HOORAY! The luggage and I arrive together!

Trip Start May 25, 2003
Trip End Jun 07, 2003

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Where I stayed
Grand Regency Hotel

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Sunday, May 25, 2003

Sunday 5/25

Hooray! Hooray! Both of us- my luggage and me- safely arrived in Nairobi. What a very long lost weekend.

The morning started very early- I hit the wall about 3am- laid there thinking until 5. Then gave up and turned on the light- one magazine left to finish.

The wake up call didn't arrive. Good thing I was all showered and ready at 7. The doorman stopped by after 7 to check if I got the call- personal delivery I guess. He got in touch with the kitchen for me to bring my breakfast early. It was a great spread! Enough left over to take a cheese sandwich & yoghurt along just in case I need a snack tonight in Nairobi.

When I checked out, the manager didn't even charge me for the super breakfast- just 5 EU for the Heineken. Maybe breakfast is covered by KLM?

A scare at the airport- the KLM agent said she couldn’t access by luggage using the number I got at the SFO gate. Without the number, she can’t authorize my bags to get loaded on the plane. She told me there was no one to talk to- luggage was in a very large area- no access by anyone. She said the only thing I could do was go on to Nairobi and check there. Of course, I was very concerned about the impact of delayed or lost luggage. I could spend my first day in Nairobi buying replacement clothes- but what about the battery charger for the Nikon? Might not be easy to come by.

They had a number of upscale shops at the airport, including an electronics store that had a charger for 80 EU- I was tempted to buy it but decided to toss the dice and see what happens.

The plane to Nairobi was maybe 75% full. I was in an aisle seat on the window two-some. The one on the window was already occupied by a woman- who looked ready to bite some ones head off- and mine was the closest head available. The second after the plane took off, she gathered up her purse and asked me to let her out- I thought she was ill. The next minute I saw her on the other side of the row in some empty center area seats where she could lay down and sleep. I had the two-some to myself. What a difference from the flight to Amsterdam.

A young attendant chatted me up- she was very interested in my safari. She and a couple friends are planning a 3 week trip to South Africa; renting a van for a do it yourself trip.

My former neighbor joined me again the last hour of the trip. I guess she thought she was supposed to arrive in the right seat. She was in a much better mood after her long nap. It turns out she’s from Kenya, but been living in Ottawa, Canada. Her children all live in the States. Her son is getting married this year, but wants to do it in Kenya. So, she was going back to get the arrangements started. Now, that’s a new one!

The moment of truth dragged out- I waited at the luggage area in a spot where I could see the baggage team loading up the conveyor belt. A long LONG anxious wait. I spotted what I thought was Young Red- but it seemed too small. A very small red wheelie had gone by earlier. I slid over to get a closer look- and spotted my luggage tag. What a feeling of joy! I could hardly stand still while my bag snaked around the conveyor belt and finally arrived in front of me.

Out the door- nothing to declare- to greet a large mob awaiting us new arrivals. I walked up and down the group looking for Micato- no sign. One woman called out to ask who I was looking for- I said Micato and continued down the line. When I turned to start back she was excitedly pointing back down the line and indicating that Micato was there. So I walked down the line- calling out Micato- and there he was- Lewela- who will be our tour director. He relieved me of Young Red and we chatted out to the van. I had to talk about how concerned I was about getting my bag. I needed to share my joy.

At the van, I met Albert, who will be our driver and 3 of the 5 fellow travelers. A father/daughter combo- Lindsay and Howard- and Leah- an older woman traveling alone. Another couple had arrived in the morning. We’ll meet them tomorrow morning.

A short drive- maybe 20 minutes- to downtown Nairobi and our hotel. It’s after 8pm, so all is dark-not much visible on the drive. Lewela starts to talk about plans for tomorrow and general info. All will be repeated tomorrow at the orientation.

The hotel is very nice, but not new. An atrium type architecture like some Hyatts I’ve seen. Room is very nice size and clean. Spent some time getting organized- cleaning bag, quick laundry- we’ll see how the t-shirt dries. We’ll be here another night before leaving for Amboseli, so should be enough time.

We were well fed on the plane, so the cheese sandwich that’s traveled with me from Amsterdam goes in the mini bar. Only problem is a dead battery in the alarm clock- not too bad considering all my fears. I slept on the plane even though I didn’t want to and now I’m wide awake. It will probably take another day or two to get acclimated.

5/26 Monday Happy Memorial Day!

I hit the 3am wall again. I hope this is the last night! Hunger hit early- the cheese sandwich and yogurt went over well. I wandered down to the restaurant about 8 and bumped into Lindsay and Howard finishing their breakfast. Apparently, the buffet is excellent.

Orientation at 9 then a trip to the hotel shop, the "outfitter" and another arts/crafts shop. The idea is to familiarizes us with the cost of many of  the trinkets we’ll be seeing- then come back on our last day in Nairobi  for serious shopping. I guess it makes sense rather than shlepping our geegaws in the limited jeep space.

Finally, we hit the road out of town. First stop was the Giraffe Center and feeding some very tame Rothschild giraffes. A very sticky bluish- gray tongue- seems almost prehensile in the way it wraps around goodies. Then on to Karen Blixen’s home for a quick view. The house appeared fairly rundown on the exterior. They actually built a duplicate of the house on a sound stage at a distance and only took exterior shots of the real thing for the movie.

Then a long bumpy ride on to a tea plantation. I never did get their names straight, but our hostess was third generation in the plantation house. Much of the original acreage has been sold, but they did retain the old house with a beautifully landscaped grounds- sloping hill of very green grass, flowers, trees. They served a terrific four course meal including a creamed maize appetizer. We had a great talk about Kenya’s past and future from their point of view. I must remember to get the details from Lewela.

On the way back we stopped at the Natural Museum. Nothing much of interest. We’d been told they had an exhibit of Leaky artifacts, but only a small display. The collection of diverse stuffed birds was much more extensive. It’s somehow disturbing to see all these dusty dead birds. Killed for science? Is that an oxymoron?

Back to the hotel- 5pm now. Just time to get ready for dinner at the Pinto’s home. Lewela discovered they had never received my reservation for the balloon ride so I had to charge the trip to get included.  The t-shirt wasn’t quite dry, but good enough for packing. After this, I’ll use the hotels laundry service. The exchange rate us 61 to 1- the laundry service turns out to be only $4 for the pants etc.

Dinner and drinks at Pinto’s is very relaxing. A glimpse into a life style with servants, something like the experience at lunch. Reminds me of the movie and Karen trying to turn Kikuyu into invisible house servants.  We were all given a nice batik of Masai- just what I’d been eying at the shop!

So, now I’m packed in the Micato duffel bag. I’ll leave Young Red here at the hotel and pick it up again on our last day. Tomorrow we start at 6:30 to get a plane to Amboseli from a small regional airport. The drive to the lodge is to take a couple of hours once we arrive. We’ll have one drive in the later afternoon. Hope I sleep through the night- way too much food eaten today!
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