1st day in Kenya
Nairobi Travel Blog› entry 29 of 38 › view all entries
First full day in Kenya, woke up with a headache and though I should try and get some more sleep, but then I though, you’re probably dehydrated and need some food. You should get up. I felt horribly gross from wearing the same clothes for the last 31 hours so I decided to take a shower, which I was already told was going to be cold. So I mentally prepared myself and headed to the shower. On my way there I saw this girl lying on the couch. We greeted each other and she asked me how long I had been in Kenya. I informed her I had been there for about 9 hours, and she said, “Great, I’ve been here about 3 hours. “ “So, “ I said, “I guess you need water and food? How about after this shower you and I go in search of food and water?” She agreed and I made my way to bathe. Now I had been instructed the night before on how to use the shower. There is a crack with a small opening where the wall meets the floor. There is a squeegee in there as well. I though you were supposed squeegee the water in the hole when you are finished, but it turns out you have to do it while you shower or the water will flood into the hall. There is also a wide bucket that you bathe with so that when you are done, you can use the water to fill the toilet reservoir. After my brisk, brisk shower, and drying myself off with my T-shirt since I left my towel in Mexico, I got dressed and Becky and I, with instruction from Joe, set off to find Junction, a large mall area. We made our way through the two gates and started down our slum road. There were people everywhere and the ground was covered with litter. The number of plastic bags that were embedded in the dirt road was enough to make me never request another plastic bag in my life. I saw one girl climbing up a hill where a portion had been washed out by the rain, and she was pulling herself up by plastic bags sticking out of the ground like they were tree roots. We were almost run over a few times, so you had to be on your toes. Well we walked and walked, made a wrong turn, got redirected, and found this very nice mall called Nakumat Junction. We went upstairs to the food court where I had a Wimpy Burger and we each downed a bottle of water. I don’t know why but the Wimpy Burger didn’t really agree with me and I only ate half. We headed back down to the main market to buy some snacks and water. I had to go up stairs and buy an adapter because the one from my Asian trip didn’t work. I don’t know why, I though China and Britain had the same outlets but I guess not. After we bought all our stuff, we went looking for some Internet. Joe told us that there was an internet cafe upstairs that always had internet. Well it was actually a copy center with four computers you could use to brose but the Internet didn’t work. Joe also said there was coffee shop that had internet but it was slow. With no other options, we headed for the coffee shop. After I purchased a single cup of black coffee, the waiter typed the WiFi password into my iPhone. Well we had a connection but after typing a short email we waited about 40 minutes with no sign of progress. We decided to take our winnings and head home. There I met with Mike from Canada, who came home drunk last night at like 1:40am and woke me up, and Mike from Virginia. After chatting with them for a while I learned that Canada Mike was a tad weird, a real storyteller and always had a comment on something no matter how uninformed he was on the subject matter. I also learned that VA Mike didn’t like him. After Canada Mike left to go back to sleep, VA Mike walked me down to the Fadhili Helpers office, the organization I am volunteering with. I’m very thankful, he did. For some reason everyone thought we would be able to find their office with verbal instruction, but after we arrived I realized there was no way I would have ever have found it. There was no sign, you had to walk down a pretty deserted street, and it was in the back room behind an Internet café. Anywho, on the way to the office VA Mike informed me that we were living in one of the worst slums in Nairobi and I should never walk down this street during the night. It would be a sure way to get mugged. He told me how to protect myself against pickpockets on the bus and on the streets. I was also told if someone is bothering me, make a little bit of a scene and they will probably stop, because (this is what VA Mike said) the punishment for theft is death. No questions asked. He said volunteers have seen people being stoned to death for stealing something. I was also informed that if I wished to do things on the weekends, cell phones were vital, and every volunteer who failed to get out from the housing on the weekends, left the program early. He said one of the leaving volunteers might just give me one of their cell phones. A bunch of them were going out tonight and I should try and make it so could try and grab a cell phone with. Well we made it to the office where I met James, head of the program, Boniface, a helper, and Maggie, the woman who works the café. They pretty much left when I got there so I didn’t learn much but I did sit down and send a few quick emails. Afterwards I made my way back to the place we were staying called “the Green House.” The two people who run it are ministers. The father’s name is George and the mother’s name is Regina. They have four kids: Jenga who is 17, Angela who is 15, McKenna who is 5 and Victory who is nearly 2. There are two gates you have to pass through to get in, the first separates the street from this small shanty square that George and Regina rent out, so there are always a bunch of kids out there playing soccer, being pushed around on a small rusty bike with no chain, or practicing their Tai Chi, or what they think is Tai Chi. Most of the kids are below the age of 9. There were a few 12-14 year olds but they mostly hung out on the side and did their own thing. The second gate separates the main house, where I live, from this square. As I was passing through one of the kids asked me if I play football (soccer). I said yes, and he invited me to play. This sounded fun so I agreed but said I needed to go inside first and drop off some stuff. I went inside and found Becky awake and asked her if she wanted to play football with me. She said it sounded like fun and decided to join me. We made it back out and were able to kick around the ball for about 5 minutes before the kids just surrounded us. They first started introducing themselves, about twenty of them, then I picked up a really cute one-year-old and then all of them, ages 1-9, wanted to be picked up. I said okay but I could only pick up everyone once, so after lifted up and put down twenty kids, they started playing with our arm and leg hair, which really amazed them. They couldn’t believe how long it was. The girls then sequestered Becky off to the side and started brushing her hair. I was stuck with all the boys, and a few tomboys, as they showed me how they can carry each other, do cart wheels, practice tai chi and sing. They all asked me if I knew Obama. Well, eventually the kids started getting a little overwhelming; I had three kids trying to get picked up, two or three continually trying to hang from my arms, and every few minutes one would try and jump on my back. Even the oldest kid, Eric, was like “you should go now.” I asked Becky if she wanted to go in but she wanted 5 more minutes. I told her “I’m going in now.” Once I got inside, I asked Joe about going out tonight and what time I need to be ready. He said we go out usually about 6pm so we can get back before 9pm, George and Regina’s curfew. It was already 4:30 so I went to get ready. A little before 6pm Joe, Canada Mike and I left to grab a bus to VA Mike’s apartment. The bus system was interesting. We stopped at a very busy street with buses and commuter vans going by. There are no doors on the buses, just a guy standing in the doorway shouting what bus it is. When the bus stops, the guy in the door gets off and lets people off and then whoever wants to board jumps on as the bus slowly pulls away. The man working the door is usually jumping onto a moving bus. You pay the man once you get off. It costs 20 schillings or about 25 cents. Our bus was no exception. Once the bus came to our stop, we simply jumped off as the bus was still slowly moving. We walked for a while down some streets until we found the apartment. It was a very simple one-bedroom apartment. We hung out for a while, meet VA Mike’s girlfriend Kenzie who was from Canada, and then we all left in a taxi. Apparently taxis can be sketchy business, so it is important to find a taxi driver you trust, get their phone number and use them directly. We headed down towards this “sort of middle of nowhere in the middle of Nairobi.” I didn’t really get it either, but that’s what everyone was calling it. It was a large bar called the Sun Zone. We went up stairs, drank some Tuskers (the popular beer with a picture of an elephant on it), and played 8-ball with red and yellow pool balls about half the volume of normal pool balls. That was incredibly hard. Throughout the night we chatted about random stuff, watched the Arsenal/Man U game, and learned the Canada Mike was an individual who needed to be humored, reprimanded or ignored. We eventually made it home and went to sleep.