East Africa Day 27 – Kenya (Nairobi)

Woke up and fell asleep throughout a lazy morning and afternoon.  There was a blackout, so I took another ‘jug shower’ before it got too dark.  Packed, and ordered a taxi.  Got to the airport, somehow without crashing or being stopped by police.  What a mess Nairobi is, in places.  People struggle by, walking on the side of the road, others have stalls open inches away from racing traffic.  It’s a hard life, but the Kenyans are a hard, proud and resilient people.

I checked in with Kenya Airways, and boarded the plane after buying the excellent book ‘Emergency Sex’ about 3 UN workers and their stories in and around Haiti, Somalia, Burma and Cambodia, and I went to Java coffee just before getting on the plane.  Dejavu.  I’d been in this same place a month ago, awaiting a flight to Dar es Salaam to begin my African adventure in full.  And what a month it’s been.  It’s difficult to pick highlights, to sift one great story from another.  I’d met so many people, been to so many places, seen so many different cultures and ways of life.  My view of Africa has changed.  I love this place, love the culture, but most of all, I’ve loved the warmth of the people.  Africa has a lot going for it.  It’s still terribly poor, underdeveloped, third-world, but it’s improving – modern touches to the metropolises of Dar, Kigali, Kampala and Nairobi attest to that.  I’ve learnt a lot about humanity, and what happens when there is a lack of it.  Darkness and light.  I’ve been fascinated by the good will of Africans, their ability to smile in the face of extreme hardships.  Some have to walk 10-20km to get water, but they still smile.  They are a simple people, and Western greed and corporate evil has yet to arrive.  They are pure and innocent, not corrupted and arrogant.  These are, of course, generalizations….this is what I’ve felt on the whole.  I’ve felt graced by their presence, overwhelmed by their kindness and hospitality, and touched by their compassion.  Basically, I’ve been bitten hard by the African bug, and I can’t get enough.  I want to come back for more.

Tanzania highlights were undoubtedly Stone Town in Zanzibar, and camping in the middle of the Serengeti to the sounds of hyenas, lions, buffalo and elephants.  Rwanda;s highlight was the heart-wrenching and eye opening Kigali Memorial Centre, which taught me a lot about the genocide.  Uganda’s highlights were the friendly people, and Jinja, where I whitewater rafted down the river Nile, straight from the source of Lake Victoria.  Kenya’s highlights were Mombasa’s beach on Kenyatta Day, Mombasa Old Town, and Nairobi by night.  What a trip, what an adventure, what a life.  I flew to Bangkok, then, after an 8 hour shopping and eating stint in the city, hopped on the JetStar service to Singapore.  Back to reality for a while.

Author: Neil

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