First Weekend in Nairobi

Friday – I have felt nervous to go out at night in Nairobi, but Friday night Jess, Sam and I decided to go out for a late dinner at a restaurant called Brew that is in Junction Mall. It’s a nice little place with a big patio that offers specialty draft beer and ‘bitings’ (a Kenyan slang word for appies). There was a nice atmosphere in the restaurant, lots of dance music and people would sporadically get up and start dancing. There was a bit of a Belgian theme going on with the beers and some of the menu (a good choice since Belgium is the BEST place in the world for beer). I had a Honey lager first which was nice and then switched to a Kenyan amber that was brewed in Belgian way (no idea what this entails) with caramel and nutty notes in it. My beer went great with our appetizers: BBQ chicken wings, goat skewers, and a Kenyan Cheese platter. The cheese platter was soooo good! The plating was really nice and easy for sharing. The plate also featured a balsamic reduction, macadamia nuts and grapes to compliment the flavours of the cheese. There was a nice creamy blue cheese, a goat cheese that was very rich and similar to the consistency of mozzarella, a Gruyère type cheese, and a very mild cheese that was soft (like the consistency of block mozzarella). This bar was also equipped to bring Shesha to the table to enjoy after your meal, which I thought was really enjoyable after a couple of beers and some great ‘bitings’.

We were invited out to a bar in Karen district by a friend of Jessica’s that she bumped into so we ended up kiboshing a relaxed meal for a night on the town to ‘break me in to Nairobi nightlife’. It was a fancy little bar with a tented roof, BUT it was crowded with really young people (I’m talking 12-17 yrs old) in addition to 20-50 year olds. Jessica thought that maybe the parents who live in Karen just dropped their teenagers off because it’s a safer bar than a lot in Nairobi and is probably close to home. People are friendly here and we were invited to go out to a private safari park today, however they were going hunting for zebras and gazelles. This is illegal in Kenya but still happens on private parks. It sounded like a beautiful estate and it was very nice to be invited but I don’t really want my first African animal sighting experience to be of a Zebra getting shot.

Photo taken by my sister Lisa on her safari in Tanzania

The girls also gave me a lesson on bartering with taxi drivers. In Nairobi, I think it would be wise to enjoy a couple of drinks but still have your head about you when the night is finished because you are likely to barter for a better rate and not jump in a shady cab that might not be safe.

All in all, a nice introduction to Nairobi nightlife and I am getting more used to precautions you have to take. Once you know what to do it is a lot less intimidating. I spoke about this with another expat last night and she said ‘It’s important to be aware of the dangers in Nairobi but you can’t live your life in fear either’. Well said.

Saturday – This was a productive day for me. I had a nice little sleep in and then tea and the most delicious cantaloupe for breakfast. The fruit in Kenya is amazing… I try to eat as much as I can. Then Jess and I went for a walk over to Westlands but tried out a different mall. We each had a few errands to do… I ended up buying myself some nice wool slippers for the house. A necessity in Kenya. Who would have thought, but so far its hot here during the day and it really cools off at night. I always throw on a light hoody and now my feet will always be cozy. We also decided to get some groceries and I went to Uchumi,the other major superstore of Kenya. I looooved this grocery store, their produce selection was awesome and I walked out of there with mangos, bananas, peppers, and more cantaloupe. It definitely got me fired up to start cooking at the house. And to make 21 Hirani a bit more homey we went and bought some cheap patio furniture so we can have our own ‘terraske’. So excited! There are some beautiful little plant nurseries here on the side of the road and now that we have our little patio up and running I am very tempted to pick up a couple of plants and try my hand at a little Kenyan gardening. There are so many trees, shrubs, vines, and pretty flowers…Nairobi could be a gardener’s paradise.

Sunday – Today I woke up with 20+ mosquito bites on my right leg and both arms. I fell asleep with the window open and was attacked! But I have taken some anti-histamines that relieves the itchiness a bit. Jessica and I also decided to take a meander through City Park today and it was a great way to spend a sunday afternoon. I saw my first wild monkeys! Parts of the park were really busy with Sunday picnic people. There were a few little children who would follow us around asking for money or food and shout “mzungu!” which translates to “white person”.

We also found a little outdoor restaurant-bar that served cold beer and had a paintball course as well. We spent a bit of time there and I had my first Kenyan meal of Ugali (a starchy sort of rice that you mould with your hand to pick up food) with fresh sliced tomatoes, red onions, and green chili’s. We also had bbqed goat ribs. Goat meat is so rich and filling that you don’t need much in a meal to feel satisfied. Finally we stopped by the City Market… that is the place to get produce! Next Sunday I am going to go there around 4ish so it should be pretty quiet and I will be able to get nice produce for a great price. It’s nice to be living in Parklands because everything you need is close so you can walk everywhere. But other parts of the city, it is definitely easier if you have a car; Nairobi is much like Edmonton in that sense.

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I’ve officially made it through my first week in Nairobi! Now I need to start planning some sightseeing trips…

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