Nairobi is a mad, mad place for the unfamiliar visitor. Traffic, pollution, swarms of people…

The simplest, most convenient way to get around is on a Matatu. A Matatu is a little van, almost like a VW bus, except outfitted with seats for 14 people…and sometimes a flat screen TV and Pioneer speakers, which are always pumping some kind of reggae or American hip hop through the little van.

Matatus rule the road, or at least they think they do. The sliding door is almost always open, with the “Matatu Manager” hanging out of the van for the whole ride, shouting where the Matatu is headed, how much it costs, etc… once you are in the van, the open door policy provide a nice breeze as you weave your way through the other cars and around the brave individuals trying to cross the street. But once you are in, you barely notice the world whizzing by around you, or how close you come to smashing into another vehicle. Usually I am so consumed by the deafening music that there is nothing else to do except bob my head to the beat and leave it all up to some higher being…

The music, the chatter, the entire vibe of the Matatu wraps you up and dumps you out somewhere down the road – which really feels like the past few months of my life…

Being a white man here is interesting. Either no one bothers you, no one cares that you are there….or you become the center of attention in any situation. You can swarmed by people, all wanting to know where you from, your marital status (disbelief follows my answer of “27 and single, no children”) and how you should follow them to the nearest store, market stand, restaurant, etc…

Thankfully I do not have to deal with all of this on my own: I have the honor of living with David Kitusa, Kiva’s Partner Development Specialist for East and Southern Africa, and his family. This makes my experience extra special, as I come home every night to a family. Their warmth and hospitality cannot be overstated – in the past 7 days I have learned so much from them about life in Kenya and Nairobi. Staying with them has added an extra dimension to my visit, certainly, as well as that intangible feeling that comes with being part of a family. Living life here with them is something I will never forget.

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