The recorded ramblings of an unschooled writer, aspiring biologist, amateur equestrian, ardent bookworm, avid music appreciator, increasingly addicted runner and college student spending the summer in Ely, MN.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Take Me Home, Lucille!

September 11, 2009
Take me home, Lucille!

Oh wow, what a day. Where do I even start? It is 10:30pm and I just got home and crawled into bed after going out to Nairobi with a big group of other wazungu. Alex, Devin, Jazz, Kim, Heather, Lydia, Meryl, Natalie, Rachel, Zach and I all went out for dinner in Nairobi. Alex swore she knew of a good Chinese Restaurant (MSG free, I might add), but as it was we ended up wandering around Nairobi for the better part of an hour looking as touristy as could be, passing around an east africa guide book with a map, pausing at screen corners and looking around and generally looking really, really clueless. On the plus side, we wandered by an ATM, so I finally do have money to get a cell phone, gifts for my host family for when I leave next week and some flea treatment to wash my clothes in after I leave Riruta (more on this little detail later).

After stopping in at both a very nice (too nice!) Thai and Chinese restaurant that were way out of our budgets we finally found a sandwich shop that looked good. It was also playing Shakira music, which now means that I have heard Shakira songs pretty much everywhere I have gone so far. We were such a large group they had to split us up. Zach, Laila and I wound up sitting at a table with two very nice Kikuyu women and the others were all together in another room. Zach and I both had ridiculously huge glasses of the most fabulous mango juice and Laila and I both ordered the vegetable burger with garlic hummus. Everything was fabulous, including our dining companions. After explaining why were in Kenya, they were full of the most helpful advice.

They started giving us advice on all of the best clubs in Kenya, saying that clubbing was much easier here than in the states because here you don’t have to worry about having a driver, you can just get in your car after you have been out drinking all night and go on home. In fact, they told us specifically of a friend of theirs who has an old car he has named Lucille who gets in the car rip roaring drunk, says “Take me home, Lucille” and somehow manages to find his way home. They told us that the Westlands (an area of Nairobi) is the best place to go if we don’t want to be the only white people in the bar.

Also, the woman sitting across from me was excited that I was a biology major as she had studied biochemistry in college. She was telling me there are not enough biochem jobs in Kenya, so she is currently working in advertisement for a pharmaceutical company, but says she misses the actual science part of things an awful lot. She also told me that I really must try a Tusker (she had two empty ones sitting by her plate by the time we arrived).

After dinner, most of the group decided to go to a bar. I tagged along, but borrowed a cell to text my mama, because I hadn’t seen her before I left home, so I had only left her a note telling her I was out with friends in Nairobi and that I would be sure to stay safe in a group and take a taxi if I was out after dark. I don’t even know the name of the bar we went to. I saw one other white person in there, but the whole group of us (Zach and the ladies) made quite a scene.

Zach and I decided to try our first Tuskers. Neither of us were particularly big fans, though he complained a lot less about it than I did. Tuskers are very light and just plain don’t taste good, thought for some reason I felt like it was a strange rite of passage to be able to finish one. Luckily, though they are huge, they are not very potent and I did manage to finish mine! Everyone was quite proud of me as it has already become quite apparent to this group that I am not very good at such things.

We tried out hand at dancing, most of us quite awkwardly (Zach and I probably tying for most awkward, though Alex and Meryl were most enthusiastic) and then tried to find a taxi that could take us home. The first guy promised us we could all fit in one taxi. We managed to fit seven girls in the back, with Laila and I pretty much laying on top of everyone else, but it was clear that wouldn’t work for a whole half and hour. Next, a station wagon taxi pulled up and we all fit in there, with Laila and I riding in the “boot”. However, all of the taxi drivers started arguing about who’s district it was and threatening to call the police (while slamming and then opening the back door as they argued right in front of Laila and I’s faces), so we got out of there, walked a few blocks to a ritzy hotel and ended up taking two taxis back to town. Rachel, Heather, Zach and I all ended up in a taxi together. The taxi ride was very exciting because the driver didn’t exactly know where Riruta was and neither did we. Also, he could speak barely any english and we could speak barely any Kiswahili. We took many detours but eventually made it to my house, though despite the fact that we were all screaming STOP in every language we knew, the driver didn’t manage to stop until a good quarter of a mile past the alley to my house. Eventually we convinced him to turn around and because I am a wimp, Zach walked me to my house. My mama was very glad to see me. After all of the taxi driving mishaps we were about 15 minutes late and as she put it she was “just starting to fret a little bit” but she was very happy that I had gone out to a club.

The kiswahili test went ok, I think. Not great, but unless I know a lot less than I think I do, I didn’t fail either. I also managed to buy peanut butter after school and was so excited that I had a slice of peanut butter toast straight away!

In other icky news, I realized that I am so itchy all of the time, not from imagined mosquito bites, but real, honest to goodness flea bites. Not a whole lot I can do about that until I leave Riruta other than put hydrocoritsone cream on the really itchy places and try not to think about it. I’m certainly not the only one having trouble with this.

Well, I better try to get some rest for the Ngong Hills hike tomorrow. Probably going out tonight wasn’t the best idea considering that I’m still not feeling 100%, but I am really glad I went. I feel that far too often I say to myself “Oh, I’ll go there/do that/try this next time” and then never actually do it, so while I’m in Africa I might as well live in the moment and try new things (though I don’t think I’ll be trying anymore Kenyan beers anytime soon).

Oh, and if you are ever in Kenya and want to try the nastiness that is a Tusker for yourself just say “Nipe Tusker tafadali” (give me a Tusker please). But trust me, go for the Guiness. It may not be culturally enriching, but your taste buds and tummy will thank you!

-Hill

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