Today is our last day in Nairobi as tomorrow at around 5 am we leave for our flight to Tanzania (yeah- should be fun:). We are then heading to a home stay with a local family for 2 weeks (we are not sure if we will have Internet at all- FYI). We are officially finished with our language class called Language Acquisition Made Practical so in one week I am pleased to announce my fluency in Kiswahili- yeah right! Although we do know about 10 helpful phrases now this week mostly focused on how best we can learn language in the context of relationships and living in a new place. We learned a ton of useful exercises to do later with language helpers and ways to note progress, establish accountability, battle the inevitable slumps, etc. It was actually better than expected and Annikah did awesome as she was in class with us each day. She was a bit distracting but it was a blessing that both our fearless leader Mary and the other gals going on to teach at HOPAC in Dar were so gracious (thanks ladies!). Another main goal of this week was to get us out and about and over our fear of making mistakes. I think this is one advantage I have over Jason is that I am quite used to sounding crazy, silly, or dumb and so I am eager and more willing to practice with just about everyone I meet. Jason really wants his phrases to be near perfect before trying them out. We were discussing our differences in learning styles last night on a walk home from the store (to buy some milk for Miss A). I think he will be way better at remembering more phrases and words and I will be better at getting out there to practice with people. We shall see.

We had numerous adventures around Nairobi over the last week. Even though the crime rate is higher here than Machakos I actually felt more at home here. Perhaps it is because I am indeed a city girl after living and loving Chicago life for the past 7 years. Added precautions were needed but we managed to get around a ton and see most of the city.

We went to Ya-Ya Center at the recommendation of some friends from training and we were shocked at how modern it is. Basically it was a mall you would see anywhere in the States, it even had an escalator that Annikah was excited to ride. Most of the shops were too pricey for us but before leaving we also had to stop in and grab an iced mocha at Java House. Java House is a super famous (especially among the M’zungu crowd) for being similar to a coffee house in the U.S and having Western style food (more later).
Annikah likes Java House too!
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Ya-Ya Center

On Sunday (our day off) after church at Nairobi Baptist (a very Western style mega church here that just happened to be a 2 minute walk from our guest house, very interesting) we went to another mall-ish place called the Junction. This place was very high end (read here we could not afford ANYTHING) so we mostly just looked around and talked with locals. We did treat ourselves to our long awaited anniversary meal out (thank JimRho for the treat). We had lunch at another Java House (mostly because I just had to have an educated opinion on the place so many people had recommended to us). My veggie burger was indeed yummy! Jason enjoyed a beef burrito and Anni gave 2 enthusiastic thumbs up for her chicken and fries. After trying the fries and ketchup (real Heinz:) she started yelling “asante(thank you)!” to every server that walked by. They loved it and would tickle her about every time they passed our table, in general people are very touchy-feely here with kids.After lunch we hopped a Citi Hoppa (bus) and headed back to Ya-Ya Center to see the Maasai Market. It was an open air air market set up in the parking lot with tons of craftsmen selling bowls, kangas, carvings, jewelry, and a ton of other African artifacts. We used the opportunity to practice our Kiswahili and bargain for a few things for our house. I talked with a woman named Ruth who happened to be from Machakos and after I told her I had been there for 3 weeks she was so happy to talk to me about her home. I brought a carved sugar bowl from her and she was very kind to let me fumble through all my phrases while she responded and corrected me. As we were leaving she held my hand and thanked me and gave Annikah a smaller bowl and spoon set that Anni had been playing with as a gift. It was so sweet of her and for me it was a reminder that learning this language; however tedious and difficult it may be at times, is not only important but it is necessary for me to connect and build relationships here. We also bargained for a handmade doll for Anni’s b-day coming up and a few other small things (we already think we are overweight for luggage on the plane- yikes!).

More crowded van rides with Anni’s friends
We also were able to meet up with the family from training and the infamous Tuk-Tuk ride a few times as they are living and working here in Nairobi. They invited us over for pizza…ah…pizza!!! We got to see their home, eat, and chat as the 3 kiddos tore the joint up.

Their boys are so fun and full of energy and Annikah tried to hang, even trying to climb the bars on their windows (she did not make it far, must be the bottom heaviness- sorry kid you get that from me). It was just such a blessing to in a home, to relax and just hang out. Christy and Darnell are amazing people and we are so grateful our paths crossed. We hope they will come out and visit us soon! The boys shared their toys and Anni even got to play dress up.
The next night Darnell and Jason met up with some other people from our training that are still around for a movie back at Junction.

