Friday, July 31, 2009
We get to the "stores" and we couldn't get in. It is locked and we had to wait. Someone came and then we began looking for shirts. I wanted a "big one" and the man just died laughing...said, "you aren't THAT big." Now, here, meaty women are highly prized!! One would have to see the woman highlighted today in Red Pepper to get the full meaning of that statement.
We finally found a xxl which I wanted but the stores ( no mistake...called stores)manager was not happy because the shirt was for a man...grey in color and he didn't like the quality for a "muzunga". (white person) I told him since I wasn't paying for it...I was quite happy with it. Then commenced a serious argument because, of course, everyone pays for a shirt. My guy, Sam, allowed as how the Ad Director would send over a chit for the shirt...cost $3.50! I needed a translation because they argued in Luganda.
Took us as long to exit the building as it did to get in...locked. Kind of hard to do business but maybe they have had thefts??
Leaving shortly for the airport. Talk to you from the other side of the world soon.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
And another story: two days ago I went out to get my papers. My morning to go to work taxi guy, Deo, runs down the street every day to buy my papers for me. Then, I eat breakfast and hop in his cab. Wednesday, I look and Deo isn't there but a huge guy walks up with his hand out. He said, "Mum, I will buy your papers today." I give him the money and off he runs. When I go to leave, Deo still isn't there, but Roger, another cab guy says I am taking you to work and you paid Deo for today, so you don't pay me. So, off to work I went. What was very cool is that Deo, who had issues at home, had taken the time to make sure that my routine was not interrupted. And he communicated the whole story. I hadn't had change so paid for two trips to work and had he not shared that, I would have had to pay again. Good business happening here.
Did I mention that the area outside of my hotel is a streetwalkers' paradise? I have enjoyed watching the parade each night as I eat my dinner. Quite the get ups and what is fascinating is when some white tourist has two of these ladies on his arms.
And then, I am having serious issues breathing and though I think it is from the heavy dirt in the air, the lack of emission standards and then, tonight, as always the staff come in to spray my room so there are no bugs or mosquitos. Appreciate that but wish they could spray during the day while I am working. I wait ten minutes or so to reenter but issues. Those issues are only surpassed by my incredibly violent and projectile poo. I have a bad case and you haven't lived til you are at work, using a toilet with no seat, squatting and it just goes everywhere. Interesting....one quickly repairs what one can, no paper towels and you leave quickly so no one knows YOU did it!!
Went to the Ndere theatre last night...their brochure didn't say it was outside, so after an hour, I left. Very good Ugandan singing and dancing.
Today was busy, starting at 7 a.m. at the Monitor and then on to New Vision...back to the hotel by 6. Tomorrow, I leave for home and I also start at 7. Packing right now and thank God I brought a suitcase of clothing for the orphans. I am filling that right up. Bought Christmas gifts and whatnots for kids and grandkids. Couldn't find a logo beer glass for Richard in either Kenya or Uganda...they are missing a sales opportunity.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Taylor not a Cannibal
EU to aid Hague arrest big names in Waki list
Wake up and smell the Kofi
Mistresses are Not Lazy
Putting on Tight underwear is likely to Deform your Manhood
30 Things to do with a naked guy
Presidents turn into Journalists
6 year old Sacrificed
What if Somalia's Rebels Win??
This is a different culture with different issues. Famine, poverty, murder, rape of children, beheadings; witchcraft and more are stories of the day. Certainly access to water, food, power, and politics take precedence but the scope of issues and problems here are so much more complex than we experience in the U.S., thankfully!!
Monday, July 27, 2009
While at the Nile, there was a musical group and two dancers playing and dancing typical Ugandan music and dance. The guy in the pink was terrifically talented and any woman would love her body parts to move as smoothly and with such precision as he made his. The hip movements were spectacular and he knew he was good! Of course, one man passed the hat but a 5000 shilling note, or $2.50 brought a huge smile to the second dancer who was a bit older and less talented. Notice the girl in the navy skirt...she was shaking rocks in a metal oblong container and the sound was a bit like a waterfall rushing over rocks. Very cool.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Speke was an explorer and in 1862 was looking for the mouth of the Nile and he felt he found it. His findings were contested by Stanley who asked Queen Victoria to send missionaries to tame the natives. She did. Besides the incredible musical instruments, we saw weapons, and pottery and idols and the resemblance in every area to Latin archeological findings are soooo close. I guess if you needed a tool to chop things, or if you needed to pulverize something, there are just so many ways you can do it.
