Slumdog - no meal in the air

Trip Start Jul 24, 2012
Trip End Aug 19, 2012

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In the air...with Kenya Airways

Flag of Kenya  , Nairobi Area,
Saturday, August 18, 2012

I opened my eyes and peered sheepishly out of the tent. Emma was up and about and it was light – it was 6.30am.  I started to pack up our stuff for the final time – we were leaving at 7.15 and Andrew was seemingly not to be moved.   I started to put the tent down around him in the end – he was a lump in the middle of the canvas. Eventually he moved and pulled himself out of the tent like a slug.  We said our goodbyes and, as I was supposed to be on cooking duty I made a small attempt to cut up some bread and then our car was here!  Sob!  Having not really said a proper goodbye to Ariel I ran at him and jumped expecting him to make a small attempt to catch me.  How presumptuous, both of us ended up in a heap on the dusty floor – my pants couldn't possibly have got dirtier.

The taxi took us to a hotel where the buses ran from and none of them had any of our names on their list – oh dear!  After a bit of confusion it turned out that our bus was still on its way – cool.  The bus was a small mini bus and took us to the border – I have no idea how long it took as I was fast asleep the whole way.  I opened my eyes and we were at the border and needed to get off to get our exit stamps.  We ended up in a very long queue and I got chatting to a Kenyan guy called Fred who I ended up getting to do the Ussain Bolt lightening bolt.  We had a long conversation about lots of things including science, the Olympics, Newton’s law, job prospects etc, etc.  This killed the time and eventually we were back on the bus to cross over to Kenya.

We drove about 20 metres then we were off again – this time a much shorter queue hurrah!  Back on the bus we were waiting for quite a few people and some of the hawkers started to tap on the windows to me, I thought I could either be rude and ignore them or indulge them so I opened my window and had some lovely conversations with them – without spending a penny.  A man tried to sell me some hand carved 'asylum seekers’ and another a giraffe who placed it on a car to show it off – I asked him how much for both (the car and the giraffe) he had a think and then said he couldn’t do it as the car didn’t belong to him.  I ended up giving him my mosquito band – he liked it but really wanted a pen. Everyone wants a pen - Biro would have a field day. Anyway after all the banter I went back to sleep and slept the whole way back to Nairobi airport where we dropped off Christina, Tina, Renee & Simon.

We arrived in Nairobi at 3pm – 2 hours after we were due so we wondered whether Georgina (our guide for the afternoon) would still be waiting for us.  We were dropped at a strange hotel where we were told Georgina would be arriving.  Sure enough within 15 minutes she was there with a driver and a young girl for our tour of Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi and the second largest in Africa. Now we had been told by Kanyo that the tour would be fine as we would be going with an armed guard not a 17 year old tiny college student.  We had heard how dangerous it could be but wanted to see some of the real side of Kenya away from all the game parks and luxury lodges that the tourists enjoy.

Kibera is home to 170,000 residents with open sewers and without running water or electricity and our guide told us that everyone has to pay approximately 10 a month to live there.  Many of the residents have small businesses in the area selling everything from vegetables to clothing to rusty ironmongery.  The further we got in to Kibera the more populated it became and the more built up everything was.  The buildings were made from a mixture of mud, corrugated board and wood.  The ground was in parts extremely muddy which our guide told us in the rainy season it was almost impassable.  A train track ran straight through the slum and we were told that trains use the route regularly and when a train comes everyone just has to run.  I was shocked as there were small children sat on the track and I asked if there are ever accidents – she said about 1 per year. I couldn't believe it.

We walked further and our guide spoke to a woman who said it wasn’t safe to continue into this particular area so we turned around and were followed by someone our guide said "did not have good intentions".  We asked our guide if the houses contained toilets as we had seen quite a lot of human waste along the paths she said there was a communal toilet and that it was 5 Shillings to use it.  Renee had been charged 200 Shillings to use the toilet at the border.  Our guide took us to her sister & mother’s house who lived in the Kibera and the space where they lived and slept was approximately 4m x4m.  She had a small chair and a black and white television on a small table.

We got to the edge of the slum and got in to our taxi, thanking our guide and tipping her.  The driver then told us that many people in the slum carry guns and he wouldn’t dream of going in there without knowing someone in there let alone being a mzungu (westerner).  I told him I was glad he had said that now and not before we went in.  We went back to the Heron Hotel with Emma who was staying there and she kindly let us both have a shower which was divine and we had dinner which was nice to sit at a table and use a glass.

Our taxi collected us at 9pm and we got to the airport at about 9.30pm – now we really were on our way home.  We boarded the plane at 11.30 and were asleep before we took off – no meal for us then.
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