Kenya Trip 2012 – Week #1!

Posted: June 18, 2012 in Robert Brouillette

Week #1 (June 9th – June 16th, 2012)

June 9th, 2012/ June 10th, 2012

The day has finally come and I will be leaving Canada to live in Kenya to train for my running and experience their lifestyle for up to 3 months. I was busy packing all day to make sure I didn’t forget anything as there is no turning back once I have left the country. I said goodbye to my family friends, co-workers and running club and I was off to the Toronto airport to begin my journey. Once I got to the airport with my Dad we enjoyed our final supper together for the summer at Swiss Chalet. Then it was time for me to go to my gate to catch my plane and it was very hard to say goodbye as this will be the longest I will not see Canada, my Dad or even a Canadian. Once I was on the plane I lost the use of everything on my iPhone except music and pictures till I return so I watched lots of movies/shows, played some games and enjoyed the food for the 8 hour flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Once I arrived at the Amsterdam airport I was quite tired as I couldn’t sleep on the plane from my excitement. I still couldn’t sleep at the airport so I went and bought a snack of a water bottle and yogurt which I really did not like as the yogurt is very different tasting than in Canada. Unsatisfied with my snack I went over to a little shop and bought a treat called “Original Caramel Filled Waffles” and this is one of the most delicious things I have even eaten so I will for sure bring a few boxes home with me to Canada. Then I went and got on my plane heading to Nairobi, Kenya. At the Kenya airport I was met by Laban Rotich, a retired Olympic Champion whose house I will be staying at for my trip. We drove to a many hotels before finding a good priced one as we were getting over priced costs due to me being white and them thinking I was rich. Finally we stayed at an unbiased hotel before the drive to Eldoret, Kenya the next day. I couldn’t wait to go to my room because I was very tired and I could finally feel safe as the Kenyan’s have some pretty crazy drivers. My bed was surrounded by a bug net to keep me safe so that helped me sleep better.

June 11th, 2012

I woke up very early as I still could not sleep much due to me being overwhelmed by being in Kenya. I did my morning stretch and then went downstairs to eat a sausage, bread and eggs with tea for breakfast. Now Laban and I was off on our 6 hour drive to him town of Eldoret, Kenya. During the drive I saw lots of cool nature, monkeys running after the car and Kenyans darting out in front of cars to cross the street. We stopped at a food court where everyone was yelling for me to eat at their place but I ended up going to a butchery shop for lunch and had some sort of cooked meat with vegetables, corn maze and coffee which I can say is better than any I have tried in Canada. For the rest of the drive I read a lot from my book called “Marathoning for Mortals” which is the most interesting books I have ever read as I learned so much important things about life, running and health. The sun is very hot so it sucked a lot of energy out me making me extremely tired. Finally we arrived at Laban’s house where I was welcomed by his big family of about 12 people. Their English is not too bad but it can be hard to understand them but overall they are very kind and generous people. I went into the guest room, set up my stuff, and got ready for bed by spraying the room down with bug spray and hiding under the blankets just to be safe.

June 12th, 2012

At 3:00AM I woke up to something crawling around in the roof above my room. When I went outside there was a table setup with tea and chapatti (kind of like mini pita bread) which I didn’t get a chance to eat because the ants beat me to it. Now I am driving into town hungry and not showered to get a 3G stick for my laptop and credit for my BlackBerry. Before I left the house Laban laughed at my shorts (no one in Kenya ever wears shorts; only pants or dress) and suggested for me to wear pants which I did but it was very hot. In the town, Laban took me to a building he owns where I was met a girl names Kate who claims to now be my girlfriend after 5 minutes of meeting her. Laban was busy so I went and hung out with his 26-year-old daughter named Milka. We went to a fast food place to get fries chips (fries) and a drink of orange Fanta. I met up with Laban again and he took me to the school he runs called “Sokkin Academy” where I introduced myself and was greeted by all the children. I drank tea with the teachers and talked about Canada vs. Kenya stuff. They even told me the secret to being a strong runner is to drink Kenyan milk. I went back to the house to eat potatoes, rice, chapatti and water for supper. After dinner the kids joined me on my laptop to watch TV, play games on my laptop and listen to music. They ran out of water or it wasn’t working as I couldn’t use the tap water to wash my hands or anything. I killed a few more bugs and took my malaria pill so I don’t get sick and then heading to bed where I look forward to my first workout in the morning with the neighbors. Throughout the night animals made loud noises and the dogs howl at each other.

