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Visiting the Locals’ Bar

We decided to venture out of the compound today to have a look at Nairobi some more, but not without a larger group this time. The first time Rich and I went walking we were on our own, and when we began to wander into an area where we the people didn’t seem as tolerant as they were on other street blocks I protested and told Rich I wouldn’t go any farther. That was before we’d heard about the crime in “Nairobbery”.

We’d met this American dude from Santa Monica who’s been living at Ma Roche’s for the past four months. He wanted to go see a matinee movie, then head over to the Modern Green Bar for a few beers after. The dude was huge, wore cowboy boots, and had the attitude to match. He also told us stories about him getting jumped and how the would-be thieves got nothing because he fought them off with his karate moves – O.K. a movie and a locals bar in Nairobi? Only as long as I was with this guy, who’d be an excellent bodyguard in the Green Bar.

Headed out with some other travelers and this Californian guy, then after the first run showing of “Weekend at Bernie’s” the other travelers left and it was only Rich and I with the other Yank. We hung out in the cafe of the Thorntree Hotel where we met these two girls (Australian and Danish) who had just arrived in Nairobi and were about to start work in the Somalian relief/refugee camps here in Kenya. We invited them to the Green Bar, then we made the short walk to the place. I’d heard about this place – it’s a locals bar and evidently people get rather messy and physical here, hence the huge rod iron cage surrounding the bar in the corner so absolutely no one from the customer side of the bar could touch or maul the bartender. To buy a beer you walk up there, stuff your money through the hole in the cage, then your beer appears, along with your change.

We went through the crowded room out the side door into a small outdoor seating area which was already full. Our American buddy introduced us to this Kenyan who was sitting with a group of people, singing and playing his acoustical guitar. They’d found out all four of us (with the American “local”) had just arrived in Kenya, so they sang a few songs in Swahili welcoming us to their country. ‘Jambo! Jambo!’ (Welcome! Welcome!). It gave us a look at the Kenyan culture – if not just a brief glance. Everyone in the bar knew the songs, so they all joined in and sang along. It rather reminded me of the warm, welcome feeling the Scots have when you’re with them in Britain.

We stayed for a couple of beers, but then the sun started to go down so we had to get in a matatu and be back at Ma Roche’s before dark. NO white people are in downtown Nairobi after dark. Back to the lodge, then a quick 10 minute walk up the road from Ma’s place there was a locals eatery where we had cabbage stew, amid all the flies that were sharing our table with us. Dinner, a wee smoke, then off to bed.

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