Friday, 29 March 2013

Watamu-mazing day!

3 on a bike... minutes later we both burnt ourselves on the exhaust pipe. Damn those things get hot!

Watamu, Hemingways hotel

It's happy hour somewhere!

We took a trip to the North coast of Mombasa last week. Myself and Alice, a volunteer here, took a matatu for two hours up the coast for the grand sum of £2.20 - the same price of the fare from my house back home to Leeds city centre. I love Kenya.

On the way there, we were stopped by the police at the side of the road as our matatu was overloaded by two passengers. The two naughty passengers got out and were scolded by the police and a cheeky bribe might have been attempted to be passed between the driver and the police but the police decided to throw the book at them and write down the charges.

As we pulled away, the two passengers tried to jump back on board our fast moving matatu but they were seen by the police and decided it probably wasn't the best decision they'd make that day if they got back on board. So funny.

A little further along the road and there are fewer police and even fewer matatus, so overloading is more possible. At one stage in a 12 seater minivan, we had around 21 people and I was holding a baby all of a sudden with no idea who she belonged to.

Well this baby had clearly not spent much time with pale people like me. She had her little eyes so wide for the entire time I held her but she did not cry. Usually I like to make inappropriate jokes but something kicked in and I refrained from asking how much I could buy her baby for. I must be growing up!

Watamu itself is a small fishing village/town around two hours from Mombasa and it's well worth a visit. The waters are soooooo blue and you can go snorkelling and see piano fish just a few feet offshore. I love Kenya.

We spent a great day shopping, snorkelling and drinking cocktails. I'm good at all of these things. Except maybe snorkelling as I was stung by a jellyfish.

*Sorry, did you just say stung by a jellyfish???*

Yep. Stung. Stung bad. Except it was a baby jellyfish so the hotel staff were not nearly as impressed as I would have liked them to be...

In conclusion: if you go to Watamu, swing by Hemingways hotel and tell them you know me. They won't have a clue what you're talking about by it'll make my day.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Things I HAte About Kenya


Talk to Joyce now, I'm done.

Just a sunset over the floating restaurant here, nothing spesh.

Swim up pool bar, yo. #allabouththekids

Tusks and that.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Watching the sun set in Kenya...

... Is one of my favourite things to do - you know why? Because it's free! Plus, it's reliable, you know it's kinda going to happen every day but each day it's different and special in it's own way.

*What the hell am I on about?*

I was sat in my apartment tonight and suddenly the sky turned into this beauty:

Sunset in Mombasa, Africa
Reminds me of when we used to do marble painting back in school...

Anyway, just thought I'd share these pictures, hope you like them!

My apartment

I was talking with someone on Skype earlier today (side note: how amazing is Skype? I know, right?) and they mentioned that because it was always dark out when I Skyped (damn 3 hour time difference) they had no idea where I lived or what my apartment was like.

Let me tell you, I love my little apartment here. It's my little space and it's all mine (or at least it was before it was INVADED by boys a few weeks ago from England). It's in a great neighbourhood and every morning I wake up to the following:



* Children running for the school bus

* Reggae Afro beats pumping from who-knows-where-but-turn-it-down-already-oh-wait-is-that-Sean-Paul-turn-it-up-yeah

* SUN BRIGHT SUN BALL OF GAS SUN IT BURNS. I forget I wear an eye mask most nights for this very reason. My poor corneas.

* Sweat. We'll say no more.

Anyway, here's my apartment in photos. Please don't rob it and please don't make me leave here in ten days time...

Introducing... Stevo-o the stove-o. I'm managing to not burn down the whole building - score!

My office at Beer O'Clock

Urgh. *Another* sunny day out my window

Dear burglars... Err I don't live here, I live next door yeah? 
So, this is my stop. I've never lived anywhere by myself alone before so it's funny but I definitely prefer being married and snuggling up on the sofa (although it's TOO HOT for snuggling here) so I'm sticking with the married thing :) Sorry Josh! I'm sticking with you!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Gone in 7 minutes: My 'beauty' regime...

The other day I was getting ready to go out and realised that it only took me SEVEN minutes from bed to door. It seems that living in Kenya is doing a few wonders for me and I'm taking living the simple life to the maximum. Not being 'that bothered' by dirt helps a lot :)

It helps that the weather is predictable here, so I don't need to fuss about whether to wear tights, boots, gloves, umbrella, waterproof mascara, blah blah blah. Most days I throw on a dress and flip flops, sling my bag over my shoulder and I'm good to go. Packing up my laptop and camera normally take me longer than actually getting ready.

So, I thought it would be fun to share my 'beauty regime' in Kenya with you. It's also going to be depressing fun to look back on when I'm back in the UK :)

(Note - I just killed a mosquito with my bare hands, I'm like Beyonce right now).