By the way, beer in the Lake regions are made of bananas while other areas create their beer out of grain or honey. Just a side note!!
A photo of the 52 rings and the 52 columns supporting the tomb, representing the tribes of Uganda. There was also a drum house, which we could not enter, because we are women!
The photo above is a display of spears, shields and photos of former Buganda Kings who are entombed and watched over by the ever vigilant women awaiting their spirit return. There is a current King, whose palace, our guide declined to show us. Am thinking it isn't quite so humble a structure.
This lady saw me about to take a photo and she turned and faced the store. My driver asked her to turn and suggested I might give her 2000 shillings. She grinned widely as you can see and I paid her the $1.00 equivalent. She would have had to sell 10 bananas to earn that much. A happy woman indeed!! This is a common site, only surpassed by men carrying huge bundles of firewood or banana leaves on their heads. What she isn't doing is also carrying a child on her back, which is normal here also.
My friend Eddie was here this past weekend and we visited several sites: including the tombs of the Buganda Kings and also the National Museum on Saturday and then, on Sunday, we took a day trip to Jinja and beyond to see the Nile River which crosses at least 8, maybe 9 African countries. More photos and stories to come.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I am back in my old spacious room at the hotel. All repairs to the ceiling and to the wiring have been made and I now have lights (plural) in the bathroom. Quite nice. And Eddie, my friend from Tegucigalpa, now in Kigali, Rwanda will arrive tomorrow. Didn't make it to the store to buy wine, for sipping while sharing stories and laughing, but that is tops on my list for tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Took a few photos which I am trying to upload but not going too well. Using the computer is even slower here than in Kenya. Lost connection...saving. Pictures will be coming...promise.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Anyhoo...I bought a camera yesterday so we should have some photos soon. It appears to work and I am dying to take a photo of the crested sawa bird. It has a huge bag hanging from its throat, is blue in color and huge sitting in the trees around here.
Here in Kampala, two of the major newspapers staple them so the people on the street cannot pick them up and read them, which they do in Nairobi. If you want to read, you need to buy it. However, I went down to breakfast and the vendor near the Speke had NO papers at 7:30 a.m. yet. I have him 10,000 Ushillings and off he ran to buy them from a store. He promptly brought them back to me in the restaurant, gave me my change and Dayo, will be also my taxi driver.
In today's paper, there were photos of abandoned babies (apparently named by the orphanage staff because they were too young to know/say their names) and approximate ages. The notice indicated if the parents did not appear in 30 days, the child would revert to the care of the orphanage and be cared for. Never have I seen this...what is interesting is some of the kids had Christian names and others African. The Christian names are like ours, given at baptism, and those who have/use African names are either people who rid themselves of their Christian names at some point or who are not Christian.
The other news item that makes me ill is the number of child sacrifice articles there are in the papers. Kids who are "stolen" from families and then killed as a sacrifice and offered up to ??? for ????.
Tomorrow I will eat something called "wheat a bix" or that is what it sounds like. Looks like a cardboard muffin, flattened out but is a cereal. Am thinking it must be like shredded wheat. Have seen no one eat one, but there for the taking so will give it a try.
Off to work!!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
As we approached Kampala city from Entebbe, I noticed feral dogs which you don't see in Nairobi. And while the area appears poor, it is neat and clean and the main drag from the airport into town was crammed with small mom and pop stores of all sorts, including an outside butcher shop with large hanging meat carcasses. And there are green banana vendors everywhere and these must weigh about 50 pounds. Saw a guy heft one up in front of him on his motorcycle and off he went.
Lots of mototaxis here. Walked to the mall from the Speke Hotel to look for a camera. I missed so many interesting shots...and no, I would NOT have taken one of "burning man." Chris, my contact here at New Vision and a Gates health Fellow came over this afternoon to chat and share a drink. Will see him tomorrow and am going to see what I might be able to do on my own.
Sitting and chatting at the hotel veranda, we looked out at a huge green park where two wedding events were going on. Beautiful and while Nairobi has tons of people walking quickly to work or to shop...here, people are out strolling as well. And then, after a wonderful Chicken Tikka (the owners are Indian) I noted that we also have what look like "working women" strolling the streets.
