Here's a little glimpse of how life in Nairobi is 'going on' - as usual were are 'going on pretty well' thank you,.. except for the fact that it is...
Hot and dry
It's hot, hot, hot. I don't remember it ever being this sweltering in Nairobi. Thank goodness that it is a dry heat. The earth is cracked, parched dry. There's not a cloud in the sky. My lovely new (christmas present) phone (that I'm still having problems operating - my kids are better at it than me!) tells me that it is going to be between 88 and 90 degrees every day this week. Phew! My little office in the eaves of the house is causing steam to appear from my ears. My middle daughter just handed me a portable, battery operated fan that I think dates back to our days of living in Dar es Salaam.
And we have Comms Failure
We've had a problem with communicating with each other and the outside world this week. The internet has either been down, or slow and emails stalled in a million outboxes all over the region. Why? This is a good one!: - a month ago, a ship in Mombasa that was illegally parked, dropped anchor onto submarine fibre optic broad cables - cutting the lines and affecting comms in 4 different countries! I think that a 'rescue' eMarine tech boat has now arrived at the port and they are undertaking repairs - which is causing further disruption.
"the cut occurred when a ship that was docking, dragged its anchor on the cable, four kilometres from the Mombasa landing station on Saturday, affecting a significant proportion of the international fibre capacity in and out of the country."
In the meantime, local phone providers have had to re-route via other cables and use satellite links - which has been costing them a fortune.
Does this explain why Airtel are sending me notification of missed calls (with accompanying adverts) via SMS and calling me up with pre-recorded advertising messages - or is this more to do with the fact that they made calls so cheap during their price war (calls currently cost 1-3 shillings per minute!) - that they are now trying to claw some revenue back? (pole sana)
And Building Work Imminent
We've been planning building work on this house for a gazillion years. Now that we have all the permissions, plans, estimates and quotes - we finally met up with the contractor who was absolutely horrified that we intend to stay in the house while work is carried out. Now call me old fashioned, but this is the English way to do things. Live in the dust and dirt - dig down to find the kettle to make some builder's tea. I'll give you an example. My sister-in-law had her 3 children sleeping in a row on the dining room floor a couple of years ago while her house was torn to pieces, then put back together again. Situation normal.
Not so in Kenya. Since the building boom began, everyone's expectations seem to have gone up - including the contractor's (and ours - otherwise we wouldn't bother modernising our house!). More used to building 15 luxury town houses in one go - the thought of us 5 paddling round the property in amongst 25-30 builders is turning everyone cold from the architect to the foreman. I have to admit that I too am now nervous...
The proposal is to completely screen off two ends of the house with corrugated iron - leaving us to live in the dust cloud middle bit that remains.. which crucially does not include a kitchen (of course a new kitchen is my priority!). I am now desperately thinking of alternatives for cooking for 5 for no less than 4 months. Am thinking of relocating the kitchen into the garage somehow. I thought of a 'bush kitchen' tent type of set up for 5 minutes, then realised that we're supposed to be heading into the long rains! Ideas on a postcard please.
We start in 2 weeks. There goes Easter..we'll be packing up boxes. What sort of a mess are we getting ourselves into?
Oh yes, and Fire
Last night my eldest called me to her bedroom window.
"There's a really big fire at the bottom of the garden"
I didn't come straight away. 'Whatever?' I thought. 'probably a bonfire - but it is tinderbox dry out there, so possibly an ill advised bonfire.'
"No Mum, it's really big!"
Interest piqued, I strolled over. Yes, the flames were leaping rather high, but I knew that there were no houses nearby, so it wasn't too deadly.
To give you some background, we sold a bit of land on our property ages/years ago (too soon as it turned out, - the price of land has quadrupled since then) and the area has only just been cordoned off for building this year. There's a large corrugated iron fence across the bottom of what was our garden and a private security company has been employed to station a guard on site every night.
While I was vaguely peeping through the curtain, I gather from reports that came in this morning - that in fact all hell was breaking loose in the staff quarters behind our house last night.
Gladys, who lives on our plot was wondering why somebody was banging so hard on the metal (mbati) fence. - She thought someone was stealing the iron sheets so decided to stay indoors. Meanwhile Jared, who also lives on our plot was frantically/heroically trying to help the nightwatchman who was stationed on the other side (with no water or tap whatsoever), handing buckets of water over the 12 foot fence (the mind boggles - Jared is not tall)
After testing my daughter on her history topic (The Crusades), then wandering off back to my computer to browse through the gossip column on the right hand side of Daily Mail online (guilty pleasure - except I hardly know who all these UK celebrities are these days) - she called me back again.
"Mum, there's a fire engine in our garden now"
"Oh" I said, thinking - now this is hard to believe. But sure enough, there were the blue flashing lights.
I wasn't too concerned. Everyone seemed to have got the situation under control, the flames abated and it was somewhat reassuring to know that functioning fire engines (albeit privately operated ones) with actual water on board do exist and can be called out in an emergency.
To put this into context - to see a previous post on a bungled fire fighting experience that appeared on Kenyan news. Click here
In fact, having done the relocation guide - I learn that there are good emergency services (at a price) the trick is knowing how to figure out where to find phone numbers and who to call.
As I'm feeling helpful - I put a few here and late will post some more useful info on the 'page' tabs above.