Maasai Market and Shrimp and Okra
Trip Start Nov 29, 2004
24Trip End Dec 27, 2004
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We were hungry so we stopped in a pizza restaurant. I have been looking forward to Kenya pizza and it was quite good. It was of the bland and filling variety and that's not a bad thing when you are so hungry. Breakfast was made for us by Wanja - the egg she owed me from the night before. I had a Guiness and ordered a Margherita (yes that is spelled right) pizza. Wanja got a ham pizza, Wambui got a burger and Ed was not hungry after the big breakfast. After a few minutes, Wambui's mom, Esther arrived. And then came Esther's sister, but Winnie. So now Ed and I were surrounded by beautiful women so we had a good lunch. Esther delivers lunches to businesses, different kinds of rice is what it sounded like. She also sells clothes. Her sister is an accountant. Wambui would love to come to the U.S. - Miami specifically. I was telling her that if she gets a good education, she should be able to go there on an H1. I want to keep in touch with her. She also dislikes Indians. It seems like Indians tend to come here and own businesses and employ Africans. They sound like they don't treat the Africans very well.
One thing I have been thinking of is that if Kenyans can put together an infrastructure, U.S. businesses would flock here just as they have in India
After lunch, the plan was to meet up with Sara, and go to the Maasai market. It was taking her a while to meet me because of traffic, so we stopped in at the Stanley hotel lobby. It is the oldest one in Nairobi, and is pretty darn fancy. Guess how many white people I saw? A lot. I feel bad for these rich white folks who come all the way to Kenya, and end up sipping tea together in a posh outdoor café watching the Africans walk by. What kind of an adventure is that? But we sat there and got some drinks (espresso for me, milkshakes for others) and desserts (mediocre fudge marble cake), waiting for Sara. After some time, she arrived, and we moved on to the market.
The market was absolute madness. As a white person, I was literally followed by a mob of sellers wherever I went. Each of them asking me to come look at their store, or to look at the items they were carrying. It was pretty irritating and I started getting quite firm with them, telling them to go back to their stalls and stop following me, and that I refuse to take anything from anyone who follows me, even if it is free. I did get a good price on an African picture frame by doing this, I am pretty sure he sold it to me at below cost, trying to get me to see his other stuff. That tactic did not work. It's a nice 5x7 frame hand made from bamboo, for about $2.90. In the U.S., it would easily go for $16 or so. I can see how these curios can be a big business in the U.S. Sara and her cousin kept telling me not to buy stuff, but in the end it was them who were talked in to buying a bunch of overpriced stuff, including a Maasai outfit (Sara is a Kikuyu). As the saying goes: "Women: can't live with them; can't take them to a Maasai market in Kenya without them getting cheated." Also, they (the women) kept grabbing me and telling me to move on, which caused the sellers to argue with them and it caused confusion. I want to go there again by myself. I have no problems negotiating with those guys. The secret is to be ready to walk away and not buy the item at all. I did see some cool chess sets that I may get for my dad. He got a chess set from Hong Kong while he was in the military, and I got him one from India, so now it is my quest to get him a chess set from everywhere I go. Also, I think the end of the day is the best time, when sellers are desperate to sell more items that day.
So, after escaping that madhouse, Ed came away with his coveted fridge magnets ($12 for four hand carved), I came out with a small elephant carving and a picture frame ($8 total) and Soph walked of with $72 worth of carvings and a Maasai outfit.
We waited near a bus stop for Mungai to pick us up. It took a while but he finally came. We parted company with the cousins and Ed, Soph, me, and Lawrence took off for home. Ed was planning to make dinner tonight so we needed to stop at the store to get the rest of the stuff. They didn't have tomatoes or onions, so we had to make another stop at a market to get those things. Ed made shrimp and okra for dinner. It was really good, but a bit bland for my taste. I served everyone tonight, since Ed had cooked. I think the Kamau's enjoyed having someone else do the work. Everyone liked dinner and we had a great time. Oh, Friends came on the TV, that was surprising. I also saw a house lizard creeping between pictures on the wall. That's entirely normal and doesn't even bother Sara.
I also took some of Ed's Sudafed today and it really helped. I will check at a Chemist (like a pharmacist - most of them advertise that they have human and animal medicine!) to see if I can find any more as I don't want to use all of Ed's.
After dinner, we went out to Lawi's house and took a nightcap. I had a bit of southern comfort, Lawi had gin, Soph and Ed had beers. We watched a football match (soccer game) for a bit. Nobody knew or cared what was going on except for Lawi, and he was nuts. Why are soccer fans so crazy? My theory is that because it takes so long before some action happens, that all that pent up excitement comes out at once.
Tomorrow, Aunt Jane is coming in from London, and we are planning to go to the animal orphanage, and the giraffe zoo, and Bomas of Kenya. As I write this, it is 10:30 AM on Wednesday and I can tell you right now we don't have time to do all that. I think Bomas is the best we can do.