Kenya – the African pearl
(For reference: The Republic of Kenya is a state in East Africa. The area of Kenya is 582,650 km², of which 11,230 km² is water surface. Kenya is a former British colony which gained independence on December 12, 1963. Languages are official English and Swahili).
Anechka, Hi, I know you are an active traveler for a long time and I always wondered how long you started to travel and what reasons motivated you to do it?
I always wanted to visit India. For some reason it felt like it would be good for me. And I’ve been practicing Buddhism since 1998 and there are a lot of Buddhist monuments and teachers in India. I never liked Moscow, as long as I remember it I felt uncomfortable there. I adore warmth and sunshine, while in Russia it is cloudy and cold for the most part of the year.
There were also inner reasons. I wanted to see other cultures, to feel free and open to the world. At first I traveled in Russia (I also hitchhiked, was a participant of Moscow hitchhiking school). Then I moved to Israel, and from Israel I left to travel to India.
What countries have you visited in the last few years?
India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Italy, Kenya.
Which countries do you find most appealing and why?
India, of course. It’s a magical country, you can find anything you want there. Besides, there are very interesting people there – among those who come there, there are a lot of practitioners of various spiritual practices, musicians, artists, healers. And among the Hindus there are also many interesting people.
Although India is far from being a paradise on Earth, it has many problems of its own. India is a big and diverse country, with different climatic zones – from the warm ocean shore with palm trees to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas.
I know you are now somehow magically living in Kenya, how did that happen?
Thanks to magical India! In Arambol (North Goa) I met a young man from Kenya (he worked in India as an acrobat in an African show). We had a fit of love, and here I am in Kenya… although I’m not a permanent resident of Kenya yet, and I intend to leave it occasionally.
Please tell our readers about life in Kenya. Could you tell us a little bit about the culture, traditions, customs of that country with your insider’s perspective. It would be interesting, since Africa is still a distant and little-known continent for many.
Well I am not such a great connoisseur of local customs, as I live in a tourist place where many things are made for Westerners. From superficial observations – Kenyans are very fond of music, they have a developed sense of rhythm. It is normal in their culture to touch a stranger (in our culture it is almost taboo). And here some child can come up to you on the street and just touch your hand, for example…
Kenyans are Christians (there are both Protestants and Catholics, there are many churches everywhere. But the church service is not as serious as ours, it is accepted to sing (psalms and Christian songs) and quite normal to dance. Also in Russia we are used to men carrying weights. Here it is often the women who carry the weights.
In general, African women are strong and proud of it. But for me it is very unusual to check in somewhere in a hostel, at the reception desk sits a girl. And she gives us the keys to the room, and she grabs our backpacks (2 at once) and carries them for us to our room …
One time my boyfriend and his mom and I were going to visit his relatives in the village, where we had to go by bus. We had one backpack. And here we go out of the bus, his mother (she is 50 years old) grabs the backpack and vigorously with him is in front of us. Of course, I say my loved one “urgently take away from my mom backpack! He did take it from his mother and is carrying himself, but my mother and I do not understand what it is …
You interacted with the locals – the Kenyans, what are their special sides, in your opinion?
They are cheerful and curious. They are not inclined to workaholism, they take things slowly. But family is very important in life, families are still big.
Tell us a little bit about Kenya’s cuisine? Maybe there’s an uncomplicated recipe you can share?
Kenyan cuisine is not as varied as, say, Indian cuisine. And it has a lot of meat dishes, and I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t fully enjoy the local cuisine. To my surprise, they don’t use spices and the food is not spicy at all. They eat meat, fish, dairy, corn (maize), rice, beans, vegetables.
An interesting dish is fried bananas (matoke) which, by the way, taste just like fried potatoes. But it requires special bananas (green and unsweetened), they are not sold in Russia. There are almost no soups and salads in Kenyan cuisine. A popular dish among poor people is ugali (corn porridge made of fine corn flour). It is used as a side dish. There is also a leafy green vegetable called skumaviki. It is finely chopped and fried. Now the local cuisine is slowly mixing with European cuisine.
Do you meet any European travelers in Kenya?
Yes, of course, and quite a lot. Kenya is a very popular African country among tourists, it is relatively safe and has a developed infrastructure. But there are not many Russians in Kenya yet (according to statistics, about 5,000 a year). But this year in November there is a direct charter from Moscow to Mombasa (a city on the coast of Kenya), so I think the number of Russian tourists will increase.
And now some questions, which always interest free travelers! What is the issue with a visa to Kenya?
You get a visa at the border (if you arrive by plane, at the airport). You fill out the form, they take your picture with a webcam, take your fingerprints, pay $50 and get a visa for 3 months. Then it still can be extended if desired for another 3 months within the country (come to the office Immigrushchey, pay there another $ 25 and you extend the visa).
If I want to come and live in Kenya for a couple of months, is it possible to rent a house? How much will it cost?
