Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Masai market

Buses in Eastern Kenya are crafted with maximum utility of space in mind, rather than passenger comfort. I am lucky that I don't bruise easily, and that Irene is so nice. Friday night I slept in what I thought was quite a clever position, and Irene thought looked like a really uncomfortable F shape... Since my knees hit the seat in front of me leaving no room for sleep sprawl, I twisted my right leg sideways and straight in front of me, with my other tucked under my seat in front of me. Due to the bumpy roads, the window was not so comfortable and I managed to tuck my blanket over my head and into a ball so it didn't slip around too much and to angle my back into a position which allowed for minimal movement against the seat. In that position I slept for a few hours until I awoke thinking my knee caps might slide out of position. Irene was then kind enough to stick her legs into the aisle and make room for my legs in front of her...

We arrived early Saturday morning - thankfully no bus hijacking occurred! Went home just on time to say goodbye to Esther and her niece before they took off to her brother's wedding. I then slept for a few hours. I woke up to find Irene asking for me to let her out of the room next door. The handle had fallen off and she hadn't wanted to wake me up so had patiently waited for 30 minutes trapped in the room till I woke up!

We then went into downtown Nairobi to shop for presents at the Masai market. The last time I went there I got majorly ripped off, and I was nervous it would happen again... Somewhere over the last few weeks though I must have acquired some knowledge. I managed to get good deals, and not good deals for a tourist, but genuinely good deals. At one point (I must have been bargaining really well!) the girl said "I'm giving you this price because you're not a rich American, you're one of us" I didn't correct her perception of the American part as the rich was false, but thought it was funny that she figured I must live in Kenya due to my bargaining style. Later on, I'd gone up to the price I wanted to pay and the guy wouldn't come down any further he said "I've already gone down so much, and you've only come up a little..." so I responded that was because he had started with a muzungu price and I wanted to pay the "my sista" price. He laughed and gave me the price I wanted. Everyone around who was selling cracked up also.

Irene was quite patient throughout this, as we spent hours in the hot sun bargaining and she helped me carry my purchases also.

That evening we went to dinner at the residence of the Nigerian High Commissioner to Kenya. The Ambassador was hosting us, a number of interns and the Beauttah family. I was able to eat Nigerian food - we had gari gari which is similar to ugali along with a typical, very spicy, soup. The Ambassador confirmed my suspicions of what Nigerian soups contained by detailing it's ingredients - basically lots of variety of fish and fish extracts, some local herbs, various bits of meat, and lots of spice!

I wore the Kenyan outfit I had purchased that day at the market, and was one of only three of us to be in authentic African garb that evening. I thought I would look like a poser wearing Kenyan clothes and being obviously not Kenyan. Irene said that it would be good for Kenyans to see their traditional clothing being worn and appreciated by foreigners as many don't appreciate it on their own.

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