Hotel Afrique

Hotels as visited by Dutch video journalist Ruud Elmendorp

Mid-View Central, Nairobi – Kenya

with 2 comments

‘What would you like for breakfast, sir?’ The eyes of the lady at the reception are peeking seriously behind the bars of the counter. It is ten in the evening, and my stomach is full from the beef stew, or rather the few Tuskers I enjoyed with it in Trendz Bar.
‘How can I think of eating when I just have eaten?’ I gently ask her. She lifts her shoulders a bit.
‘It’s okay,’ she says and wants to take back the form she just handed out.
‘Okay,’ I said, and started to make a choice for the next morning. Toast, fried eggs for me. Boiled eggs for my beautiful wife Mariam. So I was ticking the options, and returned the paper. The lady studied my choices.
‘Would you like sausages to it?’ she adds with big eyes.
That night we slept well, ensured of a copious breakfast in Mid-View Central Hotel, Nairobi. The hotel is located in a huge white building on Latema Road in city centre. The street is notorious for its many thieves, and most obviously: the matatus. These are the Nissan mini buses that carry passengers all over town, and even Kenya.

This day I have been working from the room, and through the window came their continuous hooting, accompanied by conductors shouting kumi, kumi, kumi! Meaning ten Shillings for the ride. At my windows the matatu to Westlands – Kangemi, mbau, mbau, mbau! seems to be based. That means twenty Shilling. Think that these two words must be the most commonly used in Kiswahili. Imagine all these conductors shouting them every minute and every second of the day all over the country. If you write that on a single line, it could easily span from Cape Town to Cairo.

Though the goings on Latema Road are dictated by the hour of the day. Early in the morning the matatus start off, and they will be gradually be overtaken by the hawkers, selling anything ranging between oranges, tissues, sweets, and mobile phone accessories. They have their own way of shouting something like Bei mia, bei mia, bei mia or Bei hamsini, bei hamsini, bei hamsini. The first sentence meaning ‘for hundred’, the latter ‘for fifty’. The hawkers on Latema Road regularly get chased by the city council police, because since a while hawking in city centre is only allowed in certain areas. So from time to time you see the hawkers packing their stuff, and run of like they are chased by wildebeests. That’s when the kanjos are near, the Kikuyu word for city council police. Kanjo is colloquial for Council. These guys are tough; they arrest and beat the hawkers. If you suffer from a perverted humor, you shout Kanjo on Latema Road. Surely you will see the hawkers jumping in all directions.

The next phase in the cycle of Latema Road is Trendz Bar, near the crossing with good old River Road. The music starts around six, and the volumes easily overrules the matatus and the touts. It’s great to sit here with a beer, over viewing the Mid-View Central Hotel, and to see the sun downing. That’s just what I am going to do now. It’s also a save place to drink. The volume of the music is so loud that you can sustain it for one and half our at the most. Then to bed next to my beautiful wife Mariam, waiting for Trendz to silence, until the early morning matatus give you your wake up call.

Written by admin

July 8th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Africa,hotel

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2 Responses to 'Mid-View Central, Nairobi – Kenya'

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  1. Ruud,

    Funny how a foreigner will always experience more of a town than the locals themselves! I can tell you how it goes in Zanzibar and Kampala from experience, but Nairobi — i hear it from others!

    This post is so true!

    Dark Angel

    10 Jul 08 at 10:26 am

  2. Ruud,
    I’ve just recognized this cool blog of you! I hope we meet in Kenya in October and have a beer :-)
    Best, Martin


    5 Aug 08 at 2:17 am

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