Wednesday, August 19, 2009

(marie) arrived in nairobi

(from marie harkey)

Hello all,

I've arrived safely in Nairobi where Elphas and his brother Bakala were waiting for me. (Waiting and waiting and waiting because my bag took a while to appear.) Their smiling faces were a most welcome sight to this nervous traveler. I realized that I've never travelled anywhere that I don't speak the language much less someplace where the culture is so completely foreign to me.

The ride to Bakala's house in the suburbs of Nairobi was fascinating. The contrasts were stark. All along the roads were lots and lots of people walking. It seemed so alive. There were also small herds of animals being led by people and plenty of people selling things along the roadside: fruit, toys, nuts, electronics, you name it. As we drove, I did indeed notice the drought as Chris mentioned and as Bakala and Elphas pointed out. I also noticed the apartment buildings, some newer and more modern looking and others more run down, which lined the streets. They all seemed to have shops on the bottom and apartments on the top. The shops extend out to the right and the left of the actual building, giving it the appearance of an inverted T. Almost every apartment balcony had a line of colorful laundry hanging across it, although I wondered if the laundry doesn't get dusty. The dust (like the red mud of my childhood) is everywhere because of the lack of rain. In the paper here at Bakala's house, I read about people in more remote areas resorting to making their chapatis (thicker than tortilla grilled bread, rolled up and eaten with supper) with pig feed. It makes the kids sick, but at least it fills their bellies.

Supper was amazing. There was beef (ground here and cooked with spices), green grams (kind of like a lentil stew), kale, chapati (the bread) and ugali (a sort of mashed potato-looking stuff made with cornmeal, but white). The ugali and chapati are used to scoop up the other foods and it's all eaten with your hands, with the help of a fork when necessary.

Bakala's home is beautiful up here in the mountains and I look forward to exploring the area further tomorrow. It seems that I'll be up early, as the family keeps teasing me about the roosters that will wake me up before 4 a.m. I am safe and happy.

Love to everyone,


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