Sunday, June 2, 2013

Nakumatt Junction, What's your function?

Yes, I know. I am still writing about my first day in Africa. I need to get on with this, don’t I? As promised, I will start by telling you where the nasty little matatu took us.
The Nakumatt is the Kenyan equivalent of Walmart. They sell everything from food to toiletries to dishes to clothes. Wandering the aisles, it was easy to forget where I was, until I looked more closely at the labels. Yes, everything was equivalent to what we have here in the States, but some things still caught me off guard.

Especially the prices. 365 shillings for a bottle of shampoo. Oh, hold it, I guess that is just under four US dollars, so I guess that isn’t quite so outrageous. 
After we bought a few supplies, Val went to the phone store to activate her Kenyan phone, while I wandered around Nakumatt Junction, a mall just like we have back home. Again, here I could buy anything I needed. A bookstore, a jewelry store, lots of clothing stores – some familiar, most not. A couple banks, a few ATMs.
Since Val was there in 2010, they even added a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Every time our matatu was bringing us here, I would watch for the colonel’s bucket, notifying me that it was time to get off the bus.
That first day, and a few times after that, we wound up at the Java House. We ordered chai tea and Val brought her laptop out of her backpack. They have free WiFi at the Java House. And after the waitress brought us our tea, she never came back to bug us, guilt us into hurrying along. That first day we weren’t there long, but on a different day, we sat there for two hours, posting pictures on Facebook.

The longer I was in Kenya, the more comfortable I felt in my own skin. I accepted all of the Africans surrounding me, with their skin color varying from deep tan to chocolate to near black. When I was at the Java House, where a vast array of nationalities, languages and colors ate and drank, I felt more out of place with my pale skin than I did among the Kenyans. I was in Africa and should be surrounded by dark skinned people; I felt like I was in the wrong place when the skin of most people gave away their origin of birth as European, Asian or North American. 

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