My Kenya beauty regime:

Wake up, shower in cold water - completely invigorating but not something that is done by choice, there is no hot water. Deal with it.

Wash with Nivea bar of soap that costs 50 Shillings. No shower gel here for me, it's like going back in time, I just need a tin bath in front of the fire.

Wash hair with super low cost Afro hair brand shampoo that I swear the supermarket workers are laughing at me for buying. It's called Dark&Lovely. I am def. not dark but I sure am lovely! Plus, it's cheap!

Dry self with towel that I REALLY need to remember to hand wash. It's smelling slightly fusty now.

Apply suncream. As a redhead, anything less than factor 30 here would be suicide.

Attempt to brush hair. I haven't dried my hair for months, errr thank you, that is the sun's job! I invested in a Tangle Teezer before coming out here and it was worth £12 that I spent on it. It feels like you're brushing a horse but it works for me. I reckon I'd easily be bald by now with a regular hair brush.

Apply a lick of waterproof mascara. For me, if I don't have any make up on at all people usually ask me if I'm feeling ok. That's always a high point of my day. I feel so much better with mascara on and it's my life so I'm wearing it ok? good.

Dress while hair dries and sun cream soaks in. Pick a dress, put it on.

Find flips flops. Find keys. Turn fan off. Grab mozzie repellent in case I end up staying out after dusk.

Done. In seven minutes.

Essential products: Suncream, mosquito repellent, tangle teezer brush, waterprrof mascara

Pause... and reflect

So I've been struck down with food poisoning which is pretty annoying as I don't have long left in Kenya and  it's pretty hard to seize the day with your stomach seizing up!

As the last few days have been a blur of antibiotics, MTV and naps, I figured now was a good time to post some photos from the last few weeks!

I cannot even imagine putting a jumper on right now. Bleurgh. I still feel like I have so much more to do in Kenya but time, money and my immune system seem to be plotting against me. SWINES!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Things I'm (kind of) missing from England

Oh England, I really am TRYING to look forward to seeing you again...

In the spirit of trying to look forward to going HOME, here are a few things I (begrudgingly) miss:

* The Boy (obvs)

* Baths

* Bacon sandwich on real granary bread with real ketchup, not gloopy luminous saucefakers

* Feeling anything other than filthy hot in bed (not in a good way)

* Not sweating on my upper lip

* Kit Kat Chunkys (I hear there are four new flavours, interesting - which is the best?)

* Driving (I love the matatus here but I guess I miss just jumping in a car)


I'd trade it all in for:

* Sun

* Friendly people

* Fun

* Variety

* Stunning beaches (I said beaches, not bitches)

Thus undoing all the hard work above and rendering this whole blog obselete and a complete waste of my time left in Kenya - thanks everyone!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Retail therapy: Kenya style!

Yesterday I was feeling very sad because my beautiful cat was put to sleep (stand by for a tribute post)...

I felt very far away from home and my friends who had met Catty and knew how special he was. To everyone here he is just a cat (which I do realise he IS, but you know what I meannnnnn).

There was only one thing for it - It was time for retail therapy: Kenyan style.

I've been clothes shopping in a few different places in Mombasa so far, in shops and markets mostly and I've enjoyed both experiences.

Yesterday it was time for something new :)

We left the apartment in the pouring rain wearing flip flops. Oh yes, it's rainy season in Mombasa right now. We took the matatu to Kongowea market and jumped off straight into a mud bath. Fun!

This market is full of wooden tables with piles and piles of second hand clothes piled on top. You just sort through them all like you would at a jumble sale. Basically all the clothes you throw in to charity clothes bins in England are sorted and sent over here in bundles. Stall holders buy bundles and tip them on to the tables for people to come along and sort through and buy. So there's a chance I might have bought something of yours you once donated yesterday!


Even more fun are the prices. Tops are 20 Shillings. 20 Shillings is around 14p, the most expensive thing i bought yesterday was a beautiful dress for 100 Shillings; I really pushed the boat out for that one :)

I spent 1,000 Shillings in total and got four dresses and four tops. 1,000 Shillings is around £8. Woopah!

I am HOOKED. I'm going home with a suitcase full of new (old) clothes! And I'm helping the Kenyan economy! Feel good factor: 10!

Monday, 11 March 2013

How to cross the road in Kenya

There are no traffic lights in Kenya. There are zebra crossings on the roads, but no one pays them any attention, they might as well be decoration for the roads for all the locals care. 'Oh look at this nice black and white stripey bit of road, how quaint.'

Roundabouts are an inconvenience but not something that people usually slow down for, I've been on motorbikes here where the driver has SPED UP to go around the roundabout, which goes against everything my driving instructor ever told me... 'OFF GAS, OFF GAS' I shriek as I cling to the driver for my life. Living here has completely changed my opinion of overtaking, people will overtake in the smallest gaps, even when it is completely unnecessary.

