Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Food in Kenya 2

We have really enjoyed the variety of foods available here in Nairobi, especially the fresh fruit and veggies (alternate spelling "veges!") It's rare to find rhubarb in Dallas stores, but here it's growing in the yard and available at the store.  The green beans are inexpensive and really beautiful.

Black beans look a bit different from those at home, in a fun way (kinda like mini-Oreos).  Don't get me started on Oreos.  That's another post.

Also different are the larger than usual "Texas-sized" items.  Maybe I should say "Africa-sized."  Here is a 1.5 kilo loaf of bread, or almost 3 1/2 lbs.

We can make a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich for a hungry person with this!  That slice is about 5"x5.5".

This is in the category of "head-scratching moments at the supermarket." 

There are some other items not often found in a U.S. supermarket, such as rabbit meat, camel milk, and canned tuna with sweet corn!  Corn turns up in unusual places, like on pizza!  What have we not been able to find?  Hamburger dill pickles.  Apparently there is a Subway not far away.  If we get desperate we may have to make a trip.

How things are different... plants

Another observation from my daughter was about the varied kinds of leaves.  And she's right--there are a lot of different plants here.  And even the familiar ones are different.  The tropical ones that live in the house most of the year at home grow by the roadside (snake plant for example).  Poinsettia can be six feet tall or more, they just keep on going!  Next to that poinsettia may be a very large, leggy geranium.  I asked one taxi driver about annuals and perennials, and I think he was perplexed. It doesn't freeze here, so they just keep growing and growing.

My favorite tree is a shorter, very elegantly shaped one with white to purple blossoms.  It's amazing.  This is kind of a large one.  It's called a potato tree.

Just for fun, here is another big plant.  We pass it each day on the way to school.

And another...

So thankful for the amazing variety in creation!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Things that are different...smells

How is life in Nairobi different from where we have lived in the US? We can think of many things.  This morning on the way to school, while driving on a different side of the road, in a Toyota Noah (not an ark, a Noah), one daughter commented that if one of her friends came here to visit in a year, they would notice the smells, but she would be so used to it that she wouldn't notice.

Smells here are definitely different.  When we lived in Upper Hill and were usually walking to the grocery store (in the Highwayy Mall (original spelling not mine), traffic fumes were the most noticeable. By noticeable, I mean that I take back all of the complaints I ever made about emission control back home (how the annual inspections were a nuisance, did it really matter, what a hassle...  Once you've passed within feet (or inches) of some big lorry belching billows of black smoke, you get the point. 

If we went the other way to a different mall, the bridge over a ditch had an entirely different, rotten smell of decay (putrescence!).  Add muddy water and trash, and it makes one walk faster.  There are definitely some of these smells in places back home, but we didn't go to those places.  Here it's part of life, on the way to buy milk and bread.  And on the way home again.

Then there's the trash burning.  Apparently, whatever one throws away here is probably going to be gone through, so it's good to remember that.  And happily, we have been able to find recycling collection locations in both places where we've lived so far (some of you know this is really important to us).  But it is common to pass a pile of burning trash (one daughter warns us to close the windows and turn on the recirculate so we don't breath more than we need to).

Every day we notice interesting juxtapositions--a burning pile of trash near a well-cared for coffee plantation, a bicyclist with three large bundles of hay pedaling up the hill on UN Avenue near the US embassy (not in the bike lane, either!), or herders with sheep passing through an up-scale estate on the way to school.  It's all part of life in this busy, bustling capital city in East Africa.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Food in Kenya I

We have really enjoyed some different food, and some familiar food, here in Kenya!  So far the familiar includes delicious local coffee...

Tea, also grown here...

This was a different food which hit the spot on a beautiful, breezy and cool day on which I got to explore the Toi Market with some friends.  On the way back we stopped at a restaurant on Ngong Road. I don't think the dish had a name, but it's apparently a specialty of this restuarant.

You can probably identify most of the ingredients, which are cooked separately and then combined on a platter.  Cooked chicken, pieces of maize (corn-on-the-cob), fried plantain, fried chapatis, chips (fries), sauted red onion and deep-fried hard-boiled egg were garnished with tomato slices and coriander (as cilantro is known here).  The egg had a nice crisp exterior, and the dish went nicely with accompanying chili sauce.  Half-way through I gave up on the fork I had requested and just finished by eating with "the original spoon" as the proprietress commented (my fingers!).  This was washed down with Krest (bitter lemon soda, not too sweet).  Wonderful!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Pilgrim and Stranger

During our summer travel that began with leaving our home in North Texas in late May, I was impressed with the idea of being a pilgrim, or wanderer, more than usual. Probably this had something to do with the destination--not returning to a familiar home, but eventually landing in East Africa.  Two months later, we've arrived in Nairobi, but establishing our own home and our "new normal" will have to wait several more weeks.

Add to that the feeling of exposure, of not being able to blend in, and the newness of the plants, animals, food, traffic, sounds, smells, and currency, and I feel...strange.  Alien.

It brings to mind a portion of Hebrews 11 about heavenly hope, describing the examples of faith and how they lived.   

13 "All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth."  

The part about belonging to another, promised home was true for me long before we left for Kenya, but I can definitely relate in a more tangible way to being a foreigner and a nomad at the moment--a "mzungu," a stranger, an alien... In fact, tomorrow we're scheduled to apply for alien cards, to make it official!

This inaugural post has brewing in my head since we arrived, and I look forward to sharing Nairobi through this blog so those of you who aren't here can experience some of it, too.  Besides, a bunch of you said you wanted to come and visit us here!  I hope you do.