When I first set foot in Nairobi it was the start of the “big” rainy season but the sun was shining so brightly. I was pleasantly surprised as I was expecting a downfall of rain to meet me upon arrival. I remember vividly the smell of damp earth mixed with the distinctive scent of cooking fires and a sign at Nairobi airport that read: “Smile. You're in Kenya.” How could I not? I had just landed in the pulse of Africa and I was ready to see, try and taste it all.
Taxi drivers haggle between themselves about who is going to take the taxi fare whilst I listened indulgently to their Swahili. They finally agree on a price, and I’m off.
During my time in Nairobi I embarked on a food safari. I had a lot of Nyama Choma (Swahili for 'roast meat'), Ugali (maize porridge, a Kenyan staple), Chapatis and the best East African cuisine I could get my hands on. Lunch at Carnivore was a favourite of mine, the food is great and the vibe is even better – a must for all meat lovers. Artcaffé is also a great stop to make if you’re like me and love a sweet treat. They have the best passion fruit cheesecake; I always took each bite as slowly as possible to savour the taste.
A lengthy visit to Hemingway’s Spa for a relaxing massage lived up to its recommendation, and left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The days went by slowly and evenings were often spent chatting with the locals, wandering the grounds of the hotel, and listening to worship music whilst taking in the beautiful surroundings. Ungizungezile by We Will Worship became the anthem of my trip, I sang it to myself often. Ungizungezile ngasemuva nanaphambili which literally translates to “you surround me behind and before”. I reflected on how God is never distant in our lives and how He meets us in the depths of our doubts.
My last couple of days were spent in Nairobi’s beautiful national park and the Masai market. The Maasai market was bustling, the traders were bargaining with foreigners, trying to pitch souvenirs and art work. The art work captivated me, there is something for everyone. I sat down beside a woman, she welcomed me with a huge smile. I watched as she intricately hand wove the necklaces, so much detail. I bought some Maasai necklaces for my mum and Maasai blankets.
The actual safari was the highlight of my trip, I got to see lions, zebras, hyenas, giraffes etc against the backdrop of the city. I met some men from the Maasai tribe at the safari entrance, they bring out their phones from their blankets, I giggle to myself wondering how they manage to keep them there. They hold my hands and show me how to do the Maasai jumping dance, we may not speak the same language, but we share laughter at my futile attempts to imitate them.
If you have ever dreamed of what life in a Nairobi would feel like, I can confirm that it’s everything you’ve ever imagined and more, it’s the concrete jungle of Africa.
Words and photos by Amaka