Saturday, December 22, 2007

December 22, 2007 - Camfa, Ponda and Boxwood

In order to get settled in our new apartment, we need furniture! We could easily buy furniture at Nakumatt but none of the furniture in stores is really our taste. So we have taken to the streets, once again, and started shopping with local carpenters and furniture makers today. There is one road that has many different vendors and we just went up and down it earlier today. All of the furniture is lined up on the road, essentially in the dirt or mud, and each vendor has an album of work he has done. The furniture will be custom built to our liking and you would never believe me if I told you how much it will all cost. We are going to furnish two bedrooms, an office, our kitchen, living room and balcony for well under what it might normally cost to furnish one or two rooms in the US. It was very fun and educational! We learned about all different kinds of woods that we did not know existed: Camfa, Ponda, and Boxwood to name a few. Camfa is a light wood and we learned that it comes from Mt. Kenya specifically. There was really only one maker who used that wood and it was our favorite because we don't want mahogany furniture. We are probably going to go back to him tomorrow with measurements ready to haggle. Even though it is not very expensive, we will still try to negotiate a little. New Yorkers would have a field day here!

Something else we have noticed living here (oh my gosh...I just said that...I live here! AH!) for the past couple of weeks is that there are often weddings on holidays or weekends. You know there is a wedding because there will be a procession of cars (like for a funeral in the US or Europe) following the bride and groom. The front car with the couple will have a large flower arrangement on the hood of the car and ribbons decorating it. All of the cars behind it will also have the ribbons so you know what cars are in the procession. Traffic is so dicey around here though that other cars often interrupt the procession. That might have happened to us once.

While I wrote about seeing the man pulling the cart like a donkey earlier this week, Kristoffer saw it for the first time today. We actually saw 3 or 4 men pulling full carts on the road today but the real kicker was this: we were driving from our apartment to the UN (where I am using a computer now) and the main road is a steep hill next to a forest (more like a jungle, where I often expect to see Tarzan). We are driving up the hill and coming down the hill is a "donkey man" pulling a cart full of people (2 men!) and stuff. He was going so fast down this huge hill with the cart...it was by far the craziest thing we have seen here. Perhaps it was some sort of marathon training? We are learning not to be surprised when we see such things and we usually say, "Welcome to Kenya!"

Finally, today I will share my biggest pet peeve about Nairobi. Because this city is considered the capital of Eastern Africa and there is a large international presence, all of the Ambassadors from other countries live here. Ambassadors live in nice neighborhoods, in big houses on big compounds with big security. What bothers me about the homes of ambassadors is that there is usually a big sign pointing down their driveway or the street with an arrow that says "Swedish Ambassador's Residence" or "Ambassador of Germany's Residence". Given the security issues here in Nairobi, it amazes me that these leaders have their homes so well marked! Even the US Ambassador's home, which I thought would be more well-hidden given our status internationally, has huge gates with the seal of the United States on both sides! It couldn't be more obvious where each ambassador lives and it absolutely drives me crazy. I expect the embassies to be well-advertised, but not the private homes of these people. Granted, I have not looked for ambassadors in any other country so I don't know whether it is customary or not, but I would think that a more discreet system would be desirable in a country with a lot of crime.

Ok...that's all for now. After having bought the necessary utensils, Kristoffer and I are going to eat dinner in our new apartment for the first time tonight! Yipee :)

LMW

1 comment:

Joanna said...

"Welcome to Kenya" indeed! Congratulations on the new apartment, Lisa and Kristoffer! It sounds amazing. The furniture bargaining also sounds like a total adventure. Keep writing as much as you can--this blog definitely keeps you closer to us. xoxo