Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Outside the Ostrich Ranch...

...we went for a walk and came across this.

It was a beautiful day, and the vista out there is awesome. It's so good to get away from the city sometimes.

We coulda been in Texas.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ever ride an ostrich?

Rachel and Ben did. So did Jay and Paul, though we're not pictured here.

We visited the Maasai Ostrich ranch. Besides riding them, you could eat an ostrich steak (we did) and buy various ostrich skin items or eggs (we didn't).

Sunday, October 29, 2006


A few Sunday afternoons ago, we hung out with a German family at their mission compound, just outside Nairobi. (That property borders Nairobi Game Park. They said more than once, lions were seen in their neighbors' yards!)

So the mission names their trucks - in this case, Abraham. Abe is an old German beast, circa 1950-something. I'm not sure when he immigrated to Kenya. Apparently he has seen more than one engine over the years.

I also saw Moses, but I didn't take his picture. (It was raining.)

Amazingly resourceful

On Saturday, I went to buy some "new" used running shoes at the open-air market. (Success - at a good price.)

I realized I needed a key copied when I saw a key maker guy. He created a duplicate using only a metal file and a vice! It was amazing to watch him work. The final phase was checking the size of the "teeth" using a hand-caliper (basically a "C" shaped piece of metal) - with no measurements.

My apologies that I didn't get a picture - I broke my rule and forgot to bring my camera along!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The furniture store

Today I have a guest photographer - Josh Cadd. He and his family moved to Nairobi about six months ago. Part of getting settled meant buying furniture. This is the shop they chose. It's part of the "jua kali" sector of businesses. That's Swahili for "hot sun" - the craftsmen work under the hot sun without any roof over their heads.

So many of the jua kali guys' products are beautiful.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Cadila Pharmaceuticals of India have a logo that reminds me a lot of Mazda's. I'm not sure what the halo below the logo is supposed to add.

Heather and I have had a persistent cough for weeks now. Cadila's cough syrup has made some nights survivable.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fruit salad

Not far from where I work is this fruit salad kiosk. The lady makes fruit salad while you watch. One thing that might be different than your American fruit salad is that avocado is an ingredient. Try it sometime!

Monday, October 23, 2006

End of Ramadan

In honor of Eid (today - Tuesday), I'm featuring some bilingual packaging that I bought in Nairobi. A lot of stuff is made for east and north Africa and the middle east - with shared packaging for all the countries represented by those markets.

Arabic is not widely spoken in Kenya, but I benefit by seeing how well different manufacturers adapt their designs using Arabic and English.

So why the Pampers? (Our youngest is 5.) We don't have any announcements to make! Friends recently had a baby, and this is one of the presents we bought for them.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Incredible plants

A small grove of trees at the Nairobi Arboretum had these amazing roots.

Rachel is joined in the shot by Jay and his friend Brad.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Movies in Nairobi

Nairobi has several very modern cinemas. A few of the latest releases come out here on the same date as in America. (One example is the final Star Wars in 2005 - we saw it here before our American friends, due to time zone differences!)

Ant Bully was not Heather's favorite. I considered it light entertainment for kids. (Rachel is in front of the large display in the cinema's lobby, showing off her sugar drink.) I think Ant Bully hit Nairobi about two months after it hit the States.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jacaranda season again

It is wonderful to walk home with a carpet of jacaranda blossoms underfoot. Purple flowers cover the tops of these 30-40 feet high trees. One downtown street I visited a few days ago had several along the center. And that was just a side street!

Yes, I love this part of the year here. (I guess it's similar to spring. We're entering the "short rains" - the shorter set of annual rains.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Another club

Some of you might remember my visit to the Tanga Yacht Club. (Scroll down to April 9th.)

One recent Sunday afternoon, we went as a family to the Aero Club of East Africa. They serve lunch. (We're not members.)

It was fun for us to see small planes (and a few helicopters) take off and land. This cool plane was parked just outside the club's fence.

It was another of those glimpses into Kenya's colonial past; not a single club president was African - from 1927 until the present.

Inside the building was a small museum. This 9-cylinder engine used to generate 600 horsepower.

I apologize for the bad text wrap; Blogger does not provide the most accurate of site tools. And this blogger is not skilled at html.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Made with a fork?

In front of the old colonial house in the Arboretum is a stone walkway. The stones have these marks on them. They reminded me of peanut butter cookies my mom made when I was a kid - she used a fork to flatten them.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nuther billboard

I got such a kick out of where they put the logo for this soap company... It's right where one of their products would be applied.

