Here I am in Nairobi, one degree south of the equator. The elevation here is a little over 1600 metres so it is warm, rather than hot.
I flew up today on a very full flight from Joburg, arriving a few minutes earlier than scheduled time of 2:40 pm. I had time at the airport, before I left, to buy a new watch to replace my older one had stopped working the other day. Swatch make some nice & inexpensive watches!
Getting through immigration was easy compare to my recent experiences and I soon had my bag. I noticed that the baggage carts were pulled int the terminal building by a big old-fashioned tractor, but there was one thing that was quite modern in the baggage handling process – a big grey sniffer dog.
I saw David Burren, our photographer and tour leader, waiting for me and then changed some money to local currency, the Kenyan Shilling. It is roughly worth about one cent in Australian currency. We then waited for John Buchanan and Barbara, another member of our group, who were arriving from Dubai at about the same time. I filled in a few minutes buying a sim card for my IPad so that I should have network coverage for most of the time that we are in Kenya. All up, it cost me 50 shillings for the sim card and then 1000 shillings for 2 gb of data. It’s not too fast, but it’s sufficient. After a half-hour, or so, we were on our way to our hotel which has a number of two story wings around a garden courtyard and pool. We seem to have security guards at every entrance and along the passageways throughout the hotel.
Nairobi is a large city – 4 million people and I think that we saw all of them on the road today. People finish work here at 4:00 pm and peak hour was just starting as we travelled to our hotel. There are no commuter trains here, everyone travels by car, bus or van. The three-lane road was bumper to bumper and it took nearly an hour to travel a distance of nine or ten kilometers to our hotel. Drivers were changing lanes consistently to take advantage of any gap that got them another two cars ahead or to avoid an old clunker that had broken down in the middle of the road. Brave people in business dress crossed the road on foot, walking from lane to lane, in a way that was a bit reminiscent of Vietnam. Street vendors selling everything from maps to rubrics cubes and even a coat stand walked between lanes of cars, trying to make a sale.
Tonight we went out to dinner as a group – myself and John, Barbara from Brisbane, Ray and another Bruce from Melbourne, along with a couple Ron and Lynne from Melbourne. It rained heavily on the way and it took over 90 minutes to reach the restaurant. It seemed an awfully long way and we wondered whether we might be driving all the way to Dar Es Salaam. At each major roundabout, the police had taken control of the traffic so the traffic lights, which remained operating were simply ignored.
Once we reached the restaurant, we found that we were in for a very nice meal. Named ‘The Carnivore’ it served as much meat as one could eat. There was a large circular charcoal grill (about 5 metres in diameter) on which a variety of meet was cooked and then brought to the table on large skewers with bits of meat carved off onto each plate. We had a great range to eat that included some very tender beef, pork, sausages, turkey, chicken, crocodile, buffalo and camel. This was all washed down with a Tusker, the local beer. In the centre of the table was our table number and on the top, a little hole in which a small flag was located. As long as the flag was flying, the waiters continued to bring more meat. We lowered the flag and surrendered at about 9.30 pm. By this time, the traffic had cleared, and it only took 15 minutes to get back home for the night.