01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Living dangerously in Kenya - or not as the case may be... 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Living dangerously in Kenya - or not as the case may be...

Last week was slightly fraught with a daughter who cracked her head open, my iphone died (it got wet on a boat) and then someone was nearly killed in our ‘temporary’ kitchen as building stones came crashing through the skylights. This week in Nairobi kicked off with an improvised ‘fertiliser’ bomb going off in the city centre and I’ve received messages from family in England asking if we are alright – but to be honest (and obviously all my sympathies goes to those who were injured – some badly) that incident, or security threats in general, have been the least of my worries. 

Keep those tent flaps closed!

Travelling in Kenya, more specifically camping – has always brought me out in hives. It’s the thought of all that shopping, cooking and planning I resent. Coupled with the fact that you are bound to be far from medical help (hospital or doctor) in case of emergency. Self-catering weekends are not too different - every time we pack the car for weekends like these, we seem to have enough provisions for all 5 of us to survive for weeks on the remotest desert island, even though we're just travelling an hour and a half down the road. You know that once you get there, a restful weekend away from home can be the perfect tonic for traffic filled, hectic city life.  I thought I loved adventure and seeing new places, but because I’m responsible for of all the shopping, packing and cooking I balk and we rarely go anywhere.

So – having given one Friday over entirely to shopping, packing and cooking (don’t forget that anyone else who is half a sane could actually delegate a lot of this work) – we headed out to a self catering house to meet friends. We left town late – there was a thunderstorm and traffic was hell. We arrived at the house in the dark – I was supposed to be doing supper for 10 (though, thank heavens – there is a cook waiting at the other end – so really it’s just a case of handing the food over) – within 5 minutes, low and behold, our middle daughter has cracked her head open. She appeared; dramatically bloodied, having been jumping on the bed through sheet delight at having arrived safely and seeing her friend.  However, it wasn't long before she got her leg caught up on the bedpost before careering head first into a cupboard door.

You know when you see an injury and the word ‘stitches’ just springs to mind straight away. It was a moment I’ve been dreading since having children. Ever since my older sister cracked her head open on a metal window frame when we were about 8 years old, and had to have her head shaved and stitches – I’ve always surreptitiously pushed dangerous looking open windows closed at children’s tea parties.

Now I’m making this sound bad. It actually wasn’t. My friend kept her head and dialled a neighbour of the rented house, whose number she had quickly found in the house ‘blurb’. As I dabbed blood off the floor with inadequate pieces of tissue, my husband stepped in to staunch the flow of blood and deal with the injury generally – which fortunately was right on the hairline.  We could rest assured that our daughter will not be too badly maimed for life. On calling the neighbour, we were told that there was a hotel close by which had an on-call doctor. We duly headed back out into the thunderstorm in search of treatment and ultimately, everything was okay – although, taking one look at the whitewashed hut with the corrugated iron roof, and then the frightening tray of paraphernalia required for stitching a wound – my husband and I said in unison, “does she really need stitching?”  So we ended up with just a dressing - (only to regret that decision when we took the dressing off later - but that's another story).  However, all's well that ends well - she's ended up with just a small scar and made a full recovery.

Just being at home is fairly dangerous these days too, with builders everywhere (the building stones falling through roof was fairly dramatic), however, I’m secretly relieved not to be accompanying my husband on the Rhino Charge this weekend.  Again, it’s the shopping, packing and cooking for 5 – then the prospect of being miles from anywhere in case of an accident.  But this is crazy because it’s yet one more opportunity to adventure across Kenya and once again, I'm passing it up for a couple of stir crazy days at home.

I do regret the fact that we are living in Africa and I have a strange aversion to travel. The problem is that camping or self-catering is really the only option for families, since staying in a lodge or hotel for more than a nano second is so cripplingly expensive. I've also never been good at spur of the moment decisions. Even when the odd travel assignment gets offered, I am reduced to a quivering wreck at the prospect of re-thinking childcare arrangements and asking friends for help to do school runs.  I think I’m getting old - the big 40 is looming at the end of this year!

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