I; being the generous, kind, and fabulous wife that I am suggested that Jason go while I stayed home with Annikah. I knew he really wanted to see the new Batman movie: Dark Night (because much of it was filmed in Chicago) and that this would be his last chance for a while. Annikah and I enjoyed a fun afternoon of girl time and wondering around in the Nakumat (AKA Kenyan Walmart) and playing outside before having dinner at the guest house. I put her to bed a bit late and then read and waited for Jason to return. He got home later than I expected but had an interesting story to tell of the night at the movie- read his account here.

We also joined Christy, Darnell, and the boys on Sunday afternoon for playtime at a downtown park. It was packed with kids and families and the little Mzungu kids got quite the attention. The raisins I had brought as a snack were quickly devoured by Anni, Esa, Jonas, and the small fan club of kids that surrounded our kiddos. Darnell and Jason played Frisbee and were immediately hounded by about 20 interested onlookers. We often feel like zoo animals here, like everything we do is bizarre, foreign, and somehow interesting. With the men folk occupied Christy and I decided to get the kids some ice cream from a push cart vendor that was in the park. I went over and paid 50 Ksh (about 90 cents) for a small ice cream. Later I found out that I was indeed bamboozled (thanks Meghan) as locals only pay 10 Ksh for the same ice cream. Now, I know you bargain for stuff at the market but who knew even the price of ice cream is debatable!! I should have known better as we have to argue every time we get on public transport as they always want to charge us double. Annikah did not mind the high cost of the icy, sugary treat and gobbled it up quickly making a mess. That is what kids and ice cream is all about!

This morning we were taken over to some offices to meet some of the folks that will help us while we are here in Eastern Africa (visas, money transfers, flights, etc). They hosted us for a tea time and were totally welcoming and very kind. Annikah mostly LOVED the dog named Samson that ran around the compound and the receptionist that gave her candy. We had some awesome adventures around Nairobi, we dig this city!

Chai time

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the long post about your time in Nairobi. It is always good to hear about what you have going on.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’re a Roxstar! I have been so blessed to know your family and see the trust in God that you and Jason have as you are following him. I’m so excited that we all get to be in Tanz together. God bless in your travels and house setup. We’ll be out to Z as soon as possible. Can’t wait for fun in the sun.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Lost of fun! We haven’t even seen Batman yet! You guys have it there already! The lines to get a seat are about 1 hour before the show. I know this bcuz Indi saw Walle and the lines were enormous! Good for Jason. The movie is being praised as high cinema here – true art (which is rare). I’m hoping to catch it this weekend as I can’t afford a one day pass at Lollapallooza for me and the kids ($240!) Have a safe trip! Anni is joy to watch – she so cwazy!

  4. Anonymous says:

    rox! i love love love reading your posts. i’m so glad you got to have some java =) you guys look fantastic. love and prayers,jkw

  5. Anonymous says:

    you guys look so happy! yay for you and yay for tanz!

  6. Anonymous says:

    These are such cute pics! I love ’em. Hey, what is the name of that t-shirt company of artists? Today I went to Baltimore with my old art prof and a bunch of my old classmates and I was trying to remember. Thanks. Takre care!

  7. Anonymous says:

    After viewing your recent pics and the one of Anni with the dog, Joel asked, “Mommy, do the dogs in Africa say Woof?” 🙂 I thought that was a really good question! He knows you’ve been learning a new language, and wondered what “language” the dogs use!

  8. Anonymous says:

    We look forward every day to a new post about your life in Africa! And when there is one, we’re never disappointed!! Annie and I noticed that little Anni Joy looks so HAPPY in all of the pics! She must LOVE being around both Mama and PAPA all day, most days! This is truly an African Adventure (isn’t that your newsletter title??)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanx everyone for the comments!!Makes us miss you all & feel loved!! more to come soon…Meghan teh name of the rockin' T-shirt place is Threadless- Beck is a huge fan as well, her daughter is the main model!!Rox

  10. Anonymous says:

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  11. Anonymous says:

    and cousin Joel….dogs here say “bweka…bweka” Great question!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This was a really interesting post, Rox. I’m glad you had such a nice anniversary dinner. Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure!