My very first trip to Kenya was exciting for a number of reasons, one of them being that I was sharing the experience with my sister. We hadn't traveled together out of the country as adults before and this was a chance for us to spend some together. Our first stop was London on a 14 hour layover, where we did a whirlwind tour of the most popular sites before heading back the airport to continue the second half of our trip.
My first images and sounds of Kenya were from the airplane window as we’re taxied to our gate was of the iconic acacia trees and of my sister singing songs from the Lion King a little too loudly. Embarrassing. But the giddiness and excitement I felt about finally being in Kenya was almost uncontainable and all I could do was grin from ear to ear.
My sister and I were on our first Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip together, this was my 3rd trip with Habitat, but I was excited to have my sister with me for the first time. One of the most amazing things about travel is sharing it with people who can appreciate the adventure of it all and I knew she was all about it. This trip would take us to Eastern Kenya to a small village in Chuka, which lies in the foothills of Mt. Kenya. Driving from Nairobi to Embu to Chuka took us through some of the most fertile landscapes we’ve ever seen. Vast rice paddies (yes, there are rice paddies in Kenya!) as far as the eye can see transitioned into homestead crops of corn, bananas, coffee and tea as we make our way into the higher elevations of the foothills of the mountain.
We spent 10 days in Kenya helping to build a home for a family, getting to know our teammates, exploring Nairobi National Park and Nairobi. It was one of the most pivotal times of my life. This trip was the catalyst that would change the way I viewed the world forever. It changed the way I wanted to travel, it changed the way I wanted to live, it changed the way I related to my environment. It was no longer so important for me to buy the latest shoes, or spend so much money on things that I really didn’t need, I only wanted to travel and go on more trips like that one. To live in the world instead of just being a bystander as life passed me by.
Unplugging from my “normal” life, even if only for a few days, gives me the opportunity to take in every moment of what’s happening around me. Being completely immersed in a situation, without the distraction of email, phone calls, deadlines, etc. is the definition of travel.
Not only did we get the chance to see Kenya with a great group of people and help a family with their home, but we had the chance to take a step back from our lives and take stock. We discovered ourselves and we discovered each other.