Saturday, September 29, 2012

strange acronyms

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A conference centre spearheading mice?

Turns out M.I.C.E stands for Meetings, Incentive, Conferences and Events. I love how they announce they are a mice venue here. I imagine thousands of small rodents, pens in paws, with promotional conference satchels, sucking on the complimentary mints.

swahili word of the day
panya mdogo - 'mouse'

Thursday, September 27, 2012

fresh flowers

Kenya is a major export of fresh cut flowers and we can pick up a couple of bunches for the equivalent of $7 from our local greengrocer. There is so much variety, so many beautiful colors and they are just so cheap! I confess, I've bought a bunch or two every week. Flowers just make me so delightfully happy (I feel like Will would want me to point that out that this is Laura writing right now).

I'm no pro, unlike my talented friend Tegan at Blossom and Twine (go on, go delight in her pretty pictures!), but I'm having fun making up little bouquets. The only downside is vases are so expensive here, so I only have one to fill each week!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

eating our greens

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The five senses in Kenya...

taste
Sukuma wiki is a staple food in Kenya. It literally means 'push the week', the kind of food that makes the budget go further. You may know it as kale, the trendy, healthy, all-over-pinterest food that is becoming more and more popular in Australia. We sometimes eat it Kenyan style, cooked up with onions and tomatoes. Or we make a variation of this kale, apple and pancetta salad, it's delicious!

touch
Everyone in my office shakes hands with everyone else, every morning.

hear
It's not uncommon to hear the wailing siren of an ambulance two or three times a day. We assume they're mostly responding to traffic accidents, which must be a nightmare on Nairobi's congested roads. There was a huge traffic jam on our road at 10pm one night and an ambulance got stuck amongst the vehicles. We listened to the siren wail for at least 15 minutes.

see
Decorated matatus, the public transport vans. From fairy lights to scripture verses, playboy stickers to multicoloured vinyl padding on the roof, I even rode in a van boasting 'NO CHOLESTEROL' across its bumper.

smell
The delicious scent of a leg of pork roasting in the over. Smurf Haus was ovenless, and we got by, but how nice it is to grill, bake and roast to our hearts delight!

Monday, September 17, 2012

this is a bed

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... a bed with a diamonte-studded, gold faux leather, couch-style bed head and built-in speakers. 

In the shape of a circle. 

Available at our local supermarket, along with just about anything else you could ever think of...

...except circle-shaped bed linen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

news from home



We woke up to some local gossip from home this morning, it's always good to read what is going on in the neighbourhood!

I am sitting in the Reading Chair in my office listening to the birds.  The sun is doing its early morning fanfare and I see two ducks fly in and land on top of the possum box.
They look like a couple on a Saturday morning searching for a rental.  There is a lot of head poking and wiggling.  Mr Duck keeps looking in the hole and Mrs Duck is sitting on the top obviously unimpressed.  Waddling by, Mrs Scrub Turkey discreetly looks up like the neighbour who doesn't want to appear nosey, yet burning with curiosity.  Who do they think they are?  Ducks moving into the area.  What next?
Mrs Duck is sure there is something more their style over by the gully..  Mr Duck is convinced.  Nope, luv this is the one. You got your tank. You got your shed.  So they stay.  Mrs Duck perched on top, looking out for a better option.  Mr Duck sitting in front of the hole convinced this is the place to raise their little ducklings.  
Two problems he may not have considered.  One: Mrs Possum still has a current lease. Two: They don't fit.  The hole is too small.
Well, that's it. Mr Duck has flown away.  Back to the car.  Not good enough, hey?  Mrs Duck still stands on top of the box in silent resignation.  This is going to be a long day.
Love you both
Mummoo xx

Thursday, September 13, 2012

on the streets

We've been snapping sneaky iPhone photos as we drive through Nairobi. I hope it gives you a better idea of what we see each day. Ten points to those who can spot the goat!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Escape from Nairobi: Swara Plains

We've been in Nairobi for a little over a month now, and last weekend we were itching to swap the concrete jungle for the bush, car fumes for fresh air and noisy streets for calm quiet countryside. A bunch of friends were going to a music festival out of town, but we headed in the opposite direction and found the Swara Plains about 35kms out of Nairobi on the road to Mombasa.

