Living in Kenya was a different experience for me. I tried to read books ahead of time to prepare but there were just some things I found so interesting and different. I'll try to quickly give you a tour of the daily life we had there.
We stayed at a complex with furnished 2 bedroom apartments on the outskirts of Nairobi for about $100 a night. Nairobi is a large traffic filled city, supposedly with thieves and crimes...but we never experienced anything like that. We lived over a fitness studio which started pounding out the tunes at 6 am...the kind of music that shakes your bed so you have no choice but to be an early riser. There was a swimming pool right outside our door a couple levels below. My son, Omar, was usually the only one using it because temperatures were in the 60-70s (considered their coldest season). There was still a nice lady who handed out towels all day next to the pool. Most of the business she got was from those visiting the fitness center. We also had a Chinese restaurant in the complex. The food was really good in spite of them rarely having customers. Every afternoon one of the guys who worked there would get high on marijuana in the alcove beneath our patio so we had the sweet scent wafting in our kitchen window. There was a washing machine in the bathroom, along with a toilet that was kind of a slot machine. Usually by the third attempt you'd get a full flush. To dry clothes, we hung them out on the clothesline at the end of the building. That fresh smell you get with laundry hung on the line varied by how often the marijuana using guy visited the porch area.
|Our kitchen had the basics|
|Everyone shared the clothesline, even the housekeepers|
There was a mall within walking distance if you didn't mind walking on the dirt path next to the drainage ditch. It wasn't bad during the day, but I tried it once at night and found out all the street lamps were burned out and it was pitch black. My mind was filled with ideas about either being run over by a car or twisting an ankle and falling into the ditch before hoodlums came and stole all my possessions. Neither actually happened, though my heart raced a bit the whole way. During daylight hours you could stop and buy a Coke at a snack stand for about 50 cents. For lunch, several workers in the area would sit on tree stumps around a charcoal fire where a woman cooked beans and corn. She also had fresh picked bananas. The price was right but there were no takeaways because she used real plates and washed them in a bucket for the next person. You could buy a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, locally grown, for just a buck or two at the flower vendor. He had an assistant who seemed to sleep a lot on top of a cardboard box. When you got to the mall, if you arrived by car, you would be approached by a young man with a bucket of soapy water. You could pay him about a dollar to wash your car. I was told people should not refuse this service or something might happen to your car. Since we didn't have a car, we just talked to the boys and Omar enjoyed shaking hands with them. When you entered a mall or a larger store, you had to go through security where they put you through a metal detector and checked all your bags.
|The snack stand|
|Lunch and fresh bananas|
|Beautiful bouquets that were inexpensive|
|Car washing done in the parking lot|
|This guy was selling sugar cane. I never tried it but it's apparently sweet and tasty.|
Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, which houses about 1 million people. When seen from the air, it stretches for miles. The average mud shack can house 8 people and it's probably smaller than your living room. Who lives here? Lots of people with jobs actually. Most people with reliable income hire house helpers to do kitchen work, laundry, or watch children. Some firms hire drivers. These people live on about $210 per month and this is the life they can afford, in spite of being employed. No one has a set work week either. Most work when there is work, which can mean no weekend family plans or evenings spent around the television.
|Children from the slum with the homes behind them|
|Garden Center by a creek|