‘And other signs we’re not in Kansas any more’
Not even in New York City have I heard of traffic having to stop to make way for zebra crossing the road. (‘Zebra crossing’; couldn’t help myself.) Though I have heard that elephants used to tie up whatever traffic was happening at three in the morning whenever the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus was in town.
But this post isn’t about zebras, or even about elephants. Though we did in fact see a very wide range of animals crossing the road whenever the spirit moved them: warthogs, wildebeest, hyena, baboons, impala, gazelle, ostrich. And goats. Many many goats.
This post is about the many excellently creative signs we’ve seen here. Those of you who’ve followed me for a while (thank you, by the way) know that I have a Thing for signage. Amusing signage. And here in Africa, I am in Amusing Sign Heaven. Remember that sign I told you about in my own New York City neighborhood? ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help Business School’? Well, here in Kenya they have the ‘Blessed Computer School’.
Also, Kenyans seem to go for reverse sign psychology in a big way. I haven’t seen very many ‘For Sale’ signs, but I have seen quite a few signs that read ‘This property NOT for sale’.
I’ve also seen quite a few signs for coffin businesses. It seems they don’t hide these establishments, like they do here in the States. You’ll see dozens of coffins lined right up along the roadside, many quite ornately decorated with sparkly crosses and such. The signs are rather festive too. My favorite was the sign advertising ‘Coffins and Wedding Gowns’. But there was also the (unintentionally, I assume) hilarious ‘Executive Coffins’.
Africans, especially the Kenyans, also seem to have a penchant for combining hotels with other businesses, like I sign I saw for ‘Hotel and Hardware’. And there are many many signs for ‘butcheries’. I’ve seen ‘Safari Park Butchery’, ‘Highway Butchery’, ‘Golden Butchery’, ‘Royal Butchery’, and, um, ‘Social Butchery’. Sometimes the hotels are even combined with the butcheries, like ‘Hotel and Butchery’, ‘Hotel, Bar, and Butchery’, ‘Butchery and Handicapped Hotel’, ‘Visitor Butchery’, and, perhaps as a result, ‘Savoury Hotel’. (As a ‘visitor’, I try not to think about that one too much.)
Interestingly enough, there are several shops in Tanzania called things like ‘Bill Clinton Gift Shop’, ‘Obama Gift Shop’, and, yes, ‘Hillary Clinton Gift Shop’. I guess they know their target audience.
I also made a note of (but alas, did not photograph) ‘Vex Construction’, which anyone who’s ever undertaken a home renovation will understand completely. And some business called ‘Kaka Somora’. I have absolutely no idea what this means. But just try saying it out loud without laughing.
Oh. And I saw another sign that I don’t understand, except to know that I have no need for whatever it is they’re advertising. Because, after all, I am lucky enough not only to be traveling in Africa, but to be traveling in Africa with The Dude. This sign said ‘Man Selector’.
Well, the internet has been nonexistent for three days, and intermittent at other times, so I’m wrapping this up — in the only place I can get reception, which happens to be the bar at the nearest lodge to Lake Baringo in Kenya. It’s about a zillion degrees. But hey, I’m in Africa. And that’s worth a little sweat and lack of social media. Back in Good Ole New York again in time for next Tuesday’s post. Hope you can stop by. Virtually, of course.
Lake Baringo, Kenya. February 2016