Author Archives: Guriix

About Guriix

Kenyan in the US. Roadtrip addict. USAF Airman. Goal : Aviation degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach. https://guriixusjourney.wordpress.com/

Orders to…

So i’m changing bases from my current base in North Carolina to…Alaska. WTH? Yes ..A Kenyan in Alaska will be my new slogan.  Yes,  I’ll be moving to Alaska soon. Everybody keeps asking about the cold up there in the Last Frontier as they call it.  I don’t know what to expect but I know it’s gonna be fun. Snow not withstanding. That’s what all my colleagues who’ve been based there tell me.  Everyone I talk to tells me about the cold up there but apparently it’s much warmer than the northern states i.e. North Dakota,  Minnesota e.t.c. The Air Force is sending this Kenyan to the last frontier originally bought from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million our 2 cents per acre back then. 

I don’t know what to expect up there but what’s guaranteed is 24 hr sun during summer and nearly 24 hr darkness during winter. I’ll tell you about how true that is once I get up there. 

I googled Kenyans in Alaska and instead found out there are Somalis in Alaska. Good enough. Somali food is delicious. 

I’m awaiting my orders from the Air Force to get this show on the road.  The trusted Audi unfortunately won’t be making the trip. We dry ran it the other day 5 hrs from base and it didn’t make the cut for wife and baby.. it’s too small.  In its place we are getting a SAAB..Yes,  a Saab. I didn’t know much about it either but it’s a kick ass car. A Swedish car manufacturer bought out by GM who then took it under.  There aren’t many of those babies and I got one out of Massachusetts. 6 speed manual transmission 2.8 V6 Turbo.. who knew?? The Swedes don’t play. 

I haven’t seen it yet but the reviews are amazing. 

Anyway,  that’s what’s happening.  Hopefully I can get done with my Private Pilot License (PPL) before I PCS (Air Force lingo for Permanent Change of Station). If not that’s fine.  My new base has an Aero Club. I can fly on base.  

Wish me luck on this cold winter thing hanging over our new outdoor paradise 😁😁😁

Random Chopper moment

So I was at the local airport building my solo time for my private pilot license..clear sunny evening,  calm winds.. just what a student would love to perfect his landings in. I had done 2 landings in the pattern. Then as I was coming in for my third landing I heard on the radio and saw a Marine Corps V22 Osprey conning into the pattern to land. The V22 is a tiltrotor military aircraft with vertical landings and takeoff capabilities.. meaning it comes in to land like a fixed wing plane would but touches down vertically. He circled and landed,  I had to keep circling in the pattern until the chopper departed the runway. Which they did after a while but my instructor on the ground was uncomfortable with me the student being around the chopper so he called off any more landings. I landed the third time and that was it. 

Fortunately the Osprey remained in the pattern and performed a couple more landings. It was so cool to watch at close range as the the pilots hovered in place. 

Here are short videos of the maneuvers 

Babies are work..

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Babies are a lot of work..a lot.  Especially in America. It’s very different having a baby in America. We were blessed with a baby boy in February.  It’s been a lot of fun and “fun” ever since. 

Having a baby in a new country is different. In Kenya you have all the relatives helping out and also getting you a househelp or a “mbotch” as we say in Kenyanese 😁

Luckily my mother-in-law flew in to help us with the bundle of joy. She has been of immense help for the two months she’s been around. She went back home last week. We are eternally grateful. Mothers are saviors.

In America unfortunately you cannot have a househelp as its  very expensive. We’ll take him to daycare once he’s old enough. Daycare It’s not cheap either running at around 200 bucks a week. Yes a week..

It’s been a rollercoaster since he arrived on this beautiful earth. He’s fed, cries, sleeps,  poops and repeats hundreds of times. It doesn’t get easier. He sleeps well on some days,  he cries endlessly on some days.. and we are are always tired and sleepy due to the reason above. 

I’ve learnt to catch snoozes whenever I can.. be it half an hour,  an hour I’ll take it. When mum was around we could hand her the bundle and catch a few snoozes. Not anymore.

Whenever I wasn’t working or in school the wife and mum would take a break. It can be overwhelming for mothers  and they need breaks every so often to recharge.

Did I say diapers are expensive.. oh yea,  the single most expensive item this far. Luckily there is online shopping and there are always deals so that helps. 

And who knew babies can scream that much and loud and don’t seem to run out of steam.. You worry the neighbours might call the cops on is for all the wailing.  One late night he cried for so long that neighbours started banging our walls, they couldn’t sleep.  Luckily they didn’t  call cops. The crying drives me crazy sometimes but we made the bed of roses now we gotta sleep in it. 😊😊😊 Everything I do to try calm him doesn’t work and sometimes I just sit and watch him cry..a little crying never harmed anyone. That’s how some of us toughened up growing up. 

Insurance that the Air Force has us on has been helpful but complicated to navigate. It’s really helped considering prenatal and postnatal care. Healthcare is expensive in this country. It’s not a joke. 

He’s growing fine and we are blessed to have him. He’s touched our lives in amazing ways and we look forward to him growing into a young God fearing man.. despite driving us crazy at times. 

