Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nairobi attack and us

Very sad weekend here in Nairobi that continues. First and most importantly we are all fine. We were actually out of town, four hours away at a game park. In a way we are grateful this happened on a weekend as we were all together and didn't have to worry where each other and the kids were. 

We had just sat down for lunch when Rhonda got some texts from co-workers giving us a heads up. First it seemed it was an armed robbery but over the next hour it became clear this was much more.

The attack happened at the Westgate Mall that we go to all the time. The images really hit home since we can picture ourselves in the exact places the photos and videos were taken.

The mall itself is only about a mile from our apartment. As a write this I hear the helicopters circling overheard and have heard a couple explosions. It is very surreal to be living this. We really don't feel unsafe though since we are behind gates with security guards at the ready.
Matthew and his Monopoly board game
The kids had lots of questions at first but over the past day they have moved onto more important subjects for them, like playing with friends and making a board game. Good to know they are so resilient.

While it was shocking to hear this happened, it really shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Back almost two years ago the group behind the attack warned this would occur and the US government has had an on-going warning. Just in our everyday life you don't feel an imminent threat. We were much more concerned about random robberies. But for the most part our life here is fairly easy - short commutes, great weather year-round, kids happy in school, and household help, so it's easy to put into the back of your mind a seemingly existential threat.

Besides the senseless violence I have been worried about the impact this will have on the Kenyan tourist economy. We have met many Kenyans who rely on visitors for their livelihood and I know this will have a serious impact. At the resort we were at this weekend I could feel the concern in the worker's faces.

Ruby enjoying a scrumptious never-
ending plate of desserts
As mentioned we weren't even in Nairobi when this happened. We had planned a short weekend visit to Sweetwaters - a tented camp in the shadow of Mt. Kenya in a conservatory called Ol Pejeta. It was a nice place with warthogs, gazelles, and rhinos right outside the camp. Also nearby is a chimpanzee sanctuary. We were so amazed by these creatures that we went twice.

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