As I was packing I packed the same clothes as for Singapore: Nairobi is at the same latitude, but South of the equator, 80 km to be precise. Being so experienced, I knew excatly what to pack. ” Haha, this weather wouldn’t fool me”! I was expecting terrible heats and humidity and also a rainy season. When looking for a flat knowing about the high level of criminality I had wanted a flat with a pool. Thus I thought, after class I could have a lovely cool swim, and exercise within my building. I wanted a flat with A/C. The weather would be very much like that of Pune – an inland city of India at around 150 km from Mumbai : that’s to say terrible! In Pune I tried all the strategies I could think of in order to cool down: dressing with wet clothes etc…To me life there was an ordeal. I was really scared of the heat in Nairobi as my experiences on the equator had been by the sea. I had also brought my mosquito gear: mosquito net, repellants, and mosquito electrocutor I had brought back from India – my mosquito paradise.
When I arrived in my non A/C -non pool flat, I went straight to bed. To my great surprise the first morning I woke up with a runny nose! The second day it was the same, and I had to dress up warmly.
The students being naïve think that we the wasungus – the white people- can’t be cold. Then I told them that it had nothing to do with that, but more to do with our blood circulation.
After never being hot at home I thought that the buildings were built very in a clever way, that this grey rock that made them seem unfinished was really efficient, and that the walls were so thick that we couldn’t be hot. But a week later I noticed that it was actually cold outside in the open air too!
Finally when enquiring about the weather, I was told that Nairobi is located at 1700 meters above the sea level! The British had established the capital city here, because of the weather : the cooler temperatures meant hardly no mosquitos and no malaria!
What shall I do with all my summer clothes?
Of course I would have not been in such great trouble had I read the first page of Out of Africa first, where Blixen perfectly describes in one sentence the weather in Nairobi :
“The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt you had got up high, near to the sun, the the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold”.
Out of Africa, p. 13