For our column “How do you live in…”, we are happy to share an article of Italian Cinzia Colli, who talks with passion about the city she has just left, Nairobi. Thanks a lot Cinzia!
We stayed in Nairobi only a year but it will remain in our hearts forever. The shades of the red earth, the jacaranda trees laden with violet flowers that fall like confetti, the abundant fruits in the markets and the kindness of a strong and warm people.
Of course there are the problems of a large city such as badly managed traffic, a dusty and crowded city centre and opportunistic crime. These challenges are easily overcome thanks to the good nature of the people.
Nairobi is 1800 metres above sea level. Exhaustion due to the early hot days and dehydration are ever present. There are no dangerous diseases or malaria which has been completely eradicated, even at sea level.
The vernal climate of cool mornings and evenings and high daytime temperatures, also observes two rainy seasons, one short in November and an extended one from April to August. They can sometimes last longer than anticipated and cause flash flooding.
For families with children international schools abound, and they are excellent, with English, French and German spoken. There are many schools for dance, music and gymnastics as well as cultural and recreational centres.
Weekend walks are available in the beautiful Karura Forest and safaris in the Nairobi National Park, the only park in the world in the heart of a city, inhabited by animals of the savannah.
An unforgettable experience is the visit to the Karen neighbourhood, so called in memory of Karen Blixen, the writer of “Out of Africa”. The Masai Mara or Amboseli national parks cannot be missed and are both famous for the abundant sightings of lions, leopards, zebras, giraffes and much much more.
The coast is equally as beautiful. White beaches and turquoise sea are ideal for diving, snorkeling and surfing.
Nairobi has a very active social life. It is impossible to resist African music and there are countess local concerts at any time of the year. There are many restaurants with African and multi-ethnic cuisine and most have excellent service and quality.
In addition to the local population, Nairobi welcomes a large Indian community. You can visit interesting temples or be tempted by one of the many delicious Indian restaurants or stock up on spices and saris in the Parkland neighbourhood.
Driving must be scrupulous and documents up to date due to the many police blocks. Foreigners can be stopped numerous times for trivial breaches. It is recommended that driving around at night is done out of necessity with a high degree of caution. Ambushes and petty crimes are common. Keep a low profile, but above all avoid walking to places, even close-by, after sunset. If you do not have a car, better call Uber (which operates well) or Taxify.
Telecommunications are extremely efficient and low-priced. Almost all premises and large shopping centres offer free wi-fi so take advantage!
In short, Kenya is a wonderful and kaleidoscopic country. I wish you an unforgettable adventure!
Translated from Italian by Claudiaexpat
Photo credit ©CinziaColli