So alas, despite my proclamations last week of being the ‘Britney Spears of Africa’ or as I prefer the ‘Princess Di’, no one has asked me for my autograph. But fret not, I still have about a month to go and many more adventures to have! I am really enjoying this blogging malarkey, I will admit that up until a few months ago, I was ignorant about what a blog was, but now I am getting into it, and it’s a really interesting way of communicating with people. So anyway, last week I remarked on how the buses were quickly becoming my arch nemesis, well this week it’s the internet, or as the French say, l’internet, it has barely been working, and don’t get me started on my yahoo account which has basically ceased to function. However, luckily, or unluckily, I have had a cold this week so been a bit out of action. I know who gets a cold in August? So ridiculous, but it is winter here and this week has been particularly damp and dismal, I have even been seen sporting my rather unattractive raincoat.
Ok, so last week I had a lot of days in the field, and last Thursday I think, I remarked about how Kibera ‘wasn’t that bad’. I take that all back. Last Friday was my second day in Kibera, and I guess you could say I saw the ‘real’ Kibera, slightly more off the beaten track. My first visit was largely spent trudging around the ‘high street’ I suppose is the only way to describe it; where its partly paved and seems like a normal Kenyan town. But Friday I went deep into the heart of the slums, stumbling around like the truly clumsy mzungu I am, along the winding, claustrophobic, sewage-ridden paths. Sometimes the ‘houses’ are so close together you have to squeeze through walking sideways, whilst you simultaneously make a pointless attempt at keeping your shoes from getting covered in whatever muddy substances lurk beneath. I met a few more clients, and made some more friends with all the totos who are now being so bold as to walk with me, holding my hand, which is quite a tricky skill when you have to hike up path that is barely wide enough for one, let along plus two little ones who insist on keeping hold of your hand!
In Kenya they have recently banned plastic bags, quite suddenly, without providing much in the way of alternatives, however, this is a really positive step, since when you go to the slums there are literally mountains of plastic bags and rubbish. The plastic bags are actually part of the landscape- I have seen houses built on top of a foundation of plastic bags and dirt; they stick out of the road, they are literally everywhere. When I was walking around Kibera recently work was being done to improve the sewage/water run off trenches, and people were digging away through mounds of dirt ingrained with plastic bags and rubbish. I cannot describe the smell; it was just too much.
I don’t know if I can ever really put into words what Kibera is like, it’s almost too much to process that I don’t know if my brain has actually dealt with it. It’s so utterly opposite to the world I inhabit that it’s almost like you are watching a movie; since you cannot really fathom how people live like this, I just can’t really explain it. I hope I will be able to add some photos with this blog, unless my nemesis l’internet is still insisting on not working. (Can anyone explain to me what a ‘gateway timeout’ is???)
So anyway, time to talk about the more pleasant aspects of life in Nairobi, for example, last week I was able to have a chicken burrito! So exciting I know! And surprisingly, it was actually pretty good, even had salsa and sour cream! Please don’t think I go around eating non-African food all the time, since I really do enjoy the cuisine! Usually at lunch we go to the café in our building and have a big plate of beans, vegetables and of course some of the wonderful fresh hot chapatti! Everything is made fresh, using organic ingredients, which is amazing, and since our office is right next to a large food market, the food around here is really good. I particularly enjoyed some fried chicken the other week, and the chicken had been killed that morning, fried, and then onto my plate. Delicious. (Apologies to any vegetarians out there, at least it was free range!)
Apart from that not much else to report on here, luckily my bus rides have been pretty tame recently, although have had a few near death experiences on the dreaded matatus, but since I have moved out of town into the suburbs, life is less hectic and I am finally able to enjoy some fresh air. I moved in with some mzungu friends into Karen, which is a one of the posh suburbs where a lot of the wzangu community lives. It was nice to get out of the hostel though, and into a real house where I can cook for myself (have been on a rather long pasta marathon recently) and relax with friends.
Well, I think that is about it from me for now, this week I have lots of days out in the field so I am sure I will have lots more stories to tell of life in ‘Nairobbery’!