Apr 272013

It’s been rainy season here since mid-March and it’s pretty consistently rained almost every day.  But it’s probably the best kind of rainy season.  It doesn’t really rain that often during the day and like clockwork the rain comes in the evening.  So that means on the weekends, the day is clear for you to be out and about still.  The only time the rain really sucks is when it causes major traffic.  I guess in that sense, Nairobi is like LA.  When it rains, people drive really slowly!  Of course, in LA it’s because it barely rains whereas here when it rains, people drive slowly because the roads flood and there are huge potholes hidden beneath the puddles. =)  Sometimes it’s raining so hard on the car roof that you wouldn’t be able to have a conversation easily.  Thunderous!  And you can’t see 5 feet in front of you at night.  Pretty scary.  We try to avoid going out if it’s raining at night.

The other crazy thing that happens when it rains is the winged termites come out.  Yes, you read that right!  Winged termites are attracted to the light like moths and they come out in droves when it rains.  If you don’t know what one looks like, here’s a link to photos Google Image Search.  They’re pretty harmless, just startling when you see the swarms of them for the first time.  They even swarm around your car headlights.  So they are all over the street lamps and you have to be careful about leaving your windows open.  One night I came home from work while it was raining and Mike was playing his video game.  This was the first night I saw all the winged termites on the way home and they were all over our apartment lobby stairway area since it’s lit up.  My first thought was oh no, Mike likes to keep the windows open, I bet they’re all over our apartment!

Mike was absorbed in his video game and probably hadn’t seen any of the winged termites.  Sure enough, I run into the kitchen and they are EVERYWHERE!!  Wow, you’ve never seen anything like it.  Kinda creepy.  So we turn on the light to our laundry room and turn of the light in the kitchen.  That was hilarious because soon after they all started crawling/flying towards the light like a mass exodus.  Once we got most of them in the laundry room we were careful to keep the lights off and put a rag underneath the door since there was a small crack they kept coming through.  So no problems, the rest we just vacuumed up. 😉  Apparently the winged termites are an old-time delicacy here and people fry them up and eat them.  My driver Richard says they taste sweet and some of my coworkers say when it rains in the villages, they get huge plastic bags to put over the termite mounds to “harvest” the bugs.  And they’re not cheap to buy since you really only get them once a year.  I guess one day i’ll try them…

It’s nearing the end of rainy season so it doesn’t rain much anymore.  It’s been quite “cold” lately I guess, mostly around 60s to 70s.  I definitely bring a jacket almost every day.

We hope to get outside of Nairobi for a weekend some time soon so I promise there will be more fun updates then. =)

 April 27, 2013  Posted by at 5:19 pm Kenya, Nairobi Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »
Feb 072013

I would like to take this opportunity to show you the interesting creatures I have come across in Nairobi.  =)  Most are bugs, but mostly because they are easy to snap when they’re dead and not whizzing around.  Ha!  They are gigantic here, hence my fascination.  They don’t really bother you much though and don’t come inside the apartment.

This one I found on the dirt path between our apartment and the Westgate mall.  Reminds me of the beetle in A Bug’s Life!

Colorful Beetle

Colorful Beetle

There are a lot of grasshoppers around, I’ve just never seen them this huge in the US!

Grasshopper on Our Stairs

Grasshopper on Our Stairs

And then every day during my commute, I pass by these vultures on top of these trees.  It’s right by the stadium just south of CBD.  I asked my driver how come they’re always there and he said it’s because the trees have thorns to protect from predators (not because there’s a bunch of garbage for them to eat there).  They looked like storks when I first saw them but the driver said, nope, they’re scavengers like vultures.  Oh.



 February 7, 2013  Posted by at 6:34 pm Kenya, Nairobi Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Oct 292012

Currently we’re staying at one of Mike’s coworkers apartment while she’s on holiday for 3 weeks.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to get out of the hotel and into an actual apartment with a kitchen!  I was getting really tired of eating every single meal out.  We’re staying in Oysterbay and walking distance to Oysterbay Shopping Center.  People don’t really walk here since most places are not within walking distance, but the shopping center is close enough for me to walk to yoga class or for us to grab brunch on the weekend.

When you first get to the plaza, you have no idea that you’ve arrived because you can’t see any shops from the outside, just a parking lot and sides of buildings.  I was so confused.  But once you get inside, there’s a little courtyard with a bunch of little shops around.  I don’t know what I expecting, maybe a strip mall?  But I’m finding that most shopping centers don’t look like much from the outside and once you go in you’re in a courtyard usually.

Black Tomato is the restaurant we usually default to for weekend breakfast.  They have good breakfast wraps, that’s always what I order.  Cappuccinos are good but the iced coffees are super milky and sugary.  Mike got the omelette and that was tasty as well.

