Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zen and the art of giraffe kisses

Hey everyone! I've been bad about posting, but I actually had a pretty eventful weekend. Saturday, I went to the open-air Maasai market in downtown Nairobi. These craft markets, I remembered from Arusha, are always fun if you go into them in the right frame of mind: game for a laugh, patient, and ready to bargain like crazy. Otherwise, the slick salespeople ready to descend on all the wazungu who pass through might drive you a little nuts.

Luckily, I always manage to have fun. It was a blast talking and laughing with the vendors, many of whom enjoyed mugging for the camera - and I got my first Kenyan marriage proposal.

This was my suitor. We're thinking a spring wedding.

The jewelry here is SO my style... it's all I can do not to buy every pair of earrings I see.

Next, I headed out to the suburb of Karen, so named because of Danish adventurer and writer Karen Blixen (aka Meryl Streep in Out of Africa), whose beautiful colonial farm is now a museum. I checked it out. It was pretty cool, though overpriced.

I also visited this sweet giraffe breeding center not too far from the museum. There are at least three full-grown adults there and the staff gives visitors pellets of food to feed them. It was shamelessly touristy, and I loved every second of it.

From the giraffe center, I needed to get back to the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden to watch Cameroon vs. Denmark, so I hopped on the back of one of the many motorbikes that seem to be the preferred means of getting around in the suburbs. Less than two bucks for a 20-minute ride, and man! I was so utterly happy, speeding through the shady back roads. I'm in Africa! I was thinking, and I'm on a motorcycle! This is AWESOME!

The Coffee Garden was a sweet place to watch the game. Karen is kind of this bizarro land, though; it's where all the white people are hiding. There were a ton of them at the bar. It was a little weird. I struck up a conversation with some folks at the bar, one old guy who used to live in the Bronx and was very mysterious about why he came back to Kenya, and another, younger man who turned out to be a lawyer for none other than Peter Erlinder, the American attorney who was jailed for three weeks in Rwanda, and who, it turned out, was flying into Nairobi as we spoke.

And that's how East Africa's biggest story of the day dropped into my lap. This post is already too long, so I'll just say, to be continued...

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