The National Museum

Did you know they have flying squirrels in Africa, too? I didn’t, but I learned that Wednesday during a trip to the National Museum.

The problem with business trips is that you’re actually working. But after getting a lot done on Tuesday, I decided I needed to get out.

Of course, I want to save all the really cool stuff for weekends when Leo can join me, but I figured a trip to the National Museum wasn’t a requirement for him. So Wednesday morning I grabbed a cab and headed out there.

entrance1

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a “national” museum, but it turned out to be fairly interesting. This building is the third reincarnation of the museum, and part of it was undergoing some work. After I paid my fee, I entered the main hall, which features items that reflect the key aspects of Kenya’s country and culture.

An intern named Diana gave me a free private tour, explaining everything in great detail. Too much detail. One hour and 15 minutes into it, we still had plenty to go. I’ve never had a private tour before, and it’s slightly awkward to constantly nod and “mm-hmmm” every time someone explains something. Filing that away for future reference.

So here are just a few tidbits. First, back to the main hall, where I was greeted by gourds and girls. The pack of quiet school girls openly stared as I toured around. I’m not sure I’m that interesting a creature, so I tried to smile and seem like a friendly human being. I snapped this one after they’d all turned back around.

girls_gourds

The museum offered information about Kenya’s history, the evolution of human beings (in “the Cradle of Life” exhibit), stuffed animals found in the country and art. I ended my tour at an exhibit that showed items from all the stages of traditional Kenyan life, childhood through old age. There I was interested to see that humans really are the same everywhere. As children, they play with dolls and toys. They mark the graves of their dead with wooden headstones, taller ones for the more important people. However, they don’t mark the site until the person has visited them in a dream to let them know they’ve gone on.

After enough museum, I bought a pair of earrings from the gift shop for KSh300. (That’s 300 Kenyan shillings, which is $3.) I then headed over to the snake pit, where the gaggle of girls was now standing around the main exhibit, an outdoor sunken square full of snakes. One or two of them smiled shyly at me, which I got a kick out of.

I lunched at the museum cafe, where I learned that “Creole style” chips (chips are fries, just like in any former British colony) are covered with a fantastic cheese sauce and red and green peppers. I also ate a club sandwich, made of three slices of bread, bacon, some sliced chicken and a fried egg. Delicious!

I was nervous finding a cab outside the museum, but it wasn’t a problem, and I was back at the hotel by 1 p.m. to do some more work.

In theory you’re supposed to click on an image and then it opens a slideshow that you can click through, but it doesn’t seem to be working and I don’t have time to fix it now.

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