Monday, June 21, 2010

June 20th

Although today was simply a travel day, consisting of a five-hour drive from Nairobi to Meru, there was no shortage of things to see and do. Meru is located in the foothills of Mt. Kenya and the drive was absolutely gorgeous. Rolling hills, lush greenery; people everywhere, and roadside markets full of fresh mangos, pineapples, papayas and avocados. Not to mention a plethora of coffee and tea fields and coffee processing factories with acres of coffee beans in the sun drying. It was a long drive, about 5 hours in total, but luckily the majority of the roads we took were paved. To prevent speeding, the paved roads have huge speed bumps every couple of kilometers. Speaking of driving, it’s illegal in Keya to talk on a cell phone while driving, and has been long before this law existed in Canada. The landscape here in the Mt Kenya region is so completely different than where I was before on the coast. It’s like being in an entirely different country all together.

We are planning on going on Safari in Sweetwater this weekend but we found out today that the Prime Minister of Kenya will be there on Saturday as well. This is bad news bears. The constitution here in Kenya is undergoing changes and there will be a vote on August 4th regarding these changes. Unfortunately, the Kenyan population is unhappy with the proposed changes, specifically those of Christian religion. I’m not exactly sure of the details, and I may be wrong in what I have seemed to learn about the whole situation so far. All I know is that it has something to do with Christians being upset about the new constitution’s legalization (or perceived legalization…not sure if its actually being legalized or if they just think it sounds that way?) of abortion and something about the Islamic family courts. Anyways, regardless of what the real political turmoil is about, it makes it unsafe to be in the same place as the Prime Minister. There was a rally last week where grenades were thrown and 6 people were killed and many more were injured. The Kenya High Commission sent a message to all Canadian’s abroad advising them to act with extreme caution in public areas, especially because we are a visible minority.

I really noticed today that I was a visible minority. We stopped at the Nakumatt to go grocery shopping and I couldn’t help but feel awkward and uncomfortable. I’m not sure if that is something that you ever get used to. We were dressed conservatively in capris and t-shirts, but it’s hard not to feel extremely exposed with bare, white arms. I’m sure it’s all in my head but I couldn’t help feeling like I was being starred at. It is assumed that we are carrying with us lots of money and expensive goods simply because of the colour of our skin. There is no fitting in at all here, you have to be prepared to be starred at and judged and asked for things every time you step outside.

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