It has been one week in Nairobi and we’re still alive and (almost 100%) well. There is so much to talk about so I’ll try to keep it interesting and touch on all the important stuff: placement, my digestive system, today’s adventures.
1. Placement: we love it. Our two supervisors are fantastic and they are extremely hospitable. So far we have only worked with E and she just throws us right in. Sink or swim and we’re treading water. The clients are wonderful, they often come in with their entire families. So far we have seen all adults and in one week it has ranged from fluency to voice to aphasia to dysarthria (speech issues) and almost everything in between. Dysphagia too – feeding for a videofluoroscopic swallowing study. Score! The cultural differences can be a barrier and they can be a conversation starter. Everyone is extremely warm and I have a sweet client working on his speech while teaching me kiswahili. Nataka chai = I want tea! Different interpretations of appointment time is something that can be difficult to get used to (plus traffic in Nairobi can be horrendous). On thursday we had clients scheduled back to back at 11am, noon and 1pm and all showed up at noon. There is only one SLP room but luckily there were 3 of us so we split up and found nooks in the rehab department to do therapy.
2. Digestive system: nature isn’t calling, she is stalking me now. It is getting old. We were find until we decided to purchase some juice made from fresh grapes. I knew the result even before I paid for my drink but, apparently, it wasn’t deterrent enough. Three days later….I’m on a regimen of pro-biotics and some homeopathic remedy and some rehydration gatorade-like drink was thrown in today. Annoying but still manageable (knock on wood).
3. Today’s adventures: Leaving the house mid-morning today we set out to see “town” for the first time – meaning downtown Nairobi. We grabbed our first matatu – a cheap form of public transport involving a large van that may or may not come to a complete stop to let passengers on and off and that may or may not obey the rules of traffic* – where the driver insisted that we ride shotgun with him. We finally saw the real Nairobi: half torn up roads, a used goods market outside bigger than 5 values villages, a scrap yard for cars on the way into the downtown, people walking between moving cars selling candy, bananas, shoes and just about anything else. We “alighted” from the matatu (proper term) at our destination which was not at a proper matatu “stage”, risking imprisonment and ran into our supervisor having tea with a Canadian friend. We sat with them to sort out our route and were quickly informed that downtown was no place ot carry a purse (even if it had very little in it) so I tucked money in one cup and my camera in the other (thank goodness I had a jacket on to cover the extra bulge!) and my phone in my pocket and stowed my bag with our supervisor E.
We toured the city seeing beautiful fabric shops, city markets where it is impossible to move 3 feet without someone imploring you into their stall (“looking is free!”) or pulling your hand and approaching you with a clever ruse to get you into their shop (“do you have a canadian flag pin for trading? I will trade you something for it…I will give you a good price now that we are friends”). We had lunch at the Trattoria, an old colonial cafe with servers in blue coats and white collars. I had to remove my camera from my bra when entering the conference centre as it set off the metal detector…woops. It wasn’t easy to get photos of the real city as most places in the heart of the city weren’t really safe to pull out a camera. Most of the photos are from a car window but you can still get an idea. Now I have walked all over Cusco, Peru at all times of day and never felt unsafe but there were times in heart of downtown Nairobbery that I wouldn’t have walked alone in broad daylight. It isn’t exactly dangerous but you do feel out of place. We met friends downtown for a ride home after a long day of walking and, when we had almost reached their car, I looked at Hi-C’s bag and found a gaping slash right through it! Thank goodness it was just a flimsy shopping bag that contained only some cheap souvenirs and nothing went missing (those slashers must have been disappointed) but it was clearly cut with a razor.
Now for the photo recap:
|One of many cool old cars in town|
|Hi-C at the Trattoria|
|Nairobi from a random high window|
|BEST NOTE EVER. Left on a message board at the Thorn Tree Cafe. Photo taken with my siblings in mind.|
|Side of the road on the way home from town.|
|The Kenyatta International conference Centre. Sci-fi lovers – isn’t that building great? It rivals Toronto’s City Hall as most likely to open up and abduct surrounding citizens before returning to the home planet.|
*rules of traffic seems to be subjective for all vehicles. A four way stop in this city consists of a game of chicken through the intersection but hardly any stopping.