Just Like Old Times

Kenya visit, Wed 7th March 2018

I’d been looking forward to the Museum Wednesday Bird Walk with Fleur Ng’weno and it was just like old times.

We meet at the Nairobi racecourse, about 18-20 people, mainly museum trainees and guides. We don’t move far from the cars, as sightings are continuous.

African green pigeons are spotted first, lovely colourful birds. We list about 60-70 birds altogether. Migrants are still around: black caps, European bee-eaters and warblers.

Familiar African weavers, golden, grosbeak and baglefecht; bulbuls (I remember on my first ever bird walk with Fleur way back in the ’80s, being so excited at my first bulbul spotting, and Fleur patiently showing me how to find it with my new binoculars). Bronze and collared sunbirds busy themselves among the flowering trees. A crested eagle, fish eagles (I’ve never seen them in the city before), swifts and martins. Fleur spots a yellow throated long claw near the home straight of the racecourse, pointing in her familiar pose. You can see it’s been raining.

I have to leave at noon as I’d inadvertently locked the maid out of Anthea’s house. I have a quick shower, then go off to join Fleur for a sandwich lunch at the Museum.

The new Chinese tangle of roads at the junction filled me with confusion. I missed the turning to the museum (needless to say, there were no signposts) so had to go a very long way round.

Fleur had lost weight, after a heart replacement in the US, and had missed a few bird walks as a result. But she was very chirpy as we sat in the museum cafetaria, exchanging news. Outside, a Women’s Day function was in full swing. She directed me to the smart new Kenya Museum Society offices and I offered them 4 books to sell on commission. Astonishingly, VAT is charged on books in Kenya.

Leaving the museum on the way back to Kenton College, I took a wrong turning before the interchange and found myself crawling up the dual carriageway towards the city centre, inch by inch. At church corner, I doubled back past the United Kenya Club, turned right down Arboretum Road and up to Kenton College.

Ben Kadima was waiting for me at the gate of Anthea’s block of flats. It was good to catch up with him and reminisce about old times when he was my valuable technician in the computer lab at Hillcrest Secondary School. He looks well. His wife died a few years ago leaving him to care for two sons and twin daughters of 15. After a fiasco at a parastatal when he was framed for fraud, and had to use a pro bono lawyer to clear his name, he’s been freelancing IT and networking services. The political situation, and nervousness at what the politicians are going to do next – has caused an anxious slow-down of business. The country appears to be on a knife-edge and nobody can guess what will happen.

Before he left, Ben had a text asking him to go to Ongata Rongai to talk about completing a paused contract to install IT links in a new housing estate – a government requirement. So maybe things are looking up.

Anthea meanwhile had taken the car for a veggie/fruit shop for the weekend. She makes a delicious chicken /manche toux stir fry with baked potatoes and avocado and tomato salad for supper.

My legs are beginning to ache and I look forward to an early night.



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