From Arusha we hurried directly to the border with Kenya and through to Nairobi. I wasn’t sure what to expect with all the dire news about the current state of affairs, but the scene was calm. Driving through the countryside on the way to Nairobi treated us to views straight off the pages of National Geographic - small Maasai villages full of robed, bejeweled men and women tending to their herds on the dusty plains.
In Nairobi we recieved plenty of warnings about wandering into the wrong parts of town, even during the day. The attitude of the locals was reminiscent of some i met in South Africa. No surprise considering the similarly bad reputations of Nairobi and Johannesburg. We didn’t have any trouble.
Nairobi is incredibly expensive compared to the rest of East Africa and even South Africa. The three of us split a triple room in a budget hotel for $30 a night. Trying to eat around downtown on the cheap proved futile as well. This, plus Nairobi’s reputation as “Nairobbery,” didn’t exactly endear me to the city. We stayed just long enough to secure our Ethiopian visas from the embassy (very nice staff, same day service, $60 for a 3-month multiple entry tourist visa) and then took a bus to Isiolo.
On the way out to Isili to get the bus our taxi almost drove us into the middle of a brick-throwing mob near Kenyatta Ave. I asked our driver what was going on.
“The street vendors. The local council wants to move them all into an indoor shopping complex where they will pay taxes like everyone else. Today was the deadline. They are fighting with the local police.”
We drove off as a couple bricks sailed across the intersection, smashing into a parked car. I was glad to leave.