Even locals said that anything could happen in Kenya. And so one Lake Naivasha morning, when I thought I was alone in the wilderness outreaches of an old safari lodge, I was both surprised and unsurprised when a young man stepped out from the papyrus swamp clutching two bunches of carnations. Fifty bob, madame, he said after the customary greeting. He seemed nonplussed when I started to laugh.
“Do you always keep your carnations in the papyrus,” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“What, waiting for people like me?”
“Yes,” he said.
This exchange seemed to seal the deal. I didn’t even bother to haggle. And although I have no idea why I would have 50 bob on me in such a place, I bought a bunch. Given the general lack of wazungu humanity in that particular location, I also wondered how long he had been waiting for the likes of me to come along; or how long he would have been prepared to wait for a customer. Or if I was just the unexpected thing that happened to him, rather than he to me. (You could tie yourself in knots second guessing). The rest of the lodge guests, I knew, were male entomologists, engaged all day in seminars and workshops; only I was free to wander about the hotel grounds buying flowers for which I had no particular need.
For the rest of this story see: Carnations, Crooks and Colobus at Lake Naivasha
19 thoughts on “Shopping In The Papyrus At Lake Naivasha”
This is a great little insight into your life in Africa.
this is absolutely charming. i would hav bought them, too –
50 bob! I thought them’s expensive carnations. Then remembered we are talking about Kenyan shillings 🙂
Such a sweet story.
Thank you, Jude. I think 50 bob was around 50p, actually quite a lot then in Kenyan terms.
Dude saw an opportunity and took it.
Happy weekend, Tish
He did, but such a remote spot and hippos in the papyrus. A good weekend to you too, Mak.
So …How much is 50 bob. They are pretty.
At the time around 50 cents, but then a dollar a day was the usual income for a huge number of Kenyans.
You made his day. You know …the rest of us just don’t have a clue.
A budding entrepreneur, Tish, and you helped him on his way. 🙂 Perhaps he’s moved up the flower chain by now and is the head of something much larger.
That’s a very nice thought, Janet.
The kind of unexpected surprise you can only expect to be surprised with in Africa…
🙂 🙂 🙂
That is SO charming!
I’ve laughed about it for years 🙂
You probably fed his family well that day. So what kept the buffalo from coming closer than that point???
Now that is one very good question about the buffalo, Gilly. There was not a thing to stop them. In fact at night the hippos used to trek through that very same spot from the lake and into the garden round the guest cottages at night to graze the lawn.