Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kenya days 5, 6, 7 and 8

Kenya Day 5 - Monday
Monday felt pretty uneventful. We had some training at Across to prepare mum and I for Yei. A mix up in communication meant mum and I were waiting at the Across compound for 2 hours for Christine for the training, so it felt like time wasted. However patience is often required in Africa as things can move quite slowly. This in itself was preparation I guess for Yei. Monday evening brought with it the chance to finally play football in Africa with some locals, it went pretty badly for me. By badly I mean I was terrible, this was for a number of reasons. Firstly I should have worn my football boots and instead wore some flat soled shoes as I thought the ground would be too hard. Well without the grip boots provide it was impossible to get any traction on the dusty, bumpy ground. Also since Nairobi is about 1 mile above sea level your blood becomes a lot thicker meaning the oxygen doesn't travel to your muscles as fast making you feel quite weak. So needless to say I was less than a helpful teammate to have. Also they play well into the dark, to the point where you can't see the ball and the only thing that is visible to anyone is me. Good to get some football in and start working on my fitness before I get to Yei where the temp is around the high 30s into the 40s. Apparently one of the pitches there has a drainage system running through the middle of it.

Day 6
Tuesday brought our initiation into Across which was mainly just training for what we will encounter in Yei, also some basic protocols, etc. Nothing really exciting other than the fact getting to South Sudan is not far away at all. We had the neighbors visit for dinner. An American family that have been living in Kenya for about 5 months so far. Had a good discussion with the dad about football and sport in general and with the son about Movies and music. It was tough trying to name a band he hadn't heard of. I must say he had a good taste in music, from Arcade Fire to Modest Mouse, etc. both very cool bands (check them out on Youtube). They also had a daughter about a year younger than me who was fairly quiet but seemed nice, who also had quite a good taste in music (muse, etc.). And finally a younger daughter who was around 11 (I'm guessing). Hopefully I can get some more music off the son (who was around 18/19) so as to fill up my iPod before I leave for SS as I'm not going to be able to get any music there for my iPod really.

Day 7 (yesterday)
Yesterday was a very busy and thoroughly enjoyable day. We were picked up around 1030 by Stu and Marie's taxi driver who took us into downtown Nairobi so that we could purchase a guitar (or two) to take into SS for my guitar teaching. It took a long time to try and find a park as traffic in downtown Nairobi is insane and people use the road for walking almost as much as cars do, for the driver its like an obstacle course. After eventually finding a carpark we went searching for the guitar store. It didn't take us long to find two however they wouldn't accept Visa so we had to go searching for a bank where we could draw Kenyan Shillings (KSH) out in order to pay for the guitar. The shop assistant came with us, as did the taxi driver with mum and myself lugging along the guitar in its case. The first two banks' ATMs declined to give us anything but an error print out. Finally at the third bank and much worry we managed to draw out enough cash to pay for the guitar and some extra for another guitar. After going back to the shop to sort out payment of the guitar I decided to not buy another as there was not another hard case readily available (needed for when the guitar is on the plane so it survives the journey) and I felt as though there would be another opportunity to get a second guitar in SS (South Sudan) whether with money or through borrowing it from someone. On the way back to the car John (the taxi driver) asked us whether we wanted to get any souvenirs. So mum and I went along with him as he found us an indoor market of sorts obviously targeted towards tourists. I was wanting to get an African/Kenyan style necklace and mum ended up getting some earrings both for herself and as presents for friends back in NZ. John found us a stall where the owners proceeded to treat us a royalty in the hope we would spend a lot, after having been accosted by almost every other stall owner in the marketplace in the hope we would spend our money at their stall. After deciding on what we wanted we reached the bartering phase, which I absolutely love. The store owner did his math and came up with the astronomical figure of over 17000KSH for the necklace and 4 pairs of earrings. This translates into about $250+ NZ. I told him that the guitar was cheaper, which it was and that we would pay him 1000KSH for the lot. This began much arguing until he was willing to sell for 3000KSH. I told him no more than 2500, so he went down to 2600 saying that he was hardly making a profit, which was complete rubbish. I continued to insist upon 2500 until he finally agreed. Even upon handing over the money he tried to get an extra 50 KSH out of us for a "soda". Something he could easily afford anyway with the fairly sizable profit he made from the sale. We then visited Christine Perkins at her home for lunch, which involved a few more last details about Yei that we might not have been already told before we went to Toi Market, a fairly large marketplace with lots of people trying to sell you their goods and rip off the "tourists" (who are basically just any mzungus that are interested in their products). Both mum and I bought a hat after much bartering and discussion for 150 KSH (myself) after the initial price being 400 KSH and mums for 280 KSH. The man selling the hat tried in vain to keep the 20 KSH change but I wouldn't have a bar of it. It was really quite enjoyable. We shook hands afterwards and he said to mum that I was a stubborn customer haha. By the time we got back home (our apricot house) I was pretty exhausted as a lot of arguing and bartering can have that effect. Despite my tiredness I walked to the local Christian college where the football games take place every weeknight (this time with my boots). I played a lot better, but I still find getting the hang of the bounce of the ball off the uneven ground tough.

Day 8 (Today)
Well tomorrow morning mum and I leave for Yei and say goodbye to Kenya until later in the year when we have the first of our few breaks. We have to get up around 4am as our flight is at 7:20am (about 5:20pm NZ time). Today has consisted so far of typing up this latest blog entry and having breakfast, not that exciting I know. Both mum and I have a lot of packing to do and some final reading of certain books in order to prepare ourselves best we can for Yei. It is yet again another nice day, the weather has been brilliant with only about 5 mins of sparse rain on Monday before the football. That's about all I have to say for now, I think I've covered everything hopefully without going into to much detail (I've gotta save some stories for NZ). Peace.

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