Sooooo y’all know I went to Kenya recently right? It was my very first time in East Africa and what an amazing trip it was. I landed in Nairobi and spent most of my time with my hosts in Karen, which is a green, leafy suburb about 35 minutes from the centre of town just off the Ngong Road. It was a bit of a busy holiday and so I didn’t get to do much dedicated tourism or eating out. I did do one or two bits here and there though, and here are a few pictures from my trip.
Beforehand, I got my eyelashes did by the lovey Sheun B at @thelashloungeng (check them out on Instagram). I absolutely loved them. They’re individually attached, natural looking, easy to wear and last for ages. She is so careful when putting them in – the process took 2 hours, but it was the best beauty appointment ever because we spent the time chatting and catching up on gist.
The obligatory selfie while going up the lift to my usual haunt, the Gabfol Lounge at Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. I love going there before a flight because their food is always on point. I’m talking yam or plantain and egg, peppersoup, that kinda stuff. Their jollof rice is amazing, with a slightly intriguing curry theme going on, which goes down mighty well with a glass of white wine! I strongly dislike airplane food so I make sure to eat there before boarding to make sure I’m not ravenous on the flight.
Took some pictures on the plane of the gorgous cloud configurations and land features – popcorn clouds, meringue clouds, etc etc. It was such a fascinating journey. I saw ships in arrow configuration docked at ports, and the interesting point at which Nigeria meets Cameroon. Really cool sights, but I don’t want to bore you with too many photos from the clouds! On another note, I was super impressed with Kenya airways. Both ways, we were in a spanking new 737, the service was really good, punctual, and the baggage handling on both sides was quick. Apart from the rowdy trader boys who spent the whole time at the back of the plane getting increasingly more sozzled with each passing cloud, and giving Nigerians a bad name with their embarrassing behaviour, the flight was great. I really wish some Nigerian’s would conduct themselves in a more dignified manner – why do they feel the need to act out on flights? We all recognise members of that tribe when we see them – allergic to saying please and thank you to the flight attendants, making a racket and disturbing other passengers, using the bathrooms as though they are in a village pit latrine – and it is seriously not cool. Anyway, rant over; back on topic. On the way back to Lagos, we had a female captain. I wish I had made a note of her name. She was totally bad ass and she handled that turbulence like a boss. That made me really happy and so I ate the bread roll on my tray.
I finally got to use my Cath Kidston folder, which my dear Efua gave me for my last birthday, and which I have been looking for a special opportunity to use. Helped me keep all my random papers and travel documents organised.
Landed, and then unpacked. This is really unusual for me. I must be growing up and getting old. I am usually able to live out of a suitcase for weeks at a time, but this time I felt like I should do the civilised thing and unpack. It felt good to. I might make this a new habit.
Got acquainted with my new home, which was a beautiful little cottage on the grounds of my hosts’ compound. I decided then and there that when I build my own house, there must be guest cottages for my guests. And once my kids are older and want to ‘move out’ they can move to the cottages. That will give them some independence and retain me some parental oversight – hehehe.
I saw this sign on the way to the giraffe place. It made me laugh no end, and I begged the driver to slow down so I could take a picture. It reminded me that I was still in Africa. Why are we so obsessed with all these one-size-fits-all cures which tackle everything from spiritual problems to impotence. In any case, why are we so obsessed with impotence and other love related medicine treatments. And I’ve always wondered – do people really call random phone numbers in the middle of the nowhere and entrust their erectile issues to someone who in a spell of boredom may have just nailed a placard to road side tree? Aaaah! So funny.
Spent some time with this little guy, Jackson – one of the brightest little sparks I’ve ever met. He is so clever it is noteworthy. He took me to see his tree house, some bugs, and some mushrooms growing in the yard; and since I was wearing his mum’s wellies, and he was wearing just clogs, he agreed to let me give him a piggie back ride through the mud to get to his tree house. I then asked if we could take a selfie because it was such a nice day and he was so cuuute and he said okay, but only if we make funny faces.
And then a cut. My enemies shall not prosper!!!! (Sorry – you will only get that joke if you are Nigerian;) I had been using a set of kitchen knives the day before and nothing had happened. And then I complained that they weren’t sharp enough and so the housekeeper offered to give them to the Masai to sharpen for me. When the knives came back, this is what happened. It was such a clean, fast, deep cut, that for the longest time it didn’t even bleed. I didn’t even realise I had cut myself. And then the stinging started and then the bleeding, and it just wouldn’t stop for almost an hour. Mike very cleverly made a makeshift tourniquet from a rubber band to starve the area of blood, and Matt quickly sealed it shut with his army-grade invisible band-aid which is like gloss paint to seal wounds shut; but it kept gushing and I just couldn’t believe it. I was so lightheaded. All I was trying to do was open a bag of rice with a knife because I couldn’t be bothered to look for the kitchen scissors.
Doing my make up the next day. I had my boubou AND my vintage ‘George’ wrapper from my Grandma’s trousseau over me so as not to have an accident and stain my white shirt with foundation. After my klutzy episode with the knife the day before I wasn’t about to take any chances… Turns out that the Ben Nye Banana Powder works well on dark girls too – I had read about it maybe leaving a bit of a ghostly grey effect on skin but it works for me beautifully. I guess the key is proper blending. The other thing I do when I use the Banana Powder is mist my face lightly with Mac Fix+ once I’m done setting my make up and so I arrive somewhere on the matte side of dewy, rather than the ashy side of matte. I’m sure this little paragraph has ousted me – it’s okay I can say it – My name is Minjiba and I am a Youtube beauty video addict.
