[photo: me, baby Shawn, and mom Triza, who is also the pediatrics medical officer at the Nyanza Provincial Hospital]
*adjusting to life in Kisumu
I intended to have a restful first weekend in Kisumu. I was finally able to chill out after my long journey and busy tourism in
But it was poa (cool) because I was able to meet up with my friend Kibachio, who happened to be in town for a Kenyan Medical Association meeting. He now is a Medical Officer in the provincial
I spent the next few days incredibly jetlagged, probably the worst I’ve ever been coming to
*Kisumu is big and diverse
Kisumu is a big city. Way bigger than I remember Eldoret being. The largest market in western
If Liz wasn’t here for my first week in Kisumu, I would have gotten totally lost going to and coming from work every day. There is so much construction and craziness downtown that it makes it all the more difficult for a directionless person such as myself to get her bearings.
We walk 3.7 km each way to the FACES clinic. I know because I took a taxi home one day and watched the odometer. Amazingly, the whole way is paved with nice asphalt. I really feel like I’m in a big city because of this. The walk would not be so bad, and in fact is mostly pleasant and allows us great exercise, except for the fact that you have to cross (unprotected) an undivided highway to Nairobi and walk on rocky dirt patches in order to avoid being hit by a swerving boda boda (see below) or a speeding matatu (privately-operated “public” transport vans). The roads are quite busy here. You have to share it with a wild medley of transport forms: people, carts carrying huge loads of petrol, carts carrying huge loads of chickens or furniture, boda bodas, bikes, matatus, tuk tuks (three-wheeled gas-powered covered vehicles for hire as a cheaper alternative to taxis), taxis, large buses, construction tractors, trucks crammed full of people in the back, trucks crammed full of various other goods, and oh yeah- cars. And of course there are no real traffic signals.
I’ve seen few mzungus here, relatively speaking. I see them mostly at the fancier stores and at the CDC. It’s nice not to be in a heavily tourist city. I even met a crew of four young men from
There is a huge South Asian population here, and the cottage I am staying at is in the upper-class neighborhood of Kisumu, called Milimani. Most of the families here seem to be very wealthy black Kenyans as well as wealthy South Asians (South Asians here tend to be merchants and owning class). Despite the obvious class schism, it is nice to have different cultures represented strongly here. Plus, it allows me to go out and get lots of yummy South Asian food ingredients, and buy delicious samosas, dal and dhosas for lunch.
As Kisumu is quite cosmopolitan, it also has a bigger diversity of tribes represented here. Despite the large Luo majority, the businesses and NGOs here have attracted folks from tribes all over
*boda boda phenomenon
There is a new mode of “public transportation” in
My pimples are gone, my color has returned, I walk 4 miles a day at 1130 meters, swim 20 laps every day, take most of my weekends off, work almost normal hours at clinic, and cook almost every meal. It’s amazing what a more relaxed culture and work environment will do for you.
Alas, my GI tract has become immunologically oversensitive and wimpy from being in
Needless to say, on Kenya Day Six, I started having bad intestinal cramps and gas. Lovely, especially during clinic. The loose stool started on Thursday, Day Seven. I am proud at least to state that my GI system is at least strong enough that I didn’t develop the full traveler’s diarrhea of awful cramps and 10 stools a day. However, I was hoping to stave off the antibiotics and condition my GI tract more (don’t want to contribute to fluoroquinolone resistance!) but after three days of cramps, gas and gnarly loose stool, I decided that it was time to break out the cipro. Sure enough, twelve hours after taking the first dose, I am gas, cramp and loose stool-free. Yay!