It’s been a great journey thus far, I came to the US a single man,  i married a wonderful woman and now we have a son, we are a family.  It’s a blessing and we are thankful everyday. I wish my mum was alive to see her grandson 😞😞😞 All glory to God.. 
NB.

We’ll be moving soon from the east coast to a new base. The Air Force journey continues.. Guriix US journey continues.

Blessings

The new year began well. Wifey has been getting her bearings of the new town. It’s a small rural town with many military retirees. She’s figured it out with the help of Uber as I’m working most of the time. 

We had a new addition to the family this month. We thank God for blessings. The bundle of joy is quite a handful. Many nights with only a couple of hours sleep is the order of the day. He’s loving it at our expense. 

It was only two months before birth when wifey got here but the military insurance has been a blessing. It’s called TRICARE and to say its sorted us out would be an understatement. It’s been there for prenatal visits for the two months, delivery and now the paediatric visits. I’m be forever grateful to the Airforce for being there for me when I needed it. Insurance is ridiculously expensive here. 

Some people have asked about insurance options here. I didn’t have insurance for the year before I joined the Air Force. Luckily  I didn’t make a lot of money to be penalized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when I filed my taxes . You are penalized according to your income at the end of the year for not having insurance. Luckily for me the $300 a month deductible wasn’t an option. It was too expensive and I thank God I didn’t need to go to hospital during that period. 

Flying is going on well, I just completed my first solo flight. I take flying lessons once a week on the weekends and so far it’s been good. It’s a great experience. Combining college classes for my undergrad aeronautics  and flying hasn’t been easy and is kicking my behind. They said chasing dreams has never been easy so will keep working at it.  

Financing the flying is affordable too so I’m grateful for the endless opportunities moving to the US brings. It’s the main reason we made the decision to come here. 

There is a new Sheriff in town but so far it’s been ok for Kenyans save for a case I read about a girl being sent back to Nairobi after landing in Chicago. They went thru her stuff,  checked her phone and denied her entry and put her on the next flight out. 

The military loooooves the new Sheriff but as an immigrant there is alot of negative anti immigration vibe going around. There must be an uneasy feeling for those who are here illegally as they don’t know what the future will bring. The dreaded Immigration & Customs Enforcement aka ICE have been making the rounds detaining illegal immigrants and initiating removal proceedings. Even for legal immigrants holding green cards,  they must be on their toes about the fine print in the travel ban. I did refugee resettlement for many years back in Nairobi and the refugees admitted here are more than what the rest of the world does combined. The security checks by US security agencies is sometimes frustrating to the refugees but they are necessary in today’s insecure world. It’s been a country of immigrants and believe it’ll continue to be in long run despite the current situation. 

One year down,  three to go in my Air Force contract. It’s been a good year. To another great year ahead and what it brings. 

Wifey is here…finally

She finally got here roughly 274 days since we submitted her paperwork. It’s been a long and tedious process. Just like the Air Force, immigration is a “hurry up and wait” kind of a process. Most people wait for much longer than we did so I’m not complaining.

We got the interview confirmation at the end of September for a mid November date. We prepared all the necessary paperwork then went ahead and requested for an earlier date. We put in the request and fortunately it went through.  We got a mid October date. 

The interview went well,  nothing out of the ordinary. Just the regular expected questions normally asked at these interviews. Where did you meet,  ‘how long have you known each other-where was the wedding-proof he pays taxes-kind of questions’. We were still nervous about it before the D-Day.  You never know what to expect from the consular officers. 

Wifey needed to serve her notice at work,  dispose of some of her stuff before making the big move. Luckily for us she got 8,000 pounds worth of personal goods shipment approved by the Air Force. I’m forever grateful for that. We could only use less than 1,000 pounds. Roughly 4,000 kgs is a lot of weight. All electronics were out of question as Kenya uses 240 volts and here it’s 110 volts, most of the furniture too didn’t need to make the trip. She shipped just the necessary stuff as I already have most of the household appliances we need. They ship by sea so the stuff should hopefully get here in 2 months or so. 

That calmed our nerves quite a bit as I would have been forced to pack my 2 suitcases to the max on the recent return trip from Kenya. That wasn’t necessary with the shipping gift.

The month went by really fast, she served her notice at work. I prepared for her arrival here, as I’d been living a bachelor life and you know how guys live. 😆😆..I did my best before she got here. 

The Air Force also sorted out her airfare. I’m grateful to them for taking good care of us despite the long distance involved. 

She arrived this week and I drove the 70 miles from my base town to pick her up.  Finally we get to live together in the same space nearly 17 months after our wedding. 

It’s not been easy being so far apart but we made it work under the circumstances. The biggest challenges in the reunification process are the long wait times with USCIS and the National Visa Center (NVC); and the many processes to navigate between the two agencies. 

We had forgotten to pay the USCIS Immigrant fee which is required to be paid for a green card to be produced. It’s supposed to be paid after the immigrant visa is issued but before travel. We paid it today. Well see how it affects the paperwork. 

If you have any questions about the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative do not hesitate to hit me up. Been there done that. 

