Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 12, 2007 - Five Observations About Kenya

1. There are no traffic lights. This does not seem to bother Kristoffer, but Lisa is always a bit on edge when in a taxi. This is evidence of a larger and enormous infrastructure problem here. The infrastructure of the city (roads, water, etc.) is not catching up with the economic development (they are building like crazy!) and population growth (urbanization) of Nairobi. In regards to the traffic lights, there are a lot of accidents here. Kristoffer has read that 1% of GDP is lost due to poor infrastructure (for example, people are late to work because it took them over an hour in traffic to get there).

2. Kenyans believe in “Pole, pole” (pronounced sort of like: pulla, pulla) which means “slowly, slowly”. People walk and talk and do things a little slower here. Nobody is stressed or rushed (sometimes to Lisa’s frustration).

3. Unlike in the United States or Denmark where economic classes are often separate or distinct, here you seem extreme poverty right next to or mixed in with extreme wealth. On the same road as the UN, there are very poor people selling fruit. When you drive out of the very fancy mall, there are children begging for money. Today we drove past one of Nairobi’s slum which was adjacent too a wealthier area. Now we know in the States that conditions in the projects are terrible, however, the projects here make an American slum look like a comfortable way of life. There are no roads, no actual buildings, just shanties or tin structures with no plumbing and in complete filth and squalor. We have never seen poverty such as this, all the while seeing many Mercedes and Lexus cars drive by!

4. Here you can get everything that you can get in the US or Denmark, from the latest cell phones and computers to Adidas running shoes and Polo Ralph Lauren shirts. We expected to miss many modern conveniences or commodities, but we surprisingly have access to everything we want.

5. Even though there are a lot of expatriates and tourists in Kenya, we are still obviously very different and get stared at everywhere we go. Maybe it is just because we are so good looking…just kidding. Kenyans in Nairobi are used to white people, and yet all eyes are always on us! We also do not hold hands in Kenya because couples do not touch or show affection in public here.

KW and LMW


Anonymous said...

Hello Lisa and Kristoffer! I have really enjoyed reading your entries and look forward to learning more about your adventures. I especially loved this entry. Glad to hear all is going well so far. Good luck with the job and apartment hunt!
~love gina

victoria said...

I'm totally enjoying reading your stories. If you find out their secrets to winning all the marathons let me know. So far I have learned so much from you by just reading about your everyday adventures.