Our week in Kenya was perfectly magical in every way, with personal surprises every day of the trip. Christmas with family was fulfilling and uplifting, and we even had a tiny tree to pile the presents around. But the week was infinitely more than Christmas break with family, it was being home with family after so many years of living scattered across the planet thanks to college and work and a national revolution.
Brice got to meet his “ancestors” at the Giraffe Park in Nairobi. On Christmas Day we were blessed with a three-horned chameleon friend and a Kenyan downpour to top off the day. Some things in Kenya have changed (we flew to Kitale in a propeller plane rather than the typical 6 hour, pot-hole ridden drive complete with diesel fumes and dust) but the air and the heat of the equatorial sun were just as we remembered.
We were allowed in to see the backyard of our old house in Kitale, and my sister got to see the tree she planted on her 11th birthday when it was only a sapling. It’s a good two-story building tall now. We saw monkeys, walked on the golf course of the Kitale Club, watched my little sister swim in the pool we all swam in as kids, ate guavas and bananas, and dusted off our Swahili for some conversations with the askari. We sat on a veranda in the morning and listened to the birds. We toured the Kitale Museum (which was even more of a disappointment than usual as the coolest exhibit had recently been stolen), had lunch at one of my dad’s old friend’s house, saw our old post office and even visited our old pharmacy. We drank Fanta (granted, they were new flavors), we drank chai, drove around our old neighborhood and stopped at the gates of old friends who have long since moved away.
General happiness ensued. Old memories were shared and new memories were made.
I knew there was a danger that my memories of Kitale were more perfect than life had been while we lived there, but the weather and the nature did not disappoint any of us. It smelled the same, the cultural food tasted just as delicious, and lying on your back in the grass to watch the clouds was just as relaxing as it had been 4 years ago.