This city has grown on me. And after spending the weekend exploring Nairobi by Night I’m slowly falling in love. It’s true what is said, “it’s always the people that makes a place” and here, here you have them all. I always find it fascinating to discover which individuals who decide to settle (even so only for a little while) in a place. Spent Friday in a gin and tequila induced haze managing complex reflections on the fascination of death and euphoria of euphoria. Saturday establishing new friendships. And Sunday watching Django. So far people are intriguing and so, the space is intriguing and so, this place is intriguing!
It 14.14 and it’s raining in Nairobi. Perhaps not as much raining as it’s pouring down. The power comes and goes. The infrastructure inept to handle water punching it’s way down onto earth. I eat watermelon and bounce around my room on a purple ball. There’s no need to stress. I look out my window at the blue sky. How strange. In the distance I hear thunder and the sound of our neighbors generator. My wireless icon flashes: “Not Connected. No Connections Available.” That means that the power is out in the entire block. I hope the power will return before it’s dark.
I’m posting this at 19.07. The power is finally back on.
My swahili, or kiswahili is getting better. Especially now that I’ve got to practice all day with a bunch of amazing kids in Kibera. Today was the first day I got to experience another reality here in Kenya. No armed guards or running water. Sophie, the director of 5 C Human Rights Theater group very kindly invited me to her home and let me hang out with her family and friends all day. She met me at a mall close by my house and then we took a matatau, a small minibus, to her house. Now I’m her adopted Swedish daughter and she’s going to teach me some genuine Kenyan cooking and take care of me whilst I’m here. The older kids taught me how to count in Swahili and I taught them how to count in Swedish. And Sophie also told me to stop being a baby about the matataus (apparently they drive like crazy and are quite crowded and a haven for pick-pockets, so I still need to keep my guard up though) and just go ahead and take them. Something that will save me around 570 KSH a day. The taxi to her house is 600 KSH and the matataus are only 30 KSH combined.
Besides hanging out and taking about life, eating really good food and messing around with the three youngest ones Sophie also told me a lot about what she does, what’s she’s passionate about and what some of the struggles women in Kenya face on a day to day basis. We also of course got to talk a lot about Kibera, and since she lives in the highest building in Kibera she showed me the view from the rooftop. We also walked around in the local market where food is like three times cheaper than in the supermarket I’ve been to. It’s so strange to imagine that Kibera, one of Africas largest and most crowded informal settlements is so very close to where I’m sitting now, I’m my very comfortable and spacious living room–we are three people on four bedrooms and a large living-room. It’s only about 15 minutes by car. But in these two worlds the reality of everyday life is so different. Tomorrow I’m heading back to Sophie’s and staying until Sunday. Mama Reina (that’s what the children calls Sophie since her youngest daughter is named Reina) has fixed me my own bed in the same room as Patty and Ryan and since it’s weekend tomorrow I’m hoping on meeting more people who can share an insight into their everyday life. Also. I’m brining my camera tomorrow so hopefully I’ll get some great pictures!
I’m in Nairobi! Sitting on the floor in my new livingroom grasping the fact that I’m for the first time in my life “south of Sahara.” The journey here felt much shorter than I was expecting–even though it was snowing i Istanbul and I was rerouted via Amsterdam. I arrived this morning and D. and O. the couple I’m living with had sent a driver to come and pick me up. The driving here is almost even more crazy than in Riyadh, but my new ‘rafiki’ (friend in Swahili) and driver David felt safe. However, I don’t think I will be heading out on the roads driving by myself anytime soon. Today I’ve spent getting acquainted with my neighborhood Kilimani, just north of the city center. This will be my base for now. But my goal is to explore as much as possible. Of course I’ve already gotten lost once, but during the day time most places around here feel and are safe, and people are in general very helpful. Looking for a small supermarket a woman guided me in the right direction, offered me some nuts and told me a little bit about her work with a local NGO. For now things are pretty relaxing. Tonight we are having dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and I’m going to try and get a hold of a Kenyan number so I can start contacting people to talk to about my project. And I need to figure out what I want to do and where I want to go when I’m here–as I feel and fear that these eight weeks will pass much faster than expected.
Tuonane baadaye–See you later!
It’s departure time. I’ve just finished packing all my bags, hoping I have everything and now it’s time to leave. It feels strange, exciting and somewhat scary. Loulou called me yesterday, just returned from Tanzania and had some scary stories to tell. The gist of her stories were simple: “Don’t get kidnapped”–I will do my best.