I’m writing from Kisumu, Kenya right now. I don’t have much time here at the Internet cafe, but I wanted to share a couple of first impressions that surprised me. I will try to upload pictures later when I get a chance.
1. Compared to Tanzania, Kenya is really developed. It feels and looks like the West in comparison, although I know I’m going to go back to the States and find that my scale of development has been a little skewed. Anyway, even in cities like Nakuru and Kisumu, most of the roads are paved, the business centers look nice, well built, and clean, and there is a broader range of available products, especially American and European products.
2. Kenya feels a bit like India. The streets, especially in poorer areas, are extremely crowded, and dirty. It is very reminiscent of Delhi, although there are not quite so many people.
3. Kenya is safe. I don’t know why it still remains on the US Travel Warning list, but I have not felt unsafe once since I got here, and all of the expats/long term travelers I have met here have said the same. However, the places up North, near Somalia, may be more dangerous.
4. Everyone seems to speak Swahili and English. I had heard that not everyone speaks Swahili, but that is mainly what I hear on the street, with a smattering of English. It is more difficult to understand here than in Tanzania, and I’m more inclined now to believe Tanzanians when they scoff at Kenyan Swahili. Interestingly, newcasts are in English, but often the interviews and video clips in the stories are in Swahili with no translation.