I've been in Kenya now since August. A whole 3 months, 1/4 of a year, 9 weeks, and no matter how I measure the increment of time that has passed it seems like my life has been a serious of trials, successes and ....... well.... unbelievable events. Some days I feel like to quote my favorite musicians, a candle in a hurricane! Other days I feel like this is the life I am destined for, and I find myself daydreaming of how to build a house here, and the amenities that I would need to install in said house to live a "normal" life. Normal. Ha. Nothing about life here is normal. Starting in the morning I have to use bottled water to brush my teeth, rinse and gurgle. The morning routine of a shower, potential shave of the legs- ha why bother? Can't show my knees- so wear pants, becomes an obstacle. The water for the shower comes in small bursts of ice cold water- water that even Lake Michigan would run screaming from in the middle of winter. Then to complete the morning trifecta, the toilet. Ah the toilet with its western style seat, raised in a familiar way, will most mornings mutiny and refuse to flush. This country seems to have the idea for the toilet in mind, but the mechanics that go into said technology are less than stellar.
On that particular note, it must be said that Kenya is a country full of jerry rigged things. Our internet cable, for example, runs down the side of our 8 floor apartment complex, is secured on the roof by twine and a metal rod to which the receiver box is taped and hoisted into the air a good 10 meters. Looking out across the length of the rooftop it can be seen that is a common practice. While on the roof you will also see the sadest attempt at a clothesline from the token "mazungus," (what Kenyans call white people, not in an offensive manner, just way it is...) living here. Kenya is a city full of creativity because of this phenomenon of jerry-rigging everything and anything.
Most days I look around and think to myself- do I really live here? What am I doing? How is this "normal?" CRAZY things happen without a particular reason. Shida is a Swahili word for problem. Hakuna Shida means "no problem." similar to the overused, widely known saying from the Lion King movie, Hakuna Matata, meaning no worries. To use Hakuna matata in Kenya is a tourist trap. The Kenyans around you will pounce on you like a hungry lion to a wildabeast as they realize you are a walking dollar sign. You will be escorted to your destination- you may or maynot have needed help finding- then upon arrival charged by this Kenyan entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to exploit a mazungu using a taboo phrase. Whats the bottom line- WHEN TRAVELLING TO KENYA DO NOT USE PHRASE HAKUNA MATATA- USE HAKUNA SHIDA.
Hakuna Shida. Ah. words that if you come to Kenya you will hear a zillion times a day, and will eventually want to tell the person speaking the words where to stick the phrase. Hakuna Shida. No worries. Usually when this phrase is babbled.... there is a HUGE shida. A huge problem. Never underestimate however the person saying this to jerry-rig a solution to the problem. This solution will most undoubtedly be the wildest solution that in fact will bring more shida to unfold. Beware of the shida.