Watch and learn...

If the car horn was a musical instrument, Kenyans would all be Grade 8s playing at the Royal Albert Hall.

Generally driving in Kenya is one giant game of dodgems. 

Which is scary enough when you're in a vehicle, but when you're a pedestrian staring across an ocean of cars, matatus, tuk tuks, motorbikes and lorries... you start to wish you'd written a will.

Some roads in Mombasa city centre are three lanes wide in each direction. That is SIX LANES of moving traffic to negotiate your sweaty, clumsy legs across - all the while being beeped at and swerving between exhaust pipes and hot bonnets.

Here's my guide to crossing the road in Kenya:

1. Find a local waiting to cross and plant yourself firmly next to them, preferably positioning yourself so that the traffic hits them first

2. Watch them like a hawk

3. When they move, you move. Just like that.

3a. If there are no locals around, use the following advice as a guide. Never look for a space, there is never going to be a space - you have to make a space yourself by stepping into moving traffic.

4. NEVER RUN. Running shows weakness and establishes yourself as a newcomer. Only the tourists run, you know that. Do you want to be seen as a tourist? Do you? Everyone steps in front of traffic and walks calmly in the face of a big hissing noisy truck which WILL slow down for you. Pole pole in Swahili means there is no hurry. The only time I've ever seen someone move fast across the road is when they were just about to get squished between a matatu and a truck and they made the snap decision to break into a jog.

5. If the traffic is slow moving, try and just step in to the path of a slow moving vehicle, squeeze through gaps and slide across bonnets for extra points.

Or, just do what I do some days and plot a route that involves CROSSING NO ROADS.

In conclusion: Crossing the road in Kenya is dangerous and will get you killed. ONLY KIDDING. Take it slow and steady with confidence and you'll be just fine.

Happy crossing! I won't accept any responsibility for any accidents that occur, especially bonnet rolls.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

While I was running...

I went for a run today. In Kenya. What the f*ck is wrong with me?

To give you the background, its election time in Kenya right now which means that at any moment, things COULD kick off big time, so it's a good idea to stay away from crowded places, basically just stay at home.

But being at home allllllllll day is boring and sitting still isn't something I'm good at :)

I decided to go for a run around the secure neighbourhood I'm staying in, and what I love about this neighbourhood is that you could even run around here after dark and you'd be safe, there are security guards and people everywhere.

So at 6.30pm I was suffering from cabin fever and decided I would go for a run. I don't really run anywhere most of the time.

So I'm running around the estate with my headphones blaring some Pitbull and I'm vaguely aware of someone behind me, so I stop and turn around to see 7 Kenyan children/teenagers running behind me laughing their heads off and jogging just like me.

Well I felt like Forrest Gump!

It was so funny, they were so cute and asked if they could take a photo of me on their phone, even though I  was a little sweaty THE SWEATIEST THING EVER...

In conclusion: Go running in 30 degree heat. You'll sweat but you'll feel good and meet people you might not otherwise meet :)

Why don't we talk to each other in England?

Usually I write about cats and sunshine on here, but it's been a while since I wrote a blog and it's currently election time in Kenya, so my perspective has slightly changed. I still love cats, don't worry.

Every day I'm here I find something that I can learn from Kenyans. They are so genuine, so welcoming and so community spirited that it puts me and my British reserved ways to shame. Why are we so afraid of making conversation with strangers these days in England? We're so afraid of each other that we've forgotten the simple thrill of a three minute conversation with a complete stranger just in case they turn out to be a 'weirdo'.

And this isn't just me as a tourist having conversations with locals. This is what I've observed over the few months I've been here, locals greeting each other, shaking hands then holding them as they continue the conversation, not being afraid to invade personal space, climbing over each other in the matatu, parents passing their children to the conductor as they climb in and out of the matatu.

It feels like everyone knows everyone here, or they know someone who knows them and for that reason I feel safer than in England. I've seen a few examples of mob justice here, where if a pickpocket or similar criminal is seen and caught by people around them, they'll be beaten. While I might not enjoy watching this and agree with it, to me it's better than what we do in England - turn a blind eye and look the other way. We're too scared to get involved that we walk away from the situation.

I'm sure there's a whole lot wrong with the justice system here, I'm not naive and I'm not saying that Kenya is perfect, but when it comes to the general basics of treating others and you would want to be treated yourself, I'm enjoying being part of it. Maybe I'll try and strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bus back in Leeds, but knowing my luck they will actually turn out to be a weirdo.

Here's a picture of my cat to counteract this post:

In conclusion: Talking is good and it actually gets you things in life! It always help to network and have contacts but in England we've stepped away from this with the entry of fandangled technology. Our eyes are getting weaker looking at small screens and we've forgotten the art of simple conversation, instead wondering 'why is this person talking to me?' Roll with it and talk, see what happens.