After a stressful journey that included an hour debacle with the woman at the American Airlines counter which resulted in a $200 changed return flight (so immigration wouldn’t reject me from entering Kenya) followed by me narrowly making my plane out of Dallas, a canceled flight from JFK to Heathrow, a new earlier flight out of JFK, baggage claim plus a transfer from La Guardia to JFK, a 2 hour delay due to snow, a late arrival and rush through Heathrow, a late departure courtesy of a strike by French air traffic control, ankles that swelled so quickly I could feel them expanding, and a late arrival in Nairobi coupled with the refusal of my 1996 series $100 to purchase my three month visa. Fortunately one bureau de change, of the three I visited, accepted bills older than 2004 for exchange. However, it was downstairs with no escalator in sight and a rolling carryon bag. Regardless, success was mine. I procured the extra $5 for my visa and $95 worth of Kenyan Shillings. Back up the stairs I went dragging my rolling bag behind me. I collected my passport and breath only to turn around and pull my rolling bag down the stairs once again.
However, both of my bags arrived seemingly unscathed, I was allowed in the country, and there was a sign with my name on it as I walked out of the baggage claim area, so all’s well that ends well in my book. It is here, hot, sweaty, and a bit frazzled, that I met my new boss, Director of the Africa office, Emily Chengo and her husband, Joseph. They took me to their home and set me up in a guest room behind the main house. I have my own bathroom, hot shower, and mosquito net. I’m not sure the length of my stay in their home; I don’t want to impose on my gracious hosts and most importantly the new boss. Eventually I will move to the guest house in the office while waiting the determination of whether I will move to Juba, Sudan.
Saturday I slept. A lot. I woke up, showered, and had breakfast with Emily and Purity, another girl staying with them. Then Jack, ALARM’s logistician and driver, picked me up around 11:30 and we were off. They had already purchased me a SIM card with a phone number that would work in both Kenya and Sudan so now I was left to find a phone. Their cell phone system is very different than in the States. Instead of signing a contract with a provider for two years and buying or receiving a free phone through them, they purchase a SIM card from said provider, a phone from the store, and then minutes separately. Phones are more expensive this way but you only pay for the minutes you actually use. After several stops and lunch our quest was complete. And once I figure out how to connect my email to my phone properly I will once again be connected to the outside world. (Side note: I have already found a restaurant that claims to offer “Mexican” food and once my desperation gets the better of me I will report on the quality of African quesadillas and enchiladas).
Jetlag is a beast. Despite my attempts to sleep during the flights to allay its effects I could not avoid the narcolepsy that sneaks up and overwhelms you mid-adventure. So after a quick tour of the city centre we returned home and I was asleep by 6 pm. And with that another exciting day in the life of Captain Awesome came to a close.
(Above: Views of Nairobi's downtown; Below: View from Mombasa Highway in Nairobi)
Swahili word of the day: