A big, huge, massive part of any expat experience is learning to cope with change and new obstacles. Myers-Briggs says I deal with change via freedom, flexibility and action. (ISTP- It’s creepy how accurate Myers-Briggs is.) However, since moving to Nairobi, I’ve been struggling with a lack of these.
Lack of freedom because of a strong dependency on taxis. Unlike Moscow where I walked everywhere and cabbed it nowhere, Nairobi is exactly the opposite. Because of the high crime rate, Westerners are strongly encouraged to take a taxi after dark, even if it’s just a couple of blocks. And even walking around alone in daylight can be unnerving at times. This is really difficult for me, because walking allows me freedom to come and go as I please and because walking is a very reflective, freeing exercise for me.
And unlike Moscow, which has an extensive and easy to understand metro, Nairobi’s buses and matatus are confusing and the routes are undocumented (as far as I can tell), making it difficult to use them for anything other than a known, memorized route. In fact, the only reliable information on matatu routes I have found is a wall mural (above).
I feel a lack of action because there’s a lot of waiting. Waiting for a taxi. Waiting in traffic. Waiting for a big group to mobilize. Traveling in numbers (there are usually 6 of us traveling in unison) is fun and can provide a sense of security, but gaining consensus about where to go and when to go can be difficult and time consuming.
This lack of independence feels confining and suffocating at times, and I’m struggling to cope. And according to Myers-Briggs I’m going to become cynical soon if I don’t find a fix. Bah!!! So over the coming weeks, I’m challenging myself to venture out and regain some independence.