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...