Living in the Karen suburb of Nairobi has it's up sides. Large gardens, proximity to adequate shops and schools, distance from the smog and chaos of the city's traffic. But it also has down sides, small community, endless gossiping and a 'not very international' group of friends. However, it's enjoyable and daily life can be fairly eventful.
Just before travelling to England for a summer trip (we missed the heatwave), our landcruiser was broken into whilst sitting in the drive outside the house. The two on duty askaris (night watchmen) were unaware of any perpetrators wandering through the plot, getting into the car (ok, we did leave it unlocked) and ripping out our stereo, in car dvd player (invaluable for keeping the kids quiet through long journeys) and pocketing my ipod. The first indication we had that anything was amiss was when my husband jumped into the car to go to work, and reached to switch on the radio only to find a tangle of wires hanging from a gaping hole in the dash board, and lots of muddy footprints on the floor. Damn it!
After an agonising hour or two, we decided to switch to another security company who employ our nightwatchmen. This had been the final straw that broke the camel's back, as there have been quite a few cases where in spite of the house alarm screaming and emergency backup vans beeping at the gate, our guys were later found tucked up asleep and oblivious to any disturbance. This is understandable, as it must be almost impossible to stay awake all night doing nothing but trying to keep warm and dry but we decided to try out a better equipped security company with more backup and systems where watchmen have to punch in hourly etc.
It was sad to say goodbye to our existing guards. We agreed to continue contributing to the medical costs for one nightwatchman and his wife who are HIV positive and obviously wrote off our contribution to the funeral cost's of another watchman's father (who recently died of drinking illegally concoted booze) and the loan he had agreed when we bought him a bicycle so that he could get to and from his computer course quickly between shifts.
Went to England for a holiday and bought a new in car dvd player and ipod. Then the security alert hit the news and was forced to put these valuables in my main baggage. Having struggled through check in with three children and 5 bags plus one car seat, tasted baby food and kids drinks in Heathrow security, endured 8 hours of trays of food and cups of tea hitting the deck, trips to the loo and disapproving glances, children lying on the floor fighting and screaming through Nairobi passport check it was almost inevitable that one bag might go astray. Watching the conveyor belt go round and round minus the holdall with my clothes, shoes, dvd player and moulinex blender was almost more than I could bear. Reporting a lost bag took more time and two and a half weeks later I am still waiting for news. My daughter had to start her new school in a frenzy after locating a Kenyan supplier of name tapes at the last minute and wearing school shoes half a size too big. (At least I had those). I suppose a large electrical item and a selection of moulinex blender knives made sure the bag would go no further than Heathrow. I should have known; but living abroad means you must use every last gram of luggage allowance shipping locally unobtainable things home.
My husband went to the main Toyota dealership yesterday to see if they could replace or reconstruct our smashed dashboard. The answer was unfortuately no. 'what happened to that landcruiser?' he asked when he spotted a vehicle peppered with bullet holes being patched. 'He was having a bad day' came the laconic reply.