Same or Different?

Yesterday was the start of a new week here in Kenya. I decided that my mom’s picture of us camping indoors is a good visual of what is happening here. There are so many aspects of our current day to day living that are similiar to camping. And I am referring to tent/backpack camping not the kind of car camping that we would do in our Volkswagonn Westfalia (that clarification was for you Andy and Kori). So, let’s play a game of same/different!


Boiling all water that is to be used for washing dishes or drinking. Course, if you are at a deluxe campground, you don’t even have to do this. Think back to your last camping trip….doing the dishes is quite a process huh? And, you need to have all of your dishes washed from the previous meal so that you have pots/wash pans free to make the next meal! No more dishes sitting in the sink or on the counter…unless you want bugs.

Bugs at dawn and dusk. So, in either case, you make sure that you are either tucked in safe, have on repellent or have on long sleeves and pants.

Tents. We have tents here….they’re just inside the house on our beds! Same rules apply when getting in and out though. Shoes off at the entrance. No dilly-dallying when the flap is open and unzipped. Get to business. Get in and out and get that thing zipped so no bugs can get in. Ian unzipped his side of the bed tent and was just hanging out in our bedroom. I said, “What are you doing? Zip that up or get in already!” He said, “What I have to get undressed in the bed?” I said, “No, you get undressed before you unzip the bed to get in!” Ok, that might be a little different than camping simply because we don’t want to see naked hinnies around the campground, but it gives you a good visual of our bedtime rituals! I am all about the bug prevention and can unzip, hop in, and rezip in some seriously quick time. I might have to time it and report back to you so you can all be impressed with how fast I really am!

Also, much like camping is the fact that you cringe if you hear a voice in the middle of the night saying something like, “I need to go potty” or “Can I wake up now?” Those of you who have camped with toddlers know what I mean. On another toddler/tent note, Lucy was transitioned to a big girl bed when we moved here, and she has fallen out a few times…including one time in the middle of the night when Ian found her caught up in the net, wrapped like a fly caught in a spiders web….with a broken tent pole. She made it in her tent 2 days before breaking the pole. Darn girl!

Sweeping. Keep your area free of dirt and food crumbs. No one wants a dusty/dirty tent that attracts ants or gets all of your gear dirty. The red dirt here is constantly coming into the house, so it is necessary to sweep and mop quite often to keep things from getting filthy. And we’re not even in the hot/dry season yet!


We have a gas stove….but it is much larger than a camping kerosene stove or similiar. It is not full-sized like the American style, but it does have 4 burners and an oven, which is a big deal around here! Also, we don’t have to worry about the wind blowing our flame out, or having to start it with matches.

Our house has locking windows and gates, although the gates are NOT CHILD PROOF, as evidenced by the sequence of pictures in the last post.

Furniture: We have more than the usual aluminum/nylon folding camping furniture. The furniture has actually been one of the surprising things about our move here to Africa. Our furniture that is being made by the Salvation Army vocational students is quite sturdy, well-made and nice looking. I think that most of it is made of teak or cyprus. There is also a varied selection of furniture pieces that can be found along the roadside from various sellers. Some pieces are of wood, other wildly patterned fabrics, and others woven like wicker or other grasses. I can’t wait until I am able to get around on my own so I can take a closer look at some of the more native looking pieces. It is funny, as a foreigner, I am drawn to the native pieces, and I see that the native Kenyan people tent to decorate with pieces that look much more fabricated (like what we would purchase in America at Wickes or other chain furniture stores…just from like the 70’s and 80’s in style).

Keep in mind, my experience is not that of the regular ex-pat so far. We drive by this huge palatial gated homes and I know that these people must be living quite differently than we are. In fact, I in the “Ex-Pat Connection” magazine, I saw someone selling a side-by-side LG stainless steel refrigerator….so I know that many Ex-Pats are living just as they did in the States or other more developed countries or better.

Trash: I think that in regards to disposal, we are behind camping standards here. Our trash service consists of a big square pit dug out about 30 feet from our back door. I cringe every time I have to remove cardboard or paper packaging off of something because I know that it will have to be BURNED. That’s right. As far as I currently know now, everything gets burned. Cringe again, EVEN plastic. I am rationing my paper towel use appropriately, and the thought of burning Lucy’s used up diapers and the smoke wafting into my kitchen window has me thinking the potty training just got moved up significantly & no unnecessary diaper changing going on over here!

I’ll leave you with that thought! Thank God for reduce, reuse and recycle. Think about that the next time that recycling truck wakes you up in the morning, you could be breathing in your burning trash.

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