Setting Up House

There was more to setting up house than purchasing the tables and chairs.  For one thing, we couldn't eat out all the time and apartments didn't come furnished with appliances.  No fridge.  No stove.  No washer and dryer.  So those things were on the top of my list.  Deysi and Onyechi went with us to shop for a gas stove.  Onyechi got a good deal on theirs so we went back to that store.  When we walked in to the store, it was encouraging to see that the owner had stoves and ovens of all kinds.  The only kind we could afford, however, was the small, two-burner type with a small grill in the middle.  So that was what we got.  It looked like a fancy silver camping stove.  And that is what I prepared our meals on for the 3 years we lived in Kenya. We purchased a small canister of gas and that sat on our counter behind the stove.

We couldn't afford a refrigerator right away, but that wasn't a problem for two reasons.  First, the apartment was made of cinder blocks and since Nairobi's temperature was mild, produce kept fresh for several days and we purchased UHT milk in small cartons that we used up every day.  Second, I didn't think it would be long before Tom got a job and then, I reasoned, we would have the money to purchase a fridge, so I had a pretty good attitude about keeping things simple in the beginning. (It really is best sometimes to not know what the future will bring...)

Now, about our dishes.  Honestly, I don't remember the pots and pans well.  I am sure I just had a simple frying pan and probably a couple of sauce pans, which would hold most of what I needed for 2 people.  It is the plates that stick out to me.  When we went to buy dishes, I couldn't decide what to get.  So for some reason, I bought 2 melamine plates that looked like a piece of bologna and then 2 others that were red and white speckled squares.  Both patterns were the ugliest things!  But why didn't I just buy 4 matching plates? And why didn't I get 4 simple glass plates rather than buying plastic? To this day I have no answer for that.  I did buy 4 matching black (glass) mugs and 4 clear glasses.  We had brought silverware with us for some reason.  I really liked the silverware, but it got stolen later...another story.

You might have noticed I mentioned earlier about not having a washer and dryer.  Well, we couldn't afford those either.  And there were no coin laundry mats.  So we washed our clothes in the bathtub and hung them to dry on the balcony.  I learned so many things moving to Nairobi and got an education in life that no college degree could have prepared me for.  I also learned to respect how hard many people around the world work to have the "simple pleasures" in life that I had always taken for granted.

Lastly, we found a double mattress at another store, which rounded out all our purchases for the first apartment we had in Nairobi.  We didn't buy the box spring or frame so we slept on the mattress on the floor.  Not great for our backs, but we were young.  Besides, we thought all of our purchases were just temporary and that as soon as Tom got a job we would begin adding other pieces of furniture.  That didn't happen like we thought, but we were truly happy and life was a grand adventure...

Lori ZieglerComment