04.17.2017 25 °C
After a much needed siesta this morning we woke and got ready to hit the town. The bus ride sure took it out of us. I didn't use the washrooms once on the trip but Josh said to me this morning that at the bus stops along the highway they have different washrooms for Muslims and hen everybody else. Crazy.
We took a look at our rooftop patio before we headed out the front door. We've had locals and other travellers tell us that the location of this hostel isn't in the best spot, and seeing it during the day I guess I know what they mean but we feel very safe. We've been especially warned about not walking after dark, and I think we will stick to that rule. It's so, so busy in Nairobi that I brought my camera out with us but I won't do it again. I didn't touch it once. I brought out my iPhone for maybe 30 seconds to look at the map and a very nice young woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, "DON'T use your phone in this area." I thanked her for the advice. We later met a guy named Lawrence and he said it will get swiped if I take it out in certain areas.
Walking past our hotel there are so many little shops and huts selling clothes and they're all so cute and relevant, but the hassling is quite intense so we don't even stop to look. In Mombasa and Diani there are a lot more tourists and even white residents, but walking and touring around today I didn't see a single other white person (other than at our hostel), and I heard the word "Mazunga" spoken a whole lot more than on the coast. Mazunga means English speaking person, and since it's low season I think there are a lot less Mazungas around than normal. It's usually the kids who say it but here everyone is saying it to us.
I wish I had a photo of the streets here. It's like Mombasa times 10. Garbage is everywhere you look. Plastic bags EVERYWHERE. People EVERYWHERE. It's hard to explain how crazy it is.
We walked towards the Hilton where Josh used to spend some time (happy hour), and this man named Lawrence approached giving us Safari rates. We're so used to people walking with us and then asking for money, so when Lawrence said right away he wouldn't ask for money that we felt a bit better. We had a drink at a spot he recommended and then we went with him to his office to negotiate a price. He and his colleague were very friendly and explained everything and we ended up booking through them a two night, 3 day Safari to Maasai Mara leaving tomorrow morning.
The two men shared with us their stories and where they came from. Lawrence is 55, though I had him pegged at 37, 38. He has three kids and he grew up in the Mathare slums that Josh has worked in. He and his colleague both are Christians and they don't drink or smoke or use any substances. It's very important to them and they talked about it a lot.
After booking the safari we went to a small market where we bought a few things for ourselves. They started us off at $100 for two leather bracelets, a beaded necklace for me, and a Tusker magnet for our fridge. Way too much! The haggling is intense here, and the guys kept saying they were giving us the best price because of Josh's work here in the past. We settled on around $30 Canadian, which I still think is too much for what we got. We have to explain to all of the vendors that we are not rich and we work hard for what we have. But the shop owner explained to me that it's the colour of my skin, and even the shape of my nose which means money to them.
After the market we hopped on a motorcycle each to give us a ride back to our hotel to avoid the half an hour walk. No doubling (tripling?) in Nairobi so we each took our own. The first thing they do is hop the big curb in the middle of the busy street, its higher than our sidewalks. I was like, "whoa, we can't do that in Canada!" And my driver said something I've heard a lot so far this trip, "This is Kenya." He said motorcycles can bend a lot of the rules of the road. the driving is insane, most streets don't even have a centre line and the cars just avoid each other, motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, go up the wrong way on the street. You name it I think I've seen it so far in less than a week.
We're now back and just finished an amazing meal on the rooftop patio. It reminded Josh of the food his homestay used to make for him, he had a vegetable stew and I a lentil stew, both with chapati and both delicious and cheap. We'll be eating here a few times I think.
We'll be taking it easy tonight, then up early for our 3 day Safari. I can't imagine there's wifi in the Mara, so no posts for a couple of days.