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I HAVE A BED. Sorry, just had to get the shouty excitement bit out of the way. In fact, I’m sitting on it as I type this! Sitting! On! My! Bed!

You don’t understand how momentous this is until you’ve spent 2.5 weeks sleeping curled up on a concrete floor with a mosquito net draped over you like a shroud.

I also have a dresser, of sorts – at least, it’s shelf space that will finally get my clothes out of my suitcase, and maybe some of my books out of piles on the floor. All I need now is some creepy posters of anonymous Asian children holding rabbits and my house will truly be a home. (If you’re not a K-PCV, that statement will not make any sense. Just roll with it.) I fully intend to spend this coming weekend in “nesting mode”: arranging things, putting clothes away, maybe finally mopping. I wish I were close to a Nakumatt – or, hell, a Target, since we’re talking wishes – so that I could continue my extravagant furnishing spree. A chair, for example, would be nice. Or a table. Or actual cooking knives: to date, any slicing and dicing requires me to bust out my awesome 6” tactical knife. This is badass, to be sure, but it leaves something to be desired in the “finesse” department. We can’t all be Bear Grylls.

This process of taking stock, sorting, replacing things that need replacing … it is not so different to build a home as it is to build a nation. If you’re left thinking, “Megan, that’s not only a stretch of a metaphor, but it’s also a non-sequitar,” BITE ME. I need a segueway to talk about the Kenyan Constitution. So there. For those of you who haven’t been following African politics, Wednesday August 4 was kind of a big deal. Kenyan citizens took to the polls for the first time since the contentious and ultimately harrowing general presidential elections of 2007. This time, however, they were not voting on specific leaders per se but rather upon the judicial framework in which they will be acting: Kenya was voting on a new constitution. The previous one had been written to accommodate the needs of colonialists more than the nation itself and was long overdue for an overhaul.

I won’t go into the details of either the constitution itself or of my opinions of it; thirty seconds on google should give you a reasonably clear picture of the former, and an e-mail request will get you the latter. This isn’t a political blog. (Mostly.) I am, however, happy to say that despite a great deal of nailbiting at Peace Corps HQ, the elections went by virtually without a hitch. There have as yet been no signs of widespread voter fraud or other electoral malpractices; similarly, both the process of voting and the acceptance of the results were peaceful. It’s a watershed moment in Kenyan history and – all’s well that ends well – I’m glad to have been here to witness it.

As I write this, I’m sitting in what will (inshallah) be my home for the next two years. It’s not exactly … homey, though, at the moment. I’m seated on the cement floor with my back against an unpacked suitcase – unpacked because I have nowhere to put the contents if I chose to empty it except next to me on the bare cement floor. I’m eating a roll my supervisor brought me, smeared with peanut butter from a care package, which I spread using a 7” tactical knife. My mosquito net is not hanging yet; it’s lying on the bare foam mattress next to the rolled-up sweatshirt standing in for a pillow. All of which is also on the floor. Seeing as I have no bed.

Soooo … why am I so dang happy to be where I am? Because I’m getting down to business, that’s why. I’ve met my supervisor and my counterpart. I’m starting work at 8 AM sharp tomorrow. In the next 3-6 months, I’ll complete a formal Community Needs Assessment. And even though the perks of the past 9 weeks – the camaraderie, the classes, the laughs, the adventures – have been radiant with awe and wonder, this is why I’m here. To integrate into a community. To learn a language. To do good.

Of course, the fact that I’m 1 km from a breathtakingly gorgeous whitesand beach doesn’t hurt, either.

I wish I could bottle this and a thousand other moments I’ve had thus far, tuck them someplace safe for the dark days ahead. Being ceaselessly busy and on the move has thus far largely shielded me from homesickness (both for America and for my Peace Corps family) and the worst of the isolation. Stress, however, manifests in odd ways: I nearly had a freakout moment this afternoon when I thought I had lost my cell phone charger and the prospect of a full 24 hours or more without text messaging/SMS loomed. Luckily, though, it was just under some stuff in a different bag. Not so luckily, my camera seems to be missing. Whether that means it got left somewhere during all the transit shuffle or it was stolen out of my bag while it was sitting on the sidewalk in Mombasa is impossible to tell. It’s a SERIOUS BUMMER because ALL of my photos both from Peace Corps so far and from my college graduation were on it – none had yet made it to my computer. I’d planned on doing that tonight.

Blast.

Still, I’m glad to have two free seconds to myself, for literally the first time since I boarded the bus on Thursday. I’m glad I didn’t burn the house down when I made rice for dinner (which is now cooling/congealing – you guessed it – next to me on the floor in the pot in which I cooked it in.) I’m glad I treated my mosquito net with insecticide before I came, so when I burrito myself into it tonight, I probably hopefully might not get malaria. I’m glad I have electricity(ish) in my house, so that when I finish this, I can lull myself to sleep with a sappy NPR podcast. I’m glad my maps are on the wall, starting the process of turning 3 cement rooms into a home. I’m glad for the friends I’ve made. I’m glad to have persevered through the application and the waiting and the testing and the ANGST and the testing and the more testing.

I’m just glad to be here.

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The opinions expressed on this blog do not represent those of the Peace Corps, the United States government, or any other organization. The author is solely responsible for all content on this blog.
Yours truly