Swara Plains is a camp with banda (hut) style accommodation but all the mod cons like hot showers, electricity, a bar and a restaurant that offered three course meals three times a day. Its owners run cattle on the property and after the government passed laws about protecting wildlife the family stopped hunting the game and offered accommodation and guided tours instead. There are no large predators on the property, so one of the key draw cards is being able to freely walk about the reserve stalking giraffe, zebra, warthogs, wildebeest and other game.

We thought we'd be spending the weekend with the support cast from The Lion King, but when we arrived we were promptly adopted by Riri, Spaku, Coke and Max, the local feline and canine tenants at the camp. We downed our bags and decided to find some giraffe that we spotted on the way in and our new hosts Spaku, Riri and Coke decided to accompany us on our afternoon foot safari. 


We followed the track and soon enough we were wating a family of giraffe nibble their leafy dinners, buzzards were finding their places in the acacia trees for the night and a family of warthog ran through the long grass. It was exactly what we were after - quiet, peaceful, clean air and sunshine. Our canine guide Spaku took great pains to point out the wildlife to us by chasing the giraffes and spooking out a group of quail in the grass. 


We were pretty amazed that Riri the kitten followed us the whole way as well, she seemed to enjoy lying on her back wherever our feet would tread - I think I stomped on her at least 3 times! She also made for a handy Simba moment right on sunset. 


There are a number of waterholes on the property, and once you're tired of lazing about the camp reading eating and sleeping, you can simply strike out on a dirt path and soon enough you're disturbing a herd of eland or staring at a dozen stripey zebra bums. When watching game on foot, they see you from far off and keep a safe distance between us and them the whole time. Having a hyperactive dog at our heels didn't help much either but we enjoyed Spaku's company the next morning on our second walking safari, she'd dash into the bush and spook out sleepy gazelle laying up in the tall grass.


During our meals in the restaurant (the food was terrific by the way) we would sit and watch a troop of monkeys slowly infiltrate the camp like ninjas to a rival dojo. There was always something happening around the camp whether it was monkeys in the trees, incredible sunbirds bathing in the pond or a squirrel making a quick dash and grab for something to eat. It was perfect just to be around so much wildlife for a few days respite from the big smoke.


On Saturday afternoon we sneaked out of camp (no offence Spaku!) and actually did about a 10km hike around the property, we just picked a track and started walking. It was fantastic to be out in the scrub, miles from anywhere and to be enveloped in the busyness of a different kind of life out on the Swara Plains.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

bento box date

Featuring two Australians, eating bento at a Japanese / Lebanese restaurant, in the capital city of Kenya. We are so global right now.

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We didn't realise just how big the bento box really is, we'll be sharing next time!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blankets & Wine Festival

One of the stalwarts of Nairobi's local scene is the monthly Blankets and Wine music festival, held every last Sunday of the month in a sprawling run down animal park on Nairobi's outskirts. We went with our merry group of Australian friends to check it out and discovered that just like our last home, it appears we're living in a hipster's paradise. It was all rolled up chinos, thick rimmed glasses and navy suit jackets, Nairobi's middle class and upwards had come out to play.

 
A procession of local and international hip hop and RnB groups providing the music cycled through the main stage, one of which swapped out Alicia Key's lyrics from 'New York' to 'Nairobi'. Cute. We unfurled our blankets and found a grassy spot on the hill to listen to the music, people watch and bump into random friends and strangers. Though maybe it should have been 'Blankets and Beer' as it seemed as most people were skipping the mvino for the pombe (go on - marvel at my Swahili skills). 

Apparently those hip Kenyans are pretty happy to have their photo taken, the whole day seemed like one long fashion parade. So next time we might venture out a bit bolder for some satorialist style fashion photography - who's keen?!