It has been a while since I posted. In my defense, I have moved a family to Africa, started a new job, and been witness to things like an airport fire, a terrorist attack and a government shutdown. (Now that I write that, I’m surprised Kenya hasn’t deported me yet for setting some bad juju upon them.)
While I am still here, I thought I would write the 10 best and worst list of Nairobi.
1. Nairobi itself. The roads are awful. The traffic is horrific. The downtown is, well, butt-ugly.
2. The crime. It is omni-present and there always seems to be an air of menace around.
3. The prices. Nairobi is EXPENSIVE. Crappy meat and cheese, at prices higher than Whole Foods.
4. The driving. Not only am I driving on the left, but traffic is anarchic. People do whatever the hell they please: no stopping at red lights, passing on any side, whenever you want, and headlights are rarely used. Even in the dark.
5. The poverty. School fees, rent, health care, all unaffordable for many, many Kenyans. Average income is $1400 a year.
6. You can’t get a straight answer. Most inquiries are met with a deflection, not an answer.
“Where is Moi street?”
“You are on Selassie Ave.”
“Ok, but where is Moi?”
“This is Selassie.”
“I understand. WHERE IS MOI?”
“This is Selassie.”
And so it goes. For a long time.
7. It is hard to walk or run. The security threat is palpable, so something as basic as throwing on your running shoes and hitting the pavement requires forensic planning and great compromises.
I ran out of bads. Didn’t hit 10, which I suppose is good news.
1. People will smile a lot. If you greet them in Kiswahili, they smile. Broadly.
2. The diversity. I interact with the Luhya, Luo, Maasai, Kisii, Kikuyu, Somalis, Indians and others daily. Their cultures and languages are distinct, but they carry Kenyan passports. I had no idea Kenya was so ethnically diverse.
3. The abundance of Indian and Ethiopian food. Incredible.
4. The birds. Kenya is one noisy place between 4:30 and 6:30 am. The racket the birds make is amazing. It is hard to lie in bed and not want to seize the day. Their enthusiasm is catching.
5. The weather. It is glorious. Not too hot, often you need a sweater or a shawl, but the sun is always there. It is like September in Vermont, except year around.
6. No bugs or snakes in Nairobi. Well, probably, but not many.
7. Our house. Fantastic. Huge, airy, with an enormous yard.
8. Our neighborhood. The kids all have a best friend within a stone’s throw, and Philip enjoys a posse of about 10 boys around his age.
9. The flora and fauna is spectacular. Baboons at the side of the road, giraffes, zebras, lions, all within a 30 minute drive of the house. Well, depending on if you hit traffic (see bad list).
10. The school. Such a great place for the kids.
11. My work. I love my work. It is fast-paced, always surprising and I learn something new multiple times a day.