From Villages to Sky Scrapers

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I’ve less than a week left in Kenya and the time is going fast (especially given that it takes so long to do anything here… sometimes I wonder if it’s just Nairobi or if it’s the public transportation I am so unaccustomed to relying on, but I’ve decided it’s Nairobi. There’s no posted or promised arrival time and traffic jams can be caused by everything from an accident to an art expo to rain.)
Yesterday the single activity chosen was to visit the Bomas, a display of re-created traditional villages in the style of their respective Kenyan tribes. Benja’s mom said she would take me while he met a friend, and I was really excited to get my mom time on – plus all of the teens hate the Bomas. Anyway, we had lunch at a small restaurant in a metal shipping crate near the city airport and then ma ditched us to do some work. So we went alone and met two other cousins there, who were as equally un-enthused as India and Belinda. We walked through the villages and made fun of their well-dressed boy cousin, Edmund, who had just come from a meeting at university.
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I slept in rather late this morning and then headed downtown with Ben and India. We went to the Kenya International Conference Center and snuck through security to take the elevator to the 30th floor, where we went out on the helicopter landing pad and enjoyed the incredible view of the city from above.
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We had some mango juice downtown; spotted the famous Kenyan rapper Abbas dropping off some new CD’s at a record store; then caught a taxi to Karen, again. Ah, Karen. How I love to love and hate you. I went to meet a friend of a friend in the US who has some connections with interesting NGO’s here and might have ideas for me regarding employment in Kenya. We waited for them at the incredibly posh restaurant they had chosen, where there were more white people than I even knew lived in Kenya. They treated us to dinner, which included nothing traditionally Kenyan. They talked about the causes they were working for; a lion sanctuary (in fact, one of the lions we saw on Sunday at the Animal Orphanage was named after one of the women) and a small women’s cooperative in Somalia. They were excited about their work but I was curious as to how they could live so well and feel at peace in this country. I saw the American and Kenyan Embassies and the UN headquarters earlier today when Benja picked up his visa, and I remembered the overpriced food at the cafe where we ate and the sprawling mowed lawns, landscaped corridors, armed guard and hundreds of cameras in that corridor. I don’t think I could reconcile making money in the world of humanitarian aid.

I saw a pretty nasty accident on the way back home (riding with, incidentally, the worst taxi driver in Nairobi – I was convinced I was going to die.) Someone hit a cow, then flew off the road into an electrical pole. The passenger (remember: on the left side of the car, English style) looked pretty beat up and couldn’t get out of the wrecked vehicle. An ambulance soundlessly drove up from behind. The cow lay dead in the middle of the road. Somewhere, a Maasai herdsman cried.

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