After a wonderful day of hiking and hanging with my Kenyan friends, I finally made it back to my couchsurfer’s house. I found her and a few friends hanging out, sleeping, smoking on the porch, and watching TV… or maybe the TV was watching them.
You know that friend’s home that everyone goes to chill at. Sometimes you are not exactly sure who lives there. It is somewhat of an open door policy. There is food that people contribute. There are the resident pot smokers. There is someone usually looking for a place to take a nap. It’s a communal space. That was my residence at Irene’s. It was not a problem because everyone was tidy and it was ten steps above my college days with sticky floors and cans of beer. Instead there was left over Chinese, Fruit, and bottles of wine. We kept it classy.
I cut up a pineapple and proceeded outside with one of her friends, Cho. An Asian Brit that talked to me about the issues of racism and the lack of cultural sensitivity in Kenya. It was quite amazing to hear his experiences as an Asian in Kenya and how racist many people were toward him. For a moment it ran through my mind that he was treated just like blacks are in the USA. People just say whatever the hell they are thinking and have no idea how offensive it is to the person of that culture or skin color.
As we continued to chat, LJ (the other couchsurfer) and Enzo (Irene’s Italian Expat Friend) joined us. They enjoyed their herbal libations and I dug into the pineapple. Irene awoke from her nap and bullied LJ into making dinner for all of us since she was having a game night with Enzo’s brother and his wife.
And so our night began.
About thirty minutes later, four additional friends trickled in. I was introduced and they quickly dove into a game of wit and quick thinking. LJ headed to the kitchen and I mozied on behind him trying to find where I fit in for the evening.
Her group was eclectic. They were mainly from Britain and were totally over Kenya.
I endured an hour of Cho explaining his position on why he hated Kenya. Then over a bowl of LJ’s delicious pasta, I listened to Enzo going in on how he was tired of his life and trying to figure out what he wanted. Irene topped the cake with expressing how she was tired and did not like going out to the clubs and bars at all. Somewhere within these two hours, relief came in the form of another Brit, married to a Kenyan, living in Nairobi named Carly. She was a friend of Irene’s... apparently, after some coaxing.
Irene initially found her to be too nice and positive when they were first getting to know each other. (Sounds like someone I know - Me) Carly wanted a friend so she stuck around. Basically she said, “YOU are going to be my friend.” Now her and Irene are the best of friends.
Her energy was just like mine. I appreciated having an ally in the room. We drank wine and chatted with LJ until he had to get ready to leave for another dinner date at a friend’s house. Irene, has a high adoration for LJ so she whined a bit of how he was leaving her group of friends to be with someone else. I told the Brit’s that I was invited by John to go to the British Consulate for a party that night.
No whining about my departure...
This information was met with groans, scoffs, and sarcastic laughter. All of them, except for Carly, said they would never go to a party over there. It took me a good thirty minutes to finally get my brain to work and say, “this is my vacation, not there’s.”
I went to the bedroom, got dressed, and headed out to meet John at the British Consulate.
I said my goodbyes and Irene said, “What is all the pomp and circumstance surrounding your exit.” That one hit a nerve, but I was reminded again, this was my vacation, not there’s. And I definitely felt that hint of annoyance and jealousy in the air. Girls, girls, girls…
I hopped in an Uber – yes, even Nairobi has it – and took a twenty minute ride to the British Embassy. I was very late from when the party started. This created a slight bit of confusion for the guards. But these security guards/bouncers/ “men looking to get some”, were very easily persuaded. I gave my friend’s name, said the name of the promotor, smiled a little bit, swiveled the hips, and was let in. I did the same at the next security check point and was let in. Makes you wonder what would happen if a real threat was to enter the Embassy. It did not take much to enter.
The place was gorgeous. A DJ was pumping a variety of music. Everyone was hanging out on the patio enjoying the cool breeze, drinks, and tunes.
Observing the dancing was something else. For EVERY song, they had a dance to it. Whether it was a specific step or a repetitive motion, each song had it’s own dance. I tried to keep up, but you could definitely tell I was from a different world. John met me with a drink in hand and we danced the night away with his coworkers and some people he had met there. The party lasted until midnight.
As they began to kick everyone out, John and a coworker talked about where to go next. A girl named Samantha came and up shook everyone’s hands and introduced herself. She said she was going to a birthday party and invited us to join. Seemed like our best option. So off we went with a lovely stranger. We hopped in her car, which she profusely apologized for its age, and took a five minute ride to a hookah lounge. There the real local party began.
It is times like these where taking a chance with a stranger gives you the real traveling experience. Again, follow your intuition. If I had listened to the Brits I would have stayed at the apartment drinking wine and smelling like smoke. If I had not followed Samantha we would could have ended up at some Mzungu (Foreigners) club. Instead we ended up in an awesome place. Samantha introduced us to everyone including the birthday boy.
We drank whisky and rum, danced to the best mix of R&B I have heard in years, and made friends with this birthday crew. As the night progressed some of the other locals from the British Consulate entered the hookah bar as well. It was nice to have familiar faces and, of course, they joined in the dancing.
John’ s friend had a flight at 7:00 AM so we decided to head out around 5:30 AM. With the seven and a half hours of partying and dancing I was pretty sober as we reached the car. I saw a glimpse of the sun rising as we headed back towards the Westlands.
It was an awesome, authentic Kenyan night that brought me into the morning. Let’s see what that light brings me in a few hours.