Mtumba and Hiking at Ngong Hills

On Saturday, my new Belgian friend Maxim took me to the mtumba.  It really is impossible to describe what that place entails.  It is a huge, huge, huge “market”.  It looks pretty much akin to a slum, with all the stalls being made from wooden beams, iron sheets, and pieces of plastic sheet tacked on.  And when I say huge, this place occupies a whole separate part of town, with streets and streets being formed just by little shack-stalls.The little trails between stalls hardly allow a person to pass through, and are the muddiest paths I have ever encountered in my life.  Maxim and I had turned up in open shoes, and immediately sunk ankle deep in mud- literally.  We trailed around for hours, each footstep a challenge, as we had to unstick our foot- and shoe- from the deep mud, just to take a step and sink again.  Needless to say we were filthy.

All of the clothes sold at mtumba are second hand, and as I predicted, are actually the clothes that have been donated from Europe to the poor people in Africa.  Many of the clothes still had the “British Heart Foundation”, “Oxfam”, or “Red Cross” tickets still stuck to them.  So, charities- I hope you know that all of the clothes you donate are being flogged on the market.

Leaving the mtumba, we noticed a channel of water running along a ditch.  Many locals were squatted there, cleaning off their shoes.  So, throwing a look of resignation at each other, Maxim and I stepped into the water… which may or not have been sewage.  At least some of the mud was washed off our feet.  We quickly headed into a shack, for a lovely meal of nyama choma (roast goat), ugali (you don’t want to know), and kale.  And of course tusker.  Always the tusker.

Sunday a big group of us from the Nairobi Expat Social facebook group had planned to go hiking to the Ngong Hills.  Ngong means knuckles (on your fist) in Maasai, and the hills do in fact resemble a fist from a distance.  The story goes that a huge giant when walking near Mount Kilimanjaro, tripped over, and the Ngong Hills are where his knuckles landed, and left a dent in the land.  Don’t worry, we didn’t meet the giant while hiking.

There have been a lot of muggings in Ngong apparently, so walkers are obliged to take armed KWS officers along.  So our group was assigned two gentlemen- Alex and David.  Throughout our walk, they flung their guns around in an alarmingly nonchalant manner, pointed them at us accidentally on many occasions, and generally dossed about at the back of the group.  Not particularly bothered about our safety apparently.  They also found it hilarious that we “might meet a buffalo, don’t provoke it, they’re very dangerous” (shouted from the back of the group).

The walk was lovely, very beautiful scenery.  Also, very nice people… Nairobi does seem to amass a lot of nice characters.  Finally, thank you to Maxim, who took some very awesome photographs of the day!


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