Of course it is possible. The cost depends a lot on the specific location in Kenya. The largest selection of housing on the ocean coast. The most expensive accommodation is in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. You can get a budget accommodation for $7-10 per day… Get ready to pay at least $20 per day in Nairobi.
How much does it cost to eat in Kenya?
You’re better off looking for accommodation with a kitchen and cooking on your own, food is cheap. I spend $150 a month on groceries for two people, and I don’t save much. There are restaurants for tourists, they are high quality, but expensive. There are, on the contrary, restaurants for locals, they are cheap, but not tasty.
What important and interesting places would you recommend to visit in Kenya? What could Kenya be of interest to you?
If you want a beach holiday, then the ocean coast. Dyani Beach is a great place. Malindi, Lama, Mombasa. Excellent white sand beaches, not a lot of people (peak season December – January). In addition, Kenya has plenty of national parks where you can watch the life of wildlife.
I liked Lake Victoria (by the way, it’s the 2nd largest lake in the world, located between Kenya and Uganda). Some tourists go to Masai Mara Park to see the life of the Masai, one of the most famous tribes in Africa.
In what language can you communicate with the people of Kenya?
Actually they speak Swahili, but tourists are perfectly communicated in English, most Kenyans understand English (well, if it’s not grandmother from a remote village). Some inhabitants of Kenya also know German (there are many tourists from Germany in Kenya). In general, the number of Kenyans who speak English fluently is clearly greater than the number of Russians who know English.
I know you are now helping people who come to Kenya on business and tourism – as a guide interpreter and accompanying person, tell us a little about it?
It’s on a project level for now, but it’s something I want to do. Kenya is an interesting country, and there are prospects here. By the way, in Kenya foreigners are officially allowed to buy real estate and land (in many other warm countries, such as Thailand and India, foreigners are not allowed to buy land, they can only take a long-term lease). And many Europeans have already taken advantage of it, especially on the ocean coast.
The real estate market in Kenya is growing rapidly. Moreover, I myself have begun to think about the possibility of buying a house in Kenya (actually at the moment I am only constrained by lack of money, otherwise I would have bought it). By the way, if you live in Kenya for 5 years (on a tourist or business visa), you can get citizenship. They want to make a semblance of South Africa and are actively attracting foreign investors now.
Is it possible to make an interesting itinerary for Kenya and visit and see the country with your help?
Yes, of course! You can do it with me or without me (there are a lot of travel agencies that offer such services, you can contact them via the Internet). And you can book a hotel here online. But you have to know English at least a little.
Anya, I know that all travelers are familiar with the concept of freedom and independence, because they make their own life. What is the concept of freedom for you?
On a superficial level, freedom for me is to do what I’m interested in doing at the moment, the freedom to manage my time and energy. And at a deeper level, it’s freedom from fears, attachments and family stereotypes, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m getting there with varying success…
Anya, what are your interests now, I know that you are always searching for yourself? Can you tell us about it?
My latest hobby is Tarot cards, I work as a tarotologist, also remotely. I also very much like family constellations (very conditionally they can be called a kind of family therapy) and I learn how to do them, but unfortunately they cannot be done remotely.
Many readers write letters saying that they too want to travel and see the world, but are afraid to go alone. I know you’ve been traveling on your own for a while, give me some advice – how safe is that?
In fact, if you are afraid to go alone, you can look for travel companions (now a lot of sites and forums for independent travelers, where you can find a travel companion). Although I was not afraid of one. And nothing terrible happened to me. Walking around Moscow at night is scarier. Although I spoke English well and I was not afraid to talk to strangers. In general it is safe to travel alone if you do it deliberately.
And finally, what advice would you like to give to readers who want to change their lives but don’t know how? Who wants to start traveling but is hesitant to take the first step?
You can start with the inner journey – do some spiritual practice, go to a psychologist and work with your fears. Fears can be overcome! If you want to travel to other countries, learn English. Develop your communication skills and intuition. You can start with a small trip (for example, for a month – you don’t have to go for six months at once).
You can go somewhere for the first time with more experienced travelers… The main thing to remember is that life around you reflects you, if you have a clean inside, nothing will happen outside. And remember that life (at least in this body) is finite… You can grow old and die without seeing the beauty of the world…
Besides travelling develops independence, creative thinking, ability to take responsibility for our deeds and learn from our mistakes, and also trust in Life and know that everything always happens right from the point of view of our soul (even if it seems wrong to us at the moment). If anyone has any questions for me (about Kenya, about travel in general) or has a request for an individual consultation using Tarot cards, you can contact me.
By e-mail: email@example.com My livejournal: annakrol.livejournal.com My skype: krol.anna1
Anya, thank you for such an interesting and informative story. We wish you the realization of all your most wonderful ideas and all the sunniest and wonderful things. :)Be happy and may everything always work out for you!