Arrived in Nairobi early this morning. Was forced by KLM in London to buy a ticket out of Kenya (v.expensive — refundable fortunately), according to them it was necessary to gain entry to the country. Well the immigration people took my $50 and issued me a 3 month multiple entry Visa without even asking for proof I was leaving!
Managed to avoided all of the touts with the exception of Peter — who sat down and had coffee with me while quoting the lonely planet. We took his taxi into Nairobi — Peter was excellent at pointing out all of the essential sites along the way — including a v. important mattress factory. Drove past the Nairobi wildlife reserve, where I saw a Hyena or Wild Dog or some strange looking canine creature lounging around in the grass. Peter mentioned that the giraffes will occasionally hang around on near the gates — but alas not a glimpse. However, we did see these really, really, large ugly birds sitting in trees (was told the name — can’t remember). A bit disturbing to think that they are swooping around in the city.
Peter took me to the first “guest house” which had tents on the roof of a building for only 150 ksh. Unfortunately, it was also extremely insecure, with lots of men lounging around, dirty bathrooms, and no travelers around. I passed. We went next door, which was much cleaner, however, basically dorm style, passed there as well.
The locals here are VERY excited about their new government. Peter talked for a long time about how they have many hopes that the new regime will affect lots of new changes, and make life much better. It’s still fairly miraculous that the turn-over in power has been v. peacefulKenyans Kenyans are extremely proud of the smooth transition.
Wound up at the Hotel Dolati — which is fairly clean, although paint peeling off the wall and pervasive mold seems to the norm. So I have a sink, shower, toilet, fresh towels and clean sheets, however no toilet seat! Guess I may as well start working out my thigh muscles. Also need to string up my mosquito net for the first time this evening.
After a very long nap, to the sound of construction, replays of the new president’s speech with crowds cheering and some very loud music (pretty good though, East African music is much less annoying then hip-hop at high volumes while one is sleeping). Finally woke up, peered into alley and discovered it was full of people hanging around (listening to the radio of course.)
Stumbled out of the hotel and tripped not once but 3 times over ladies selling their fruit on the street (managed topyramidver pyriamid of oranges and other items I didn’t recognize) who had appeared while I was napping. And lo and behold Peter was waiting for me! Very suspicious. He persuaded me to come to the Safari office — which I did because he did a great job leading me around the streets — and seemed to want to make sure I was safe walking around (gave lots of tips).
Wound up booking a 6 day safari that heads North through several parks — camping along the way. Perfect route — since they will leave me in Isolo –where I can continue the trek up to Ethiopia. Additionally, the owner of the company is organizing my Ethipopian Visa for me — so works out pretty well.
Nairobi is an extremely, smoggy, chaotic, churning, and surging city. 100′s of people are at any given time crossing the road at random points (no one observes any sort of crossing rules — appear not to be any) swarming amongst the 100′erraticallybuses/matatus erratically hurtling down the roads. Kenyans drive on the left here so it’s a good thing I had practice in London looking in the correct direction.
Walked down to the Masai market — only on Tuesdays — no tourists at all, lots of beautiful crafts on the side of a small cliff — accessible only by scrambling up a mud set of stairs. Found myself escorted around by 2 Masai “warrior types” who encouraged me to take point things out and then we would work out a deal. It was fairly handy having them escort me through the crowds and chasing off the aggressive salesmen. In the end I had a handful of items for which they wanted me to give them 15000ksh or around $200. Which was more then a bit unreasonable. Wound up with 2 beautiful sarong type skirts — but local to the Maisai, and a hat “hand-woven from banana leaves”. ;>) All of which I need since after some mad purging in London — I only have 1 pair of pants, so the sarongs will come in handy. Paid far too much at 2200 ksh — but oh well. I actually walked away and refused to go any higher and they chased me down the street for about 1.5 blocks, I finally relented (got all for my final price ;>)
Time to fight my way upstream to buy water and find something for dinner. Looking forward to getting out of this city and starting to see the countryside.
USB doesn’t seem to exist here yet — but as soon as I find promise to post some pictures and let you know where.