And so, when I get my camera, I will share some photos. My room is huge with a table and chairs in a side room for eating or having a meeting and while there are no drawers for clothing I do have a hang up wardrobe. Here, internet is free or "included" which is way better than teh $20+ per day we had to pay at the Hilton. Clean, neat, tidy and the help are very friendly. What more can you ask for?? So, hopefully, I will have a good night's sleep and then walk, have brunch with Chris and maybe go see some tombs and here about the Buganda Kingdom and learn some history.
Friday, July 17, 2009
The scrappy number 3 paper, Nairobi Star staff are scrappy and aggressive. There was quite a difference in his approach to relationship building and sales with his distributors and vendors from what I saw at the number one paper.
Tonight is African night at the restaurant here and I am getting a "to go" box so I can sample some real African food. Going out to dinner but thought I would leave you with a few interesting insights into Nairobi.
Everyone has a cell phone but no one uses or has voice mail! Think about all the calls you make and leave messages. Nope, wait for the return call or keep calling til you annoy someone enough that they pick up!!
Punctuation in conversations, generally on the phone, instead of "umhum, uhhuh" is the sound of a long "a" as in plate. So you will hear folks saying a, a, a, over and over again. Or they will say, "sawa, sawa, sawa, OK,OK,OK" and they do it that way. Three sawa's and three OKs. Kinda like how folks in Colombia finish a phone call by saying, "bueno, pues, ciao." Meaning...good, well, bye. Ciao or bye bye would do it. I enjoy these little language differences very much.
Because of the British Colonial period, much is English/British but not like we know it. For example, Tanzania, is pronounced here as Tan-zan-ya instead of Tan-za-nia. Little differences which make the language similar but not.
More later....decided to go back to Daily Nation because I ended up not spending the whole day as planned at the Nairobi Star...there was a bit of a scheduling issue between departments and bosses.
Looking forward to Uganda although, I still haven't heard recently from my contact there and hoping all is ready for me. I leave tomorrow morning so it may be a bit before you hear from me.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Had a great meeting with two young ladies who are working on a Science Cafe concept. A way to introduce residents, informally, to health content, conversations in a relaxed environment where they can talk to professionals about everything from personal healthcare, cancer issues, diabetes, birth control...whatever the theme might be. So we talked about how we could take the informal conversation and expand it to radio and television. Very interesting. Access to health care and health information is very difficult here. We are in the land of cholera, malaria, TB, jiggers and who knows what else.
I can tell you, I have never washed my hands as much as I have here. I am always feeling dirty and all of the restaurants give you hot washrags to wash before you eat. Pollution is horrid here...no emission standards and the vehicles belch grey smoke everywhere. And then, we have matatus, vehicle like vans that hold 13-15 people with someone standing at the open side door ushering low income people in and out. There has been at least one or more deaths daily from matatu accidents here. And there are tuk-tuks like they have in Guatemala...motorcycle cabs of sorts.
Went to Susan's house last night...former Associated Press Bureau Chief and African resident for more than 20 years in various countries. So heard lots of political background info on the parties, the displaced people, rigged elections and more. Very interesting and super great food. Which leads me to my cab driver.
Anthony drove me out to an early afternoon meeting in Lavington. The directions were complicated and he had never been there. So six conversations with my appointment later, John, the guy I was meeting, came to find us. Anthony waited for me and he didn't have change so he just told me to pay him that evening on the way to Susan's house. Now, imagine, dirt poor and he doesn't know me but he was willing to trust that I really would call him and use him (after we got thoroughly lost that earlier afternoon). Of course, I used him to Susan's and called him to come back. Looks 14, drives 100 km per hour in a 60 km area. Asked him what the speed limit was and he cheerily said...60!!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Aren't you proud of me...I am able to write next to the photos like I did in 2006!! I couldn't figure out how to make this happen, so asked my friend David, from Tegus, but now in Afghanistan how to do this. He didn't know and I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning with an "ah ha" and remembered. Pretty cool.
And then today, I went on a search for a beer glass with Tusky's (local beer) logo on it because I have been bringing these home from my travels for Richard. I went on a serious walk only to find...I could not find one. And of course, Alex always gets a shot glass for his collection...have seen NO such animal yet. Still looking.
Like in most Third World countries there are lots of beggars in the streets. Here, they are on the sidewalks and in the alleys. Today, I saw a man, who was only the trunk of the body...supported by a pillar on the walkway. He had a bucket between what would be the groin area and all I could think was...if someone tried to rob him, which folks do here, poverty is horrid, he couldn't do anything at all.
