Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kenya Part 6: Nairobi, Day 4 (Final Day)

Another chill day in Nairobi which consisted of us actually making it to the giraffe sanctuary and the art galleries we wanted to go to on our first day in Nairobi.

at the national museum

the giraffe sactuary

on more train picture just because!

Then it got a bit crazy! So, we had a different taxi driver take us around this time which we hoped would be better than the one we had on Thursday, but it turns out he wasn’t . . . he really wasn’t better! I don’t mean to generalize, but I have found this to be the case in South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, and Kenya: many people in African don’t like giving bad news, so they will tell you want you want to hear to appease you (now this happens at home too, but not as often as it does here). It is actually really frustrating at times because most of the time I would rather have the bad news: for example, rather than make an appointment with me for a time that you can’t make (telling me what I want to hear) and making me wait for 4 hours, just make an appointment for a time that is good for both of us. Or, rather than tell me you can get this data from parliament, make me wait for it for 2 weeks, and then tell me you can’t get it when you knew you couldn’t get it 2 weeks ago would have saved me some time and allowed me to find another way to get the data . . . ok, I’m done complaining :)

Anyway, so we asked our driver how long it would take to get to the airport because we needed to go to an ATM and shopping center before going to the airport (it was about 4 pm and our international flight was leaving at 8:20 pm). He was like “oh yeah, no, it take like 30 or 45 minutes.” Then we asked if he was sure because it took us a little longer to get from the airport to town on our way in and we were worried about evening traffic, but said “No, there won’t be any traffic.” So, being the outsiders, we trusted him and kind of took it easy not worrying too much about getting to the airport because the Nairobi Airport is shit show and we didn’t want to spend too much time there. Also, Air Uganda allows you to check in to your flight up to 30 minutes before the flight if you don’t have any baggage to check (which we didn’t), so we felt we had time.

So, we go to the shopping center, do our thing, and then we try to find out driver in the parking lot. I got his number when he dropped us off so we could call him when we were finished and meet him because we didn’t see where he parked. It turns out he gave me the wrong number and we had to comb through the parking lot to find him (bad Nairobi taxi experience number 3). We found him and then were on our way. We left at about 5 pm or 5:15 so we had plenty of time . . . we thought . . .

We get out of the shopping center and into traffic, we sit in the same spot for about 40 minutes, move a bit and then I can see the traffic is not lightening up any time soon. So, I ask him if we are going to get there in time because the traffic is looking really bad. He said that once we got to the uhuru highway the traffic would flow, so I trusted him. About an hour goes by and we get to the uhuru highway and traffic is no better. Then he says that once we get past the next 2 roundabouts, the traffic will flow. We get through the 2 roundabouts and the traffic doesn’t get better.

Finally, once 7 pm rolls around and we are still on the uhuru highway in bumper to bumper traffic, we start getting frustrated because we are probably going to miss our flight. He said it was fine and would just take 10 minutes, which none of us believed. He then started to say that flights are late sometimes and we will be fine and/or that we could just get on the next flight!!! Yeah, that’s not how it works. So we explained that if we miss our flight, then we have to buy a whole new ticket, accommodations for the night, and miss work tomorrow! Then we break through traffic, finally, at about 7:45 and he drives like a crazy person to the airport. We arrive at the airport at about 8 pm (on his clock which turned out to be 5 minutes fast which was great) and run to the check in counter . . . remember our flight (international flight mind you!) is TAKING OFF in 25 minutes!

The guy begins to check us in and says that the plain is full and they have given away our seats, there are 2 seats left, but they are trying to figure out what to do. We sit there and are kind of to the point of laughing about everything because it has been so stressful, but really we are stressed beyond belief! About 10 minutes goes by and then the guy says that they have another seat and we should run to the plain! We checked in, went through passport control and security, and ran to our plane! We got on and flew home! It was crazy! But luckily we made it home safe and sound!

It was a great and much needed vacation! The country was beautiful and the people were great! Loved Kenya!

Kenya Part 5: Train back to Nairobi

Another awesome train ride back to Nairobi. I really can’t fully describe how cool this train was, but it was awesome. The train ride back consisted of train awesomeness, crazy Norweigans with tattoos of cocker spaniels, more mediocre food, book reading (A Thousand Splendid Suns is amazing), watching the Kenyan landscape, and spotting giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and antelope. It was really cool to see the animals outside of a game park because it felt real, not like cheating. The train ride was kind of what people might think Africa is like if they have never been here; it was quite cool and surreal.

More train Pictures:

the top bunk!


