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What It’s Like to Live In….Nairobi, Kenya

What It’s Like to Live In….Nairobi, Kenya

By Contributor

We LOVE this article by booklover6795—especially because this editor studied abroad in South Africa, and it brings back tons of great memories!— Sparkitors

Hi people! So here's the lowdown: I get to travel to Kenya every summer! My family is from Nairobi and we have relatives living there, so we try to make the trip once a year. Before we get to the good stuff, I want to clear up some rumors about Kenya (and Africa in general):

1. The people don’t all live in huts, sorry.

2. Traveling in Africa isn't like being on safari every day. There aren’t lions or elephants in the streets, calm down.

3. Contrary to what you may have heard, it is not 100° every day. Really. When I go, it’s actually *GASP* cold!

Now that we’ve got THAT straightened out, I’d like to share some of my favorite things about Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Check ‘em out if you ever find yourself there!

1. Nakumatt: Oh Nakumatt. What would I do without you? Nakumatt is basically the Kenyan version of Wal-Mart, mixed with a little Costco, and just a dash of IKEA. In other words, it has everything you’ll ever need. Their slogan is “You need it, we got it,” and they aren't lying. From produce to cereal to cleaning products to housewares…I would honestly never leave if my parents didn’t make me. Plus, having all of that stuff under one roof is extremely convenient, so it’s perfect for tourists, tight schedules, and lazy people!

2. Soda: One of the super great things about Kenya, for me at least, is that I get to drink an infinite amount of soda. The drinking water can't always be trusted, so I guzzle as much pop as I want and my parents can't do a thing to stop me. But a word of advice when choosing a beverage: stick to what you know. All the major brands are available: Coke, Sprite, and Fanta, as well as some others. I once tried to be adventurous and tried something called Tangawizi (Swahili for ginger beer) and I instantly regretted it. Learn from my example.

3. Matatus: Matatus are some of the coolest, most dangerous things I’ve ever seen. In the hectic Nairobi traffic, sometimes you need a ride. But the taxis charge WAY too much, and the buses are MIA most of the time. That’s where the matatu comes in. A matatu is essentially a minibus—they're not always driven by a licensed operator, but they're cheap, and they come in all different colors. Some are even themed. I saw many an Obama bus during my ’08 trip! There’s a catch, though: matatus don’t stop. As in, they don’t stop for you to get on, and they don’t stop for you to get off. Oh, they’ll slow down, but you better be one heck of a tuck-and-roll-er, or when you try to get off you’ll end up like my mom’s cousin: with two broken legs. Ouch.

Those are some of the random things that I love about Kenya. Nairobi can be a little scary, but overall it’s a beautiful, awesome city with tons of sites, interesting people,  great places to eat, and plenty of cybercafés—so don’t worry, you can still check SparkNotes!

Have you ever been to Africa? Would you like to go there someday?

Related post: What It's Like to Travel to...Jackson, Mississippi

Topics: Life
Tags: travel, what it's like to live in..., africa, traveling, summer travel, south africa, kenya

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