For those who are not entirely familiar with their Atlas, Kenya is a gorgeous little country in the Eastern side of Africa. she is home to the second highest mountain in the continent (Mt. Kenya), home to the Maasai Mara and her breathtaking annual wildebeest migration, home to a majority of the world athletics champions and home to an insanely gorgeous coastal line that just so happens to include Mombasa and Lamu.
Although Kenya is synonymous with quite a few wonderful things, Ski holidays, winter sports and being snowed in are all things she is NOT known for. We are in the tropics, and on this side of the sun we have breathtakingly beautiful weather.
Kenya is a touristic mammoth. That’s how beautiful this country is. But as world famous as she may be in some circuits, there are still some facts about this country that even Kenyans are not too familiar with. That being said, here are 10 things we bet you didn’t know about Kenya
Kenya has 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
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In life I hate it when people insist. For this reason I tended to flee from the Maasais, because they’d never take a no for an answer.
When I crossed the border from Tanzania back into Kenya, the Maasai ladies insisted, they even fought arguing one had seem me first… Obviously I don’t like insisting in general but if people get to fight over who had seen their potential prey first … welll it gets hopeless. But then came a lady who spoke English. I repeated that I wanted nothing and needed nothing. But then she said gently “Please Madame I want to sell you something with your remaining Tanzanian Shillings”. She paused. Then she added: “You can give them to your friends“. Now that changed everyhing.It was not about something for me. It was about helping somebody looking for a small income.
And of course, again I need nothing and it’s true I don ‘t like having things. But this time the phrasing was different. She was asking me to buy it for her. For me I needed nothing. Neither did my friends. I wouldn’t do anything with the remaining shillings. So I bought two necklaces and as she said, I gave them to my friends. They were happy.
On my way to Amboseli in the low season the Maasais had harrassed me so much wanting to sell their beads, that I got out of the car and left my things inside only to escape them while they were pruchasing the entry tickets for the park. This was already after the precedent of the ladies fighting over me…I was really fed up, hurt also because I felt I was being used.
My friend told me: “Next time, when they insist on you buying something, just make eye contact and say : Hapana, sitaki”.
He told me to keep some of the empty bottles for them. Obviously I was so anxious to be left alone that the last thing I wanted to do was give them something. I had noticed that whenever somebody purchased something they became even more and more insistant. It seemed there was no way to free myself from them!
So after the two days in the park, it was time to exit again and meet the Maasais, again wanting to sell something to the only people leaving the reserve.
This time I did as I was told. I looked at the ladies in the eyes and told them “Hapana sitaki”. They laughed and stopped offering things. I was so suprised that I couldn’ t believe it. It was really that simple! they turned their backs and left!
So what I did was that I called them back. I showed them the empty bottles and gave them to them. Then they started smiling and laughing and thanking me in Kiswahili also. “Asante sana, asante etc…” Guess what they then offered me a bracelet they had made! They said they gave it for free. I wanted to say “No thank you” because I wondered if the transformation was long-lasting of it it was another trick to get me to buy something. But this time they insisted I have it.
On the other side of the car my friend was busy buying two small wooden carved sculptures…. that turned out to be for me!
We walked into the police station in Uganda. My white British friend who wanted to file a complaint had asked me to accompany her. The three officers behind the desk stood up immediately, one giving her his chair, the other rushing to take notes and the third, with a great deal of concern on his face asked her what had happened.
Sat in the waiting area were a pregnant woman and an elderly gentleman, both were black Ugandans. The lady had been waiting over two hours for the police to attend to her while the gentleman had spoken to them regarding his issue and been told to wait. He’d been waiting for almost three hours. My friend on the other hand was dealt with immediately and within thirty minutes all procedures had been carried out and her complaint both logged and addressed.
Two years prior to this…
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I was seated in a café of an elegant shopping mall in Nairobi’s posh area. I was reading next to a couple sitting at the table next to me. The man was black and wore elegant yet casual clothes. The white woman wore clothes that would go unnoticed. They had ordered one drink which they shared with the help of a single straw, and, as they liked it, the man ordered a second one. They were happily recalling the safari they had just come back from, laughing and speaking of how lucky they were and how wonderful it had been. As it was getting dark and cold, the man then asked for the bill. It was brought to them.
Suddenly the woman started speaking in an angry tone and I was dragged out of my reading.
–Every time it’s the same thing! When did it not happen these last days! I will tell the waitress! She has to know. I’m fed up with this!
–Honey you can’t go on educating the whole world, said the man
–I told you already that I have no ambitions as far as the world is concerned, but I don’t want to contribute to world’s racism. I understand that for you it is not insulting.
–You are wrong it is as insulting for me! Do you think I was not annoyed by the warden at Amboseli when he asked if you were also paying for me? It seems like I am a kept man.
She calmed down. It was obvious that she was extremely angry but probably angrier at her partner not understanding, so she calmed down. From the conversation she had I understood that the couple were both UN workers but the man held a higher or more lucrative position.
Finally the waitress came back.
–Excuse me do women in Kenya pay for men’s bills? Continue reading