McClenahens to Mozambique
"…That they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

{African} Time is NOT on Our Side

October 12, 2014 by rkmcclenahen


the stairs to the left go up to our flat

Well, we made it safely back to a breezy Pemba this last Saturday the 4th– so breezy for a couple days, in fact, that a large palm tree right in our back yard/neighbor’s yard fell over, crushing into the metal roof of a nearby building. We’ve also been welcomed home by short daily power outages, and a few initial days without water. Definitely not in Kenya anymore…

HOWEVER, wanting to give you a better taste of time here in Africa, this post will still mostly be regarding our time in Kenya.  Although, we have certainly seen how these things are applicable in our life here in Mozambique as well- probably in our estimation, “It’s an African thing.”

A Day In The Life: An Embassy Appointment

5:45am– wake everyone up, get dressed, feed the baby, hurry to wait outside the compound gate for the car we’ve arranged to rent to pick us up. The kids can eat breakfast (in tow) when we drop them off at the babysitter’s house.

6:30am– car should be here. Passing Kenyans look at the five of us strangely.

6:45am– car is still not here. Don’t have a working phone number for our contact- should we get a taxi, or will that cause us to miss the car in passing?

6:50am– hire a taxi, drive to guest house that is providing the car.

7:05am (less than an hour until our appointment across town)- Arrive at guest house- the manager who was supposed to pick us up has not even arrived to work yet. Someone goes to wake him.

7:25am– finally leaving in the car. No time to drop the kids off at the babysitter. All three kids come with us to the embassy.

7:45am– 3 miles left to go in heavy traffic…

8:00am– APPOINTMENT TIME- still fighting traffic.

8:15am– We see the embassy! Pull into what we think is the driveway leading to parking. Armed guard directs us around the block to look for “U.S. Citizen Parking.”

8:25am– The parking was very far away. Finally find it- we have to walk all the way back to the entrance we started at with the kids… after a thorough vehicle inspection.

8:35am– Pass through a first security check, pass a long line of Kenyans waiting to get in, check in with a man holding a list with names of those with appointments, and pass through metal detectors. Held up for about 10 minutes because all electronics are confiscated and stored at this point, and they don’t want to let Rusty pass with his insulin pump.

8:45am– Finally arrive to our “appointment” only to take a number. Similar to the DMV.

9:30am– “Have you heard them call ANY numbers in our category?”

10:30am– I think we still have 2 people ahead of us.

10:50– A girl next to me says the woman is calling our number. It’s not on the microphone, she’s just motioning through the glass. It is only to pay the cashier and hand in our papers for Clara’s Passport and some other documents. Have to wait for another office to call us in after this. Take the kids out to the porch to wait.

11:40– IT’S OUR TURN!! Everyone is hungry for lunch, especially because all we had was a banana in the car on the way over. Hadn’t packed any toys since we weren’t expecting to bring the kids. Try to keep the kids still and quiet in a cubicle-sized office so we can hear the man talking behind the glass. Just takes 15 minutes to sign everything. Man assures us we will have our passport in 2-3 weeks.

NOON– Finally leaving! Only to pick up a different babysitter, drive across town to drop her off with the kids at our house, and then drive all the way back for 2 more appointments at the hospital for Kristen and Clara.


2 weeks later Receive email saying to come and collect our passport. For some reason, it is only a TEMPORARY ONE! They say they will mail the real one to the Mozambique capital so we can get it soon. Rusty objects- the capital is a 5 day drive away from where we live in Pemba, one-way, and it is not a very safe trip to take. He works out for us to pick up the passport back in Nairobi in February, even though the paperwork says they will only hold a passport for 90 days…. We will see in February!


When people say life moves at a different pace here, they are right! Even last week we tried to go a couple miles by car in the evening to grab some dinner at a gas station eatery. The roundtrip took at least 3 hours, and we couldn’t figure out why traffic was so bad. On the way back home, some police directed us, along with some other vehicles, onto a strange dirt patch along the road and wouldn’t let any of the vehicles exit. Come to find out the Kenyan president was en route from a fair to someplace else. We saw the whole presidential motorcade (though it was nothing like ours at home) speed by on the main road which had been shut down at rush hour- about 100 cars and motorcycles travelling at about 50mph. A cool thing to see, but just not in the plans! I think we will soon have to remove some phrases from our daily vocabulary, such as “I’ll be right back,” “I’m just running out for a few minutes,” and “We’ll see you soon.”


A Nairobi construction site- note the scaffolding!


How many merchants move their goods around town, sharing the streets with big city traffic

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