Trip update: FAQ

Q.: Are you sick of all your clothes?
A.: Yes. And they are much less clean than they were when we departed.

Q.: Is there anything you packed that has proven totally unnecessary?
A.: Yeah, probably a few gadgety things. The one that springs to mind is the travel baggage scale, which we got to make sure our backpacks didn’t exceed any airline’s weight limit. We made sure of this at the beginning, but haven’t needed it since. Which is good, because some button got held down and the battery is dead. Also we packed some microfiber travel towels that we have never needed. Well, I used one once to mop up wine on a train, but that’s it.

One thing — or, really, two things — that have proven to be the opposite of unnecessary is our LED headlamps. Power goes out all the time around here, and as atmospheric as candles are, a headlamp means you can keep cooking, reading or hunting mosquitoes. Invaluable.

Q.: Have you had anything stolen?
A.: No/maybe. Sometime during our jaunt around southeast Asia, my phone disappeared. It’s sad, but we’d packed a backup. We’re not sure whether it got taken out of my bag or we lost it ourselves somehow, but it does seem to be gone. Otherwise, though, nothing taken so far.

Q.: Not to be indelicate, but what is the story with your bowel movements? How has the transition from spicy southeast Asia to who-knows Kenya treated your insides?
A.: Really we’ve done surprisingly well with this so far. (I’m going to say so far a lot in this one.) Part of the reason, I think, is that we’ve been almost exclusively in cities, where a pretty high standard of living tends to be available, if not always ubiquitous. But even outside the cities, the spread of globalization makes the world ever-more standardized — and, thus, sanitized. Partly we’ve had good luck, though — there have been places we’ve visited, and even eaten at, that were near open sewers, and we’ve been fine afterward.

Getting down to brass tacks: I would say we’ve each had, on average, one unpleasantly abnormal situation per month of travel. But we’ve only had to crack into the azithromycin once so far, in Vietnam.

Q.: Is your hair really long? Page, are you still a blond?
A.: Kevin’s hair is business as usual, thanks to the relative universality of masculine haircuts. (Also his hair grows straight up, and so poses less of a challenge to an African barber than floppy white-dude hair would.) My hair hasn’t been this long since I was 15, I don’t think, but it’s not startlingly long. Just what most people would consider shoulder-length. As for the blond, it’s like dark-blond roots and yellow ends. Not my favorite look, but I’m going with the trend of the times and calling it “ombré.”

Q.: Do you have friends? Did you find Americans to celebrate 4th of July with?
A.: Yes and yes! The Kenyan inhabitants of Nairobi have seen a lot of white aid workers come and go, and establishing real connection there — beyond just basic friendliness, which is very very abundant — takes some work. But many of the aforementioned white aid workers are themselves far from home and very down to get a beer and talk about whatever. And the people we’ve met, in both categories, are great. Interesting, interested, hilarious, adventurous, inspiring. We have a bunch of approximately 24-year-old friends who are intimidatingly together and accomplished and awesome, and let us hang out even though we go home at midnight and they go out clubbing. We got really lucky on this one.

For 4th of July we went to / helped host a big Kenyan goat barbecue at the office where we both work. It was raucous and there were piffley fireworks and games of beer pong and a DJ and everything. Late in the evening, for some reason, I tied a cup of wine to my forehead using somebody’s necktie, and then my friend Rachel drank from the cup. Who even knows, man. It was not very American, but it was a pretty spectacular party.

Q.: What’s next? What’s the schedule from here on out?
A.: We’ll be in Kenya until late August, though we’ll be taking a bunch of trips while we’re here — to the Masai Mara, to Dubai, to Rwanda, and maybe one or two other places if we get lucky. Then we’ll have several weeks in Europe; we’re hoping to see friends and family in London, Paris and Rome, and maybe do a little excursion or two just the two of us. Then, time permitting, we’ll pass through New York City on our way home, and hug some people there. Back in San Francisco by the first week of October. About this, sometimes I feel so happy, and sometimes I feel so sad.

Do you have a question for Los Meanderthal? Leave your burning query in the comments and we will soothe it with the sweet rain of information.

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