Kenya

So, something from Kenya now.

p1010578 p1010557 (picturesque Kilifi)

I still haven’t found out where the cultural differences to Tanzania are, but then I have mostly been to ‘ Out of Africa’ places like Lamu and Nairobi. The countryside here feels much the same like the one in Tanzania. Lamu is great but then it’s mostly Muslim culture as most people on the coast are Swahili from Arab decedents.

p1010588Its really odd, one is still in Africa and suddenly the common black faces disappear and instead most people look Arabic. And the woman, amazing. You walk through these medieval streets (and everyone clutches a cell phone to his ear) and most of the woman at least wear head scarves. And then a huge part wears something tho cover the face, with only a slit left for the eyes. And of course the black Tschador. So basically you only see there feet, in sandals and only seldom a glimpse of the dress underneath. And then I went to this wedding ceremony. It turned out, that this was a part where only woman were invited to. So the street was closed off with mats (made from Sisal or bamboo or banana leaves, I couldn’t tell) and all the woman sat down looking in one direction, to the house where the brides family lived. Most of them still covered up. And then they started dancing and half of them took of there covers. What beautiful dresses and faces. p1010639I had never considered that when the men look Arabic, the woman do to. Just from seeing the eyes you can’t tell. So suddenly it was this mix of covered and uncovered woman. And of course lots of kids running around and older boys staying outside, spying through the wholes in the mats and pulling at them ’til they came down.

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And then the bride came in, looking very sad, so I figured its probably the last part of the wedding ceremony, where she leaves to go with her husband (like in India). And indeed, He and his male relatives (cousins, brothers) came 5 in later and took her away. On the way home to the hotel (which was right at the jetty) I saw them leaving Lamu. Well, all in all, very interesting. And the next day, when you see the woman all covered up in the streets again you wonder if you saw them the night before or how they look like, something I hadn’t done before. So after all, Lamu is this beautiful place but just doesn’t feel like Africa at all, or at least not like the Africa I had been traveling through before.

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And Nairobi? I am pleasantly surprised if not to say very. It’s really not that bad here and it doesn’t give the expected feeling of insecurity. It’s a bit of a pest if you stay outside the city center, considering you have to take a taxi home after dark, which is quiet expensive. So I ended up not going out at all. But last night I stayed in the center and had a couple of drinks in a bar with a friend.

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And even walked home. Right now its raining as the rain season finally set in, so its a bit of a drawback and, it surprisingly cold. I am even wearing my jacket! Come on, I am in Africa!!!So there is not even fun in the fact that the movie theaters are acclimatised. You have to wear long sleeves not to freeze. But it’s fun to finally see movies again. It will be the new James Bond in 2 hours.

Nairobi has something from New York, probably even more so if you compare it to the New York 10 years ago, where it was dangerous to walk into Central Park and around after nightfall. Here the Parks are safe during the day and surprisingly nice, with ponds to row. Lots of people hang out here to watch people. Although I had heard before that three gangsters were shot dead in Uhuru Park three days before I got here. At night they have flood lights, so to give at least some security if crossing the park. Something I still wouldn’t recommend. And then the bars and restaurants. There are lots of Coffee places, just like Starbucks, although there is no American chain restaurant anywhere, not even McD. All the rich Kenyans take their breakfast here or coffee, to incredible prices. $2 for a Latte is a lot of money for African standards. The men wear suits and the woman walk around on high heels. All in the front of quiet huge and many skyscrapers. Somewhat understandable now that the poorer population tries to get a piece of the cake by robberies and muggings. I haven’t seen any of the slums here, but there are distributed all over the city, like in Rio de Janeiro. And if you do a day trip out of the city, just a one and a half hour ride by Matatu to Lake Naivasha,

p1010721 Hells Gate National Park / Lake Naivasha p1010750

you are back in the rural area where farming and here in special the flower industry (roses) provide the main source of income. Barracks along the road and the somewhat unusual greeting of ‘ How are you, how are you’, chanted by maybe 15 kids at the same time. It sounds more like cheering in a football stadium and leaves you wondering who taught them that and what to respond. ‘Thanks, I am great’ just doesn’t feel right.

So after Lamu and Nairobi, with a side stay at lake Naivasha, it will be Kisumu next. The birth place of Barack Obama’s father. Kenyans are crazy about Obama. Here in Nairobi you don’t get greeted anymore with Mjambo or hello or How are you?, but ‘ Obama, Obama’. A day post the US-election they spontaneously had a national holiday to celebrate his victory. How crazy is that. The parties in Kisumu are supposed to go on until the end of the year, according to its mayor. So lets see how this is. It’s so weird anyway. Especially American are warned by the guidebook to travel at the Tanzanian and Kenyan cost as the Muslim population is quiet high there and not to give opinion about e.g. Osama bin Laden. I remember 5 years ago in India, many Americans didn’t dare to say where they are from so they claimed to be Canadians. And here, if I say now I am German everyone is disappointed. Americans are definitely in high favor. Let’s see how long it last. Expectations are certainly VERY high. So lets see if I manage to upload some pictures.

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