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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crap you can buy on the side of the road in Nairobi

I’m pretty sure Nairobi was using drive thru’s before McDonalds was even a dream in the mind of Ray Kroc.  Seriously, you don’t even have to leave your car to buy a hot meal, get groceries, furnish your pad, choose a pet, accessorize your outfit, etc if you do not want to.  All you have to do is sit patiently in traffic or know which street to drive down for whatever commodity you are looking for. I’m not sure how some of these vendors decide what they are going to sell. You’ll see a guy that is selling like dixie cups, paper clips, and kitchen knives. I just don’t get how he came up with that selection?!  Here are just SOME examples of how it's done here that I was able to snap photos of without getting my phone ganked out of my hand through the car window. (Fair warning, if you have a soft spot for little furry friends, the photos at the end are sad)
Here's what it looks like as you sit in traffic - people come out of the woodwork and sell things up and down the roads between the lanes.

Perhaps you need a wire Christmas Tree or some beautiful dresses?
Or a beach ball
I was just thinking...I wish I had a pinwheel, a furniture duster and a bandana right about now.

Oh I like these things - they are those string balls that hang over your lightbulbs..pretty.  And you can see all the furniture they make and sell there as well as birdcages.

You can find some really nice stuff actually - These basket drawer sets are not cheap. I've been bargaining for something like that for 2 years now..can't get them below $60!
Me Likes. Me Wants.
They have flowers like you have never seen here. And they are cheap. No excuses men! The stuff in the back are banana leaf baskets and Christmas tree ornament hangers and wind chimes.
Roses are red, violets are blue, buy my flowers or the wire motorcycle the guy behind me is selling.

byu signs
This guy sells signs painted on crappy plywood - but I love how colorful everything is. We had him make us a giant black, white and red Nairobi sign and we have it hanging in our kitchen. Cheap art with a vintage feel.

 byu signs 2
The Nairobi Optical Gallery/Khalil Eye Care (Uncle Mike/Sam, you guys have a Nairobi affiliate when you're ready to branch out)
Phone credit - this one is standard and useful.

Then there is the SAD stuff – there is one road specifically for puppies and bunnies and kitties. It’s called Peponi Rd but I call it Poopy Puppy Rd.
Little kitties in a box
awwww..how sweet are they?? It breaks my heart to see how they keep them in tiny little plastic boxes
Said boxes...
Poor poopy puppy  - he's tied to the fence and can't even move. I hate it. But this is life here -  making a buck is first and foremost and I get that ..but it would be nice if they could at least be a bit more humane at the same time. 

If I was a street vendor, I would sell toilet paper, double (and tripple) A batteries, and toothpaste and maybe tomatoes.  So, what would you sell if you were a street vendor? What are those key things that you feel like people always get home and think “Damn! I forgot to buy _____!”.  Perhaps for you it’s beach balls and sunglasses…if so, you are covered here!


  1. I love the guy selling the coat racks as he walks past you in the car. Uhhh, do you need a coat rack today?

    I'd sell water and ice cream. Mmmm, ice cream.

    1. i think you've just hit on something....a car coat rack!!

  2. I d probebly sell windshield wiper and windex then charge you for cleaning like the homeless guys in DC do

  3. I would sell ice cold water and coke... drinks and maybe crisps, or some other packaged snack... traffic brings on thirst and hunger in Nairobi... i would also sell ice lollies, guilt every parent with kids in tow to buy a delicious brightly coloured lolly.


So..what do you have to say about all this?