and, on occasion, a bit frustrating. We love our life here, crazy though it may be, and wouldn’t trade it.