I thought I’d take a break from the serious stuff and share some random observations I’ve found interesting as well as some pictures of where I’m staying. Keep in mind that these observations are based on my very limited time here so far. If any Kenyans find mistakes in what I’ve written, please let me know.
- I’ve been told that if someone gets caught stealing, the thief tries to run to the police station for safety. If he’s caught by the people in the community, the consequences are far more dire.
- Caucasians are called Mzungus. Interestingly, some people I spoke with said Barack Obama is a Mzungu because he has “light skin” and talks like an American.
- In Kiswahili, the primary language in Kenya, many words or phrases are different if you’re speaking about a living thing versus an inanimate object. For example, “where is ____” is different if you’re asking where a person is versus a table. There is no distinction based on the “gender” of the word like in many languages.
- You don’t subscribe to a monthly/annual phone or internet plan here. Most people prepay for minutes. There are little shops everywhere that sell cards in many different amounts. You can go by 30 minutes of cell phone service, text the code to the phone company, and off you go. It’s actually a pretty efficient system.
- Kenyans, especially less wealthy ones, by and large deal with expense management on a very short-term basis. The same person drove me around in Nairobi for a few days and filled up the car with a couple gallons of gas ever day instead of just filling up for the week. Similarly, I haven’t seen anyone buy more than a week’s worth of cell phone minutes.
- There are very few leisure activities other than sitting with family and friends and talking. Other than the lack of rock climbing gyms, it’s not too bad. There is television, but it doesn’t seem to be a cornerstone of leisure activity like in the US.
Here are some pictures of where I’m staying. There will be more on Flickr later today.