This is Africa!

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
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Trip End Sep 26, 2010


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Flag of Kenya  ,
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

So after my long and arduous journey from Thailand I finally made it to Nairobi, Kenya. This is all very new to me.

I had a bit of a scare at Jomo Kenyatta airport as my backpack took about two hours to show up at the baggage claim but eventually it arrived. I met my contact at the airport and was driven to my host family. My host family is wonderful: it is a young couple (Karimi & Rahab) with a baby (Sasha)  and two guys (Jau & Mash) about my age. I get along with everyone very well. I spent the first few days getting settled in and adjusting to my new surroundings. I caught up on a lot of sleep. I also found it very chilly here. It is quite a change going from humid 35+ temperatures to overcast and cloudy 20s during the day and below 20 at night. This is because it is winter here. I am still not too cold but I am amused at Africans wearing snow jackets when it is 18 degrees out at night. I manage with jeans and a sweatshirt and then it is quite a pleasant temperature for me, just a bit of a shock to the system.

After a few days of being in Nairobi, I venture out to Nairobi National Park. I take the matatus to get there (more on those later) When I get to the park, I decide to go on a Safari Walk. I see ostriches, pygmy hippos, lions, a cheetah, leopards, rhinos, gazelles, and the elusive (and rare!) white and brown zebra. I even manage to be there during the feeding time for the leopard and I get to watch as he climbs down from an impossibly high tree to grab a huge chunk of meat and take it back up the tree. Pretty awesome. A good day.

A little about African life: The food here is very enjoyable. Most meals consist of vegetables (cabbage, carrots, onions) meat (usually beef) and a starch. Sometimes it is mashed potatoes, but usually it is chapatti or ugali. Ugali is a mixture of maize flour and water mixed to a level where it sticks together and you have it with your hands in little pieces, using the pieces to pick up vegetables or meat. Africans also love tea, many times a day, so I have been taking tea quite often.

Nairobi is a pretty crazy place. It is a big city and it is still developing. The infrastructure could use a lot of work, but it appears to be always under construction. The roads are in poor shape the sidewalks do not exist, it is just dirt trails instead. Pedestrians are EVERYWHERE. Most of all, the driving is criminally insane at worst, downright scary at best. Drivers are extremely aggressive with their cars, and they have to be to get anywhere. It is commonplace for one to cut another off, overtaking at impossibly high speeds in oncoming traffic is quite normal, driving on the sidewalks and forcing pedestrians out of the way is standard. At least there isn't honking like India though, that would just be too much. There are large potholes everywhere, even in the highways. I fear for my life every time I am in a car, but am also slightly amused at some of the ridiculous antics I see on the roads.

The people here are very friendly. Everyone seems to go out of their way to say hello to me, to welcome me to Kenya, to make sure I am having a good time and I am alright. Nairobi is a very nice place during the day, but a can be quite dodgy at night so I have to be careful but my host family has done a good job looking after me and making sure I am safe.

My arrival here in Africa has also coincided with the start of the World Cup. This has led me to a few observations: Africans love above all else, soccer, music, and dancing. I have spent nearly every single night I have been here out watching soccer, drinking and enjoying loud music. I tend not to dance, but they always try to get me on the dance floor. Epic struggle. Anyways, the World Cup has been very enjoyable to watch here. Everyone gets into it and it makes for a great atmosphere.

The matatus I referred to earlier: These are essentially minivans with 14 tiny seats for passengers. These vehicles are always beat up, old, and they BLAST hip hop music out of their tinny old speakers. Africans use these to get around the city at very cheap prices. Mats, as they are called, are everywhere and they zoom past you on the road every few seconds. They have the craziest drivers and the ones playing the loudest music are most popular. To get somewhere, you just flag one down in the direction you are traveling, yell where you are going to the door operator over the music, and squeeze into one of the tiny seats in the back. Then they drop you off when you get there. Really quite a bizarre way to travel for me, but it is the norm here, as mats outnumber taxis probably twenty to one.

After I took some time to get accustomed to the city and the way of life here, I managed to find a volunteer opportunity at a local school here called Nairobi School. It is one of the best in Kenya and was quite an eye-opening experience for me. The conditions with which the kids were living at the boarding school was very poor to me, but I also realized it was one of the best schools around. The kids, from Grade 9 to 12, were all extremely bright students that had achieved top marks in primary school and they all seemed very happy to be there. I spent a week at the school interacting with the staff and students. I played some sports on the fields with the boys, and I spent quite a bit of time in the English classes with the boys, talking to them about myself, and Canada, and traveling. They seemed to enjoy it as much as me and they all had lots of questions and I think it was a good experience for them as well as myself. I even got to teach a few of them some things on the squash court!

After my week at Nairobi School, my host family had planned a trip to Lake Nakuru for the weekend so I was looking forward to that.

-js

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Comments

hey buddy on

You are so real.I really like your story.Biggups

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