Mlolongo, living the Kenyan life

It’s my fifth day in Kenya and I haven’t had the chance to sit in a cybercafe yet. I arrived in Nairobi late night on Sunday and after a good hour of waiting for my bag I met Thomas, the guy who was meant to be my guide. I had only spoken to him on the phone once and as agreed he brought me to a hotel in the outskirts on Nairobi. After a good chat on what to see, where to go and how we went to eat some goat’s meat with a beer.

Thomas has a wife called Winnie, she lives in village called Mlolongo – 20 minutes away from my hotel. Mlolongo used to be a roadside slum that underwent a great metamorphosis in the past years and saw the corrugated iron structures being replaced with proper stone building. A majority of the people living here today are either workers in the emergent industries all around the town, or people who commute to Nairobi. Nonetheless the perception of this town is always brothel-like among the public and it’s easy to see eyebrows going up when you mention this name.
I don’t know why exactly but I decided to accept Winnie’s offer, bought myself a pillow, a mosquito-net and moved in with Winnie and Thomas in a one bedroom flat with no shared, one gas stove, no ruinning water and only two rooms roughly 3×3 meters.

Anthropologists like to call it participant observation, travelers like to call it budget travel and on the web is getting famous as couch-surfing (in this case more floor-surfing). I have been welcomed like a member of the family and thanks to Thomas and Winnie I had the chance to get some really cool insights on the life in Kenya.

I haven’t got much time left -I’m in an Internet cafe in Bamburi, Mombasa and I’ve only got few shillings on me- but I need you to know a couple of things.

The traffic in Kenyan cities is CRAZY. There are 2 or 3 lanes on the road and everyone goes wherever he wants, there is no fast lane or whatever and the Matatu (local bus) drivers are often reckless. The Matatu is a mini-van that fits 15 people and brings you from one place to another. There is no bus stop so a bunch of people just gather on the side of the road -where you also have merchants, stray dogs and prostitutes- and wait for the mini-van to approach. A man holding notes between his fingers is usually shouting the destination and you need to be quick and jump on the Matatu before it fills up.

A bit random but I had the best chicken of my life on Tuesday night. Me and Winnie went to a local shop and picked a chicken from a cage. We took it home with us -alive- and I had the honor to butcher it! It was a kind of rite of passage to welcome me to the family. As a good media student that I am I took a video of me cutting its throat and plucking the feathers.  I cut my finger with a sharp knife while removing the interiors but Winnie cured me with a ‘special’ mixture on “things”. Is all good now.

If you’re worried about me, please don’t. I’m now getting used to be a Musungu (that’s how they call a white man in Swahili). I was a bit frustrated in the past hours, it’s not easy getting used to a new place especially when you’re alone but I’ve now reached the coast and I’m accomodated at Thomas’ house in Bamburi, Mombasa. The environment looks more chilled out than Nairobi and there are some Wazungu (white men, plural) living in the town.

I have a thousands other things to say and this is probably the most incoherent post ever, sorry about it. Hopefully I will have some more time in the next days.

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