Across Africa

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
Trip End Apr 14, 2006

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Tuesday, January 3, 2006

I repacked this morning, having slept like a log last night, and caught the shuttle to the airport after a big cooked breakfast. I had a bit of a scare at the checkin desk when the man said that the flight was full, but when he asked another lady they seemed to find me a place...?! They all spoke Afrikaans here (as well as English) so I couldnt understand most of what they were saying. I sat and read the free paper I'd been given, and bought a postcard (and a lighter to be able to use my Visa card). Didnt have to go through security again though, so I happily got on the flight with the lighter in my handluggage- I dont think anyone ever knew!

It took about 4 hours to get up to Dar es Salaam, where I had to change flights, and you walked across the tarmac from the aeroplane to the airport to get in. On yesterday's flight they showed 'The Constant Gardener' (which I'd recommend) which was set in Kenya, and it suddenly hit me that I was going to spending the next 3 months in Africa! I followed signs to the 'transfer desk' only to find the doors padlocked. After wandering around for about 5 minutes trying to find a way in, the security guard unlocked it for me, and I set on trying to find this actual desk. Nowhere to be seen. In the end I went through security to try and give the man my ticket to let me on the flight- but of course I needed a boarding pass first! So another man took my downstairs and showed me where the actual transfer desk was- past passport control, it was a tiny little window with a bit of a queue- no signs or anything! So I waited in line for about 10 or 15 minutes, getting more and more agitated as I only had an hour or so before my flight. When I finally reached the front, I was told that check in had closed- and it seemed that there was no way of getting on that flight. I wouldnt have minded, but I was getting picked up from Nairobi aiport in a couple of hours by someone I knew through work- and I didnt want to keep him waiting!

After a lot of pleading and this stubborn lady saying there was nothing she could do- and that 'the flight from South Africa got in hours ago (not true)- where were you'? some airport official walked off with my tickets to try and sort something out. A nervous 20 minutes later he returned, and had checked me in on a different flight- leaving at the same time, but with a less strict airline. He assured me that other than that the flights were identical.

Well I was sitting in the boarding gate lounge upstairs when I heard the announcement for my flight- going via Zanzibar! (About an hour or so's detour) First I'd heard of this, but there really wasnt much I could do, so I boarded my flight (having had my lighter confiscated) and nervously watched the clock.

It was a tiny plane- bigger than the skydiving plane but with proper propellers not the big jet things you get on big planes, and we touched down on Zanzibar (which did look lovely) for about half an hour to pick up more people. I eventually arrived in Nairobi and hour and a half late, and fortunately David was still waiting for me. I felt awful making him wait so long, but he didnt seem to mind to much, he was really welcoming and friendly.

To cut a long story short, when I was working at UBS over the summer, the head of the Kenyan Bible Society came in for a meeting and I happen to bring up that I was coming to Nairobi in Janurary. He insisted that I stayed in the guesthouse instead of the airport, and so sent David the caretaker to pick me up. It was a half hour drive to the airport, and was really my first taste of Africa. There were lots of people walking down the road and police about, but the roads were in pretty good condition. We reached the bible house, and climbed 3 flights of stairs to their 'guest house' that they have for translators when they come to visit. It was really nice- a living room with TV (despite the reception being really bad), 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. David kept apologising that it was so small, and not up to much, but it was perfect.

I asked him if there was anywhere nearby I could go for dinner- and discovered that he was planning to go out, buy the shopping, and then return and cook dinner for us! I was really tired, but felt I had to stay up, and he made a curry (in which the meat was really tough) and lots of rice and paw paw. He made loads of food but i really wasnt that hungry, so I ended up leaving quite a lot. We watched the news while eating, and then I went to bed.
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