(This is in a very visible place in Nairobi. Maybe 250,000 people see it every day.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My desk

Eddie inspired me to show you my desk. Obviously I normally would be in that chair, but I'm not skilled enough to hold the camera behind me and get a decent shot. And my tripod is in America.

Under the bigger monitor is a roll of toilet paper. That's my kleenex.

The monitor is hooked to my main work computer - a dreadful Windows box. To the right is a lovely Mac laptop that I am using to do a welcome design project. (I'm designing a calendar for the SIL group that works in Uganda and Tanzania.)

And yes, my desk is a mess.

So let's start a revolution - you put a pic of your desk on your blog too.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another product that would be hard to find in WalMart

This one is from Argentina. Usually this kind of thing comes to Kenya from the Arabian Peninsula (think Dubai). I found it hard to understand how it could be easier to ship something like that here from Argentina vs. shipping it from China. How many goods come to Kenya from Argentina? Not many, I'd guess. But we get the same high percentage of stuff from China here as the States does. So it makes sense to me that some little candies from China would be worth shipping here along with padlocks and bootleg videos. But what else comes from Argentina to Kenya? I haven't seen anything else.

Yeah, yeah - globalization.

By the way, the mints were average - but a pretty good deal at about 28c. And I give the package design a C- ...for its poor combination of "menthol" and "plus".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Those of you familiar with Latin America and Africa know that time has a different meaning here compared to North America, Europe and the far east.

My awareness of this was raised to new levels recently - a check came via registered mail for the refund of the deposit for an electricity account this week. The account was for a person who left Kenya maybe 15 years ago. I would not have thought this unusual except that a similarly long-absent person's deposit arrived the same day.

Amazingly new levels of inefficiency? An account getting lost in the shuffle and rediscovered after many many years? I leave that to you to decide. I guess it's just amazing that a refund came at all!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Making his mark

Mr. Mwangi decided to let everyone know that he had been to this part of the Nairobi Arboretum. This is on a variant of a sisal plant.

If Mr. Mwangi were in North America, he'd be carving on an oak tree.

(By the way, I think I did this post already - but I couldn't find it! I guess my memory is going in my old age.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Just outside the entrance gate of the Arboretum is this sign with Arabic and Hindi scripts. It tells a bit of information about the Arboretum. (I could tell because there is also a section in English, which I conveniently cut off the photo.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Nairobi Arboretum

One Saturday, we visited the Arboretum for a family outing. (Free except for parking!)

Several of the old trees have plaques on them. This was one of the older trees. I'm not sure if 1910 refers to when the tree was planted or when the plaque was put on the tree. In any case, that's a long time ago.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It only lasted a week

This giant billboard was only up for about a week. My theory is that the advertising company didn't provide the right bribe to the right official that clears such things.

The ad itself is why I took the shot – it's not very flattering to Kenyan coffee. A much better headline would have been "The World's Best Coffee - Kenyan of Course!"

Update: Mysteriously, the coffee ad reappeared there about a week after is was absent. Go figure.

Another update: when I went by there again, it was gone once more!

Yet another update: when I went by there a few days later, it was up again. I didn't see it this morning. Probably down.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Along the shores of Lake Naivasha are many rose plantations. Most of the roses end up in Europe. Some of the roses are grown outside and some inside greenhouses.

Most if not all of the plantations are owned by European concerns. They provide jobs for a lot of people. And beautiful flowers for a lot of other people.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Dusty Bum

In a small village near Lake Naivasha is this bar - The Dusty Bum.

We didn't go inside. But I had to stop for the shot - for you, my dear readers. (And I paid the owner about 30c for the privilege of taking the shot.)

Of type size

A faithful reader has mentioned that the type in my posts is too small to read.

I prefer the smaller size. It wraps around photos better and looks cooler.

But in the end, communication is what's most important. So I'm going to this bigger size.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Amazing house

Across Lake Naivasha from where we stayed was this incredible house. Our host told us that it is a guest house - and people pay over a thousand dollars a night to stay there! He said one weekend, a couple flew there in separate helicopters!

We didn't see a swimming pool, but then before we could explore the grounds, a guard came out and politely told us to leave. (We were playing Frisbee along the lakeshore near the house.)

Where you can find Paul Merrill

If you are looking for Paul Merrill, go over to  Shiny Bits of Life , which is my main blog - or  Greener Grass Media , which is my somewhat...