Nairobi is a city of real contrasts

I first visited Nairobi back in 2012. To be honest, I was amazed. Twenty and even thirty-story buildings, lots of greenery, wide streets lined with trees, friendly people, in other words, almost European civilization. Still, the years of British rule left deep marks on the people and the place itself.

Nairobi from above
Image: Nairobi from above

I stayed at the 3 star Meridian Court Hotel with a top floor pool and got a room which was very well equipped, the food was European but also traditional Kenyan food with a noticeable Indian influence. After all, about 50 percent of big businessmen have roots in India.

Meridian Court Hotel Nairobi
Image: Meridian court hotel nairobi

The climate in Nairobi is very pleasant, at about 900 meters above sea level, the equatorial influence is much less, and if you compare it with May here, consider that it is May forever, with rain only at night, which is very convenient for tourists.

Nature of Kenya
Image: Nature of Kenya

An interesting fact that I discovered. For local residents, time has a different meaning, or rather, it means little ... Polepole is a word that means both order and slowness.

In the morning we go out into the city and see at the end of the corridor a lot of small pots of flowers, about twelve or fifteen. Naturally, they need to be looked after, loosen the soil, remove dead leaves, etc. A 20-year-old guy is doing this operation in slow motion, and I don't know exactly what he was doing, but he was clearly doing it in slow motion.

When we returned to the room during dinner, the guy was still fiddling with the flowers. After dinner we went into town, and when we returned in the evening he was, of course, still there, busy with his favorite flowers.

People in Kenya on the street
Image: People in Kenya on the street

Generally people in Nairobi are friendly and open. This can be especially said about girls who are very open to Europeans. But the men with whom I had to communicate are a little aggressive and curious.

On the third day of my stay in Kenya, while sipping a cold foamy drink at the reception, I got into a conversation with the hotel bartender, and as a result, he invited me to visit his home, to see the real Kenya, so to speak. He lived about ten kilometers from Nairobi, and without hesitation I accepted his offer.

We went on a 25 seater bus called Matatu. It was old, with obviously new “war paint” and stickers, had practically no unpainted windows, but it drove quite briskly. About thirty minutes later, we landed in a village on the edge of a hill.

Bus called Matatu
Image: Bus called Matatu
Bus driver
Image: Bus driver

The smell of fresh milk, manure and faint smoke was the same as my grandmother used to have in the countryside. But the people were black, the trees were pineapple plantations, and the horns of the cows were much larger than those of our cows. However, everything else was the same, even the thick street dust reminded me of my village near Maloyaroslavets.

Children in a village near Nairobi
Image: Children in a village near Nairobi

My friend's house was made of corrugated iron, probably insulated, because even at noon it was not hot outside. We were greeted by a young couple with two small children who constantly tried to climb into my arms. I felt a little like an outlandish white man for them, whom my grandfather had brought with him.

Boy with face painting
Image: Boy with face painting

After spending some time in the house, we all went together to a local bar. At first there were few people, but gradually they became more and more. The headman of the village appeared, then the village teacher, then other people. The headman offered us something traditional, they chose nyama chomo. Nyama chomo is fried beef ribs with millet flour and sweet and sour spicy sauce.

We had a bite and ordered ourselves a beer - the beer flowed like a river. At this time we talked about politics. We compared salaries and food prices and noticed similarities. At least, at the level of teachers' salaries, they were then fairly equal. The beer didn't run out...

Village bar in Kenya
Image: Village bar in Kenya

With great difficulty we parted, and I promised to return as soon as I came back to Kenya. This promise has yet to be fulfilled. But who knows what life has in store for us.

The next day we rode the matate again, but this time around the old city and the poor outskirts. It was a beautifully painted bus, although it was also not new. The old city was a jumble of streets and lanes, huts made of wood, stone, reeds, cardboard and tin, naked and dirty children running around near their "houses", gutters filled with excrement, not to mention the smell.

The streets of the outskirts of Nairobi
Image: Streets of the outskirts of Nairobi
hard worker carrier
Image: Hard worker carrier

Various dubious people got on the bus, chewing local kumma. They seem to consider it a legal drug, and I've seen wagons full of this herb. I was already beginning to regret my "bravery", but I was not alone. In the end, I didn’t suffer from anything, at least I didn’t have a lot of money with me, a video camera, a camera or anything else that could attract unkind attention.

Nairobi has a lot of tourist attractions and museums, and at night there was "Florida", a cool disco for the time, with stainless steel dance floors and such crazy lighting that I don't remember it anymore.

Florida cool disco
Image: Florida cool disco

The city doesn't seem so safe these days. Prices went up astronomically, and then everything was cheaper, for example, hotel accommodation cost 40 USD per night with 3 meals a day, in Mombasa - 15 USD per night, food in the city cost about 3 USD, beer - 50 cents, the same with the price of a cup of coffee.

What I found out for myself. Kenya is something that will not leave you for the rest of your life. If you once visited these lands of the progenitors of mankind, you will always want to return. Of course, this is my personal opinion and I am not at all against a wonderful and beloved vacation, for example, on the island of Phuket in Thailand ...

Никита Береговой

Author on the TRAVEL GUIDE website Considers himself an amateur traveler. Engineer by education, IT specialist. She loves computer graphics, travel and interior design. My favorite holiday destination is Thailand, but I wouldn’t mind visiting old Europe. Traveled to 18 countries on 3 continents. In his free time from work and travel, he devotes himself to his house, which he built from scratch almost single-handedly. Promises to delight everyone with useful and interesting information...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button