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I should have been called today regarding the job I interviewed for last Thurs... but wasn't.

Bad sign? Overworked HR dept? Who knows.


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To all of the mac geeks out there...

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When looking at online video (or even I am assuming, flash) content, I have been getting that little quicktime logo thingy, but with a big old question mark over top of it.

Anybody know what this means, and what I have to download in order to make it go away?

Livin' it up at the Starbucks Hotel!!

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At Field based training in Nyeri (Central Province), and I kid you not, I am atcually staying at the Starbucks hotel. It's been a crazy few days, we today we visited a catholic organization that provides services to people liviung with HIV/AIDS, and that was pretty amazing. After opening the meeting with a prayer (all meetings in Kenya start w/ a prayer, very religious country), a lady stood up and just started singing. And this happens all the time- and every time, it is the most amazing music that you have ever heard in your life! It sounds so stereotypical, but just imagine every movie set in Africa that you have ever seen, and then think about the soundtrack. It really honestly is like that. And everyone starts clapping and dancing, and it makes you so incredibly amazed and humbled to have been allowed the chance to come here and experience this.

On Wed, we helped a community group build a well! I had never seen a well dug, and so that was a great experience. I helped pull the bucket of dirt up out of the well, and then I dug holes for fence posts with a machete! One of my friends, Misty took a picture of me, and when and if she uploads it, I'll give you a link! I've got loads of pictures, but I think I'm going to wait for a real high speed connection in Nairobi (I'll be there in a week or two), where it will be easier! My friend and next door neighbor Terika took a photo of me with some neighborhood kids as well, so I'll persuade her to upload that one as well!

Well, it's getting late, and I should be getting to dinner, I really need to write these emails down before I come, becuase there is always something that I forget! Maybe I'll just start posting them as random notes at teh end of every post...

-On the drive from Kitui to Nyeri, we saw BABOONS! They were eating trash by the side of the road... Karibu Kenya!

-The public busses are called Matatus, and they are often brightly painted and given names. Some of the best names I've seen so far are: "Pain!" "Christ Cruiser" "Survivor", and "The Redeemer".

-My chicken is still alive, we'll see how long that lasts!

-Still trying to get the time to get a cell phone! I tried to get one here in Nyeri, but the guy was really trying to rip us off, so we're going to get them back in Kitui.

-For the 4th of july, we're going to get to go to the US Embassy party in Nairobi! THis is a very big deal, as most of the currently serving PCVs will be there, as well as otehr gov't and US NGO staff, so we're all very excited about that!

Take care everybody! I've got a 5 hour drive back to Kitui tomorrow, and let's just say that only HALF the way is paved! Travel is not nice or comfortable here, so next time you get in your car and zip to the supermarket that is half a mile away, just think of me, and turn up the air-con!

Erin and the Chicken!

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Well, life continues apace here in Kenya...

The other morning before class, I was taking some of the breakfast scraps out to feed the chickens, (yes, I do actually live on a farm- I have several chickens, a turkey and a cow) and on the way I passed by this old mama coming up the path towards the house. I fed the chickens and on my way back to my room to gather my stuff for Kiswahili class, my Mama called me into the main room of the house. The old lady was having tea, and as I shook her hand, my Mama hands me this *live* chicken! The lady is a neighbor, and brought me a present! This was a little strange, as I had never held a live chicken before, so I grabbed it by the feet and hurried back out to the chicken coop to throw it in. My Mama was telling us that we should keep it, as the hen would lay eggs for us, while outside Titus the cook was teaching me the Kiswahili word for 'to slaughter', and illustrating the language lesson with throat slashing motions... So the chicken is still alive, but we'll see how long she gets to continue laying eggs!

Training is pretty intense, our training is almost completely community based, so we spend a lot of time sitting on the ground underneath mango trees... Kiswahili is coming along pretty well for a language I have absolutely no experience with and that bears no resemblance to any language I've seen before. I wrote a paragraph in Kiswa the other day, I'll post it for you if I get time later on!

I'm adjusting, there are hard days, and then there are days when being here and walking down the road is even a great experience. The public busses (called Matatu) are pretty scary, they tend to play chicken with bicycles and pedestrians quite a lot.

--I eat almost a whole fresh papaya every day, my host family is really trying to fatten me up as much as they can, and they've realized that I like the fruit, so they're shoving as much as they can into me. I can't wait till mango season!

Well, I've got to get going, I've got other people waiting behind me, and they want to get online!

Take care of yourselves!

Kitui!

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Hello everyone! I am emailing from the Post office (Posta) here in Kitui. The past week has been exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally, but the downs are pretty equally balanced out with these amazing "I can't believe I am in Africa" moments.

After flying into Nairobi and staying for a few days at a guest house there, we went on to Kitui. Since we had been confined to the guest house in Nairobi, the ride to Kitui was the first we had really seen of Kenya. The land was just so incrediblly beautiful that despite not having slept well the night before, I couldn't keep my eyes off the scenery. Whatever you have seen or thought about what Africa and Kenya would be like, that was it.

In Kitui, we stayed at the training center for a while before meeting our homestay families. My family is just my Mama (mama is a term of respect for all middle-aged women here) and some men who work on the shamba (farm). We do not have running water or electricity, so I take my baths in a bucket, and study at night by parrafin lamp. My Mama lived in the UK for a while, so she speaks very good English, but the men who work on her shamba don't really speak english, so they are really eager to help me learn kiswahili, and I am very glad for that.

