Month 9

This month has been a total drag. My mind has been dreamily focused on my April vacation. The month began well. During the second week I attended a regional meeting in Kisumu with other PCVs, at the most Posh-Corps accommodations yet!

Very high-end hotel with a nice pool, great restaurant/bar, very fancy bathrooms (containing both jet tubs and blow dryers), and situated just outside of town. It was a good few days, spending time with PCVs from my group and the Health, Education groups. The only downside to this lovely getaway was how terribly sick I got the day I was suppose to go home. Normal PC ailment, some random stomach problem, but it entailed me spending the rest of the day at the doctor, and then having to overnight again. Find the doctor at the little hole in the wall shop and being pumped full of IVs in the back residential area made me feel like I was in a spy movie.

I decided to head back home in the morning because I really just wanted to be in my own bed with my puppy. This dragged out for most of the week. I did much of my work from home and my house drastically suffered from lack of cleaning. By the end of the week it was all a matter of catch-up. So although nothing of major significance occurred, projects still the same as last month, it is National Nutrition Month and I would like to take a moment to highlight some of my experience with food and my diet here in Kenya.

Generally speaking, eating healthy in Africa is an easy thing; a selection of market fruits and veggies, plus alternative grains like amaranth, and a variety of lentils and beans are available. The only drawback is the carb load. I feel like I have eaten so many carbs since being here, not the good kind either, white flour chapatis, chips, and ugali. I do cut out ugali and only stick to the brown, multi-grain kind that I make at home, chips are my go-to when I am having a rough day or on the side of the road with a cart vendor.

I don’t drink soda, except for the occasional Stoney or Coke Zero (if only iced tea was available I wouldn’t drink it at all, but sometimes it is so hot and it is the only cold thing around to help you cool down), my sugar intake is nearly non-existent except for honey, which I use in my oatmeal, and stevia if I decide to make a fancier coffee than my normal black cup in the morning. I hardly eat meat due to the availability and health concerns, and stick to a natural soy protein or eggs, and there are no processed foods or dairy in my daily food consumption. But I have been doing really well this month, settled back into a regular workout routine, and elated to discover when I was at the doctor’s office that I have dropped around 15# since coming to Kenya.

My only wish would be improvement on the variety of fruits and veggies, it is very same ‘ol same ‘ol, and it would be nice to get eggplant or some berries every so often.

Sadly, the food selection here is limited, and local dishes are very predictable with preparation techniques tending to make them less nutritious. Additionally, the availability of food is affected by the dry season; no rain means no crops which means no food or very expensive price increases. Since we are moving back into the long rain season I hope to see increased food variety and decreased prices. I have seen things like zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin, plums, strawberries, and grapes in my market. Now the trick would be teaching locals the value of food variety and healthy food preparation.

The major projects I am working on for the remainder of my service aim to achieve that. Even if only a few families change from sugary chai, bread, and blue band to more nutrient dense meals, they will be able to facilitate community change when I am gone.

Happy National Nutrition Month! Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!

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