Enjoying lovely views in lovely homes. My goodness. Please take me back! Thank you Lotte and Anthony for the experience of being in your lovely house. I am sad my trip was so rushed and that I didn’t get to make you the Nigerian dishes you were curious about, such as jollof rice and pepper soup. Next trip, it will be a priority.
This was Sunday lunch. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that Sunday lunch is a big thing for my family in Lagos and I found it funny that that epicness followed me all the way to Nairobi. You can’t be a food blogger and a house guest and not cook your hosts a nice meal can you? You’ve got to say thank you somehow. So anyway, this happened.
And then I went to the giraffe sanctuary and fell in love with a two year old named Jock. I have always been fascinated by giraffes. They are so tall and elegant but also mysterious and slightly ungainly; approachable enough, but still a little supercilious, and above all utterly gorgeous. I mean, those eyelashes. I felt like we were lash-twinning hard! It was such a great experience. I would love to go back and spend more time there watching the giraffes. The world is an incredible place and I felt like a grew a little just standing there with this creature and learning a new dimension of reality. My driver for the day, and the giraffe keeper Derek (whom you can see below feeding Jock from his own mouth) were fascinated by my fascination. They found it impossible to believe that we don’t have giraffes up close and personal like this in Nigeria. I was fascinated by their ease with the animals, and found it impossible to understand how they could be standing there so calmly when the experience was for me, so riveting and new.
A few random eats at Art Cafe – yes, they have on there too except it is a much bigger restaurant chain, as opposed to a cafe. Food in Nairobi is so cheap! Can you imagine that none of these meals cost me more than the equivalent of N2,500. It would cost a lots more for the same food in Lagos, that’s for sure.
Did some souvenir shopping – some in Karen and some in JKIA – and brought back some goodies. Kenya is world renowned for a few things. Since I could not pack a Safari in the suitcase to bring home with me, I settled for tea, chai tea, coffee, Amarula, some macadamia nuts, and a mini spear (to hang on my office wall as a reminder to me to be a warrior). I brought back about ten bags of coffee, and of course, gave some of them away as gifts, but I kept three bags for my family and I to enjoy at home. The one bag of Espresso you see in this picture is the only remaining one! I have been a coffee fiend since I got back, and I am going to have to find a way to get some more. Kenyan or bust. Not interesting in the Italians anymore. LOL.
On the flight back, disaster struck. There I was feeling all insouciant and edgy – giving life my best manrepeller attitude, in my rolled up black slacks. I got up to go grab something from my hand luggage and kpa! – my right sandal snapped. All my other shoes and flip flops were checked into the hold. So I came up with a genius plan to ask the flight attendant for duct tape. Luckily, she had a roll stashed in the back and so I forged a solution that I hoped would get me through the rest of the flight, and all the way home without further embarrassment. I taped the whole damn sandal several times. Even the left foot that didn’t snap, I taped for good measure – I wasn’t taking any chances. The fix seemed to be working, until I got to Murtala Mohammed Airport, and snap – the right one snapped undone again. I shot a withering glance at the horrible noise makers in the back of the plane because I was very convinced that this freak incident was all their fault. Just their being present was making accidents happen! Grrr. Anyway, by this time I was off the plane and limping awkwardly through the airport, with the sandal kinda dragging half a pace behind me. After a while, it got ridiculous. My airport strategy on landing in Lagos is to power-walk past all the groggy, crumb-crusted, duty-free-laden passengers, get to the front of the immigration queues and get the hell out of there. I say to my legs,’come on girls, we aren’t long for nothing – this is what we were made for’. So this gimpy sandal-managing shuffle wasn’t really working for me. But at the same time, I hate being barefooted (hate!!!), so the idea of ditching the offending shoes didn’t seem like a viable option. In the end, I decided that I would rather risk being barefooted than carry on that maddening sandal-dance so I took off my shoes completely and walked barefooted through Murtala Mohammed airport. It was the most unexpected experience. I was convinced that I would be cut by a rusty nail and infected by some nuclear strain of tetanus, or stabbed by a shard of glass broken over someone’s head in a fight over boarding passes. To my shame and delighted surprise, the floor was scrupulously clean. Apart from my own psychological discomfort at having my feet touch the ground in this expanse of unknown pathological quantities, it was absolutely fine, and I said a quiet prayer of thanks. God bless whoever’s job it was to clean the airport for showing up to work, and for doing their job. God bless every over-excited child who could have regurgitated Fanta and croutons onto the floor on my path, but instead abstained from travel-induced hysteria, and sat still colouring or kicking their mother’s shins instead. God bless FAAN. God bless Nigeria. Never ever have I been so grateful for a non-incident, during an incident. Since I was a child, my father has had this thing about travelling in slippers or sandals. He would always make us travel in plimsolls or trainers, no matter how much we complained or teased him or called him over-zealous. On this fateful day, I finally understood why. The moral of the tale is this: Daddy is always right. Listen to your fathers, folks.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I would love to be able to see more of East Africa. What say you to this? Have you visited Kenya, or anywhere else in East Africa? How did you find it? Are there any Kenyans living in Nigeria – what are the similarities you notice? Finally, don’t leave me hanging – feel free to share any embarrassing travel stories. LOL.