First impressions of Kisii (Kenya)

Oasis Hospital, Kisii, Kenya

Different. So very different from any place I’ve visited before. And I’ve been to a few. I’m still deciding whether I like it or not, or how much. After all, I’ve only arrived about a week ago. I came here with an open mind, no expectations and I want to keep that open mind until I have seen more of the town, got to know more people and have experienced more of life in Kisii.

When I arrived in the African town, the sun had just set. I had been on the road (and air) for almost 24 hours, flying from London to Addis Ababa and on to Nairobi. I was picked up by a taxi together with another volunteer and we set out on a little road trip. The journey led us through the Great Rift Valley (I even saw Zebras grazing along the highway!) via Nakuru and up through a beautiful mountain scenery where after almost 8 hours on the road we finally reached Kisii.

The road through town was bumpy and it was noisy – people chatting, motorbikes honking, bats screeching, music blasting. When we finally arrived at the hostel, all I could think about was having my first real meal of the day (at 7.30 pm! I’d been feeding on a crazy amount of protein bars and crackers…) and I couldn’t wait to get into bed. The next day, we stayed in the hostel due to the training and I really enjoyed the tranquillity of the place. There is so much open and green, well-kept space – perfect for a bit of quiet reading and soaking up the hot African sun.

 

When I finally ventured out into town with my team the next day, the scene was a completely different one. The sides of the roads were packed with motorbikes (boda-bodas) and street vendors. As a fan of historic architecture, I was in for a bit of disappointment as most buildings, more or less recently built, are plain and typically not in a great condition. There is no charm to them. Roads are partly destroyed, walkways are basically made up of dirt and stones and the smell of the sewer systems running along the roads stings in your nose.

Yet I was happy to see plenty of street vendors selling lovely fresh and super tasty fruits. The pineapples have just the right sweetness, mangoes are yellow and juicy, watermelons refresh you on a hot day. Avocados are huge and creamy and taste delicious. The best part? They’re only £0.10 to £0.15! A very pleasant surprise when compared to London prices where you can easily pay up to £2 for a much smaller avocado.

It’s cute when little kids turn their heads, wave and smile at me. When they call me “mzungu” (white person) and excitedly ask “How are you?”. But something that often happens to me when I travel as a blonde, fair-skinned girl and that irritated me here especially: The stares and whistles and sexist comments from men. The best thing to do is trying to ignore it. But unfortunately, it does add a bit of a sour taste to any trip abroad.

Otherwise, the people I have met from the volunteer programme and the community were very friendly. Luckily, the vast majority speaks English, only the accent can sometimes be a bit hard to understand. I have met some really smart and interesting people already and I can’t wait to move into my host home to get a deeper insight into the community and daily life in Kisii.

The other UK volunteers on my programme have finally arrived today and we’re all super excited to start working with the Kenyan entrepreneurs and developing some interesting business ideas with them.

Stay tuned for more!

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2 Comment

  1. i love your blog…

    1. So glad you enjoy reading it!

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