Grateful to the Big guy upstairs. Happy holidays. 

Emergency Leave to Kenya

I lost my mum at the end of October, It’s painful losing a parent. This is especially hard when you are thousands of miles away in another country. I got to see her 6 months ago when I was last in Kenya. I last talked to her 3 weeks before her demise. She was sick and had been admitted to hospital 2 weeks before she passed on.

I was kinda prepared mentally for the unimaginable eventuality but it still hit me hard when I received the news that she was no more.

I informed my leadership at work and they immediately started working to get me out to Kenya as soon as was feasibly possible. My emergency leave was approved immediately. The process of getting clearances to travel was set in motion. All agencies involved were very accommodating given the circumstances. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who made it possible to travel on short notice.

I didn’t travel for a week after it happened as the funeral was set for much later. It was a difficult time being so far away. Friends and colleagues were there for me. Keeping me company and making sure that I wasn’t alone. 

I made the sad trip to Kenya, my wife was waiting for me. Plans were underway for the funeral. Everyone was somehow coping with the loss. It had been a tough month in the family. We lost two aunties and now mum all in a space of a month.

Going to see mum in the morgue was the most difficult thing I’ve done in a long time. I needed closure. I saw her lying there and I thanked God for taking the pain away from her. I cried and mourned for her but I also thanked God for the 75+ years she gave her to be with us.

I made the trip home away from the city and kept dad company before the funeral. It’s much harder for him losing his companion of 54 years. He was holding up well surrounded by family and friends.

The day of the funeral came and the funeral service was touching. Hearing her life relived by all present, seeing family, relatives and friends from all walks of life giving her a worthy sending off brought tears to my eyes.

The funeral went well. We laid her remains to rest as the rains threatened to come down on an early Thursday afternoon in the Kenyan countryside. 

It felt empty afterwards, not having her around the house, not hearing her voice, her cooking and the happiness a mother brings. Her presence will be dearly missed. She’s in a better place now.

I’m still mourning her, it will take a while to fill the void left by her departure but eventually all will be well by God’s grace. I’m grateful for the virtues she instilled in all of us siblings and all who got to know her.

I spent a few days after the funeral with dad. Trying to make sure there would be someone to take care of his daily needs and the day to day running of the home without his better half. 

Soon it was time to head back stateside to work. I’m now back to work but it hasn’t been easy.Hopefully time will heal the wounds.

A big shoutout to family, friends, colleagues and everyone who has supported us through prayer, financially, emotionally and physically during this trying time. A special mention goes to my wife for being by my side throughout this ordeal. 

Thank you for bringing me forth in this world. I’m eternally grateful. Fare thee well mum. 😪😪

Interesting observations about Americans

I’ve been in this beautiful country for slightly over 2 years now and I’ve noticed some things that weren’t very common back in Kenya.

The first is how common buying new cars on credit is. I first noticed this trend when I was in technical school in the bunduz of Texas. Young airmen straight out of high school were buying $ 20,000 cars without a care in the world. That surprised me. Most didn’t have a lot of money or very good credit history but that didn’t stop them. They were getting into a life of debt very early in life. They would be offering rides for gas on base after spending their whole paycheck financing those hot 5 liter engine cars.

The number of car dealerships that were willing to sell to these young airmen surprised me. As I’ve moved to my new base I’ve realized it’s not a young airmen thing but a general culture with the populace. 

There are very many affordable used cars that wouldn’t dent one’s finances that much but I guess I think like a Kenyan who wants to save for a rainy day instead of blowing it all on a 2017 Subaru WRX that will set me back $500-600 a month for years inclusive of comprehensive insurance.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to own a brand new car but you can have a nice car for less and have some change without having to dig yourself deeper into debt.

It’s not uncommon to see people change cars in a short period of time. They just refinance their loans and get the next newer, faster rides and with it becoming financial prisoners of the lending institutions.

Most people swipe credit cards wherever they go but a study I read the other day said a very small population of Americans is capable of raising $1,000 if an emergency arose. 

I guess it’s good having come from a different country with a smaller economy and maybe a different way of doing things.

The other observation is eating out all the time or most of the time. The hospitality industry in this country makes a killing. People have fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not all but the queues you see at fast food joints says a lot about those habits. Dining restaurant’s parking lots are typically full during meal times and especially on the weekends.

I try to avoid the temptations that come with peer pressure. Everyone at work going out for lunch and you head home to make a quick meal. It’s not easy sometimes and it does get expensive when you do the maths. In the end is well worth it.

It’s also unhealthy and this is more evident in my fellow airmen who you see struggle with their physical tests. Bulging waist lines and panting on the track like they are about to collapse. If only they would make changes to their burger and fries choices they’d avoid ‘fat camp’. That’s where they send you if you fail your PT test as we call it. 1.5 mile run, less than 35 inch waist line, 60ish pushups and sit ups is the standard test for the Air Force.

You’d think it would be easy but you’ll be surprised at the number of obese service members.

Those two observations have really stood out since I’ve been in this country.

In other news I’m getting my flying time in and it’s so much fun. I fly twice a week and hopefully should be done with the Private license by early next year.