Kenya = Minimalism

It has officially been a week since I arrived in Kenya! The last couple of days have been introducing us to the ins and outs of the city and AMPATH organization that we will be working with in our journalism projects. I have learned so much already, but know that the next couple of weeks will have so much more!

In addition to walking around and experiencing city life in Eldoret, Kenya, we have been thrown into the environment and nature of the continent and I never want to go back.

Yesterday, we hiked up a mountain at Kruger Farm, where workers run up and down carrying 30 lbs of oil to fuel a machine that controls the satellites in the area. (I think that is all correct, I can not quite remember). The hike was beautiful, hot, and a good workout!  We hiked it with our Kenyan partners (for our journalism work, we are working alongside 12 students from Moi University) and they were as awestruck as we were. During the millions of photos being taken I was able to snag a large protruding rock for myself where I was able to practice some yoga for the day. Of course, I had my friend snap some photos.

Yoga on the rock

If there weren’t 30 people screaming and scrambling over rocks, I would liked to just sit and mediate on where I was and how incredible this opportunity was that I was living in. It was such a beautiful picture to see, not just because of the trees and clouds and farms below, but because of the vastness of it. The land just went on and on until it met up with the sky, and continued on. I live on the beach of Lake Michigan where the water looks never-ending as it crashes into the setting sunset, but this was different. It made me think about how small we are, me, from a university in the middle Indiana with 40,000 students, is smaller than a speck of dust when compared to the world outside. In the car back to the city I just kept thinking about nature and the world, and all of the things I do personally that harms it. It kills me every time I think of the plastic water bottles I bought from school everyday or every time I ran the dishwasher when I could added more dishes, or heck just washed them myself!

I woke up this morning and put my clothes in the washer, for some very needed washing. Because there is no drying machine we are supposed to hang them on the rows of clotheslines outside the door. I love this. Why don’t we do this anymore? Why do we have to our clothes instantly dried, even though most people have enough clothes to last them for months. Why do we have to make our lives move fast, so easy? I feel like many things will change when I return to Indiana.

Even before my departure in Kenya, I began to change. I changed my diet to veganism and began going through all of my clothes and things and discarding all unwanted things. I got rid of a lot, and yet I still need too many boxes to transport everything back home. Though I am not 100% minimalizing my things, I kept all of my running clothes, shoes, and I am not going near my books, I am aiming for simpler. Being in Kenya I think has really helped me improve this. When leaving I had the lightest suitcase, and back pack! (go me :)) I left my cell phone in my apartment and try to limit to my time online to FB statues and my required blogging. I was looking forward to a period of no cell phone, no tv, no internet! Though my peers are still glued to the internet as soon as we get back to the room, I instead have taken on Don Quixote. I feel right at home at Kenya, sorry Indiana.

reading outside as the IU House

I feel like have been rambling on this whole time, so I should wrap this up! It has only been a week here, and I feel like im growing into a better, stronger person. I am learning how to live without the extra clutter and embracing life. I am a long way off still, but hey, I have 3 more weeks here. Let it come 🙂

Running With the Kenyans!

Oh ya, I’m in Kenya, Africa. I was planning on writing a blog before I left but my days leading up consisted of packing and making millions of copies of my passport, that I did not have the chance!

So, I’m in Kenya with a journalism class from IU, reporting on HIV/AIDS. I am focusing on nutrition and diet how that affects HIV and other diseases that people are living with. We have just arrived in Eldoret, Kenya and have not started reporting yet, but if anyone is interested in our work  you can go here in the next couple of days:

http://journalism.indiana.edu/programs/kenya_2013/archives/

When packing and getting ready for the class, I was not sure what to bring running clothes wise. My professor assured me that running would be possible, (we have a curfew and other strict safety rules) only if I had a buddy. So, Monday evening I set out around the house that we are staying at in search of a running buddy. Leonard, one of the guards of the house, said he would run with me and I gladly accepted. He is in his 30s/40s, tall, but not the typical Boston elite runner. He said he runs sometimes and I had an easy time keeping up with him, thank goodness. So, we set out at 6 a.m (8 hours ahead of my Indiana hometown time if anyone was wondering) and started up at a brisk pace. The temperature was great, probably in the 60s, so I was in my typical shorts and t-shirt running style. I guess it is the typical American style. When we running and passing and getting passed (of course) the other Kenyan runners they were all wearing running tights and windbreaker jackets! In addition to me being the only girl running, the only white person on the road, I was also the only one wearing shorts. My running partner, Leonard was also wearing longer shorts, which also made me believe that he is not a regular runner.

We turned onto a long dirt road called, Old Nairobi Road, and ran about 2 miles down it then turned. I timed our run at 40 mins and LEonard it was a little less than 5 miles, so I’ll take it after not running for a week and spending two days straight on an airplane!

It was really cool seeing all the Kenyans running. It wold have been cooler to talk with them a little but I kind of just nodded while they stared at the little white girl running. I also found it interesting that I did not feel the altitude at all! Some other girls said they had trouble breathing when we got to Eldoret, but I felt fine! Maybe I just need to run a little faster!

Leonard can not run with me everyday unfortunately, but he did tell me about another loop that is close to the house that I can run with another student or by myself that is safe to do. I am not worried about people, but more of the cars rushing by on the wrong side of the road! I do not think I will get used to that.

If I do happen to run into any elites I will return with the secret to running and winning Boston! (I wish!)

Good week, Bad Week

Last week was awesome. One week form my first marathon and I got in about 45 miles.. didn’t mean to but was not complaining!

Then came this week. BLAH BLAH BLAH. I had the hardest time just getting off my couch and making it to my door, only running 28 miles this week! If I was fatigued, sore, i would have been okay with it, but I wasn’t. And I know why.

Last week I was finishing school, finishing my book on Veganism and overly-speeding my little Jetta back to Chesterton, IN.

After a week of running in my wonderful dunes and trails, I was flying high. I was eating healthier, playing with my beloved and missed dogs, and arguing (nicely) with my dad about the horrors of meat. The weather was hot, sunny and deck-bathing appropriate.

And then I came back. Believe me, I love Bloomington and IU but when it is summer and your friends, are non-runners and watching movies instead of being outside, it is hard to motivate yourself to go for a run. I got better near the end of week, probably knowing that I would be angry with myself if I didn’t do more than 20 miles this week. So Friday, I trudged to the treadmill (rain) for 5 miles. And thank goodness, because that kick started into a great weekend. I got up early for a 4 mile run Saturday, then me a friend for a 3-4 hour long yoga festival downtown. Wanting sushi after a day of ommms and stretching, my friend and I decided we needed to earn it with, another 4 mile run! Then Sunday I woke up for a nice moderate and hilly 10 mile run through and around campus.

Because I do not like listening to music while I run, the hour of running this morning let me think what really made me not want to run this week. Yes, I missed being home and running the trails, but I also missed running with my mom, who is my number one fan, training partner and coach. Here in Bloomington, I am on my own for runs over 5 miles. So, today I have realized that I need to find a group to run with, either the running club through school or the Bloomington running group. Either way, I know a group will motivate me for the runs during the gross weather and after my 3 hour class.

So hopefully, next time I am writing I will have found some running buddies! wish me luck!