Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trip to the city

On Sunday morning Grant and I accompanied Nico and Sue to Nairobi. Michael, one of the trusty company drivers ferried us safely to the city. Of course, along the way there are always   regular and wonderfully quirky sights!


...or a helping hand?

The company apartment in Nairobi is modern, spacious, fully-equipped and airy. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, dining room and lounge, WiFi office station, beautiful kitchen and entrance hall. The fridge was stocked with eggs, milk, juice and still water. A huge bowl of fruit adorned the dining table (fruit is plentiful and inexpensive in East Africa)
The view from our 5th floor apartment in Nairobi. The capital of Kenya is built on what was originally a huge swamp. The tree-lined streets and lush foliage in the city is home to many birds even today. The Marabou Storks nesting in huge trees in Mombassa Road are an interesting sight while travelling in that area. However, due to the huge apartment blocks mushrooming in the residential areas, the gracious old giant trees and indigenous shrubs are being eradicated to make way for more human habitation
I was fascinated by the huge swimming pool in the apartment courtyard. However, no amount of  cajoling or bribery could convince my fellow flat mates (including my dh!) to join me in a few quick laps. LOL! The pool in the top right hand of the photo is a NORMAL sized swimming pool which gives a fair indication of how large the front one is

The apartment block is situated in a huge complex called the Ya-Ya centre. Below is a large shopping mall with clothing shops, beauty salons, florists, card and book shops; a grocery-, green grocer- and butcher shop to rival any in South Africa. The two coffee shops looked inviting as well. On Sundays just outside the mall, the Masai market is in full swing. We ladies dragged the men through the stalls "just to look". The stall-owners, desperate for a sale, descend on you as you enter the pathways between the curios and clothing on display and insist that you buy from them. This gracious elderly lady above, on the contrary, was quiet and greeted me politely and then posed for a photo.

The Masai market, Ya-Ya centre, Nairobi

That evening Nico and Sue took us to dinner at an upmarket Italian restaurant. We all had a great time chatting about previous mining contracts. Before taking over this mine five years ago, Nico, then a financial manager,  worked with Grant in Guinea and Mali. I only knew Nico socially as I worked for the gold mine client and they were the contractors.
On Monday morning Sue treated me to a pedicure in the Ya-Ya beauty salon. Bliss! Later we shopped for the school in the valley and returned to the apartment after lunch. We relaxed while we waited for the men, who had back-to-back meetings and other appointments. That evening we had dinner at another restaurant with an ethnic flavour. Our host, Gerald, is head of the Bureau of Standards and his wife, Hannah is Ambassador in the Congo. They are fellow South Africans and have a cat called Nathan who rules their home, so we all had a wonderful evening together!
Sue in front of a sculpture in the museum grounds

On Tuesday morning while the men had other business appointments in the city, Sue took me to the National Museum in the city centre. What a lovely experience. Apart from the normal exibits in the first hall displaying cultural life in Kenya, the next hall was filled with bird displays. Stuffed birds in glass cases, but very interesting and informative. I have a much better insight to the birds I might see in Kenya: where we live in the valley and later when we visit the national parks. The male and female of the many birds were displayed beautifully with a map of East Africa, Kenya highlighted in green and a typewritten description beside it. The bird's nest and a few eggs were also displayed.

After dragging ourselves away from the museum, we visited the Kenya Nature offices in another corner of the shady and well-kept gardens. Sue was able to collect many pamphlets and booklets to bring back for the school's outdoor club. She also managed to pick up a book of Birds of Kenya with large plate illustrations. Previously when Sue has shown the learners a picture of a bird in her own bird book, and asked what they thought it was, be it a weaver, swallow or a starling, the children would anwer: "A bird!" With the book as a tool, we hope to encourage these children to be aware of their surroundings and become future custodians of nature.

Later we bought fresh produce from The Corner Shop and by midday we were on our way back home, six hours of travel to the west!

Today is another beautiful, peaceful day in the valley...


  1. Jo, what a lovely description of your time in Nairobi. It is a shame to cut down trees to make way for buildings. Your photos of the pool, marketplace are great. It is a huge pool. I would love to visit the musuem, it sound slike it has a great bird exhibit. Thanks for sharing your trip.

  2. Sounds as though you had a really enjoyable few days in Nairobi, Jo! I would have enjoyed a stroll through the Masai Market, too.

    That is a gigantic pool - shame on your fellow travellers for not wanting to join you! Next time, maybe :)

  3. Hi Jo,
    I love reading your fascinating posts, and your pictures are so interesting.
    That is one HUGE pool! I'd probably drown half-way, haha!
    ☼ Sunny
    P.S. Sorry to be behind with comments, my son is visiting for several days.

  4. What a beautiful appartment and your social life seams far more interesting then in Khartoum !
    Nairobi must be an interesting town as I heard from friends.

  5. What a fun trip to Nairobi. Comfortable looking accommodations. A shame no one wanted to use the pool(s). They look very inviting. The market looks busy. I like the ladies textiles. Many of these items look more "hand-made" than I saw in ZA, which I found very disappointing. Also great to now know more about the local birds.

  6. Fascinating post, Jo. I'll have to doublecheck the name of that market if we ever find ourselves bound for Nairobi (maybe, maybe).
    I would have loved to swim in that pool, Jo, but not as much as my husband would. He is a great swimmer, and I'm just a dilettante.
    Always look forward to your posts.
    Luv, K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  7. t a lovely and spacious apartment you have, Jo! That big swimming pool is mind-boggling. The outdoor markets remind me of the outdoor markets in Mexico and Central America. We had a similar experience with vendors calling to us to buy their wares.

    You have such exciting and interesting adventures!

    (((Hugs))) Pat

  8. Thanks for taking us along to Nairobi. I learn so much reading blogs like yours....

  9. Hi Jo,great photos & post as usual. Nairobi seems to be a bustling modern city now,even chopping down irreplacable trees to build huge apartment blocks!
    I wonder why there is absolutely nobody using either swimming pool?The Ya Ya market looks interesting, I love to browse around markets and nothing puts me off quicker than having vendors 'pushing' me, I would have shopped with your lovely lady I think!

  10. Nairobi looks quite modern, and much greener than I expected. Fascinating to have this peek into a city on the other side of the world.

  11. Thats a long way to go to town. It sounds like you had fun there. It is nice that you have friends there too.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo