Our first week in Nairobi, I knew one person: my husband. Needless to say, I felt lonely and un-tethered. Now, we’ve been here three weeks and our social life is blossoming.
What I’ve discovered is that there are plenty of expats who want to travel, explore, or just hang out. We met a lovely bunch of ladies through a Facebook group and went with them to Mt. Longonot. Since then, I’ve met up with one of them for lunch, and the group is already organizing another hiking trip.
I also signed up for a kiswahili class, and have enjoyed hanging out with my classmates. We go out to lunch every day after class (for a real Kenyan lunch– at 50-70 cents a plate, you can’t beat it). Sometimes we wander to a nearby mall, market or coffee shop to hang out or study together.
My husband also has plenty of coworkers who are in Nairobi for temporary assignments, and they are keen to see as much of the country as possible before returning to the U.S. We go out to dinner together or take weekend getaways in order to share costs and socialize.
The only drawback to all these friends is that they are temporary friends.* We are all in Nairobi right now, but most of us will leave here in the next few months. After that, we will never see each other again.
My husband keeps me reminding me that I’m going to have to get used to this. We move a lot and it’s impossible to keep up with everyone we’ve met along the way. It’s hard enough to keep up with our long-term friends, especially because we see them rarely.
While I’m grateful that I’m meeting fun people here, I still feel lonely from time to time. I don’t (and won’t ever) have any close friends nearby.
In the end, it’s a question of trade-offs. Do we stay in one place for many years and build those deep relationships, or do we live a life on the move and do our best to keep up with friends we meet along the way? So far, we’ve chosen the latter.
Do you have any advice for keeping up with friends in faraway places?
*While not a drawback per se, another point I must make is that none of these friends are Kenyan. More on that later.