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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Nairobi Sightseeing

03.19.2011 – After enjoying our first relaxing night of the trip with most of the entire team (unfortunately Dave had to depart earlier in the morning), Nimeesh (Canada), Francesco (Italy), Joshua (China), and I began our day at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage where traumatized baby elephants, who had just witnessed their mothers being murdered by poachers, are rescued and raised by the staff.  Eighteen elephant calves (and one baby rhino which we did not see) rush with excitement to their handlers holding bottles of milk.  While elephants toss and turn in the dirt, some venture beyond their designated area to greet bystanders more closely.  All elephants enjoy their time spent playing with each other in front of the crowds.  Eventually all will be released back into the wild, but for now, they are able to live free of fear and recover with others.

The second half of our day is spent at the Masi Market in Nairobi.  We are immediately greeted by numerous brokers as we exit our cabs and try to enter the market.  Thousands of items are offered, however, be warned, you must be ready to negotiate.  Once you find an item you may desire, the broker will write down his price on a pad of paper, which is always OUTRAGEOUS.  Once you reject, he asks you for the price you are willing to pay, and you go back on forth on prices.  All prices are negotiated in shillings, so you must constantly calculate the amount in US dollars to get a perception of how much you are paying (80 shilling per $1).  Honesty, if you pay more than 25% of his initial price, you are probably being over-charged.  You just have to be willing to walk to the next mat and find the same exact item.  Once an agreement is reached with a quick handshake, you are on your way.  While an interesting place, it is not really the place for me, as you are constantly bombarded with handshakes and requests for purchases.

Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

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