Two American couples blitz Nairobi (interesting new blogs)

Two new American couples have just moved to Nairobi and have great blogs about their experiences. The Mertes Family Blog (Luke, Liesel, and Ada June ) and Mzungu learning in Africa (Tiffany, Jake, and Asante Malloy). Jake is studying translation at NEGST.

Tiffany posts the first few days in Africa and pictures of their apartment which is more or less like ours: pictures of our new home, and more pictures.

Here’s are a few examples from the Merte’s first few exciting days in Nairobi.

Shoes and Stones: . . . “So there I was, driving down the street, and they were firing tear gas…they even pulled down the power lines! Sparks were everywhere and I thought to myself, ‘I have to get out of here.’ They were throwing stones and there were shoes and clothes and fruit all in the streets. Me, I was even prepared to leave my car. There were people running everywhere. I came this close to hitting a man,” [Welcome to Nairobi ;-)] –

OR: The matatus of Nairobi reflect the panache and flair of individual drivers. The exteriors are often splashed in bright colors, bearing slogans like “Heaven-bound”, which is ironic considering that I daily read stories from the Standard about individuals killed as a result of matatu crashes. Yesterday, Luke and I walked by a matatu that had “To God be the Glory” written in letters that were dripping with blood.

Yesterday, we saw a most improbable sight as we prepared to cross Ngong road on our way back to the Kitololos. As we stood in the median, awaiting an opportune time to cross, a matatu cruised by blaring ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. We looked after the passing vehicle and saw a man in rollerblades bent at the waist, holding onto the bumper. . . . [Read the rest of Matatus and Microfinance.]

“Messiah Complex: For decades, well-intentioned men and women from around the world have come here thinking that they will save the Kenyans. Save them from spiritual darkness…save them from poverty…save them from HIV and AIDS. NGOs, mission agencies and aid organizations seem to especially flourish here in Nairobi. Truly, there is no shortage of saviors here. . .[BUT not all of them actually “look” like Jesus (Read more of the “Messiah Complex”). It’s not got a nice twist;-)]

Both are bringing back a lot of memories.

Nairobi’s #1 news story this week . . .

True, we are still waiting to hear how the cabinet shapes up, but the number one story this week so far is . . .

TRAFFIC

In my recent life, I’ve lived in the urban centers of Chicago, Washington DC, and Paris. The story is the same the world over. How long does it take to commute to work?

More demonstrations in Downtown Nairobi

Yes there is an agreement, and yes there is still peace (more on that later.) But street vendors are not so happy. Before the election, officials looked the other way while street vendors took over the downtown streets. (Every vote counts.) Now that things are “back to normal” they are being restricted to a special market built just for them. From what I hear the big issue is the amount they are being charged to set up stalls. ($2-3 a day is a lot to pay on the thin profit margins they have.) 

So while the teargas is flying . . . no one here is really that worried. These are “normal” protests, not life-threatening-the-country-is-on-the-brink type demonstrations. What a difference a week with a peace agreement can make!!