One month in Kenya and lots of smiles back!

One month in Kenya. Already? Yes!
Time is escaping from my hands, shaping my days into a new Kenyan routine - and actually leaving me with very little spare time. But that's fine, because all I am living is magic!
I think the all pandemic situation kind of made me forget what travelling means, and how much amusement and excitement you can get from being in a new place. 
Once in Kenya, I immediately recalled the feelings I had when I landed in Poland, or in Jordan: enthusiasm, excitement, lots of motivation toward the experience. A high dose of adrenaline which I think will fuel me for many months. But especially, a huge desire to be immerse in the place in all the ways I can. 
And so I did!
I immediately started going out, and explore the mess of an African city: pleasantly getting lost in its streets and being carried by the crowd; trying to avoid the too many people surrounding me, shouting at me or trying to get my attention; attempting not to be run over by some motorbikes; explore the local markets, the corner shops and the most dodgy little streets that channel you to the intestines of the city. Here, in the heart of Eldoret, real life takes place. Shanty houses and huts are barely recognisable with all the stuff to sell which is hanged on the walls. Clothes, house utensils. Potatoes, tomatoes or sacs full of beans. There is no space to stop, to breath. Everything is in movement, you have just to keep walking and carry on. I forgot how immersive and high-human contact African and Arab cities can be, with all these people doing things in the streets, creating a mess which I still find more fascinating than our confined tidy western shops. Any interaction is immediate, and surely not mediated by doors, windows or counter. You are just there and you have to dance with the vendors and all the other clients and all the other competitor vendors who are trying to make a living out of their selling. You also have to raise your voice a lot to be listened and push people a bit to make your space....
In addition, women selling stuff, but definitely off market, in the few little spots they can find on the congested pavements. Informal economy, they say. Surely it is very informal, with everyone shouting at an higher volume and more intensely than others. 
Ah, and another thing I forgot from Jordan is the compartmentalised why of selling: so you have the street where they sell bananas, the street where they sell plastic chairs, and the one where they sell only men ties. I am still unclear how everyone makes a profit, but I like this form of alliance between vendors - which maybe only us would label as "competitors". Obviously in all this, my muzungu eyes are unable to distinguish where it is best to buy, so I kind of follow my instinct + I am easily corrupted by the lady who smile the biggest and the guy who shout the loudest!
In one month, I still didnt meet any other muzungu in town. So I have to accept that everyone is looking at me and shouting at me and sometimes even coming to close to me and punching me on the upper arm to grab my attention - as if I didnt noticed ;-). Everyone wants to have the honour of making business with me, but considering that I cant buy the all nation, I learnt how to carry on undisturbed in my muzungu bubble - which is a fine line between ignoring them and still enjoying the funny vibe they are creating around me. Sometimes I feel part of a show!
The motorbike guys are the worst, so damn insisting. But now I have learn how to snap my tongue in order to communicate "no" which actually means "I AM NOT GOING TO COME ON THAT MOTORBIKE WITH YOU without a helmet and having to squeeze against a stranger".
I think this fact that I can emitt the same dissenting sound of african women scares them off so badly - plus they are probably scared by my fast way of walking and my grumpy face ;-)
I know what lots of you would think at this point. That there is no ways of respecting any covid measures. I could say that every little shops has a bucket of water to wash your hands outside, even the most informal shanty house. Or that almost everyone is wearing a mask. But yes, space and social distancing is never going to work here.
The point is that I could have made another choice. I could go and shop in the very modern western influenced shopping mall at the edge of the town - where there is barely no one, because it is expensive and thus a place for just muzungu. I could just do a life of work and home with no trips to town, relying upon shopping deliveries. I could use lots of other precautions. But what I am thinking is that, in the blessing I have to be here, I cant keep behaving as if I am still locked down in Europe. I cant keep being scared. And for many personal and professional reasons, I cant allow the virus to step on my way once again. Especially, I don't want to behave in a different way from the one they use here just because I am a muzungu. So I am just going out, and trying to live as African people. To adopt their lifestyle, their habits and when possible their precautions. To keep up with my life in the same way they are doing here since last year. And to experience all this covid situation from another angle, from another perspective, from another approach.
So, whatever could be the right thing to do while being in Kenya during the pandemic, I just feel good, and happy. Especially I feel recharged and full of energies again.
So, amongst the many things I forgot during the pandemic, I want to thanks Kenya for giving me back excitement, joy and hope. Especially for being able, in just one month, to bring me back to the glorious past of travelling and amazing cultural immersion of the pre-pandemic.
Finally, to give me back strength, confidence, and smiles. Lots of smiles. Like this one ;-)


  1. Very great ethnological findings. I like your selfless emic style and personality.

    1. thanks Hamisi. I think my personality is very much embedded and somehow lost in the meshes of kenyan lifestyle - which is kind of good, it allows more authentic kind of datas. Honoured to have you amongst my readers!


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