A Month In Kenya: Day 9 (Thursday, June 29)


On Wednesday night, I was determined to finished posting at least Part 1 of our epic Day 7 so I didn't get to bed until 3:00 a.m., which meant I didn't roll groggily out of bed until 9:30 on Thursday morning (Day 9). I walked into the hall to find Harry trudging back toward bed because he'd been up since 4:30 a.m.! So I guess we're still sorting out our sleep cycles. 

The boys and I played Phase 10, then I wrote and they played a video game. At noon we all took an Uber to Junction Mall. 

I wanted to walk through the Maasai Market to scope out what I will buy when I go to the Market's downtown location on Saturday. The Maasai Market is a large group of vendors who set up at a different place in Nairobi each day except Monday. Sometimes they spread out over an entire level of a parking garage at a mall (like the one today at Junction), but my favorite is the one at High Court on Saturday. High Court (Kenya's version of the Supreme Court) is in central Nairobi, just a few blocks from where Maurice/Wambui and Patrice/Courtney live. The Market sets up in its outdoor parking lot with the Kenyatta International Convention Center in the background, and I love the vastness of it. There's just something captivating about all the brightly-colored wares spread out, vendor after vendor after vendor, with a backdrop of striking buildings and the cover of blue sky.

Though the Market at Junction was in a less-appealing covered parking garage and we weren't going to buy anything yet, it was still so inspiring to see everything. I had forgotten how aggressive some of the vendors can be when they see a mzungu like me; many of them approached me, reaching out to shake my hand or inviting me to their booth. I enjoyed meeting them and seeing what they had to sell, but I felt so guilty that we weren't going to buy anything. Even though nobody seemed angry or irritated, I was still glad Harry was there to explain to them in Swahili or Kikuyu what we were doing because it seemed to dissipate some of the pressure. I saw so many things I wanted to get. Makes me very excited for Saturday!        

Junction has tried to differentiate their Market from the other ones by adding a musical element. Different music and dance groups perform throughout the day. I would have loved to see more than this one, but the boys got impatient and were ready to eat.    

We returned to Java House for lunch. It was another perfect day for sitting outside on the patio. I was disappointed to hear that they hadn't finished making the day's beef samosas, but I settled for a chicken one and it was INCREDIBLE! So glad I got forced into ordering it. 

Throughout our lunch we watched the armed security guards patrolling the area. Afterward, Harry took the boys across the driveway to jump in a trampoline and eventually I walked through the mall to Nakumatt (the supermarket) in what turned out to be a fruitless search for digestives. 

I first took the following picture because of the rice signs: I liked that they were aimed specifically at the Kenyan market and I thought it was curious that the word "sweet" was spelled with an extra "e". Was it a mistake? Was it meant to draw out the word and emphasize it (in which case I would have thought there would have been two or three extra "e"s, not just one straggler)? Who knows.

But another significant thing captured by this photo is the lack of product on the wall to the left of the rice. I wandered through much of the main level of the store looking for the digestives section and I noticed that a lot of the store appeared picked over. There were a lot of sparse shelves with just a lone item or two, and many areas that were even completely empty. It was a strange feeling, especially because the Nakumatt stores I visited on my trip in 2010 were busy and fully stocked, and even the other stores I've seen during our current trip have been piled high with products. But Nakumatt looked pretty empty and they didn't have the digestives I was looking for. (Postscript: we found out from a friend that Nakumatt has been dropped by a lot of its suppliers because of money issues. Sounds like it may have overextended itself by opening to many stores and stocking too much product, and now it can't pay the bills. Sad to see a once-thriving business now struggling.) At least their gift-wrapping section was full. 

The boys have been excited to meet a new friend who is staying in our apartment complex two floors down from us. His name is Atem and he is exuberant, friendly, and always animated. The boys have had fun playing soccer together on the main driveway and hanging out together in our apartment just being silly.

Atem (pronounced "uh-TEM") is 14 months younger than Nehemiah. He and his parents live in Calgary, but his dad, an engineer, has begun a new business venture in South Sudan where he and Atem's mom Ayen (pronounced "eye-YEN") are originally from. So his dad is in South Sudan, and Atem and Ayen are staying in Kenya to be a little closer to him for awhile. They've been here one month of their intended three-month stay. Ayen came up to introduce herself the first day the boys played together and I was immediately drawn to her warm and engaging personality. She was telling us that when she was ten years old her family had to leave South Sudan because of the war and they became refugees in Ethiopia and eventually in Kenya, so she lived here for six or seven years. I expressed sympathy for her experience and she brushed it off kindly, saying that's all in her past and she's perfectly fine now. She was laughing about having lived in Kenya all during high school years and never learning Swahili even though her other brothers and sisters all did. Maybe we can learn together! I'm looking forward to knowing her better these next few weeks. 

The following picture shows how Harry spends about 72% of his time here. :-) 
I love this man: he's always thinking, always wondering, always learning.

Day 9 closed with an invigorating evening of conversation with Kaima and his now-fiancée (yay!) Eunice. Kaima and Harry were bandmates in Milele when Harry and I met in 2005. Harry knew Eunice in their younger school days; he credits her with first planting the idea that he could pursue church worship as a career. They hadn't seen each other in a long time so it is one of those awesome small-world things that she ends up dating and being engaged to one of his former bandmates! I didn't catch all of Eunice's story, but she did her undergrad at Dordt College in Iowa (another yay!!), then was in Houston and L.A. for her Master's and PhD. She works for a nonprofit that serves women in some capacity. 

Kaima and Eunice brought wine and ordered in pepperoni pizza, and we talked and talked and talked. The boys were thrilled with the pizza and said it is their hands-down choice for all future pizza/moonies. The grown-ups had fun talking about how Kaima and Eunice met, and hashing out social justice issues like gender equity and racial parity. It may not be most people's idea of fun, but we sure enjoyed it! 

After our eventful night, Nehemiah FaceTimed with Gramma and as usual, he could not keep still. This was his most interesting position. Ezra concluded his evening by journaling quietly in bed.