OK, I have a bad attitude towards Nairobi. Historically I haven’t had any particularly good experiences with being in Nairobi. After all, my first night in Nairobi was spent running away from shady men in the street and in a hostel that ended up more like a giant brothel, dodging cockroaches with my suitcases barricading the door so that no one could break in. But I still think I’m unfairly dissing on it. I bet that the way Tanzanians talk about Kenya has also seeped into me. During the British colonial period, Kenya was given lots of attention and resources while Tanzania was completely neglected. Kenya also had a much more violent independence, Mau Mau uprising, and a more free-market/capitalist/fend-for-yourself post-colonial period. Tanzanians frequently will tell me that they think Kenyans are rude, in a rush, and don’t speak proper Kiswahili. Underlying all those sentiments is probably an element of bitterness about Kenya’s attention from the UK and their English fluency.
After writing my previous blog entry about being stranded in Nairobi, I had a perfectly lovely day in the city center. I tried to load Kenyan Zain cell phone vouchers to my Tanzanian Zain sim card – which didn’t work – but two really nice women worked with me for an hour to try to figure it out. I went to an internet café and a phone booth without any other wazungu in sight. I also found a wholesale wood crafts store and bought up a collection of beaded hand-carved bowls and spoons. Approximate Air had put us up in the Hilton Nairobi, so I spent the remainder of the evening swimming, in their sauna, and eating ceviche and fresh salad greens in their dinner buffet.
Though I would still certainly avoid being out on the streets at night.
Not a bad day in Nairobi after all. In fact, it was quite enjoyable.