"In Transit" to Seychelles: Smells of Nairobi!
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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We are hanging out in the Nairobi Airport on our way to Seychelles (pronounced: say-shells). This nation is reputed to contain one of, if not THE most beautiful spot on planet earth, the beach of Anse Source d'Argent on the island of La Digue. Why then have you probably not heard of this tiny country? Well here's the lowdown: The Republic of Seychelles is a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean that until about 250 years ago was completely uninhabited except for the occasional pirate. In the late 1700's it was claimed by the French, then later colonized by the British, and eventually given its independence in 1964. Today it has a population of around 80,000 people (in the ENTIRE nation!) and pretty much makes its revenue from canning tuna and courting high-end European tourism. Since there are no US airlines that fly anywhere nearby, it takes long time to get here, and airline ticket and hotel prices are very steep, all combine to make it a pretty tough destination for Americans with limited vacation time. So other than to high-budget honeymooners, Seychelles doesn't even bother marketing itself in the USA. With all that in mind, what are a couple of American, not-so-newlywed, budget backpackers like us going there? Well...leave it so say we were in the neighborhood, had some frequent flyer miles to burn, and most of all we wanted to verify this "most beautiful" claim for ourselves!
Oh, Kenya Airways whom we are flying has an "interesting" in-flight audio selection. It is a bit surreal to be flying over Tanzania and Kenya listening to Lee Greenwood singing, "God bless the U.S.A.", or Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee"!
In a few hours we'll be on a flight over the Indian Ocean on our way to this tropical paradise. We both have very high expectations!
So, even though our actual flight time to get to Seychelles from Zanzibar should only be about 4 hours, because we were using an frequent flyer miles award ticket, the routing was roundabout and involved a 16-hour layover in Nairobi, Kenya. We didn't want to shell out another $100 each for entry visa just to take an expensive cab into downtown, and sit in a hotel room for a few hours before coming straight back. So we decided to tough out the night in the airport! We spent the first 5 hours or so in the Kenya Airways Transit lounge which wasn't that bad - air conditioned, free wireless internet, comfy seats, TVs on the wall with English programming, and a bar/restaurant.
There were plenty of travelers spending the night in the airport and trying save money by sleeping in the transit lounge, and trying to get the valuable 3 chairs in a row real estate to lay down. At one point, a man sat down next to us and took off his leather dress shoes. He wasn't wearing socks, and his feet looked white and puffy from spending too much time in an enclosed, sweaty space (not to mention the dirt, gnarled toe nails, blisters, etc.) He then started massaging his feet with his hands while Todd and I stared in horror - and then came the putrid smell - it was a combination of dirty locker room, mildew, sweaty gym socks, and something else too foul to write here. We tried to pretend we didn't notice (after all, we were sitting directly next to him, and this was normal, right?). After about 2 minutes, Todd said urgently "I really think we should find an outlet to charge the computer NOW!" We found the farthest seats away from the feet as possible, and the man happily stretched out over our old seats (seems like he knew what he was doing, huh!). Coincidentally, we looked over at him about 30 minutes later and noticed that the headline on the newspaper article he was reading was "Common Causes and Cures for Halitosis." No kidding! I'm glad he wasn't breathing on us too!
Thankfully the airport has a place called "Sleep'n'shower" where we rented a 'sleeping cabin' for 8 hours to get some sleep and a shower before our morning flight. Although it was seriously cramped and the walls were extremely thin (we joked how even though the door had a deadbolt all you really needed to break in was set of toenail clippers to cut through the wall), we can pretty much sleep through anything, so it was just fine for us.
So in a few hours we'll be on our way!