Friday, February 5, 2010

Neighborhood Views

The section of Nairobi where I live is just a little higher than other parts
of the city, and it's pleasant to walk about on a pretty day and just enjoy
the scenery.

And, yes, I anticipate your question and no, we do not go walking about at

Kenya has major security issues and we're very careful to be indoors by
dark. If you are out after dark, it is customary for the askari to shut the
gate behind the car once your driver has driven into the courtyard of the
house. The askari is the man who stays overnight in the little gatehouse at
your house and is there to open the gate when required. When the driver
comes into the courtyard, he will stay with you while you unlock the door,
with the askari looking on from the gate, and the driver won't take the car
out of the courtyard until you have turned on a light to indicate that you
are safely inside.

It's a new way of life for many Westerners and it's a little unsettling when
one first arrives.

On the other hand, for the old-timers, the expatriates and the people
assigned to Kenya by the many humanitarian and development programs and the
NGOs, it's just part of life. You try to be careful and you listen to the
horror stories when bad things happen and you try to move on. And say a
little word of thanks that so far you're OK.

I apparently create no small amount of attention because I choose to walk to
work, and I go very early in the morning. And especially the muzungus (the
non-Kenyans, most white people) seem to think it's very strange that I take
this nice long walk every morning. And home again if it's not too hot in
the afternoon.

But Kenyans walk back and forth all the time, so why shouldn't I? But I try
to be careful.

And besides, I'm continually having to refuse rides, both from muzungus
(some working where I'm assigned) and from Kenyans. They all want to give me
a lift, and I just want to walk because it's such a beautiful walk and
because the weather is so-o-o gorgeous. I just want to be out in it....

But back to the view. Next time I'll tell a little about Village Market, a
nice shopping area near my house, but for now I'll just share some views
from there. Our road is on the same level as the market so the view towards
our side is not such a big deal. But what's nice about being inside the
market - that is, in the walled area that makes up the area of the town set
aside for the market - is that it looks out over some beautiful scenery and
spectacular homes. Here are some views from that side of the Village Market.

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