This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Well here I am, day 1 of a new adventure! / 11 October 2008

A view of Nairobi from the Helipad on the roof of the Kenyatta Conference Centre

A view of Nairobi from the Helipad on the roof of the Kenyatta Conference Centre

Zoom in to this image and read text description

There was no one to meet me from the airport, which I expected. I got into town by public bus. It was OK, took about an hour, but thought it would take longer. I was politely told where to get off, after passing the poorest areas one can imagine. I got off walked 5 minutes to find my hotel, which had a room at about a tenner a night. It is clean and the lonely planet says it is safe.

Wo - the security lad on night shift was very friendly. I was touched by his concern. He asked if I could bring my project to his village. He says most NGO's concentrate on the slums of Nairobi and Mombasa, but they forget about the small towns, which is why there is such a huge migration of people with HIV to the big cities! Photograph of city

It is a holiday today so many shops are closed, the streets were rather empty and it was chilly and cloudy on arrival. Now it's about 30 degrees centigrade and very hot and sunny. There are lots of people on the streets as I am discovering, all my goods hidden in different pockets. But I feel much safer than I thought I would.

So I set off to see the city. I got to the area around River road, where the backpackers stay and in where the guidebook says to be really carefull with bags. I must say it was incredibly busy and by now getting really warm! I got all the way down to Halllie Selasi road, where the station is and all the matatus (local vans that carry people around which pick up from anywhere for a set price!) going to the neighbourhoods, with the drivers hitting their horns and the guys trying to incite people!

...I am looking for a Nyama Choma restaurant, as they are where the locals eat their bbq'ed meat. I asked a guard, (as all shops are heavily guarded) and just opposite, with a tiny sign he told me just go up stairs, so I did, third floor and a young lady with a very ill looking hand and his healthy looking baby selling fruit juices, and then besides it, what looked like what should have been the toilet if the building had been finished. Instead there are empty squares, besides which stands a tent, with chairs and a grill with beef and goat meat. People are eating and I get a stage stare! as if to ask 'what the hell is he doing here?'

I was asked, 'do you want to eat here? Tourists never come to eat here.You know what we eat. so I said yes 'Nyama Choma' I just sat down smiled and said if it is good for you, it is good for me! The waitress laughed. I washed my hands from a large container with a tap at the bottom where I saw the locals do the same, and by the time I sat close to the grill and got a plate with a large amount of thick paste - 'ugali' is its name and it tastes of nothing, but then they give you thinly sliced tomatoes, which I shouldn't eat as they get washed with tap water, and could give me diahorrhea. It is accompanied by a green cabbage-like vegetable that is boiled and tastes quiet nice! When I finished I paid 100 shillings for a vast amount of food, which is really a pittance! I went over to the fruit lady and she asked me about my meal, I said I had loved it which I genuinly had. She served me a fruit salad that she was cutting right there and if you saw the water bucket in which the dishes got washed you would have run a mile! I didnt... as she asked me in, a skinny man (I suspect very ill with AIDS) was waiting with his 4 year old girl. So I bought them one each, and got one myself, watermelon, papaya, banana, avocado, and passion fruit sooo yummy! They were 30 shillings each! When I set off the woman said, come any time we like tourist like you here. You are not afraid of Africans! Thank I left with a huge smile and feeling really full.

I went back to my room and fell asleep at around 8pm, it was very noisy, I had not seen a single mosquito, but still I got under the net, it was heavily hot! my alarm went at midnight which is the equivalent to 10pm english time, when I take my HIV pills, my feet were sore, I was really tired, but slept well in spite of the noise!

any way, Jambo is hello in Swahili and Kwa Heri is good bye. hugs to all Jean-Marie