When we were preparing to come to Kenya, one of the many topics we explored in our cross-cultural orientation was time. Coming from professions where time-keeping and time-filling were a relatively prescribed business, we were happily surprised by how easily we settled into living by “African time” as our friends here call it.
We have loved the fact that people often take precedence over meetings but it is not without its challenges for all concerned. Every now and again, we are surprised as we discover people who believe in keeping time. Our two personalities come into conflict at this point because one of us is a time-keeper and one of us is a “right up to the last moment” person. We have actually been late for a couple of appointments!
Then there is the whole thing of speed. Walking here at speed (as we would in temperate climes) has proved a disaster. Not only do you end up sweaty and thirsty but you can easily overheat with dire consequences. (We have both managed this on more than one occasion). We’ve learned to allow ourselves the luxury of walking at a sensible pace, thus arriving fit for purpose at our final destination.
Finally, those of you who know him well will not be at all surprised to hear that David has now managed to commit a traffic offence: clocked by the police driving at a speed of 112 KPH when the limit is 100 KPH. The system here is somewhat different from what we have previously experienced. The offence results in a court appearance and then, after pleading guilty, being convicted and locked up in a cell until your friend on the outside with whom you’ve left the money, pays your fine. Needless to say, Liza was unimpressed but imagine our amusement as one by one our Kenyan friends have disclosed that it has happened to them and it’s always at the bottom of a hill!