Living here is definitely the most unique experience I've had to date. It's full of so many challenges and surprises and certainly tested my adaptability. I feel like I could write a funny travel book just about the random things that have happened to me over the past two months. I've also become more acutely aware of how privileged I've been my whole life. Some thoughts/stories from the past few weeks:
- A week ago I was in the field to do interviews and help sell solar home systems. I was informed of this trip the day before we left (typical). The entire three days (which was supposed to be two) I really didn't know what was going on 90% of the time. Since I didn't have a useless guard with me (a rule for white foreigners when you leave the city) a jealous villager decided to report us to the local police. Fortunately one member of our group new the head of the police and we convinced him that I was married to one of my colleagues. Then we had lunch with him. Again because I didn't have a guard we ended up taking advantage of village hospitality and staying an extra night in a lovely little traditional Somali house since apparently a large police force was on the road we were taking. A few more highlights from the trip included getting a flat tire because a nail (maybe intentionally we will never know) got stuck in our tire. I happily seized the opportunity to break gender stereotypes and changed the tire in the middle of the desert. I have to say, village life is far more interesting and I have the feeling that people are more open minded in a way and I feel more welcomed than in the city.
- Thanks to some very mysterious and strange symptoms I have also become very, very aware of how privileged I was for 22 years of my life to not think twice about my health. Although I've always disliked going to the doctor, for most of my life I never worried about my health because I knew subconsciously that a good healthcare was simply a matter of having my family drive me to the doctor or hospital. I visited two doctors here. One didn't even take my vital signs and even misread my lab tests (which the second doctor accurately read). It is disconcerting and makes me nervous but also extremely grateful that I did not grow up here.
- I feel like over the last few years there has been a flurry of discussion about how Christians are persecuted in the US. This has made me extremely angry but living here has made this discussion seem even more ridiculous. I can only imagine having to fast during Ramadan in parts of the US where one might be the only Muslim and your work schedule is not adapted to accommodate fasting. Also, all of the major holidays in the US are Christian. While on the one hand I don't think this is such a big deal, it's ridiculous to think they Christians are persecuted. I imagine Muslims would have to take personal holiday to celebrate Eid. If we are going to talk about persecution it would be more productive to discuss it in the context of places where a religious group is a minority (like here for example). While I don't feel threatened here because I am not Muslim, I certainly feel isolated and it's exhausting sometimes. So I hope this utter nonsense discussion of persecution of Christians in the US stops.