Monday, September 23, 2013

A Sad Day in Kenya

Camille mentioned the other day how most people in Naivasha cannot afford the luxury of safety.   Car seats are expensive.  Modern wiring is expensive.  Clean water is expensive.  Toilets are expensive.  People need to go to work, and if that means riding in the back of an overloaded truck, then so be it.  Mothers need to travel too, which means riding with their babies on the back of Boda Boda motorcycle taxis.  Helmets are a burden and too expensive to own.  Flower plantation truck drivers must transport flowers to Nairobi quickly or else.  They are pressured to drive dangerously on the poorly paved highways, even passing other tractor trailers on two-lane on-ramps, nearly running us off the road.  This is everyday normal life.
The Westgate Mall, however, was an exception.  The people here could afford safety.  All visitors were checked with metal detectors.  Cars were stopped, questioned, and the trunks searched.  Guards patrolled every floor, smiling at Eric as he ran by.  One guard helped Eric ride the elephant sculpture in front of Nakumatt, the grocery store currently sheltering the remaining terrorists.  The Westgate Mall provided a taste of luxurious, safe living in a city of organized chaos.  

Last Saturday, we spent the morning at the Westgate Mall.  We met a car dealer on the roof of the building who showed us a potential car.  We noted a sign advertising a “Children’s Party” for the following Saturday.  Eric loved riding up and down the escalators.  People smiled and waved as he went up and down and up and down….  The woman behind the counter of the coffee shop on the first floor excitedly told me about her own 14 month old named Steven.  From across the mall, Eric noticed the massive elephant statue outside the main entrance.  He shrieked, and ran off.  The two security guards laughed as he banged its trunk.  On the way back in, a blissful woman running a jewelry shop called us over and told me Eric was the cutest kids she had ever seen. She then asked if he was a boy or a girl.  There was a raised Samsung Galaxy display with two large round egg shaped seats.  Eric climbed up onto it and started playing one like a drum.  Instead of being upset, the salesman stopped what he was doing and began banging the other seat like a drum with Eric.  Eric was overjoyed.


Eric and I eating at the coffee shop on the first floor at Westgate

Eric enjoying lunch at Artcaffe, the initial site of the attack

Other thoughts and notes from the week:

  • Naivasha is dominated and fully dependent on flower plantations selling roses.  You can see the greenhouses in the picture to the right.  Camille mentioned today how crazy it is to think that the price of roses can alter the entire economic status of the town.  Roses are inedible, devour the farmland, and serve no purpose other than looking pretty.  They are gold in Naivasha. 
  • When I brought Eric to preschool this morning, the teacher had all of the kids jumping up and down and running around because it was “so cold.”  It was around 70 degrees.  I decided I better put a jacket on Eric over his t-shirt.
  •   More Eric stories!  People are fascinated that Eric can eat solid food and chew at 15 months.  We went to this awesome little café called Grapes today for lunch.  Camille knows the owner, the Kenyan food is delicious, it is extremely cheap, and I could have sworn it was Eric proof; safe for him to run around without destroying everything.  But, sure enough, Eric found a plant…and scooped all the dirt on the floor.  The owner, Eunice, just laughed.  She said, “Let him play,” sat next to him, and swept up after he was done.  She also was shocked when she saw him eat!  He’s too young for solid foods!  It turns out Kenyan woman nurse their children until around two, but potty train them at 18 months!  Sign us up for that.  
It's mine!
Um, what should I do with it.

I'll eat it.

  •  I drive though the neighboring slum of Karagita almost every day.  Kioks line the road with the makeshift housing in the back. 

Matatu taxi van.  They are everywhere.
A little farther down the road.

  • Top animal picks of the week
Donkeys in the road!  I think the one on the right is pregnant.
Baboon is guarding something.
Aaahhhhhh.  Got it,
Acacia or "yellow fever" trees in the background.
Massive super friendly dog.  Eric loves dogs.

Thank you for reading!  I added a "Join this Group" button towards the upper right of the page.  Please join!  I think I'll make regular Monday posts moving forward.


  1. Now you are documenting the total experience. I once thought that I never knew fear until I had children: you and I are fathers and protecting our children is the most important thing we can do.. You on a daily basis: me now that you are adults, by supporting you and by telling myself that my boys are smart men. Dan keep writing and remember every minute you spend with Eric is a minute of him having the best security team a child can get.

  2. picking a time and day to add your posts is very smart--it will keep them regular.

  3. This is a quick hello, Danny. I love the giraffes--and the zebra under the giraffe. Stay safe, all of you. Best, Liz

  4. A sad day for Kenya indeed. It is beyond my thinking to comprehend the inhumanity and cruelness of these terrorist acts. My heart goes out to all those affected. Dan, your thoughts on this are very insightful and I believe that the journey your family is on (and others like you) will somehow make a difference in the world - we are one world community. In the end, peace will prevail. Love, MOM

  5. Keep it up --Hi from my E period class!!

  6. Nice work again son. To make it easier for us to comment, I have a suggestion. Go back into the settings for your blog and check off the the box that allows a comment after every entry instead of the one that makes us comment at the bottom of the entire blogs history.
    Your writing is awesome.

  7. I almost started crying in class just now when I saw the picture of Eric and Wolfy. I miss Naivasha so much!! I'm glad you are flourishing there; we knew you would!

    1. Mike, thank you for reading and commenting! It's really sad that our time in Kenya couldn't overlap. Best wishes, and Naivasha misses you!