Day 204: Hell and Nairobi


This is a picture of Kelly, Lara's bestest friend who selflessly came out to entertain Claire and Lara for their last couple of weeks.

We are in Nairobi, Kenya in the lovely suburb of Karen. It is gorgeous here, though it admittedly does not feel very much like Africa as we sit in our little cottage. However, the quality of the coffee is above par and there is an approximately 40 foot cactus in our backyard. So really, it’s not so much like home either. That and our cab driver stopped halfway home to demand more money. Not so much the American way, it’s true, though I’m sure many cab drivers wish it were.

Unfortunately, we have found that on-an-actual-vacation Kelly is intensely attractive to scammers selling souvenirs because she still finds everything lovely and does not scowl automatically at salesman who approach her, as Claire and Lara have been known to do. She nobly pointed out that a few extra dollars didn’t mean much to her; Lara dismissed this and immediately set to haggling down some completely absurd prices (like 20 USD for a candle stick that falls over) and tried to defend her from price inflation by haggling. I eventually had to throw up my hands as Kelly sweetly agreed to their first offers. I went and tried to contain my frustration by telling Francis our driver in confidence that Kelly was a sucker.

After wading through all that nonsense, we spent the day hiking through the Hell’s Gate National Park. We do not know why it was called this, and though maps of the park featured the devil at the bottom of a gorge laughing devilishly at a cartoon that declared “I’m an atheist!,” we could not actually figure out in our time there why they felt this was the gate to hell. It was a lovely, if long and dusty walk, that featured zebras, giraffes, baboons and numerous warthogs. The warthogs themselves are quite ugly, and therefore potential candidates for hell’s gate type places. However, it was apparently mating time a few months ago, as the babies are all trotting around all over the place, proving that anything is cute when it’s small, even when it’s actually quite ugly. Beware all parents out there.

Unfortunately, the weather did not actually cooperate, so we ended up cutting our still 3 hour walk a bit short when we got rained on. We enjoyed singing bastardized Kiswahili* from the Lion King, however, as we looked over the park that was deserted, and therefore totally devoid of people who could be offended by our Disney-made African knowledge. It felt very African to us Americans with giraffes and acacia trees—the flat-topped ones featured in all African pictures and on our business cards—and was quite a good way to spend the day.

We had been forced to abandon our driver, however, in the middle of nowhere. Normally, whenever we turn our heads, he starts hanging out with some friend of his that has materialized out of nowhere, so we felt some guilt. But we left him with Kelly’s iPod, which is one of the new swanky ones with video capability. Never having seen an iPod before, Francis felt this would add to his time in the desolate gorge. He did not, however, expect the limitation to chick flick-ness that were Kelly’s only movie options. He could choose from Shakespeare in Love, The Little Mermaid, and a few episodes of Sex and the City. We explained how it worked, and left him to it.

We took our time, as I have said, and returned to a smiley Francis. Granted, he is always smiling, but we liked to think that this was because we had provided some kind of entertainment for him. Turns out we did. He jammed to Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, Bob Marley, and some Jamaican band Kelly did not realize she had on her iPod because it is part of the Save the Last Dance soundtrack that she does not listen to frequently, per se. He also explained that he had watched “the City of Sex” and that “yes! It was actually funny!” This is apparently contradictory to his previous experience with the show. We felt some wisdom had been imparted.

Next on to get coffee at the oasis that is the Karen Coffee House—well, oasis/location warp. Surrounded by chic nearly exclusively white people and the sounds of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline brought Kelly and I back to Boston with a bang, so we fled quickly to our cottage, Claire and dinner. Well, quickly, once we could extract Francis from yet another best friend that seemed to appear from nowhere in the street. He is very popular, that Francis. And patient with our questions, entertaining us on our various rides with animal renditions, the Kenyan national anthem (he made us sing the Star Spangled Banner first, however, so really it was a trying time for him) and numerous lessons in Kiswahili.

But this morning we are working; we may go to a butterfly sanctuary or we may go grocery shopping, we are not sure. We are spending the morning doing stupid editing work and planning for our trek to an orphanage near here that Kelly’s relative helps with as well as our imminent hike up Mt. Kenya.

It is an exciting thing. To document exactly how exciting, I have calculated that Claire, who has a yawning problem that is simultaneously Lara’s #1 pet peeve on this trip and a condition that seems to be worsening, has yawned an average of 7 times per minute for the last three minutes. I have done elaborate tests since I am currently working against a deadline and this is a good use of my time.

*We have learned from Francis that Kiswahili is the language, and Swahili the people. We did not know this, so felt the knowledge should be spread. We apologize if others consider this obvious.

1 comment:

Lana said...

for the record, this was NOT verbose, it was just DETAILED and funny!!! very very funny. when they're long and NOT funny, that's when there's a problem. not that that's a problem on the blog, ever*. anyway, point is, this had me laughing like the whole time. and it made me MISS YOU! girls, i appreciate the haggling. i'm the same way in TJ until someone (Gaby) calls me out and says "seriously, you're STILL trying to get this from 6 to 4 bucks? here's 2 bucks, get a life"... thanks gabs. really.

hi K! snaps for entertaining the cabbie with tupac!

*not entirely true.

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