I’m finally settled in Nairobi. Last night was the first night sleeping in my new place. I’m now located in Westlands, one of Nairobi’s ritzy suburbs. The complex is very secure, but pretty secluded — that means it’s very quiet! It’s a nice place, a three bedroom apartment with a huge sitting area, kitchen, and several balconies. The apartment is located on Waiyaki Way, just past Sarit Centre in Westlands. That means there’s no traffic jam in the mornings, and it’s just a fifteen minute matatu (minibus used for public transportation) ride up the road. It’s about fifteen minutes the other direction if I want to go to downtown Nairobi. Not bad!
I don’t own much stuff here in Kenya (mostly clothes), but moving was still kinda lame. It took me three separate trips, I guess it’s because I only have two medium-size bags. I brought a buddy from Tala with me for the last trip. The room I’m renting has a bed, cabinets, and a bathroom with a shower, one of the bonuses of paying a bit more per month here since I might not be staying after December. All I really had to buy were those blue curtains hanging over the window. My roommate likes having parties, and I’m getting old, so they’ll be handy if I want to be a party pooper and go to sleep early and not worry about people peeping in the window!
Few of you have any clue how I live. Other than the “for just a fifty cents a day, you can sponsor…” commercials which used to air on TV, most people in the United States don’t know anything about what goes on in Africa. There aren’t any of those kids with flies in their eyes, swollen tummies, etc in Tala… I think you have to go to the slums of Nairobi to find those (Kibera, Mathare, Kariobangi). In order to both quench your appetite for information and to educate those of you who are clueless (or have terrible imaginations), here’s a little bit about where I’ve been staying for the past two years…
I live in a town called Tala. It’s not so much a town as a big market where people from surrounding villages come to conduct business. There aren’t many people who actually live in Tala (maybe 5,000?), but there are always people in transit through it, especially on market days. Most of the people in Tala come from one of the surrounding towns or villages (Nguluni, Kangundo, Kathiani, Sengani, Matungulu, Katine, Kinyui, Mitaboni, Kikambuani, etc!). We have two “market” days (Tuesday and Friday) and the place is packed on those days. You can find anything in Tala on a market day: cows, cabbage, honey, brooms, bows/arrows, rope, spare tires, speakers, drugs, prostitutes… anything. Continue Reading
I took a few pictures on my phone last month as I was around Tala and Nairobi. I don’t have any pictures of Tala because I’m a bit embarrassed to walk around with a camera. I’m sure it would draw a lot of attention if I were to take some pictures of my favorite cafes, the streets, where I buy my vegetables, the bus station, etc. Everyone knows me and is used to me by now, but I’d still feel uncomfortable. I guess that’s why it’s nice to have a camera on the phone that I can just whip out and take a picture real quick. At least it’s a common thing, because even the local guys do that stuff.
This guy is Jaffeth. He is a tailor who works in Tala market. His little booth sits outside of the barber shop where I get my beard trimmed. I always sit and chat with him about stuff, he’s a lively character and he never asks me for tea or to sponsor anyone, but I make sure if I need any tailoring I bring it to him. I’ve been visiting the kinyozi for a year now ever since I came back to Kenya in March, 2008 without my own beard trimmer. Mine broke while I was in California. I think it’s better this way because I get to sit around and chat to the dudes, talk about the weather, gossip about people walking by, etc. It costs 20 Kenyan shillings to get a beard trim (less than half a US dollar). Continue Reading