The days blur together, I’ve been here nearly two weeks but it feels like much longer.
Today was the day Virginia and Lydia left and I was so sad to see them go. Goodbyes are always hard and this was no exception. I knew them for only two weeks but it felt like longer. We didn’t know what to day so I have them hugs and left for a day in Nairobi city.
Ian and I walked one block to the bus stop and hopped on the blue bus. There was a little confusion over whether that was the correct bus or not, I doubted a man’s ability to get us there so I asked someone who confirmed we were in the right place.
However after being on the bus for 15 minutes I realized nothing looked the same as the other day. My growing anxiety was apparently funny to Ian as I pulled out my map to make sure we were going in the right direction. My anxiety only lessened when I saw the familiar grocery store we had shopped at previously and even more so when I saw the pizza place we had eaten at. Coming to a slow stop in front of Kenya National Archives I breathed a sigh of relief and stepped off the bus.
I was hungry, but that could wait, I wanted to go to the Masai Market. I navigated us easily throughout the city and after arriving at the market I looked in wonder. The parking lot was filled with every kind of object you could want, but my awe was quickly interrupted by a group of men who ran up to unis and hassled us on our way into the market. There were about five men and I was feeling very claustrophobic and on the verge of getting angry. They wanted to escort us around the market and I can’t shop like that. I abruptly turned around and yelled “Thats enough! We don’t need your help. Leave us alone.” So one guy ushered the others away and insisted on staying with us which was really bothering me. He kept trying to force us to look at certain items; apparently the market wouldn’t pay him if he didn’t stay with us. Finally he was trying to pull us in a direction I didn’t want to go and Ian told him we just want to look around. Somehow, miraculously, that got rid of him.
At last, able to shop in peace we meandered through the market. I came upon some paintings made from the bark of a tree. They all looked beautiful but a map of Africa caught my eye.
It looked old and had a texture from many years ago. The man told me the material was the same aswhat the women in tribes used to make wedding dresses. He explained that they carve a thin piece of wood off a tree and hammer it to make it flat before painting on the canvas. I loved it on sight but knew I wasn’t going to pay more than 2,000 KSH for it or 20 USD. I asked the man how much and he said 4,500 KSH. That wasn’t going to happen. I shook my head and said “No, that’s too expensive.” He asked how much I would be willing to spend. I said 2,000 KSH. He said “No way! That isn’t enough. 3,000.” I said “No, 2,000.” He asked where I’m from and I said “America, but I’m a poor college student and don’t have much money.” He got all excited because they love Obama down here but said he couldn’t do less than 3,000. I said “sorry, I can’t afford it and went to walk away. He said “okay okay.” So I paid the 2,000 KSH and walked away with my prize.
We continued walking throughout the market glancing at different items. I finally came across and item I wanted to buy as a gift (I can’t currently disclose what it is right now) and asked the man how much. He wanted 1,600 KSH for 1 item and it was not worth it. I told him I wanted 2 and I would give him 1,000 KSH for both. He kept trying to up the price and I wasn’t having it. I just said 1,000 over and over again and just like before I went to walk away and he agreed to the price. My mama didn’t raise no fool. (By the way mom, who has street smarts now!)
Meanwhile, Ian was buying anything people brought up to him, I think he just enjoyed haggling, it really is a high when you get them to agree on the price you want. He admitted later that he hadn’t actually wanted anything he bought, he just liked getting them to agree to his price.
Upon leaving the market I decided it was time for food and a beer.
The pub was dark but in front where there should have been Windows it was wide open letting in a nice breeze. I had a Heineken (it was
the only beer I recognized) and Ian had a craft native to Kenya followed by the typical Irish guy’s drink, a Guiness.
After finishing our food and beer we left the pub and walked around, stopping at a few book stands along the way (don’t worry, I didn’t buy any books this time) before deciding to check out the park. It was very beautiful once you got inside, there were cotton candy vendors and a lake and people out on small boats. We walked through the park and saw a hill overlooking the city. We climbed to the top and saw a group dancing on a verandah next to the lake and singing while music could be heard off in the distance.
At 5:30 Ian said it was time to head back before it got dark. Reluctantly I stood up to gather my things and head for home.
As the rest of the night was uneventful in comparison I will not comment on it, but know that I am finding reasons now every day to enjoy the life I am living here.