Thursday, February 17, 2011


Nairobi is the capital and the largest city of Kenya...and was our first introduction to Kenya. We arrived late one evening... 

...and quietly checked into our accommodations at the Mennonite Guest House.  We a awoke to find our room opened onto a lovely garden.  The guest house is an old colonial era house...which serves mostly as a place of respite for missionaries and humanitarian workers.

Our stay at the guesthouse included breakfast at 7:30 am...on those days when we hadn't already left for our daily excursion.  We enjoyed visiting with other guests...many were missionaries from Sudan who had been forced to leave because of the political situation there.

Our friends and hosts, Ron and in a home on the same premises...just beyond the garden gate.  The entire complex is behind a wall...gated with a guard on duty at all times.  That's how it is in Nairobi!  Windows and doors have bars...gates have guards...and our friends do not make a practise of going out after dark.  Car jackings are frequent occurrences...and have happened just outside the place where we stayed.

For the most part, we travelled about the city in a van...and since I have no problem with car sickness, my designated spot was in the rear. The seat itself was great...just not the best location for taking drive-by photos.  Though I don't have many photos of the city itself...I'll paint a few word pictures!

The streets are rather chaotic for the most part...and traffic was often at a standstill. We thought that possibly the red light had a new meaning in Nairobi...since no one stopped. We soon learned that traffic signals are largely ignored! 

Clean air is not a top priority in Nairobi...and a fuel-fed fog hung over the city.  We found the roads to be quite rough and dotted with pot holes...though apparently they have improved immensely in the recent past.  A new highway through the city is presently under a Chinese firm. 

Matatus are the most common form of public transport in Nairobi.  They are privately owned mini-vans that seat as many as can be squeezed in...and cargo rides on the roof.  Safety is not a priority...and they don't necessarily come to a complete stop as passengers get on or off.  Riding a matatu was one Kenyan cultural experience I was happy not to experience!

Nairobi lies right near the equator, and so the climate is much the same year-round.  We found it to be most pleasant...cooler than we expected because of it's high altitude (5500').  Temperatures are around 75°F during the day, with cool evenings. 

I'll be taking you along on some of our African adventures another day.  For now I will leave you with a photo that evokes good memories...

l-r Judy, Ron and Martha, Janet and Dave, Elmer

...a mango milkshake break in Nairobi!


  1. Making gentle cooing sounds of delight as I tag along on this journey each day. Today's mixed bag of insight was so interesting! Now if only I had a mango milk shake to sip. I will be craving one of those the rest of the day.

  2. When I read something like this post or talk with friends who have moved here from Africa I realize how very lucky we are with the freedoms we take for granted - the freedom to walk out at night with the dog for a last go-round the ponds; freedom from fear; freedom to sleep with the windows open....and I'll bet you could add an awful lot to the list.
    Mango milkshakes sound wonderful!

  3. The guest house looks so inviting...the flowers...beautifully hanging over the eaves.
    We are so blessed to live in a country where we are free to leave doors open, go for walks and have to have a guard at each door. Mango Milkshakes....theres on the tuck away for the upcoming summer days. what great memories with your friends.

  4. Beautiful landscape at the place you stayed. Glad you were guarded so well.
    We have much to be thankful for.
    Oh my, yesterday I had a taste of mango I see mango milkshakes..

  5. The guest house is very beautiful and inviting. Sounds like a real contrast beyond the gates, though. It's nice that missionaries have someplace to retreat...

  6. Tongue twisters first thing in the morning as I read aloud do not work well for me.
    "fuel fed dog . . .fuel fed hog . .fuel fed dog. .finally had him leaning over and saying "fog".

    I smiled when I saw you were relegated to the back seat. I might have claimed and shown my reporter pass.

  7. The weather in Nairobi sounds much the same as in Quito - both high altitude cities on the equator. What a lovely looking guest house - a place of peace and respite that every one appreciates.
    We are indeed blessed here - walking at night without fear, order in traffic (mostly) and so much freedom!

    Visiting another country makes me appreciate the privilege of living in Canada.

  8. I was intrigued by that guest house. For many years I've had the dream to serve up meals and clean beds in an overseas guesthouse and do exactly what MCC is doing there. Reading this now.. with the security issues etc, puts a different spin to the whole thing, but it was just a little reminder again of a possibility.

  9. It has got to be major culture shock when visiting a place where danger lurks everywhere. I suppose that even being behind locked gates would not be safe if the whoevers decided to storm them. I can't imagine how the missionaries who'd left Sudan were feeling beyond relieved, but when God gives one a heart for a place, I'm sure that they were experiencing mixed emotions. Lots of layers with this post, Judy. I like the calming way that you ended it. (I'll keep further comments for behind the scenes email. ;> )

  10. Judy your description of Nairobi very interesting as it could describe certain areas in New York City!
    There are neighborhoods here where the houses all have bars on the windows and doors and gates and alarms and guard dogs. Illegal mini vans pick up passengers for less money than a city bus, and they race and zigzag through traffic honking their horns at passersby.
    Carjackings and night crime is also a problem in these poorer neighborhoods.

    Pot holes are very common everywhere on NYC roads after this harsh winter and even here many pass through red traffic lights and stop signs without obeying rules!

    It seems troubles can be commonplace no matter what continent one lives on.

    I look forward to learning more about your experiences in Kenya. The guesthouse looked lovely ..the flowers hanging from the roof are beautiful!

  11. What a gorgeous guesthouse! So sad though that all things are under guard. I've seen pics of those vans and the driving over there! Scary!! Mango milkshake sounds great!

  12. The Mennonite Guest House grounds look absolutely lush and peaceful. I had no idea that Ron and Martha were in Kenya still! And the mango milkshakes...what a treat!

  13. The surroundings looks so peaceful. And someone provided you with breakfast? For once you were not in the kitchen and I hope you enjoyed your well deserved break.
    It's hard to believe so much violence lurks just outside the premises.
    More milkshakes are on the way!


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson