Kenya, Day 3

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

(More Kenya notes)

This morning I walked over to the “Maasai Mall”, which is a collection of little stores, all selling mostly the same stuff, for tourists. I presume the tour companies bring their foreigners here to buy stuff.

It’s set up as a dozen independent stores, but they are clearly all working together, and the rivalry between them is part of the show. But when it comes time to pay, they all defer to the boss man, who collects the money.

I got a couple of kikois, ad several shukas, and a few other things. They asked for 25,000ksh and I ended up paying 13,000, which I’m sure was still twice what a local would pay. But it’s all part of the experience, right? (The shilling is currently about 120 to the dollar.)

The history of the shuka is interesting, by the way. Worth doing a little reading about. These brightly colored woven cloths didn’t start to become part of Maasai dress until they were introduced as part of european trade, but have become inextricably connected with the Maasai now. Also, they’re great as a blanket, a table cloth, a dress, a skirt, whatever you need at the moment.

At lunch time, my highschool friend Sandeep picked me up for lunch, with her driver. I had a chance to talk with him – David – a little about the fascinating art of driving in Nairobi. More on that later.

We went to the Muthaiga club, which I always dreamed of going to, as a kid. It’s the pinnacle of ex-pat (specifically English) high society social gathering places in Kenya.

If you’ve seen Out Of Africa, and remember, there’s a moment where Karen Blixen is invited, finally, to have a whisky with The Men in the private bar. That bar is still there, and is still men-only, except one day a year when the women are allowed in. Yes. Still. In 2022. The English overseas are always far more English than the English.

I had the fried tilapia, and OH MY WORD it was good. I used to love tilapia. It is, by far, the best fish in the world. And then I moved to the US, where tilapia is sad tasteless frozen briquettes of sadness. But in Kenya, when it’s fresh out of the lake, and not from a farm thousands of miles away, it’s absolutely amazing.

I had a great time catching up with Sandeep, and seeing where life has taken her.  34 years is, indeed, a lifetime.

On the way back to the Jacaranda, Sandeep dropped me off at the Village Market, which is a delightful little mall, where I bought some more overpriced gifts for family and friends. And yet, it was still far less than I would have paid for the same items imported to the US, so I’ll fool myself and say I got a deal.

In the afternoon I worked out on the courtyard for a few hours. Annoyingly, people don’t stop sending me email when I’m traveling.

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