I’ve decided to try something different this week that I hope you all will enjoy.
A Block Abroad is a travel, adventure and cultural experience blog. Through this blog, I hope to encourage others — and myself — to seek out and experience life outside of your comfort zone. Even though a majority of the blog will contain my journeys and thoughts about traveling, I think another way to encourage an adventurous lifestyle is to hear stories and experiences from others every once in awhile.
My brother Clayton Block recently traveled to East Africa on a mission trip. And being the kind of person who wants to know every little detail about someone else’s experiences, I asked him to be the guinea pig for this segment of my blog.
So here we go. A Q&A with my brother on his time in Africa.
ABA: Where in Africa did you go and how long were you there for?
CB: I went to Kenya, Africa. Total trip was 12 days, but (we were) on the ground for 10.
ABA: What was the purpose of the trip?
CB: We went to build homes for people who (tested) positive for HIV/AIDS. A group from our church partnered with Nehemiah’s Restoration (a nonprofit organization) on the trip.
ABA: What was a typical day like for you while you were there?
CB: A typical day was to get a team breakfast in the morning to prepare for the day, then go out to the villages and go to work. We stayed in the Sunset Hotel.
ABA: Did you experience any culture shock at all?
CB: I didn’t necessarily have a culture shock. It was pretty much how I imagined it would be. I was surprised with the sense of community they had and how easy going they live their lives. Throughout our drives, you’d find people just napping under the shade of a tree. You don’t see people do that in America much.
ABA: What was the area like?
CB: We stayed in a city area, but during our days we spent time in the rural areas. I think everyone was at the middle class or less; there weren’t really any “big money” looking people (I thought I saw 2 Chainz at one point, though). The roads were ridiculous— the bumpiest thing I’ve ever been on. There were pot holes everywhere; literally, everywhere. The animals did whatever they wanted. We mostly saw cows and chickens roaming around, some donkeys too.
ABA: How was the food? Was there anything you weren’t sure about but ate anyway?
CB: We ate all natural, home grown stuff, like rice, wheat products, chicken, beef, and mangazi (which are donuts). The only thing I wasn’t very fond of was ugali. It was some corn bread-type stuff, but had no flavor to it.
ABA: How was the weather?
CB: The weather wasn’t bad at all. Some days it was hot, but not overwhelming. Some mornings it was cold, but not freezing.
ABA: What were the people like?
CB: The people were amazing. A lot better than most people I’ve met in America. Most of them just work and then hang out and play soccer. They have their own small groups and stuff that they do too.
ABA: Outside of work, what did you do in your spare time?
CB: Eat and sleep, write in a journal, read a few books. We didn’t have much spare time though.
ABA: How was your travel to Kenya?
CB: We flew United from Denver to New Jersey and then from New Jersey to Zurich, Switzerland. From Zurich, we flew Swiss Airlines to Kenya. Swiss Airlines is the best airline I’ve ever flown — best service, best food, best stewards, best chairs, best movies, best everything. Switzerland was an awesome place for a layover.
ABA: Do you have any interesting stories while you were there?
CB: We saw someone get hit by a truck. Then, out of nowhere, this huge mass of people started chasing the truck, throwing rocks at them and stuff. I found out that if they caught (the driver) they were going to stone him to death.
ABA: Do you have any happier memories while you were there?
CB: The kids. They were so precious. I wanted to take them all back with me. Especially this one little girl named Joy at the last VBS. When I put her down so we could leave, she immediately turned around and wrapped her arms around my legs and wouldn’t let me leave. It was the cutest thing ever.
ABA: Did you ever think you’d find yourself in Africa? Would you go again?
CB: I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, so I’m glad that I finally got the chance to. I’m planning to go again next year, Lord willing.
ABA: What are some pros and cons of the trip?
CB: Pros: I got out of every day America life, ate healthy, made lifetime friends and learned and grew a lot. Cons: It was too short and my insides were destroyed coming back to America and eating processed foods again.