Thursday, January 13, 2011

Africa - Nairobi

I arrived in Nairobi early this morning after one of the most uncomfortable flights I've ever experienced. Kenya Airways may call itself  "The Pride of Africa" but apparently comfortable seating isn't part of what they take pride in. My knees were jammed into the seat ahead of me for 9 long hours. I caught a few hours of fitful sleep but when those wheels finally touched the runway at Jomo Kenyatta Airport I was the happiest man on that airplane.  I quickly grabbed a taxi ride from the airport to our hotel, The Kenya Comfort Hotel, in city center. I walked in to the hotel restaurant at about 7:30 am and caught Willy,  Jambo and Elizabeth having breakfast. It was good to see them after all the planning, emails, and hours of travel from our respective origins for this meeting in Nairobi. And how very strange to see these friends here rather than at our weekly saunas at Kirk's. I'm sure the feeling was mutual. After a nap and lunch we met up with Moses, who will be our guide for the first part of our adventure extravaganza, a 3-day trip to Masai Mara. This park is the northern extension into Kenya of Tanzania's famous Serengeti Park. We'll leave tomorrow morning after breakfast. Moses thinks we will see elephant hyena, giraffe, zebra, oryx, and impala. If lucky we might see a  black rhino, cheetah, or leopard. We'll also visit a Masai  village. Tomorrow will also bring me my first view of the famous African veldt I've been reading and hearing about since childhood.

I have no photos to post as yet but have some first impressions. This ain't Thailand. LOL I'm in a big city and it's busy and crowded. The people here aren't as friendly as the Thais and we foreigners stand out more because they are fewer of us here than in Bangkok. Rather than the smiles I've become so accustomed to there one gets mostly stares here; some are merely curious, others less so. It's the contrast I think I'm reacting to. I didn't get friendly smiles in Paris either. I'm curious to see if rural people are more open than these city folks. It's also more expensive than Thailand. Our hotel room is costing $95 USD for example. We're four of us sharing a smallish room, which drops the rate considerably, but it's still expensive if you consider the fact that this place would probably be classed as a 2-star hotel tops. A Tusker beer I had during dinner cost about $2 but at only 4.2% alcohol, Tusker is both weak and bland. I'm missing my Leo and Singha already.

I'm sure the Internet access we;ll have will be spotty so I'm not sure how or when I'll make my next post.  Eventually something will appear in this spot, something I'm betting will be quite a bit different from my usual entry.