“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Friday, 21 January 2011

Welcome to Kenya!

It’s currently 530am and I have had about 5 hours sleep since arriving last night. I am due to get up and go down for breakfast in half hour before heading out to Wilson airport to meet the rest of the group. So far all I know is that one is called Sandy, another is Sheila and the third is a guy. So fingers crossed we all get on. Another Pam for 9 days would really test my tolerance levels.
So the plane landed around 930pm last night into near total darkness. Through the window of the 777 as it descended I could see the odd cooking fire lighting up the landscape, but really it didn’t look at all like the vast sprawling capital city I saw as I drove across town in Paul’s minibus.  Paul works for the Fairview hotel and was the first black Kenyan I met.  He was waiting for me with a board reading ‘JOANNES HEDGER’, I had to smile, both at the spelling of my name and at the relief of seeing it written there in front of me as I came through customs. (The VISA desk was remarkably quick, easy and only £20 which was a bonus.)
Paul and I ventured out to retrieve the van which was to the back of a car park and buried deep in Mercedes cars driven by Asian Kenyans who had all rammed themselves from every direction into the one exit lane to reach the ticket office first. It was chaos. Needless to say by the time we eventually reached the little booth Paul’s temper was a little frayed and an argument broke out as to who’s turn it was and why the guy behind couldn’t just wait. Car horns, frantic arm gestures and shouting was followed by the appearance of a security guard, and two more drivers who had brought along their tickets for payment on foot.  Paul was now outside the van and in full swing. An impressive outpouring of abuse and frustration saw him effortlessly switch from English to Kiswahili and back again. Once he had got it all out of his system he turned to the lady sitting in the booth to pay – to which she helpfully added that she didn’t have any change anyway and we would have to pay at the next machine!
Eventually (after another car park fiasco, more testing of the horn and an end-of-tether defiant drive-through at the final barrier), we were out of the airport. It was almost 11pm.
The hotel is well kept, highly secure and boasts “the fastest internet connection of any hotel in Nairobi”. Unfortunately I didn’t get to test this statement as it was ‘down’, so no final email home to send news of my safe arrival.

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