By the way, smoking on the streets is against the law here. Saw the first man, again a beggar, smoking ganja. Thought it interesting...and wondered what the cops would do/say if they saw him??
Dinner beckons....more another day.
Do read either "Unbowed" by Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize or/and "It's Our Turn to Eat" by Michela Wrong. Both will give you a feel for Kenya's past but also will demonstrate today, as well.
My camera died and the camera guy said it truly is beyond repair. I am sooo thankful I made it through the preserve and the orphanage. I am using Rachel's now, but when I uploaded my three, I found she had something like 269 photos. So, not so simple.
Off to dinner with the Nairobi Star guys...more coming.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Went to Rachel's last night and we had a gourmet meal...squash risotto, an avocado/mango/tomato salad, chicken, and an eggplant casserole, topped with great wines and an apple betty type dessert. Her apartment is gorgeous, kind of a yellow Moroccan structure and we were about 10 people.
My cab driver going over was a character and he allowed that he prayed I was not talking to Kenyan women. Why...one might ask? Because Kenyan men like their women to obey and men have to be in charge of the home. We American and British women teach bad things to Kenyan women!! So, I asked him if HE cooks and helps his wife clean and take care of the kids? He said not...that is why he got married. Now, this cab driver made it to Rachel's house in six minutes and he looked about 14 years old. We made a 20 minute trip in six and I opened her door and asked her to pour me a drink!!
The return trip was worse...the cab driver, who took off immediately after I entered the car, asked, "where?" I said, "to the Hilton." He had no clue what I was saying, did not speak English, and I finally called Rachel to ask her to call the cab company. I suggested to him, "National Archives," because we are right across the street from that but he said, "National Theatre?" I have NO clue where that is...and, of course, we are now yattering with the company in Kikuyo and he is trying to get directions, while I am talking with Rachel. Best thing I ever did was buy a telephone!!
Anyway, today, I went to the Nairobi Star, a new independent newspaper on the streets only two years. Very eager, hungry and interested to learn new methods, ideas etc. Very rewarding. Going back in a couple of days to share...like their energy, their openness etc. The circulation guy, Patrick Ndende, took me to lunch and while talking, he explained that Kenyan men get married to have help in the home and to carry their babies. Dead serious.
At dinner, we had an eclectic group of Americans, Brits, and two Kenyan women: Ruth, a reporter for NMG and her sister, Anne Marie. What was super great was getting to know more about Kenyan families, their food (we discussed ugali, a maize type of polenta but with a totally different color, texture and flavor and which is a staple in Kenyan homes) and their work lives in a male dominated culture.
Another cultural difference, it is rude to ask a woman if she is married and to ask how many children she has. Children belong first to the home and so if a man has several wives, all of the children belong there. They aren't the product of a man and woman, rather the product of a home. And since health care is/was such a huge issue here...a woman could have had 10 children but only five are alive. Or had 16 pregnancies with 10 children. And of course, we Americans always ask after family, marital status and children.
And then, to top off the evening, my friend from Tegucigalpa, Brady Walkinshaw, came over to the Hilton for wine and laughs. We caught up. He is here working with the Gates Foundation on an agricultural project. And good news for him...he plans to run for political office. This young man is 25, sits on the Princeton University Board, worked in Honduras, for the World Bank and eventually will go to law school. Logan and Kenz met him in DC last year. Quite fun to meet a friend from another continent again..on the other side of the world.
I am pooped and off to bed. Am being picked up at 6 a.m. by a circulation guy...going to show him what I see happening on the streets. Buying goes on...selling of newspapers does not.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
During the three hours we were out, starting at 6 a.m. when the animals start to move, we saw a variety of birds:
-the crowned crane
-the secretary bird which feeds on snakes
-corey bastards (not making this up!)and it is the largest flying bird in the world, or so Steve said.
-zebra -two rhino (mom and baby)
And the vegetation was interesting, as well. Acacia trees. Thorn trees which the giraffe eat...nibbling the leaves out between three inch silver thorns that looked very, very sharp. The dirt was deep red and interestingly, there were huge holes dug in the road by wart hogs but I didn't see any of them.
