Kenya has taught me about patience. I was not a good student for the first two months, but Kenya was a patient teacher. Every day she told me to slow down and relax. Kenya has made me learn. I have learned acceptance. When I was a disobedient student I only upset myself. I had to learn about patience.
Today I went to the bank. It was only my second time going to the bank in four months. I have survived only using an ATM. Today I wanted to exchange a $100 bill for Kenyan shillings. When I arrived after walking to the bank there was a man with the teller and one man waiting in line. I joined the queue as man number two. Thirty minutes later I left the bank. Relax. You can’t be in a hurry in Kenya. Why did the transaction of the first man at the window take fifteen minutes? It doesn’t matter. It just did. Why did my transaction take ten minutes? It doesn’t matter. It just did. Patience. Enjoy the time. I left with two receipt slips and both had stamps on them.
I agreed to meet a student to talk about musicals. We agreed to meet at 11 am. I arrived at 10:50 and I found an empty steel desk outside of Harambee Hall. The student arrived for our meeting at 11:45. Relax. Be patient. This is Kenya. I listened to children swimming in the old pool next to the hall, the splashes and the sounds of voices with that unique pool-like quality no matter the language. They did not yell ‘Marco Polo’. They were taking a swimming lesson. In Kiswahili. I sat and waited, relaxed and calm.
It took me seven months to complete my Fulbright application. I prepared to travel to Africa for more than a year after my notification. My preparation and the lead-up to this trip lasted longer than the trip itself.
On the way back to my house I stopped at the food stand with the blue steel seats and tables and umbrellas. I walk past this everyday, but only once have I stopped for food. I was decadent and ordered chips then, which were so good, made from the freshest Kenyan potatoes. No frozen fries in Kenya. I took them home and ate them with ketchup. I wanted them one more time. I went to the window today where you order and you pay the girl first before stepping to the next window to get your chips. After asking for an order of chips she shook her head no and said, ‘No Chips.’ ‘No chips?’ I repeated. ‘No chips’ she said again. ‘When might you have chips?, I asked. The answer: ‘Maybe you can come back later and they will cook them for you.’
Oh. I see. No urgency. Ever.
Patience. Maybe I can get chips the next time I come to Kenya. Or not.