We set off on Friday (Nov 30) to go visit a volunteer couple (Alan and Sara) who are located at a school in Tala. It’s about 1 1/2 hours outside of Nairobi. It was great to see the eastern side of Nairobi…definitely a poorer area of town, highly populated and was really amazing to see the ‘real’ Kenya. The matatu ride was pretty painless…for a matatu ride. Roads weren’t too bad.
Tala is a small town of about 4000 people and there are definitely no white people around as determined by the number of stares received. It has one small supermarket and a couple other small shops and restaurants. The hotel looked like it was going to fall down. On the walk from the matatu stop we experienced the children who were amazed to see us with frequent calls of ‘mzungu’ and ‘british…hey british.’ Pretty funny stuff.
Students at the school made dinner for us that night. It rained a lot. We saw a hedgehog. I played some ping pong and showed off my skills on the table. No matter where I am in the world playing ping pong there’s always one certainty…Mike, you know what I’m talking about. Ate way too much ugali and promptly had a stomach ache. It was great being out in a quiet place and in a place that was basically free of people. Lots of bugs…. the largest moth known to man and some hedgehogs munching on some bugs.
The next day we made our way back toward Nairobi on an invitation to have lunch at one of the student’s homes in Eastlands, Nairobi. Eastlands is known as an area that is not very safe, highly populated and generally what life is like for most people in Nairobi…I found it to be pretty nice. The streets were mud streets with tons of puddles. Most of the homes were half completed…2-3 stories with a top story that was never finished. The dinner was great…tons of food that i have at every ‘traditional’ meal. Boiled chicken, beef stew with potatoes and carrots, cabbage, kale/spinach, ugali, potatoes, chapati and rice…really…every meal I have is this….every meal.
We walked around Eastlands and saw what it had to offer…plenty of funny looks and mzungu statements. Many were very eager to say hello, sell us items and just touch us…mainly the kids. I hit my head on a gate.
Getting back to Tala was where things got interesting. It was dark when we left…not ideal. We were in a bad part of town…another strike against us. There were 9 of us traveling together…virtually impossible to travel together. We split up and agreed to meet at the matatu stop. We got there first. We looked for a ride, but the girls were being picky and wanted a matatu with music for our 45 min ride….that was frustrating as we just wanted to get home. Then after convincing them that it didn’t matter we piled into one with broken lights…get back out. Wait some more. I was then offered beer, quat (mira), and other various illegal substances. Beer sounded good, but he mentioned they drug the beer…no beer. A matatu arrived with a bargain rate of 500ksh…it’s normally 100. Our friends argued it down to 150ksh. We pile in and enjoy a fast ride through the darkness…head lights are nominal. We arrive safely and Alan relates that there is a guard who has a bow and arrow with poison darts…good times. Enjoy another evening at Alan and Sara’s messing around, drinking some Tusker beers, and get to bed.
Next morning I have to leave early to get back to Nairobi for my trip to Kitui. Wake up toa mosquito outside of my net waiting to bite me…he fails. On the road back we pass a body on the side of the road which is surrounded by many people…clearly the gentleman in question is not alive. Kind of spooky. Traffic was miserable…it’s always miserable. We had to get out of the matatu and walk through downtown just to get back…extremely crowded…hawkers are making life difficult. Get back to my place alive and leave within 30 minutes for another safari (journey).