Quite a day and I am reminded of Annie and David's photos from their real safari...I want to come back and go on one. We saw "poo or scat" long before we saw any animals and you could smell the animals long before one appeared. Wild, earthy, and exotic smells! Wishing you were all there with me!
The birds in the road are guinea hens and were about 30 pounds and are protected. Looked good to eat!! And then, you should find zebra and some ostrich (grey one is female and the black and white one is male) and gazelles. Photos turned out poorly because I am 1)not a photographer and 2)my digital just couldn't zoom in close enough to shoot these animals.
The photo below is NOT of the orphanage, rather a street scene shot off the girls' balcony at the orphanage. And here is also a photo of the kids playing soccer and running around on the "playground" behind the orphanage.
The kids who live here come from Kibera, the largest African slum on the continent. We were going to go there after the orphanage trip but there was a humungous traffic jam and Rachel had 3:00 plans. Instead, Steve, our driver and a person who works with the orphanage staff, took Rachel and me to the Masaai market to do some shopping. Both Rachel and I found some treasures...for her house and for me for Christmas gifts. Cannot wait til Heidi and Kristin see what I bought Chase and Owen!!
Rachel Jones, the Knight Fellow, working here with the Nation Media Group and I went to the area of town known as the "pipeline" to visit the orphanage, named after a young man who died in Ft. Myers awhile ago. This teen and members of his church founded this orphanage and his family, friends, sponsors continue the work this teen envisioned. I took donated school supplies, toys, shoes and clothing for the kids.
I have worked in poor areas but I have never been to an orphanage and this was a moving experience. Saturday is cleaning day so everyone had a task. All youngsters were having their heads shaved very closely for health reasons. Beds were neatly made, and everyone was happy, smiling and many were dancing with two American church missionaries from the Memphis area...both are teachers in their real lives and are here helping tutor and play with kids.
The pipeline is a slum area not too far from the airport. The streets are filthy and the kids walk about 30 minutes too and from school. Their housing and the church are in one building and it was rather clean and neat. Two young people are interested in being journalists and Rachel is going to invite them into town for a tour of NMG.
My neighbor's grandaughters' gave some girly girl things...purses, cute shoes, little skirts etc. When we unpacked the suitcase, a little girl came in and saw the pink purse. She picked it up and just beamed, tucking it under her arm and sashaying out of the office. Another picked up a white baby doll and told Pastor George that the baby had "no color" but she would love her anyway. I cried. I thought of my grandaughter, Addison, who has an American Girl doll which she loves. Two different girls, thousands of miles apart, loving their babies, no matter what color or type.
Although each bunk bed had some personal item on it, few have their own of anything. Toothbrushes are stuck between the wood bed frame and the mattress. I hadn't thought of this...but how do you keep 60 toothbrushes separate? They have a system.
The bed in the photo belongs to a budding journalist...each kid can decorate and he has put up articles from newspapers and magazines. All have blue mosquito neetting...malaria and cholera are widespread here.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I needed $200 US for my trip into a nature preserve and to the orphanage tomorrow for the driver. One cannot easily access US dollars here and so, I went to Barclays, a large bank that Rachel belongs to. Took me two trips and 40 minutes of waiting to find I could not get dollars, but was able to get kshillings which I hope the driver will accept tomorrow. Getting money took awhile because I went to the bank, not realizing I had to have my passport to conduct a bank transaction. The newspaper holds my passport til the end of each day. So, back I went to retrieve it and then return to the bank. A huge issue...I couldn't use my debit card so had to charge the cash advance but I was asked what my credit card limit is. Who knows that?? This took two managers to look at me and decide I must not be a fraud and that I could get money EVEN if I didn't know my limits!!
Dinner tonight was African night...we had crocodile, sailfish and rabbit. Very interesting assortment of foods on the buffet but, again, the best was a different eggplant salad. Loving these. Had two helpings, one bite of rabbit and sailfish did it but the crocodile was delicious...yup, kinda like chicken.
I heard in depth today that the Aga Khan IV is controlling content and headlines for the Nation Media Group. Would love to meet him...he lives in Paris, apparently but has very firm ideas of what constitutes media and he apparently is NOT concerned about increasing sales...well he wants them increased but doesn't see/care to see the connection between the front pages, content and sales.
As I circumvented the security today, and discussed the fact that folks know me now and have eased up, Rachel mentioned that the easing up is a hold over from Colonial British days. I am in the minority but folks still recognize white folks as the boss. Made me feel kind of little. But, I am sure she is right.
