Some places you visit exceed all your expectations, some places leave bad memories & not much else. Due to a number of unfortunate experiences, Nairobi in Kenya is a city that left me with the latter. Quite a number of these bad experiences happened in one day.
I had read about a really good restaurant at the top of the Kenyatta International Conference Centre so my brother & I decided to head there for lunch. Having had a bad experience with a scam artist taxi driver in Nairobi during a previous visit, we decided to stick with using Uber rather.
After an uneventful trip to the KICC, we made our way through the two security checks & after dealing with an extremely flirtatious lady serving in the Kenyan Army, we got into the tower itself. The amazing restaurant at the top didn’t exist. We did, however, get to the very top of the tower. We were lucky to have been there on a clear day & the view was absolutely amazing. I have a thing for views & I liked this one.
We had a good look around & noticed a Maasai market a street or two from the KICC & I vaguely remembered reading somewhere that it was quite a big one. We went down the tower, had a good lunch & made our way towards the market. I wasn’t expecting our day to go so badly so quickly. I have to point out that we were both born & raised in African countries & we have both spent plenty of time in markets in numerous African countries; we are by no means rookies when it comes to these types of places.
We were approached before we even entered the market. Guys calling themselves managers were hounding us, touching us, feeling our hair & trying to get information out of us. The goods they were selling were beautiful & I would have loved to spend money there, but I took one look at my brother’s face & I knew he had reached his limit. With people rubbing up against us, breathing on us & trying their best to separate us, we made our way towards an exit. As we got to the exit, a few guys started threatening us because we hadn’t spent money as well as trying to find out what hotel we were staying at to come find us later.
Our plan all along was to walk from the KICC to our hotel, but we didn’t expect the area to be as populated & run down as it was. We made our way to our hotel & had to walk through a number of crowded areas including what seemed to be a major bus station. The touching & feeling started with the bystanders. People walking with us, almost massaging us, tugging our backpacks & wanting to know things from us. At one point, my brother was walking ahead of me & out of nowhere someone grabbed me & pulled me behind a stationary bus. I pushed away with all the force I had & ran to find my brother again.
I know there are some beautiful areas & aspects to Kenya & I know many travelers fall in love with the country & it’s people every year. I, however, will struggle to find reason to go back. I think this is a brilliant example of how different people experience the same place. I do believe it is better to try something & know than to not try & always wonder. So I am still incredibly grateful I got to spend some time & have my own experiences in Kenya.