Kenya, Pictures

Mimi si mtalii…

Warthogs have the right of way!

… has become a favorite phrase of ours. For those of you who don’t know Kiswahili, the literal translation is, “I am not a tourist”. From negotiating matatu fares to haggling for clothing, food, etc. I think we’ve used that phrase more than any other. However, I think the phrase means more to us than it does to Kenyans. Matatus are still scary and we count our blessings before getting into one, and haggling is still difficult and tiring, although we’re getting better.
Making dinner in Nairobi
Most of our practice comes during our weekend visits to Nairobi. Because we have lots of volunteer friends and we’ve needed several big-ticket items, we’ve spent a lot of time in the city lately. Last weekend we made a feast with some of the Nairobi-based volunteers and took a trip to Nairobi’s National Park “Safari Walk” (it’s really just a zoo… San Diego’s is better).


Last week we took a walk with Johnson, mwalimu wa chapati (teacher of chapati), to the local market. Tuesdays and Fridays are market days and the town is swimming with locals and those from nearby towns. The basic foods we see at almost every stand are tomatoes, potatoes, spinach and bananas. There’s also mangoes, scallions, garlic, kale, and po po. What is heck is po po, you might be saying? Well, to be honest we’re not exactly sure. We’re told it’s a sweet fruit and very good, so we’ll have to try it one of these weeks. We’ve figured out we can get a weeks worth of groceries for about 500 KES (~$7.50) Not bad!Acacia tree at the college

On a side note we finally got a bank account, for which we had to take a ridiculously cheesy joint passport photo. Banking here is quite different from the states. For starters, let’s just say you can “negotiate” in the bank along with on the street. Sister Euphemia marched in and promptly told the lady at customer services to, “Get them the necessary paperwork and open a joint account for them.” The lady didn’t look the least bit shocked and kindly told us we need to have two passport photos each before we can open an account. This did not sit well with sister, so off we went to the manager where the conversation went something like this, “You will open an account for them and then we will get passport photos and bring them to you tomorrow.” “Okay.” said the manager, and poof! we had a bank account.

Our kitchen…Back at the college, Alan’s got somewhat of a routine. Wake up at 7, work at 8. Tea break from 10-10:30, lunch at 12:30, back to work at 2pm. He gets home around 5 or 6 and then we spend 15 minutes deciding what to have for dinner. My routine is somewhat different, and far less consistent. It basically consists of sweeping, dishes, cooking, making the beds, laundry (when it’s not raining) and visiting the CyberCafe on campus. Wow… I’m really turning into the everyday housewife (scary thought!)

As the holidays approach we’re thinking we’ll go to Mombasa, the second largest city on the coast of Kenya. It’s probably best not to be in or near Nairobi during Kenyan elections, December 27th, and the college will be closed and quite lonely. Some of the other volunteers are going as well… should be interesting. I know what traveling with a big group of people is like, so Alan and I will probably be on our own on a white beach somewhere. :)

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more from the mzungus!

3 Comments to “Mimi si mtalii…”

  1. Hey that photo of the kitchen is scarily familiar. I can even recognise some of the items. In fact I bought at least one of them! The plastic boxes are an excellent investment! Happy to hear you are going to be growing stuff. Love to you both!


  2. Claudia

    Sara, you’re a great writer. I am hoping that the housewifery (wivery?) is turning out to be interesting and fulfilling… if not, then you can always update the blog more often! I love reading about your lives in Kenya.

  3. Jon

    Hey Guys! nice to hear you’re finally settled and experiencing everything good and bad (or not bad, just “extra real”) about living in another country! I’m liking the pictures and hope you guys get out and do some hiking around and stuff.

    The Kenyan population of UB is genuinely exploding around here, bizarrely enough! At the end of the month there will be two working with me at the VSO office and another guy I’m in contact with is coming a little later as a UNV. Hopefully I’ll get a little Kiswahili practice in myself. Take care, stay healthy, and laugh whenever possible.

    PS. Alan I’m sooooooo jealous of the beard and big hair out here, you’d be well suited for the cold climate!

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