We felt a little less sorry for ourselves in the closeness of the Nairobi airport after talking to some of the shopkeepers there. Just before midnight we had received notice of a two-hour delay of our flight to London. One of our volunteers, Robin Kopit, who had come along on the trip with his teenage son, Ethan, left the departure lounge—or cell—to look for a T-shirt to take back to California as a gift. He found a shirt he wanted before realizing how late the shop had stayed open.
“When do you get to leave?” he asked the Kenyan woman at the cash register.
“It’s too far and not safe to go home at this time of night,” she said. “I might try to drive home if I had a car, but I don’t own one.”
She nodded toward the linoleum floor. “If people stop coming in to shop, I can pull down the shutter and sleep here.”
Marianne, who also went to buy gifts, reported a similar conversation with another shopkeeper. For both, acceptance rather than complaint or bitterness seemed to prevail. So it still felt a lot like Tanzania even though we could no longer spend our Tanzanian shillings.—Don Stoll