While going back and forth to the bank, I saw some street performers who were doing a satire of Colonial police situations...they were speaking in Kikuyo, so not sure of what they were saying but hundreds were watching the policement with large padded rear ends. Here is a photo.
And then, here is a look see at the street from my Hilton Hotel room.
Well, for some reason photos aren't going where I want them to. But see the congestion...morning traffic jams everywhere. I am going on a sales tour Tuesday at 6 a.m. to see street sales happening. Like in Cartagena, I expect to see purchases happening. But that will be a training opportunity.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Found out that the unemployment rate here in Nairobi amongst adults is 52%...imagine that? While much here is similar to Latin America, there is so much that I have never seen or heard of. Every day, I find myself with my mouth open and asking...did I just hear you say....??
I am all set to go to a National Preserve Saturday, leaving at 6 a.m. And then, after that, I will go to Kibera, the largest slum in the country and then on to the John E. Halgrim orphanage which houses kids who came from that slum. I am taking the suitcase of shoes, clothing and school supplies my neighbors and the employees from The News-Press donated. Should be great to see kids and hear some excitement. But, as my friend Tara mentioned, the whole animal thing would upset her and could me, if I see any carnage going on.
Thought I was eating elephant for dinner tonight but, instead, had a delicious dish of calamari. Each ring, which was spiced nicely, was maybe six inches in diameter. The hugest calamari rings I have ever eaten. And as a side dish, they served a small ramekin of highly spiced hot peppered olives of every kind. Very good. For lunch, I ate a vegetable curry with spinach and some other green veggie which I asked about and the waiter explained it, using a Kikuyu word. When I asked for the English, she wasn't sure if there was a name for it in English!
I have learned "bye-bye" in Kiswahili: kwaheri. I think I can say, "bye-bye" in six languages now. Never know when you need this. Am making friends with the guards and every morning, Juma, a guard about 25 years old makes me practice my Kiswahili from the prior day and adds two or three new words. This evening, as I was leaving, he added "goodbye" which I promptly greeted the other guards with...left them all laughing.
When I got back from buying my cell phone and eating lunch, I greeted Rachel with, "nemerudi" and when she looked oddly at me, I suggested she wasn't up on her Kiswahili...she just started typing. I am a bit of a third wheel here. Rachel has her work and is in the situation of showing me around, introducing me and helping me get settled and organized. And that takes time from her busy day...while I think I am helping in the long run, day to day, I am sure I am more work for her.
Took a cab from Nation Media Group to the Nairobi Star. I suggested after about 10 mintues that the cab driver of two days ago hadn't gone this way, knowing that I had NOT gone to the Nairobi Star, he said "oh, we are turning soon." We got to the paper and he said, "how much did you pay the other day?" I told him to tell me what he charged. He said "700kshillings." Told him I had paid 500 and gave him a tip of 100 ksh, or about $1.25 tip. He laughed and I told him I had grey hair and came by it honestly. Rachel said 500 was about right. Gotta give the guy credit for trying.
Time for bed and you all are still at work!!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Beginning to feel like I may make an impact here though the going is slow. I am finding more and more similarities in terms of culture, operations, and organizational culture between Cartagena and Nation Media Group. I am hosting a web session Monday with all of the newsroom managers to check out websites around the world that have targeted their content to meet the needs of their audiences, users, readers. A first so should be very interesting indeed.
Tonight for dinner I ate gazelle which has a nice texture and which tastes mild. Bothered me thinking of the little guy gracefully wandering across the fields before I ate him. The ostrich bothered me not.
I am going to visit Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, on Saturday and then go to the John Halgrim orphanage...hoping also to get out to a national preserve near here to see some animals. Any would be nice but the cost of a few hours with driver and car is $200. Steep but who knows if I will get back here.
Rachel and I have plans to do some shopping Sunday and she is hosting a dinner for a group of her female friends at her house. Will be nice to get out this weekend. The days have been long and full.
And did I mention it is winter here? Slept with extra blankies and my socks on. Has to be about 60 degrees Farenheit at night and I have only sandals and short sleeved clothing. Gets up to about 70 during the day but still chilly compared to the 95 I left in Florida. Apparently, this is the coldest winter anyone can recall. Think Africa...do YOU think cold??