June 13th, 2012

I woke up at 5:30AM to get ready for my morning run. I was told to wear long tight track pants, a long sleeve shirt and a jacket but I though I would be too hot and heavy which was right. I ran with the neighbors Simon and John and started off slow but progressed as the workout went on and by the end I was slightly falling behind due to the new terrain and heavy air. During the run children were already walking to school at 6:30AM and some even ran along behind me for a bit. At the end we had run 1:22 (18K) which was supposed to be 1 hour so the runners congratulated me on my strength and know I will be getting better as I train with them more than we did a stretch together. Before I went home they told me to eat and drink lots to become stronger and get energy. The grass was wet and trail was muddy so my new shoes were a mess. For breakfast I had tea and chapatti again so I am starting to see their meals are repetitive. I finally was able to take my first “shower” which was me splashing myself with water from a bucket and then brushed my teeth. I watch them clean their teeth by breaking a stick off a tree and scrubbing that way. I went to my room to use my laptop see use Facebook and synch my Nike+ SportsWatch. One of the little girls in the house named Sandra came up to me and followed me everywhere then petted my hair as she has never seen white people’s hair like mine. I took all the kids outside in the yard to play Frisbee and some marbles to toss around which they were very excited to do so I plan on leaving the stuff here for them. Once again when I am about to leave for town they tell me to put pants on or ill get cold so I do it out of respect but I have no idea why as I am sweating to death because it’s so hot out. I attempt to leave again and am told to wear a jacket but I refuse. When we head to town they ask me if I am comfortable and I think to myself are you kidding me. I don’t know how they wear so much clothes (they dress for summer the same I dress for winter weather). During my 2K walking with the boys to the market they tell me the secret to being a fast runner is training on bumpy trails as it builds foot strength and so when you race on flat roads it is easier. In Kenya they have a tradition of always shaking right hands with the people you greet and this is difficult for me as first I am not used to it and secondly I think we use our other hand in Canada. I get stared down everywhere I go and some people ask me for money and gifts but as I walked by this one little girl she started to bawl her eyes out for the simple reason that “I am white.” I became so thirsty that I bought a 1L water bottle and drank it in a minute. The boys and I then went into a small restaurant where we had tea and mandazi (pastry) for only $0.31! Then I visited the school again where I talked with the teachers about my family and how marriage and divorce works in Canada vs. Kenya. I finally got the opportunity to call my Dad for cheap and talked for a little bit which was nice. It got dark fast so I headed home to clean my feet because they were covered in dirt but after washing them I see I have blisters and my feet are brown. The thing I cannot stand more than anything is the Daddy long legs, flies, beetles, and moths that fly around my room while I sleep! In the night I heard dogs barking and then coyotes or something howling and then a big smash at my door and the noises stopped which scared me.

June 14th, 2012

Woke up for my run with Simon and did a 36 minute easy run before my track workout later. I had 2 cups of tea and some chapatti for breakfast. Simon and I then ran over to the teachers college grass track for our workout were I watch 10,000 meter Olympian William Kibor do his 400 meter repeats training and then did 2 sets of 3000 meters myself followed by about 10 sets of 100 meter sprints to finish off. I was told many Kenyan secrets like how they run on grass track versus turf, they do their workouts with spikes when Canadians only run races in them and that corn is their best food for training. The serious runners in Kenya run so much and so hard that they even cry and feel pain just to be good. I notice unlike in Canada that they do their stretch after a run versus before. The craziest thing I have seen is the Kenyans getting naked after their track workout and getting massaged by others. I got a massage myself but with my clothes all on! I can say that this week I have walked more than I have ever in my life. When the Kenyans see me they have a very serious face on but once I wave and say hello they smile and wave back. There is cow poop everywhere and it is a green from tall the grass so my friend says he picks it up and puts it on the walls of his house and some people eat it; Yuck, too much information! I then went to the school had 3 cups of tea as I am in love with it and I think I will watch them make the tea from scratch next time to understand how to make it myself in Canada. For supper I had lots of corn maze and mix of vegetables with Kenyan milk which I’m starting to get used to. I brought mints and suckers with me for the children and they love the sweets. A lady in the house took my muddy shoes and washed them for me to look brand new when she was done.

