Friday, 27 November 2009

The bright lights of the big city

Last week I went to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. After being in Mbeya, this visit to the city felt like returning to the UK, with large shopping centres, supermarkets, coffee shops, wide roads, street lights and many other features that are not to be found where I live. I made the most of it! However, I wasn’t there for retail therapy or a coffee fix, I was there to attend a ‘Scripture Use / Translation Consultation’ together with others representing a range of African countries.
Being a ‘consultation’ I expected the majority of the sessions to be discussions, but this proved not to be the case. There were some such helpful times, but there were also a lot of presentations on varying topics. As seems to be common at conferences, the times I found most valuable were chatting to others over break times. It was also interesting (and humbling) to hear of what is being done in so many parts of Africa by the faithful men and women who were there (many of whom have been working for SIL for many years). Can you spot me?
While the consultation might not have been all I had hoped for, I enjoyed the break from the normal course of work and catching up with some friends in Nairobi. I even got to enjoy a bit of culture by attending a concert by the Nairobi orchestra!
There were some other highlights to the trip…I got to fly on a MAF plane! I’ve always been a big fan of the work that MAF does in aiding missionaries and supporting remote medical stations, so I was thrilled to finally have a chance to use one of their planes for a journey that I needed to make (and I was sitting right behind the pilot so I got to see everything).

The MAF plane we flew on
The other main highlight was a day in Dar with the Wisbeys – this special day felt like a week’s holiday rolled into one! We went to a nearby hotel overlooking the ocean where we swam, relaxed in the sun and enjoyed a delicious lunch – my choice being a seafood salad that was nearly all seafood with just a bit of lettuce (I think in England it would be the other way around – nearly all lettuce, with just a bit of seafood!) Good food in a beautiful place
Then we headed to a shopping centre to stock up on breakfast cereal and a few other items and where I was suddenly reminded that Christmas is coming as they had a Christmas tree up and several other decorations around. We don’t see anything like that here in Mbeya! Next it was off to Slipway - a touristy shopping centre where we had a good look around the various stalls selling African handy-work. Finally we headed to Seacliff – another shopping centre where we had a good browse round a book shop, and then entered its main attraction – a delicious restaurant called ‘Spurs’. While Matt worked his way through a rack or two of perfectly cooked spare ribs, Liz enjoyed fajitas and I indulged in burritos. Delicious! It was the most ‘western’ style restaurant (originating in South Africa) that I have ever been to in Tanzania (which the prices reflected). There was a supermarket there too which was a weird experience as it caters to the many ex-pats in the city by selling imported products from the UK and America – I couldn’t believe that they had KP peanuts, when you can buy delicious Tanzanian peanuts cheap from roadside kiosks, and cereal boxes saying, “Buy 2 for £1.99” (they were, of course, being sold for a lot more than the equivalent of this in Tanzanian shillings).
Sadly, this lovely day came to an end and the next morning we were up at 5am and endured a 13 hour bus trip back home.