I have found that my name is very hard for many Kenyans to pronounce, so my Mama gave me a name in Kikamba (the local language for Kitui, and the first for many people here, kiswahili is the 2nd), so people here are calling me Mwende, which means 'loved one'... she gave me that name because as we walk through town, everyone wants to stop to greet me. I have learned enough Kiswa to greet people, tell them what my name is, where I am from and to ask the same of them, but beyond that, when they start rattling off in Kiswa or Kikamba (I can't tell the difference yet!), I just have to shrug my shoulders and say "sijui" (I don't know).

Training is going to be overwhelming for a little while, I can tell. THey've given us loads of work, which is hard to do when you're just trying to adjust to everything being so different. But I am sure that as I become more comfortable here, I will cope better with the work load. At least I have really wonderful co-trainees, and we have already been helping each other through the rough parts, and I can tell that they will soon be like family to me.

I should get off the computer so I have some time left on my card to use later! I think I may be getting a cell phone some time next week, so I will put the number here so that you can call me! It will cost you money, so pole ('sorry' in Kiswahili), but I can get calls and text messages for free, so feel free to call just to say hi!

Also, feel free to write me, I promise that I will write back, as I get lots of free time! I usually go to bed around 9 (with no electricity, there's not much to do after dark!), and get up around 6, so in the evenings, there is not much to do but study my Kiswa and write!

Kwaherini!

Hello from Arlington!

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Staging has been intense, with very long days, but it has definitely been lots of fun. There are about 37 people in my group, and so far everyone seems really great- very smart, excited, fun people, and I'm really looking forward to getting to know everyone in the next few weeks!

Tonight, I have to totally re-pack my bags, since one bag will be going into storage for the entirety of pre-service training. We'll be able to get to it, but it won't be easy, so we'll need to have everything we'll need for the next 10 weeks in one bag. This bag will go with us to our homestays. Tomorrow, we have to be in the hotel lobby and ready to go at the brutal hour of 7 AM. From there, we go to the health clinic for our shots, and then we check out of the hotel and go to the airport for our 24 or so hour flight!

In Nairobi, we'll be staying at a guest house for a couple of nights, and then we'll move on to the town where we'll be doing our training, Kitui. After a few days there, we'll be sent off to our homestay familys! That's definitely nervewracking, but I'm expecting it to be interesting, and hopefully fun. I've told them that I really like kids, so hopefully I'll get a family with some kiddies to hang out with.

In training, we'll be doing mostly community-based training, where apparently a lot of training, even language classes, will be happening out in markets, clinics, and other places outside of a classroom. I think this suits my learning style really well, so I'm excited about that.

We've been told that we will probably not have internet or phone access for a while, so I'll try to get online and on a phone as soon as I can, but if you don't hear from me immediately, don't worry! Know that I'll be fine, and that I'm thinking about all of you and hoping that you are all well!

Parties!

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So on Friday and yesterday, my friends and family threw going-away parties for me. It was wonderful to see everyone, but ultimately gutting, as it is getting harder and harder to say goodbye to everyone I love. I've been feeling somewhat bipolar lately, as my emotions range from utter heartbreak to excitement in the course of a half hour.

Things will quiet down in a bit, as I make my way through my last day here. I'll finish up my errands, pack the last of my things, measure and weigh my luggage to ensure it comes under the size limits, and do a number of mundane things like that.

This is not a mundane day like any other. But I have to pretend that it is, if only to preserve my sanity, and to make it easier on my family. They're going to have it rough enough, without me breaking down too.

Of course I'm excited. I've been working for this for so long, and I'm finally in a place where I really do feel *ready* for this. But feeling ready doesn't make the leaving any easier.

...And away we go!

Feet
Ok kids, here's the deal:

I'm off to the wilds of Kenya, to test my mettle against the giraffe (and the zebras!). I'll try to keep this journal updated as much as possible, although I'm not sure how often I'll have access to internet (especially during training). I've been keeping a family-friendly blog over at blogger, so feel free to check that one out as well: Blogger!.

I've also got photos, which I will try to upload as time and bandwidth allow:

Flickr
Yahoo Photos (This account is for when I've gone over my monthly upload limit on Flickr)

So that's about all the important info!

Packing

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Packing
Originally uploaded by PCErin.
So yeah, this is what packing for two years in Africa looks like... (notice the duct tape in the lower right hand corner!)

I'm slowly getting there, and have been testing out my gear as much as is possible before I go, just to get the hang of it and to work out any bugs that might surface... This is to test out my bright and shiny new digital camera!

One week and counting!

Feet
So in exactly one week, I'll be in Arlington, at staging!

It is totally freaking me out, and at the same time, I can't wait for it to get here already! I'm in this bizarre place where the days are going by slowly, but the weeks seem to be flying by... which I can't quite reconcile, but that's ok.

I've tried a trial run of packing, and while I came out waaay below the 80 lbs limit, I hadn't packed everything I think I'll need. So we'll try the packing thing again in a few days, and see where we come in at that point. I'm feeling kind of panicked due to the fact that it seems like everyone else who is leaving soon has been making lists and packing way ahead of time, and I've been packing and making the list at the same time, so I think that there are things in my bags that are not on the list, and there are things on the list that are not in my bags. As long as everything works out in the end, I'll be ok.

This is slowly becoming more and more real, and I can't really describe how this feels, other than to say that I am scared shitless and exhilarated at the same time.

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globalnomad77
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