I have now been in Nairobi for 12 days and I am really starting to feel adjusted to the time zone, the climate, and the culture. When I say that I am adjusted to the climate, this does not imply that like the locals I am sporting a fleece and long pants in 70 degree weather...this simply means that I am not sweating quite as much in my shorts and short sleeved shirts.
Jason and I have been spending much of our free time out walking and exploring the area around us. One would think that moving the the other side of the earth would make one feel as though their world has expanded, and yet upon arrival I felt very much like the world had shrunk around me. This was largely due to moving to a place where I know nothing about the street names (if they have names), where to go for basic things, how to get around, or which direction is which way. I felt a bit like this when I moved to Oakland California for college, however, I had a car and all the normal way of finding things applied. I could find any store on the Internet, print out directions and off I went. Another bonus about Oakland was that it had the ocean/bay in one direction and the largely visible Oakland Hills to the other direction. This made knowing north very easy. The same type of geographic identifiers have been present all my life in Seattle. Having always lived in a place with mountains and water, I find that I continually try to orient myself here in Nairobi based on the direction to the mountains or the water...but there is neither here in Nairobi.
Fortunately, I married a man who has as strong a desire for adventure as I have, and we have been slowly expanding our new world here. A couple days after arriving, Jason and walked about 45 minutes to a very large Nakumatt grocery/department store. Yes, we do have a Nakumatt that is closer, but we wanted to venture further and see a larger store. After walking to the Nakumatt Mega, we walked along Uhuro Hwy until we got back to the main bus/matatu route, where we hopped a city bus back to a stop near our apartment.
The city busses cost 50 KSH, or about .70 USD. Very inexpensive option to get around. This was a pleasant experience, except that the drivers need some convincing to actually make a full stop when you try to exit the bus. Everyone on board found my frantic attempt to get off the bus, while pleading for the driver to wait, very funny.
Here is a picture of me on my first Nairobi public transportation experience:
Despite eating most of our meals at home, Jason and I enjoy eating out because it is both very good (and often reasonable healthy) and very inexpensive. Below is a picture of a cat at the "Steak and Ale," a restaurant on Ngong Rd, about a half a mile from out apartment. The food was very good, and this cat seemed to know we were suckers for a cute face. When no one was looking I slipped the kitty a bit of the skin and connective tissue from our mixed grill meat platter.
I expected that I would experience a lot of new and fascinating (perhaps terrifying) insects here in Kenya. Since I have arrived however, I have seen very few insects. so far on the list of bugs are mosquitos, fruit/black flies, moths, butterflies (which I will try to capture some images of), and an awful but tiny spider. The spider was most awful because it jumps. It is tiny and black with small white specks on it and it can leap ling distances. The only thing worse would be a spider that could fly...I'm pretty sure those don't exist though. and an incredibly enormously huge grasshopper. I'm not sure the difference between a grasshopper and a cricket, but this was giant and caught my attention when it flew past me and landed a few feet from my feet. It was about 2.5 inches long!
Here I am with my friend Jimminy:
Our apartment is equipped with some very basic kitchen supplies, however we have found ourself needing/wanting several cooking items that we took for granted at home. One of these is our cast iron pan. The only pans/pots here are either non-stick surface, very thin stainless, or aluminum. None of these are ideal for us. So, we went off looking for a cast iron pan and thought that surely we would find a used one at one of the outdoor markets. We walked about a mile and a half to the Adam's Plaza, and around back found an enormous outdoor market. This is the Woodward Market, and if you go far enough into the market until you lose all sight of the road, then you have likely arrived at the Toi Market. I cannot emphasize enough how huge this sprawling permanent market is. It has endless vendors of used merchandise, such as clothes, dishes, cloth, produce (not used), and everything else you could imagine. We had the fortune to meet the proprietor of the market, Benson, who promptly took us under wing to try to locate the cast iron pan. he had no idea what we meant by cast iron pan or "chuma pan" (Swahili for iron pan) but I'm pretty sure he walked us to every pan in the market, ending with a metalsmith at the back edge of Toi Market, where he tried to barter for a metal worker to make the pan for us out of a disk of iron. Hammering scrap iron into a curved disk is how many of the chapatti pans are made. The metal smith seemed tentative, but willing, for the low, low cost of 5000 KSH, or $50. We said no thank you with as much tact as possible, and hoped that Benson would be as willing to lead us out of the market as he was willing to lead us into it...which he did. By the time we got back to a starting point, Benson was back to being very friendly and we told him that at the end of our time in Nairobi we would give him our cast iron pan (if we could locate one or get one sent from home) so he could sell it at the market.
Here we are at the start of the market, prior to Benson finding us:
We are having so much fun here. Every day holds new challenges, adventures, and experiences. Over this last weekend Jason and I walked about 3 miles to The Junction, which is a huge western style mall, equipped with food court, another Nakumatt, and lots of shopping and nice restaurants. There is also a kitchen supply store, where we found...A CAST IRON PAN! Im fairly convinced this may be the only one in the county...and we bought it. It was expensive, but well worth it! at The Junction, we also found a soft serve frozen yogurt place where you serve yourself and then pile on your own toppings. Jason and I split one with pistachio, passion fruit, and vanilla flavored fro-yo. It was so delicious after such a long walk to the mall. I will be back for fro-yo, and not feel a bit guilty when the total trip requires 6 miles of walking!