Like any other African country, Kenya has an urban and rural scene. Rural areas are characterized by intense agriculture, low living standards, poor infrastructure and communal style of living. If it is your first time visiting rural Kenya, you should go prepared physically and mentally. Here are a few tips.
The very first thing that rural locals will see is your outward appearance. Being highly conservative, most rural lands require their women to dress respectfully, meaning you should try to avoid exposing too much skin. You can opt for pants instead of shorts and a sleeved t-shirt as opposed to tank tops.
Respect and humility go a very long way in the country in Kenya. The elderly fold is especially careful to note how you respond to them in speech and action. You can be cold and distant with everyone else but when a babu (grandfather) says high to you, you are best putting on your biggest smile on. Please, not that shaking hands is seen as the best form of greeting as opposed to just verbal hallos. Remember to also bring your please and thank yous with you as they will go a long way in determining how smooth your visit will be.
If you are transitioning from a big city to rural Kenya, please be ready to quickly adjust to the changes in how things run. For example, instant hot showers might not be guaranteed. Depending on where you will be staying, you might have to take bucket baths in a communal bathroom. Electricity shortages are also very common and sometimes network coverage will fail. Without patience and easy adaptive qualities, your stay in rural Kenya might be very frustrating.
More Walking, Less Uber
Most rural inhabitants are used to and even enjoy walking on foot. This might be because of the lack of taxis in the village, lack of money or just because of habit. If you are volunteering in rural Kenya or you plan to stay for a long period, then walking will become an imminent part of your life. At least you will get to enjoy the almost unaltered state of nature and fresh air that most rural areas have to offer.
The night sky in most rural areas is unmatched because of limited atmospheric pollution and use of electricity. You should, therefore, make it a personal goal to make the best of these nights, together with many other beautiful scenes. If you go exploring, you are bound to find hidden waterfalls, extremely clear streams, breath-taking views among others. Aside from not having a hot bath, these magnificent moments should make your stay worth the struggle.
Perhaps the highest point of rural Kenya is that it is full of culture. If you stay long enough, you will be lucky to witness some cultural events such as festivals and ceremonies. You might also end up learning a native language and picking up fast-disappearing skills like weaving and carving.
Rural Kenya can cause great culture shock to someone who has never been in such a setting. However, you will find that the people here are friendlier and more welcoming. They are also fast to help a newcomer because most people believe it to be an act that draws blessings and good luck. As hard as it might be in the beginning, rural Kenya is one of the best places you can visit while here.