Living in Africa for a week has opened my eyes to city life in Nairobi, Kenya. Not only have I taken a Matatu in Nairobi (local transportation in the city) and loved it but I’ve also tried a variety of food that is native to the country. I really didn’t know how many similarities Africa would have with South America. I went out last night for the first time and I met the diplomat for the country of Ghana and also learned how to dance “the African way”. Salsa classes in Colombia prepared me for that my friends!
I find it amazing how life in South America has really prepared me for Africa.
I knew that Kenya is considered to be a developing country and was much less developed than any of the countries that I have lived in. Things work surprisingly well in comparison to the chaos that you would normally think to find in Africa. When we first inquired about having the internet connected in the house they told us it would take 5 days. WHAT! On a side note, this is the first hysterical statement that was made when I arrived in Kenya:
“If you get in trouble or are robbed don’t run, a lot of sprinters are from Kenya they will catch you”
They needed to have a qualified person do a survey and then come and install the internet. After living in Argentina and seeing 2 guys take 2 hours to change a light bulb I really wasn’t worried. They had the internet connected in roughly 2 days. In the meantime I would have my new taxi driver, Sami, take me to the local Java Coffee house to catch up on work. Sami always smiles when I speak to him in Swahili.
After a week of driving me to what seems to him an addiction to coffee, he still laughs every time I greet him in Swahili and when I come up with new words.
I make them up as I go.
Always remember if you want to make a Kenyan smile speak to them in Swahili. One of the best things that I think I experienced was actually getting water from a borehole.
I was going to try and get away with showering with beer but they weren’t having it. Tusker is the beer if you must know the name and Tusker All Stars is the name of the American Idol in Eastern Africa. This has nothing to do with the power going out but one of the water pumps did go out in the house.
In Nairobi water is pumped into a neighborhood where you have giant water tanks (below ground and above ground). Once the water is pumped into the water tanks you have to turn on another pump to get the water into the house. So I had to get busy and fill buckets of water for the ice cold shower I had to take. I just made a lot of scrubbing noises I actually don’t take cold showers.
This is not an automated process ladies and gentlemen.
Imagine, just off the plains of the Serengeti (a few hundred miles), the Serengeti is cool right? Okay continuing. Imagine there is a house in a gated community with a large underwater tank of water. In order to retrieve the stubborn H20 that does not want to go into the house I must first throw a bucket into the tank. After you throw the bucket in the tank you salvage a 15 foot (4.5 meters) metal rod that a very strong African man bent at the end to lift the bucket. I played cat and mouse with the bucket handle more than a few times before I got the hang of it.
Don’t worry that isn’t as weird having to switch every plug in the house on and off.
Not only do you have to unplug an appliance after you use it, but you also have to turn the switch. I did have a fight several times with the microwave and the coffee maker but can you do? God blessed me with a horrible memory so I have to fight with coffee makers, it’s life. I experienced the unplug behavior when I traveled to the Guiana’s and other remote parts of South America as well.
I’ve walked through some dangerous places in South America like the time I got kidnapped and robbed in Venezuela. That still wouldn’t prepare me for heightened sense of security that I would experience walking through the city that some call Nai-robbery. It literally feels like heightened sense of security on steroids. In the neighborhood that I live in called South C I could brighten the streets at night and still not have an issue. White guy in Africa walking at night? Brighten the streets? You do get it right.. moving on.
It is something that I am going to be talking about in one of my posts coming this week how I am now look like a foreigner. People watching me as I walk down the streets is something that I never experienced regularly. The city which has a bad reputation didn’t seem that bad to me.
The power has gone out only 3 times in the last week.
That last statement is part of living in Africa in my opinion. Luckily the city has gorgeous weather where you don’t need air conditioning. The only issues I had about living in South America was the occasional internet disconnection.
It’s been a real learning experience especially since I get yelled at when I don’t unplug an unused appliance. My first 48 hours in Africa I could already provide you with a post about things that you would never find in the states. For example, we don’t lock the refrigerator door even though there is a lock and key. We are civilized in this household.
Stay tuned for more updates…