Breathing in Nairobi

Trip Start Feb 04, 2007
1
10
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Trip End May 26, 2007


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Flag of Kenya  ,
Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jambo! (Hello in Swahili)

So far so good in Africa.  To begin with the obvious, there's really no way to avoid the contrast of the western world to Africa......Nairobi, Kenya

Whether it be the shrieking readings from the Koran at 545am on a PA system,

or having a conversation in perfect English with a woman seeing nothing but white of her eyes due to the full body burka covering everything, including hands,

or having a bus drive by and all 50 pairs of eyes staring,

or the fact that catalytic converters are not required on cars, hence not being able to breath properly due to the blackened smoke coming out of every vehicle passing,

or exchanging a smile with a Nairobian and having their face transform from a grim face where the past is all too present in their eyes, to an ear to ear smile, making me laugh at the warmth,

or the fact that I feel like the only white person in Nairobi

or noticing all security guards wearing Houston Astra plastic helmets for protection....

everything is different.

I feel like every 30 seconds for the past three days and three nights, the same thought has come through my head...."I can't believe I'm in Africa." 

The coolest experience I've had in these three days occurred yesterday at a forex (foreign exchange) office.  As I sat in the office, waiting my turn, a young man from Sudan turned to me and introduced himself to me in flawless English.  We discussed the difficulties of adjusting to the jet lag, as he arrived the same day I did from Calgary, Canada.  Puzzled, I inquired further as to how the Canada, Sudan, Kenya connection worked out.  Vaguely, John explained to me that he was from Sudan, lived in Canada, but was here in Nairobi visiting friends.  Something didn't add up.

As I finished, I returned to the waiting area where we met, and he had gone in for his turn.  Now, there were two Canadians, one with a video camera, the other asking around where his 'friend' was.  I assumed he was looking for another gringo, and when John walked out from the kiosk, one of the white Canadians said "oh, there he is!"

Again, not understanding what was going on, I asked for some clarification.  As it turns out, John, was one of the original "Lost Boys from Sudan" featured in the 2003 film "Lost Boys from Sudan" featuring the journey of a group of boys from Sudan, first to a refugee camp in Kenya, then to various western cities across the world, including Los Angeles, Calgary, Philadelphia and New York City.  John was one of those boys.  I couldn't believe it, and I've got the photo to prove it.

Tomorrow morning, I start my 31 day overland safari from Nairobi, to Johannesburg. 
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Comments

samantharoth
samantharoth on

I can't believe you're in Africa
Dear Mikey,

Outside of the stamps you'll collect in
the freshly added pages of your passport and the
incredible images you'll post
periodically, the idea that you are in Africa
will never become more tangible to you than it
is right now.
And as your plane takes off from S. Africa it will become I can't believe I was in Africa.

So keep on doing what you're doing, exactly as you're doing it because you're doing a beautiful job.

chinese proverb of the day:

THE CAREFUL FOOT
CAN WALK ANYWHERE.

(it reminded me of you)

I am really proud of you.

love,
sam

arortho
arortho on

Africa
I ws once there too, and by now I am certain that you have been struck by the vast difference between 'African Americans,' and the real thing....it's as if there is no similarity.
Enjoy your fascinating voyage.
Love, Dad

rossfadner
rossfadner on

One last thing you learned in SA...
Dude, somehow I missed your last entry til now--I have one thing to add. An appropriate # 11:

11. Ayajuasca (sic) is the breakfast (or Twinings) of champs...

Meanwhile, here's a list of things to do in Africa:

-ride an elephant
-visit the giraffe house in Kenya
-watch cricket in South Africa (the whole thing--its kind of like seeing how long u can stand on your head)
-get invited to and drunk at a local vineyard party in Stellenbosch
-feed a baboon (be careful)
-tour a township
-meet Arthur in johannesburg (again, careful)
-try to convince a girl you're from 'Rhodesia'
-let us know how many you get through

suzieroth
suzieroth on

giraffe heads!
You seem to be having a blast already. Enjoy the trek south -- can't wait to hear about the loads of sights, foods, music and people you encounter along the way.

Much love, Suzie

p.s. I had no idea giraffe heads were THAT large -- looks like you didn't either!!

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