My usual – breakfast wrap with egg, avocado, and cheese

Black Tomato Courtyard

There’s a vegetable market on the outside corner of the plaza where I’ve gotten eggs from.  6 loose eggs for about a dollar.  I haven’t gotten much else but the bell peppers and green beans look good.  They even have fennel and two different types of avocados.

Small Vegetable Stall at Oysterbay Shopping Center

You buy however many eggs you want and take them away in a plastic bag

Pili Pili hot peppers, garlic, ginger, and cucumbers

Cabbage, green beans, bell peppers, and carrots

I can’t wait to cook more and play around with the vegetables some more.  I went to another vegetable shop called the Green Market which has some nice things but when I was cutting the broccoli, I found a live bug and multiple egg sacs!  Definitely traumatized.  The woman whose apartment we’re staying at says she usually soaks her vegetables in diluted bleach before she cooks them so we tried that.  I had never heard of this but Mike says in Peace Corps everyone soaks vegetables in bleach.  I guess on the bottle it says to use it to disinfect baby bottles, so hopefully it’s not that bad?  Not sure, maybe I will try baking soda instead.  Needless to say, the broccoli went in the trash and I will be carefully inspecting my vegetables from now on!

Oct 072012

I am way behind on updating the blog as it has been a whirlwind last couple of weeks in the US, preparing for the big move to Tanzania and seeing friends before we go.  I’ll be posting some highlights and photos from our last couple of weeks in the US soon, but I thought it would be fun to give an update on Dar first!

Unfortunately, I caught a head cold right before we left for Dar (I think helping my sister teach elementary science and being around germy kids has something to do with it).  It’s been pretty miserable being sick on the flight and the first couple of days here but I’ve finally emerged from the fog!  We’ve been here a couple of days now and starting to familiarize ourselves with the neighborhood.  Hopefully we’ll get out of the hotel and into some temporary apartments soon as it’s always tough to be living out of a suitcase.  What we’ve realized though is that it’s quite difficult to get around without a car—people don’t walk around much since it’s hot and things are spread apart.  We’ve been flagging down taxis and tuk tuks in the meantime, but I think one of the first orders of business is figuring out how we can buy a used car!

First impressions:

Weather: It’s not as hot as I thought I would be, nor as humid.  Definitely nothing compared to when we were in Thailand and Indonesia this summer.  There’s usually a nice breeze and it’s decent in the shade though of course hot in the sun.  Night time is perfect t-shirt and jeans weather.  We actually haven’t needed to use the A/C that much in our hotel room, just the fan.  Nothing to complain about.

Bugs: I haven’t noticed the mosquitos that much, but I’ve also been putting on DEET all the time.  But, I haven’t gotten bitten yet (knock on wood) and that’s way better than my track record on our Asia trip!  Usually you would take anti-malarial medication if you were visiting here, but it doesn’t make sense to take those every day if you live here.  So you just have to be careful especially in the evenings.

Food: Food is decent here, though I think anywhere after you’ve lived in New York will always come second. =)  Mike and I even had burritos yesterday and the chips and salsa were actually quite delicious!  We’ve only really eaten at the expat places though; I’m sure there are better local places that aren’t as expensive.  I did find that almost every local grocery store has soy sauce and rice noodles, so that made me very very happy!  I even found a grocery store/deli in Oysterbay (where we’re staying) that had sambal oelek and dried shitake mushrooms!  Joy. Now maybe I can make beef noodle soup here?  I imagine we will probably eat in most of the times.  I found that most of the meat in the grocery stores are frozen, so that’s probably the norm here.

Dar Asian Grocery

Can’t Wait to Cook With This

Yoga/Dance: The stars were aligned and there was a contemporary dance festival going on downtown the night after we arrived!  It’s called Visa2Dance and it’s an annual dance performance by local groups and international groups.  There were groups from Norway, Italy, Spain, and Israel.  It was actually really impressive.  I loved the local group.  This show could have been in New York and you wouldn’t have blinked.  I will have to do some research on what dance classes are available.  There is one studio nearby that has dance/yoga/zumba classes called Nanasi.  There’s an adult street jazz on Monday mornings so I will have to check that out.  Plenty of yoga classes offered so I’m excited to check those out too.

Being near the ocean is beautiful, though it’s very low tide in the afternoons so there aren’t that many people swimming.  It probably depends on the seasons.  Haven’t seen anyone surfing yet, but I think it’s a bit past the surfing season.  That’s it for now, more updates to come!

Dar Coco Beach

Beautiful Coco Beach

 October 7, 2012  Posted by at 11:24 pm Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »