Already a week has passed in Kenya, it's unbelievable how time goes by faster and faster every day. I'll try to summarize our adventures so far:
Friday: Arrive, sit in traffic and go to bed. Simple as that.
Saturday: Joel from the Global CSC in Armonk visited. Nice coincidence to get to meet him while on a CSC assignment. After that, this was a full on tourist day. We visited the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Nairobi Safari Walk. We had a nice meal at a mall sitting outside in the sun and shopped for some necessities. We enjoyed welcome dinner and drinks at a very nice restaurant and opening the terrace season (at least for some of us) - good fun!
Sunday: Half a tourist day. Met Muriuki Mureithi from Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) again in the morning to discuss our projects and then we worked on the first client presentations. In the afternoon we visited the Bomas of Kenya, a cultural centre here in Nairobi. The music, dance and acrobatic moves of the performers were amazing! Big monkeys climbing on the ceiling panels provided extra entertainment.
Monday: Suit up! Weather was extremely warm just in time for our first client presentations at Women Enterprise Fund and at Strathmore University. Entering the first building required a sign-in specifying our laptops' serial numbers. This procedure makes one think "why", but asking didn't seem appropriate. Maybe next time. We also got a little cultural flavor when the actual meeting started with a group prayer. Strathmore University seemed very modern with new equipment and determined students, which was delightful to see. Dinner was served at the hotel and late night meeting prep awaited the guys presenting on Tuesday.
Tuesday: First destination was Kenya Agribusiness and Agro-industry Alliance where we learned about milk supply chain among other things. We had yet another cup of really nice Kenyan tea made into hot milk. Then we visited IBM East Africa office and got to experience a first real rainy season downpour when walking to lunch. Last of the introduction presentations was at the Federation of Kenya Employers after which we got to taste the Nairobi traffic again. And I mean tasting literally, the diesel exhaust gets into the mouth and nose and hair and everywhere so much that an hour in the traffic will give you a headache for more reasons than one. We had a group dinner at Viva, a local restaurant where we were treated to ugali and goat meat among other things. We ate by hand, although scooping spinach with the ugali was quite demanding for a beginner. Food tasted good especially after building the appetite for 1,5 hours in the restaurant.
Wednesday: Meetings with the clients again, gym for some and swimming for others. Short power outages seem to be common, but so far nothing disruptive. Around dinner we received some information about our upcoming safari to Amboseli - cannot wait!
Thursday: Laundry service at the hotel seems to have its own
challenges, whether laundry is picked up and returned to the same person
within the expected time frame is a surprise every time. We celebrated a "Cultural Exchange" evening over pizza, which was just as formal as it sounds. Our team members shared some stories and souvenirs from their home countries. Caipirinhas were involved.
Friday: Teams had interviews and meetings and everything didn't go quite as planned. There were taxi delays, misunderstandings, changes of plans and all the good stuff one can hope when trying to rush to three different places in Nairobi in one day. Our team was invited to have a lovely lunch at an Italian restaurant right next to the IBM office, which finally made our day. Evening dinner at a nearby Secret Garden restaurant was a nice end to the hectic work week.
Overall the week's wonderful experiences as well as challenges can be captured in the simple expression: TIA = This Is Africa.