Friday, October 27, 2006

Africa is a big continent

We learned why so many expats got starry looks in their eyes when we mentioned we were going to Nairobi on vacation and why so many aid workers in Sudan maintain an apartment or house in Nairobi even though they only travel there once every two months. Nairobi is gorgeous. We had thought we were getting an African experience, living in Khartoum, but we realized that Africa is a very big continent, and the Africa of Sudan is very different from the Africa of Kenya.

The weather in Nairobi is balmy—cool at night, warm in the daytime. It reminded me of the San Francisco Bay area. The landscape is lush—the types of plants (bougainvillea, palms, bananas, poinsettia trees, eucalyptus, acacia, jacaranda—in lavender bloom) and their exuberant growth reminded me of Hawaii. The infrastructure is sound—smooth roads, reliable water and electricity (everyone had water tanks on their roofs, but we never lost either water or power while we were there), no open sewers, gleaming skyscrapers, office parks and warehouses, and bustling stores. They had malls (in the plural!). We had the feeling that we could buy anything we could think of there. (Note the gleaming, huge supermarket in which Eleanor found an admirer.)
It reminded me and Ruth of flying into Munich from Sarajevo and feeling staggered by the mile after mile of factories and warehouses. After that trip we started referring to Western Europe as Land of Industry. Nairobi felt much the same to us. Even the poor parts of town we saw were filled with commerce--markets and tiny little shops in shacks. And the cost of living is low—it appears housing prices are about 1/3 the cost in Khartoum and the cost of labor is just as low as it is here. An easy place to live, I think.


Nathan said...

I love the picture of Ellie and her admirer; get ready for more of that. It sounds like your trip was wonderful. We are anxious to hear more.

Princess said...

I have been looking forward to the report and, as always, it is very interesting. The pictures are great, it is not the landscape I imagine when I think of Africa. How was the Safari?

CuracaoChick said...

Aw, that's the cutest picture of Eleanor!!
Sounds like you guys are having so much fun...I wish I could go.