June 15th, 2012

At night above my bed in the ceiling there is something crawling and digging around and is keeping me scared and awake. In the morning I ran 17K with Simon and John on a pretty flat course with 2 minor hills. Near the end of the workout they told me it would be 1:15 long but turned into a 1:30 and they also even changed the pace to be faster on our easy run. This did not make me happy because I ran further and faster than what I had in mind. For breakfast I had 3 pieces of bread and 3 cups of tea. Laban asked me to go to town so I accepted and when were driving down the road he randomly pulls over, turns off the car, and walks away saying ill be right back. Good thing I got out myself and walked over to my friends Simon’s house because he didn’t return for over half an hour. I was quite hungry because I am not eating enough food in the morning as no one else in the house is training, therefore, they don’t need a lot of food like me. There are times where I’ll be with Laban and he will have a long conversation with his Kenyan friends in their Swahili language while I just stand there boiling in his car or under the sun. On this trip to town, Laban makes a few “one minute stops” which turn into a total of over an hour of me sitting doing absolutely nothing. We finally arrive in town and head over to Safaricom (similar to Apple in Canada) to set up 4 BlackBerry Playbook for some schools here in Kenya, however, this takes about 2 hours to do so I am exhausted and tired by now and even the staff feel sorry for me. Just before we leave I see my first white person in a week so I was excited to talk to him. He owns the Kerio View hotel in Iten, Kenya where many famous training Olympians stay and he invited me to come next year. On our way back home we stop at the market so I can buy 2 Kenyan beers called “Tusker.” I haven’t eaten for over 8 hours and at I only had bread for breakfast so having lots of potatoes and rice for lunch made me feel better. My friend Simon tells me he drinks 3L of water after a workout! Most people in Kenya are religious so when they ask me about church, religion, God, etc.; it is awkward for me to say I do not have a belief.

June 16th, 2012

I went on a 6:00AM run for 8K in 40 minutes with Simon and it only took a day for my freshly washed shoes to be covered in mud all over again! For breakfast it was bread and 3 cups of tea, again. I then went on my second run of the day with Simon covering 13K in 1 hour. I notice that in Kenya if the lead runner sees that someone is falling behind they will wave and point for them to speed up to run side by side. As a snack at Simon’s house we had hot porridge and a “Kenyan Timbit” which I really like and will end up buying some more for myself later. I now realize that bringing my $200 jeans to Kenya was not a smart idea. Simon who is 22 seems to be my best friend on this trip so far as we run and hangout a lot. In Kenya if someone asks you for a favor you must do it or it is very disrespectful so for example, if you just finished your run and someone asks you to go run with them, no matter how tired you are you must accept. For lunch it was rice, potatoes and mini peas with tomato sauce. I haven’t shaved in a while so I’m starting to notice my beard coming along quite well. One of the little girls in the house named Sandra always follows me around and will I was on my laptop in my room she fell asleep on my bed. My tongue hurts from all the hot food and drinks I have everyday. I went for a walk with Simon to the market to get some phone credit, groceries, and then headed over to a high school to watch a competitive soccer game. After we went to a small cafe to drink tea and eat some mandazi but after we left it poured rain and hail very badly. We were forced to hide in a shop as everything became flooded and the wind was heavy and strong. This was the first time on the trip I was cold; one minute I was walking down the street sweating for the heat with my sun glasses then the next moment it was raining hard and I was shivering cold! When I finally got a drive back home from Laban I drank a beer of mine which was smooth and I enjoyed it. For supper I ate rice, potatoes and peas with tomato sauce then headed straight to bed earlier than usual to catch up on sleep.

This is Oliver, Abraham, Me, and Chegem walking down a trail!


  1. Brandon Thomas says:

    Your trip sounds awesome so far!!!

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