Only the Beginning

Training wound down to mere minutes in the blink of an eye and it still feels like only yesterday I stepped off the plane in Nairobi, nervous and anticipatory of everything to come. Now my bags are packed again to leave the security of my host family and familiarity of training for my new home. Having passed the LPI, all that was left to do was swear my oath and become an official PCV.

The swearing in ceremony was a short affair. We gathered at the PH lounge, bags piled up, ready to be loaded into awaiting buses. Everyone dressed very smart. We gathered with the PC staff, Kenyan officials, our counterparts and host families to make the transition from PCTs to PCVs. After words of encouragement and inspiration from our PC leaders and Kenyan officials, we took the president’s oath and were accepted by the Kenyan government to serve as official PCVs for the next 2 years. We now join our fellow PCVs in Kenya to create a network of 113 volunteers. There was a cake cutting and light refreshments, followed by photos and goodbyes. The families that welcomed us into their homes and helped us integrate were now sending us off to use all of our newly acquired skills and knowledge in new homes, with new families and communities. Our counterparts helped us gather our belongings, which increased from our initial arrival, and we said our farewells until we meet again to the wonderful training staff and fellow volunteers. The end of the journey began again as I watched Machakos disappear behind me, but the road ahead started my journey as a PCV.

The trip to Bondo took two days and I got to enjoy it with my counterpart and other PCVs making their way toward Kisumu/Nakuru. After a bit of confusion loading the buses, I ended up getting on the least crowded bus with PCVs Pam and Cayla and our counterparts. The driver arranged a transfer to a matatu just outside of town so not only did we avoid the Nairobi traffic, but also got everything loaded and unloaded in less than 5 minutes and were back on the road in record time. Since we bought the entire matatu, our driver let us stop at a Shell station for lunch. Let me tell you. I had the best, cheapest, and fastest burger since coming to Kenya!! It was soooooooo good.

The drive into Nakuru was very scenic and we got to see antelope, zebra, wildebeest, cranes, and gazelles along the way. The entire road was lush with forest and because of the light rainfall, I felt like I was back in Washington for a few moments. When we arrived at our hotel we discovered we were the first group to make it in, even though the other bus was paid to come straight to the hotel and not stop in Nairobi. This was advantageous because there was a logistical problem with our room arrangements, which ended up causing our counterparts to be bused to another hotel and we got first pick of the only available rooms.

The rooms were very nice and we got them to ourselves. A bit of “posh corps” before arriving at site (including western toilets and hot showers!!!) We dined at the hotel restaurant, which had decent enough food. It was raining so we opted not to walk into town. Once the other bus arrived we mingled and enjoyed our first night curfew free and grouped together! In the AM we were treated to a complimentary breakfast buffet and loaded up the matatu that would take us into Kisumu. This time I only traveled with Pam, but it was a lot of fun! The road into Kisumu is still under construction so it was the most strenuous leg of our journey. When we arrived in the city it was hot, humid, and we were all exhausted. Pam and myself got some supplies from Tusky’s as our counterparts arranged the car that would take us to Bondo. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and some cold beer in celebration of making it and toasting to a wonderful next 2 years. I had fish and chips which were as amazing as I hoped and complemented by a cold Tusker. Yum.

I said my goodbyes to Pam and as the car drove off I realized I was alone for the first time without other PCVs. By the time we arrived the sun had set and we were greeted by eager faces. When I sat down with Malaki, Samir, and some of the family for dinner I felt warmly welcomed and all my nerves settled; so when I went to bed I slept soundly and peacefully without a care in the world and all the anticipation of great things to come.

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