Top 10 Highlights After One Year

Well we just blinked and now it’s been more than a year since we packed up and moved to Kenya! It’s been a whirlwind of a year, and I don’t know if I’ve ever learned so much in such a short period of time. In celebration of making it this far, here are the top 10 highlights of the past year:

1. Celebrating our first anniversary

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We’ve been married and living together in Kenya longer than we ever were in the US! What a way to start out, right?

2. Doing our jobs well enough that we (both) got promoted

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It’s easy when you’ve got such a great team!

3. The Kenyan Coast

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The best place in the whole world – fascinating history, pungent spices, white sand beaches, beautiful fish below the water and delicious fish above!

4. The Masai Mara

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It’s not just the lions and elephants that are amazing, but the birds too!

5. Cooking up a storm

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Golabki? I thought we were in Kenya, not Poland! We have developed the wonderful skill of feeding ourselves delicious food that we cook from whole, fresh ingredients.

6. The Rift Valley

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We are one with the animals!

7. A visit from family

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In a whirlwind trip, the Wolfes saw (and photographed) Kenya from so many different angles!

8. Getting to see family in London for Christmas, and friends at a wedding in the US in March

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Hanging out at a castle, getting nerdy with the audio tours. That sounds like the Kennedy family to me!

9. Living a new normal, and feeling comfortable finding our way around our new home

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Navigating the streets, and settling into our apartment complete with brand new TV (when the power is on). Lest you think we are somehow missing out on the Kenya outside our door in favor of watching Chopped on the Food Network, we decided having satellite is definitely not lame when we got home and plopped down to watch some TV the other day after petting a cheetah.

10. Beginning to understand the challenges and joys of life for the average Kenyan – and using our research to help meet the challenges

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Hands on learning – it’s up close and personal!

We are so thankful for all that we’ve learned and been able to experience this past year – when I pause and reflect on it I am stunned by just how incredible it has been! Here’s to much more to come.

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Summer Visitors

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It’s summer in Kenya! And I know that not because of warm weather and barbecues (actually the newspaper keeps printing articles about how to take care of your skin in the cold season and there was a display of heaters at the grocery store today), but because all of a sudden there seem to be many more mzungus (white people!) wandering around Western Kenya.

These summer visitors stand out not only because of their white skin, but because for some reason they all seem to wear tennis shoes or hiking boots with long skirts (not a great look unless entirely necessary), nodding attentively as they follow a Kenyan guide around town. In fact I remember before we moved to Kenya when we visited the travel doctor to get some vaccinations the nurse warned us, with a serious face, to “always wear tennis shoes, since the sidewalks there can be pretty uneven.” Sidewalks!? Our road is made of dirt.

There are so many misconceptions and so much anxiety when it comes to Africa, and visitors come ready to protect themselves from everything from malaria to a stubbed toe. One of the best things about being in Kenya has been the opportunity to tell other people about our experiences, to help people realize that you don’t need to wear hiking boots to get around a town where many people are barefoot (although you might want to watch out for malaria). We don’t have family or many friends who have experience in Africa or with development work, and it’s really cool to be able to share this place with people who might otherwise never experience it.  We really hope not only to show all the amazing things like the animals on safari and the gorgeous beaches on the coast, but to also show that life here is normal life in so many ways.

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Recently Tim’s family came to visit, and we loved the opportunity to show them around! They came to Kakamega and saw our home, our office, and the rainforest next door – before exploring the Rift Valley, the Masai Mara, and Nairobi.

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It felt good to show them both the every day and extraordinary that we experience here in Kenya. We were lucky enough to see lions hunting (unsuccessfully) in the Mara, black rhinos in Lake Nakuru, and baby elephants at an elephant orphanage in Nairobi.

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We also saw monkeys and birds in the Kakamega Rainforest, went by the office to show them a bit about our work, and taught them a little Swahili.

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We are looking forward to having more friends come soon! We hope that through visitors and through this blog we can show our friends and family far away a little more about what Kenya is all about.

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