St. Patty's Day 2011: Nairobi Edition

I was a bit sad to think that I was going to miss one of my favorite events this year: Dallas' St. Patrick's parade down Greenville Ave. filled with floats, beads, live music, and green beer.  So I went on a quest to find something St. Patty's-esque to participate in over here that evening.  You wouldn't think that Nairobi would be a hot spot for Irish celebrations but happily some of my favorite restaurants embraced the western holiday and even indulged our happy American/British tradition of green beers.  Of course no Kenyans I work with knew of this holiday nor did I see any non-Americans purposefully wearing green in honor of the day, but no matter, what do expats love more than celebrating and explaining holidays that are meaningless to other cultures?  (Case and point: conversation at St. Patty's Day ball pre-party explaining to non-Americans why we celebrate Thanksgiving when we in turn wiped out the native population we were supposedly appreciating.)  Sadly, even I have no idea what the significance is behind this boozy holiday, other than purportedly someone named Patrick was at some point sainted by the Catholic church.  Would any Irish readers out there care to clarify for us the meaning of this green day?

In true Nairobi fashion I not only celebrated St. Patty's in style on Thursday but rocked it again on Saturday.  Two Irish celebrations in one weekend?  It may not have been my best idea but it sure was a lot of fun.  And as a "local-ish" expat aid worker it is always super exciting to have the opportunity to get gussied up and go to a verifiable charity ball.  I did hit up the charity event circuit last fall when back in the Big D, but after months of jeans and the occasional sundress I jumped at the opportunity to wear heels and formal wear.  Apparently Irish societies across the world host this ball annually to support their local charities.  And boy, do they know how to party!  The evening started off classy enough with no less than five ambassadors' cars parked out front of the hotel.  We mingled and enjoyed Guinness (sadly not on tap, but still a treat) and wine before heading to our tables for speeches and local slash Irish music.  I don't know where they found a Kenyan who knew traditional Irish tunes but it definitely made for an interesting (in a good way) musical presentation.  As the night progressed (and we made our way through the bottles of  wine, Baileys, and whiskey on the table) we embraced our inner Irish-ness with most of us ending up on the dance floor dancing and singing loudly to any of the songs we knew or thought we might know a few of the words to.  All in all I think I can safely say that fun times were had by all despite the monsoon we departed to.

I hope all of my fabulous readers had an equally fabulous St. Patty's holiday.  I love me some random culture; I'm already looking forward to the next holiday and embracing my inner-Hispanic in celebration of Cinco de Mayo in true Tex-Mex fashion.  Get prepared now, Nairobi.