Talk again soon.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Had an interesting meeting all day with distributors for the circulation department. At one point, the facilitator, who was speaking in English, switched to Kiswahili (I spelled this wrong before) to describe the word "partnership." This word wasn't translating so he began asking for the concept in all 8 tribal languages and posted them on a board. Very fun. And often jokes just aren't the same apparently in English, so some guy will just switch to Kukuyo or something else to make his point.
I needed money badly this morning and here on the equator, it is pitch black at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. I wanted money at 6 a.m. which the guard out front said I could not do alone. So, he went with me down the street to the closest ATM which wouldn't work with my card. Not to worry...we marched down a block to a bank and I got my money. Service is well understood here.
And I might mention that though English is the first language here...not all English is created equal. It is very difficult to understand people who are speaking the national language as their third or fourth language with all of those accents added in. I have six minutes left on my time...gotta run. More another day.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I wanted badly to take photos of some of the families in the street this morning because everyone was dressed in their finest clothing...lots of silks, taffetas, ruffles and tons of color. Hopefully, I will be in a setting where I can do this discreetly.
The treadmill at the gym was interesting. I turned it on to 4.0 speed which is a good clip...15 minute miles more or less. Machine was so slow. And after I jacked it up to 6.5, I realized I am dealing with kilometers per hour...duh. Felt pretty stupid.
Then, hit the outside pool but couldn't go in. Sunny but about 70 degrees here. But, I met a consultant who is the facilitator at three seminars here. So got his info but more importantly, met his boss who is a Kenyan former cabinet minister and someone who would like to expand his training into Central and South America. We shall see...have to have a meeting with him.
Rachel and I went to dinner at the Talisman restaurant outside of town and I ate ostrich for the first time. Delicious...kinda like the texture of veal and the spice they added was sublime. Coming back to the hotel, I commented on the driver's staying in the wrong lane...seems we drive on the left here, as they do in England. Now, I came here last night from the hotel and then we drove to the restaurant and I hadn't noticed it...I am the hired observer??? Well, I have been gabbing and getting to know Rachel.
I have only learned two words...asante which is "thank you" and habari ako which means "good morning." Most everyone speaks English...not like we do, but some form of English. And everyone has at least one or two other African languages...tonight's cab driver was speaking in Kukuyo (forgive my spelling...all words are phonetic so I can repeat them!) which was interesting to hear.
Went to an African Art shop...in caps cuz that is it's name! Beautiful work...huge animals, saw a lion chair bigger than I am and some Giacometti like African sculptures of tribesmen and women. Incredible. Will have to buy a mask for our mask wall at the cottage up north. Rachel will take me to a place she knows has local artists' work at good prices.
The bed is calling...almost midnight here and am not tired yet. Weird. But having an early start at work tomorrow. Folks are coming in early for me and we will begin at 9 a.m.!
While my seat mate on the plane was a tad upset, I didn't find landing on the airstrip in complete darkness too upsetting. The runway was NOT lit. And Rachel was trying to ease me into the traffic and insanity on the roadway, and I told her it was nothing compared to driving in Honduras. She doesn't drive here because of the craziness...looked sane to me. They have marked lanes. Traffic does drive straight at you against the traffic. There are street lights, which they don't obey, but hey, they didn't in Honduras even when there were lights! So, eager to see what Nairobi craziness looks like in the daytime.
Took more than an hour to get my bags and immigration was the most laid back of any country I have visited. Cleared everything in less than one minute...after the lengthy bag wait. The first bag received was the clothing/supplies for the orphanage and then I impatiently (I know, what is new!) waited 45 more minutes to see if I would get MY bag of work clothing.
Rachel, my contact here, was waiting for me, thankfully and we went to the Hilton, which is NOT a normal Hilton with their exacting standards for cleanliness etc. However, all of the staff, and there are hundreds hanging around, are all helpful and very pleasant.
I finally went to bed at 11 p.m. and though wakeful during the night, was able to get to rest til 8:30 a.m. which, for me, is a record.
Breakfast buffet...hmmm, a rehash of last night's dinner buffet. Same cheese and meats. I had pawpaw and passion fruit for breakfast which was lovely. Great coffee which I heard I would not have...so a happy camper. Going to go to the gym and then venture out on the street to see what I can see nearby.
Am safe and eager to get to work. Hugs and stay in touch.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Don't know how soon I will be able to update...maybe from the Amsterdam airport. Keep in touch!!