|(Photo shamelessly stolen from Google Images :) )|
* Matatus. These are 14 passenger minivans that are a major part of the transportation network here in Kenya (when you think 14 passenger, hold that sort of loosely...). They're a cheap way of getting around, and while you have to keep yourself really alert - pickpockets are common - they're really handy. They're also kinda crazy, though they usually pretty reliable. Not sure how my friend would agree with that after today she was told her matatu was going just down the road to the shopping center, but instead ended up on an hour long 'diversion' through Kibera slum, but hey... Most are pretty run-down, but often are personalized with different sayings, decals, and the like painted on them. Buses, too - whatever the owner likes is plastered ALL OVER the roof and sides of the interior - Janet Jackson, the New York Knicks, Jesus Saves posters, you name it. And there's usually music bah-LARING. It's a party, I tell you!
|People walking, pikis, matatus (with the yellow stripe), busses, lorries, and trucks with random guys hanging out in the box. Yep, pretty much a regular Nairobi scene! :)|
* Greetings. As a white woman, I get a lot of attention walking along the street. "Hallo!" People (let's be serious, men) will call out. I usually ignore them, or just mumble a short answer and carry on my way. But little kids are fun. The standard little kid greeting to any mzungu (white person) is, "Hawahyoo?" (sound it out, you'll get it ;) ) I'm pretty sure they think it's all one word and the mzungu word for hello. It's really cute, and I always answer, "I am fine! Habari yako?" (How are you?) They are usually surprised that I answer in Swahili, and look at me kind of shocked.
* Exploring. In my travelling around, I've discovered some fun things. Like today, when our taxi diverted down a back road to avoid the traffic (but encounter about a bazillion potholes), I discovered Big Mama's, a Korean BBQ restaurant just a few blocks away from where I'm staying. Travelling out to another AIM office in Kabete, a suburb north of Nairobi, the other day, we drove past a CASTLE! Seriously - a stone, turretted, castle! City Parks. I haven't been to any parks in Nairobi until two days ago when my friend Marlene and I headed over to... City Park. (Such a creative name, I know!) It was a beautiful park with gardens, a gazebo, a picnic area, flowers and flowering trees everywhere.... and MONKEYS! Monkeys everywhere! Monkeys that love to jump up and climb all over you! Good times were had by all - lots of laughs, and lots of photos, for sure!
|* A new attendant for the public washrooms? * Marlene and the monkey|
* My peanuts are all gone, what more do you want? * Pretty park
* Diversity. Nairobi is a city of contrasts. A short matatu ride from the slum (or a long one, depending on the diversions and traffic!) is the YaYa Center, a super upscale mall. There is the Mercedes dealership with the traditional Masai man herding his cows among the cars. You can get gelato at the mall, or take a camel ride down Ngong road. You can rent a paddle boat in the lake at Uhuru park or drive out of town and saddle up for an ostrich ride. And there is a continuous roller coaster of smells that assault your senses. One minute you are smelling the vendor selling BBQ maize, the next you are hit with the acrid smell of burning trash or bus exhaust. And then a few steps further, and back to bougainvilleas or wood-fired pizza.
|All within a short walk is Toi Market - a huge second hand clothing market - Java House, and Nakumatt, the Kenyan version of Wal-Mart.|