We’ve been told that we should never, ever use public transportation in Kenya. Westerners say that the buses are accident-prone, while the bus stations are bombing-prone. (A Somali group has bombed several Nairobi bus stations in the past year in response to Kenya’s invasion of Somalia.) So for now, we take taxis, which are expensive, and which drive on the same dangerous roads as the accident-prone buses. I rode buses in Ghana, and South Africa and have fond memories of using chaotic public transport in foreign countries.
Safety vs. Integrating into the Community
For me, there are two issues at stake with safety. One is staying safe, which is always a priority for us. But everyone we talk to has a different level of risk tolerance, so it’s hard to figure out what’s safe enough for us. Some people would never travel to Nairobi because they wouldn’t feel safe enough here. Others live like the locals, eating, drinking and traveling in the same way the locals do. We fall somewhere in the middle.
The second issue at stake is integrating into the community. We can’t choose where we live here (my spouse’s company arranges everything); nor can we change the fact that we are American. But we can choose to eat at local restaurants, instead of eating at the Italian restaurant at the hotel. We can choose to learn Kiswahili. Right now, we are trying to figure out how safe our choices are.