On April 30, 2002, the plane from Cairo landed in Nairobi Kenya to music from “Out of Africa” (groan) and a horrific monsoon-season rainstorm. A taxi ride to the downtown area that should have taken 20 minutes took three hours.
The Parkside Hotel where we are staying, across town from the Hilton and Stanley Hotels, is decent and many of the non-governmental organization expats stay here. For a city with a population of two and a half million people the downtown area is surprisingly small and you can walk across it in about 15 minutes.
You immediately see signs of the ousted English: driving is on the left side of the road, many of the taxis are English (they look like black 1940 limousines)they serve English breakfast including pork and beans without the pork. Besides Swahili and the tribal dialects, English is spoken as the common language.
The feel of the people and sound of their voices is soft and resonant-not strident as in Egypt. The smiles on these faces are wonderful. We are very happy to be here.
We don’t feel in the least bit uncomfortable yet. We are called Mama and Papa…disconcerting reminders of course that we are not 20 something backpackers.
The women all have straightened hair unless they have cornrows or short cropped hair. The men all have very short cropped hair. One seller, comparing his lack of hair with Bob’s referred to both of them as having “mosquito highways” the literal translation for a bald head in Swahili!
Tags: African Continent, Expats, Funny Experiences, Hotels,Hostels & Guesthouses, Kenya, Nairobi