Normally I dread the Easter holiday because it’s raining all over Kenya and while other expats sensibly jet off to Europe (a ski trip would be perfect if it weren’t for the expense) then those left back home are left with little choice of what to do but stare at the rain. Safaris are normally wet at this time of year (many camps close from April to early June) and Mombasa is showery (but still sweltering at the same time). However this year Easter came early, catching us in the midst of a March heat wave, so I am very glad that we decided to stay at home.
Last week, I felt deeply sorry for the kids sweating it out in Nairobi school classrooms, spending afternoons either in detention or running laps around the hockey pitch (the teachers were antsy). In fact, record numbers of kids have been passing out at school (including mine – read more) and they’ve also been fainting over weekends in and around shopping centres and on concrete playgrounds. Nairobi is not built for extreme heat. After all, we are at an altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level.
It’s a wonder that the city has not ground to a halt. Heat shimmers off the concrete. Shop assistants are slumped over their cash tills and we are all walking around like disheveled zombies. However, road works continue and for some unfathomable reason, Nairobi City Council chose the x2 hottest weeks of the year to do maintenance work on pipelines that supply the entire city – so along with the worst prolonged heat wave for years and after a miraculously ‘more than plentiful’ rainy season that amply filled dams that supply the city – we still have no water.
And when it’s dry and water runs low, stomach bugs do the rounds. So for us at least, the Easter feasting potential has certainly been eroded by nagging, low grade nausea. I bumped into a skinny friend today at the local supermarket buying a new water filter. ‘I’m always ill when I’m here in Nairobi,’ she said, pointing to an unusually bloated stomach. ‘Nowhere else’. I started explaining how I had also been ill starting with a string of violent episodes on Wednesday night but, funnily enough, in the face of such detail, our conversation quickly trailed off. Today I’ve done the holy grail of forbidden things and self-prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic.
But in town, a sense of humour prevails (largely playing out on Whatsapp and Facebook). The local radio presenter says that we should enjoy the heat and just suck it up.After all, we’ll soon be complaining about rain and all the problems that brings; potholes, bad traffic, cold mornings, grey skies.
So Easter for me has been characterised by the following:
- A lot of very melty easter eggs
- Low grade nausea
- Dust on every surface
- Policing my entire family’s use of water
- Lounging around in underwear (this goes for the whole family)
- Half-hearted meal preparing
- Reduced eating and next to no drinking
- Serious resistance to any suggestion of leaving the house
- Reluctance to turn on the oven (not wanting to add to the ambient heat)
- Difficulty sleeping
On the bright side, the ‘cloudless sky’ photos look great on Facebook and Instagram. Meanwhile, the UK endured Storm Katie which certainly did not sound like much fun either. So how have the rest of you guys been faring?
Alison the expat Facebook Fiend – UK Telegraph