back in nairobi, glad to escape the HEAT and humidity of dsm. it was so gratifying to take a hot bath in my parents home and not feel hot and sticky mere hours later.

my time in dar and zanzibar really solidified my love for the "swahili coast" (which includes mombasa, malindi and lamu in kenya). besides being at the edge of the ocean, i was really hit but how cosmopolitan the swahili coast is; affected as it has by the cultures of arabia, persia, india and china. it mirrors the diverse nature of northern california that i have really grown to cherish. nairobi is an international city, but that fact has not yet suffused itself into the culture here in kenya. the foreign and the local have not yet blended together. kenyans have embraced hamburgers, mobile phones and malls, but are still very traditional in their world view. in this way, nairobi still feels like the hinterlands, like chicago or st. louis not new york or san francisco.

on top of that the edginess and vague insecurity i always feel in nairobi is plainly stressful. i know that if i come back to live in east africa, i will definitely choose to live away from the big cities that are too chaotic, noisy, crowded and violent for my liking.

that insecurity was graphically illustrated for me on the evening of 12/26 as we were coming back from visiting relatives upcountry. there was an accident at a place called githurai just outside nairobi and cars were backed up waiting to pass the accident spot. suddenly two men came out of the bushes, one of whom had a what looked like a handgun. they headed for a pickup truck about ten feet ahead of us and attempted to carjack it. the owner of the car quickly locked his car door and rolled up his window before the men could enter. at that point one of the men started to try to smash the driver's side window with his handgun. after a couple of blows they realized that their mission had failed and they quickly melted back into the dark. this was not a deserted road in the middle of the night, this took place at about 7:30 pm on a crowded highway with police present just a few hundred feet up the road. since that evening i have been driving around wiith all my doors locked and windows rolled up almost to the top. it is a horrible feeling not knowing when you will be the victim of random violence.

more anon.

"nbo update #4: nairoberry" December 30, 2003 02:52 AM