K and E at dinner! Check out the awesome wallpaper behind them. I almost posted the picture of them looking like they were half dead, but decided against it, you guys are welcome :)

Kenya Part 4: Mombasa

Mombasa is a town in the Southwest of Kenya on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We spent two days there, and it was amazing! It was about 900 million degrees and I basically melted, but other than that it was pretty awesome! We went to a beach and the water was like a hot bath which was amazing but didn’t help to really cool you off :)

We visited old town, here is a pretty awesome picture of E and I walking through Old Town (at times Mombasa felt like I would imagine the middle east would feel like):

We also went to Fort Jesus which was built by the Portuguese in the 1600s. It was pretty much a typical old fort.

One evening we took a dinner boat ride around the harbor with an amazing sea food restaurant! It was quite possibly one of the coolest things I have ever done. It was a beautiful warm evening, we were on an amazing boat looking onto the city at night, a great local band was playing, there was an open kitchen in the middle of the boat, and we had AMAZING food! I had lobster and oysters for the first time which were both awesome (although I am a vegetarian, I eat fish). I can’t even describe how awesome it was, so here is a picture of us at dinner on the boat (since I didn't take any pictures, I am left with using the ones that Kate and Elizabeth posted on facebook, thanks guys!):

Kenya Part 3: Train to Mombasa

Awesome, the train was awesome. We traveled second class so that we could have a sleeper cabin to ourselves. We paid for an invisible adult so that we didn’t get stuck with a crazy random 4th person in our cabin, but that kind of happened anyway. When we got back from diner there was a random lady in our cabin who was confused as to which cabin was hers . . . it was a bit sketch because she had been kind of snooping around earlier, but she didn’t steal anything. The food was only ok, but we enjoyed it because we were on a train and we were on our way to Mombasa! Here are some pictures from the train (either the way there or back, not sure which are which).

On the train looking out the windo, kate being creepy . . . because Elizabeth told her to . . . Av couldn't make but he was there in spirit and kate used mascara to make a stash and soul patch on herself so he was kind of there for real.

Elizabeth and I getting ready to go!

Huge mound of butter at the dinner table . . . ok not butter but a sad excuse for margarine.

I'm not sure where we are at this point, maybe on the train, or maybe on the boat in Mombasa. Anyway, this is Elizabeth and me.

Sleeping on the train. It really was comfortable!
Kenya Part 2: Nairobi, Day 1

We arrived in Nairobi early Friday morning. Luckily we had a friend who knew a taxi driver that we could hire for the day, but unfortunately that taxi driver was busy, but he sent his brother to pick us up, so that worked out well. We went to the national museum which was really great! Then we decided that we would try to hit some art galleries and possibly the giraffe sanctuary. The giraffes and an art gallery are about 20 minutes outside of town, so we decided that we would head out that way. On the way out there, we ran out of gas (or at least that is what we thought happened) and had to push the car in the 90 degree heat (which meant that touching the car was like touching a stove burner). Then, we finally gave up and walked down to the nearest restaurant/pub for lunch which had no food really (the menu was verbal and consisted of goat, chicken, or beef . . . the picture below pretty much perfectly captures how I felt that this moment sitting in this pub).

After sitting there for about 5 minutes, our driver pulls up in the car which has been miraculously healed (that is the car behind me with Kate talking to the driver). I have no idea to this day what was exactly wrong with the car or how he fixed it (bad Nairobi taxi experience number 1). Then we decided that we would just go back to town so we didn’t miss the train to Mombasa.

Before going to the train station we needed to find dinner, so we looked at our trust Lonely Planet guidebook which only had like 2 recommendations for the entire city (good job lonely planet; lame). It took us forever to find the place to eat, our driver drove around in the same block about 50 times until we actually found the place (bad Nairobi taxi experience number 2). We were starving but when we got there the restaurant was closed even though the sign said it should have been open. So, we walked to the next closest place which was called Berber’s . . . we walked in, sat down, and ordered some food which was good enough but not great. The service was good compared to Ugandan customer service (but then again begin shot in the face is sometimes better than customer service in Uganda, ok maybe that is a bit harsh; sorry Uganda, but your customer service leaves one wanting). Then toward the end of our meal, the waitress came and said thanks to us for coming into the restaurant and that they appreciate people like us (white) coming in. We were possibly the first white people to ever come in to that restaurant. She then “congratulated” us which was awesome. We officially loved Berber’s!

We then got to the train station without incident in time for our over night train ride!

Kenya Part 1: Planning, what?

Last weekend, I and some friends went to Kenya for a long weekend (it was International Women’s Day; Happy late Women’s Day everyone one!). We decided on Thursday that we would leave on Friday, the next day. It was probably the most spontaneous thing I have ever done in my life. Thursday morning, at about 10 am, Elizabeth sent out an email to Kate, Avner, and me suggesting we go to Kenya, and by 2 pm we had purchased plane tickets. Thus began the coolest vacation ever.