Saturday, April 27, 2013

My little house down in the valley

For about 6 months now I have lived in a little house near Turtle Bay in a neighbourhood called Down Valley. This blog post is all about living in my little house named "Whale Island House", the first house I have ever really been responsible for (i.e. not rented from University or shared with several others) and the ways in which it has made my life here in Kenya all the better. Its maybe not as adventurous or unusual as some of my other posts, but it means a lot to me. 
One of the obvious benefits of living in a house is have some privacy and independence; at A Rocha it can be very exhausting living and working in the same space and especially because there is such a high turn over of guests and volunteers. Moving 3km down the road gives just the right amount of separation to switch off at the end of the day and also be able to control ones own space. I love being able to decorate, cook what I like and the commute along the beach is probably one of the best in the world!
Here in Kenya the place where you live is named after your nearest "shopping centre" or "duka's" (series of small shops selling essentials) and those shops become a form of social cohesion for the people living nearby. Now, after 6 months, I am known to most people in the shopping centre, who greet me as I walk home from work and chat with while I buy my bits and pieces. Obviously this doesn't seem like a major achievement and really is just normality for most people in UK or elsewhere, but anyone who has spent time in Africa or perhaps anywhere culturally distinct, will know how hard it is to achieve that level of normality. Every time I come home from work the numerous kids from Down Valley greet me by name, not just because I am novelty, but because they play in my garden and we chat and hang out at weekends. It is one of the best things since moving to the house, finally being able to feel that at least in one corner of this country, that I belong as part of the community. 
Below are a series of photos of my lovely house and I hope it will encourage some of you to come and visit. 

Front of the house

The living room

Desk space


Bathroom complete with a frog we have named Colgate who lives in the sink

Veranda with all important hammock

Benjo's boudoir

Flame tree in the garden with some of the cheeky monkeys who live nearby