So project is over, we already had a week of deorientation back at Diani Beach, and now I’m on my own in Nairobi. (Relax, I’m in the safe part.) I can’t believe how fast the past eight weeks have gone by! I feel like everything really came together in our last two weeks at Kwacha – we were able to do so much once we figured out how stuff worked – only to have to leave! This was definitely an experience where I took more than I gave. I can just hear my smug (younger) brother saying “I told you so…”

All in all, project was a positive experience, and I was totally inspired by the talent, passion and energy of the Kenyans with whom we were partnered. Our last few weeks at Kwacha were full of community outreaches, more workshops, the play (I didn’t forget any lines or fall on my face!), a panel of successful women that we organized for the girls’ forum, a visit to a local orphanage and a few neighborhood schools, and lots of food – both yummy and not so much (a list is coming!).

I also had the chance to go to my friend MJ’s house a few weeks ago. (MJ is short for Mwana Juma, a very common muslim name here.) She lives in a community called Likoni and has to cross over on the ferry to get to Mombasa everyday. It was a very cool Swahili cultural experience for me – and the first time I made a real distinction between Kenyan and Swahili cultures. (All Kenyans speak Swahili, but only Muslims are actually part of the Swahili culture.) So I met MJ’s family, including her two-month-old cousin, Mwana Ruisi (who she insists on calling Bridget junior – fine by me!), and we all ate in the dark, crossed-legged on sitting room floor, while we watched Tanzanian music videos, and I tried to speak broken Swahili. MJ is short and loud like me (and about a million times more talented) – I am really going to miss that girl!

It was also hard to say goodbye to our homestay family. They were so hospitable and they kept asking Kora and I to extend our stay. I think Ben will miss us the most, cause now he’ll have no one but the chickens to tease.

Deorientation week was filled with more goodbye dinners, tanning, swimming, snorkelling, a failed attempt to swim with (or even see!) dolphins and shopping. It was a nice transition between project and travel. Plus, I was embarrassingly white after two months in Kenya, so the beach time was definitely needed. Although I relish my independence, it was tough to say bye to all the Canadian volunteers. I’m so used to being in a group that I’m now talking to myself (even more than usual). Just in case I don’t attract enough attention to myself as it is…

I took the train from Mombasa to Nairobi last night – another cool, cultural experience. The 15-hour trip flies by (seriously), you get a mini safari out the window while the sun’s out, and someone comes and makes your bed for you while you eat dinner in the dining cart, then puts stuff away while you have breakfast. Of course I sat next to a woman at dinner who went to Carleton. Small world stuff always happens to me!

Better go now, but first I need to add a PS to my idiosyncracies list:

A special technique exists to prevent shoplifting at department stores in Mombasa (and I know cause I’ve been to all of them!!!). Store managers post a large, colour photo of people who have been caught shoplifting next to the elevators to embarrass the hell out of thieves and discourage future shoplifting. Nothing like the threat of public humiliation to keep people in line…

I’ll write more from Nairobi later this week!