The Start of the Best Dam Trip Ever!!!
Trip Start Sep 15, 2009
42Trip End Nov 21, 2009
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My trip over to Nairobi Kenya consisted of 3 different flights. The first from Cincinnati OH to Houston TX, then to Amsterdam, then finally to Nairobi. In all it was 24 hours of traveling including some long layovers. The flights themselves actually weren't too bad. The flight from Houston was pretty good. Each seat had their own tv with over 300 movies to choose from which is a first for me. The second flight only had 1 tv for about 20 people and I didn't even bother to watch it but instead opted to read. Both of the international flights weren't full which I meant I had both armrests which was nice because I seem to get the heavyset person who has the widest shoulders possible. The airplane was surprisingly good on both flights too. I think I like the food because the food is kind of free, even though you really pay for it in the price of the ticket. What I need to do is not eat in the airports and just ask for 2 servings of food on the plane so I can save some money. I figure whatever food they don't serve might be going to waste and you may as well give it to me!
Arrival in NBO
I arrived in Nairobi airport about 7:30pm the next day and paid for a single entry visa. It was funny because you can immediately tell you are in Africa by walking in the airport. Not to put Africa down, but things like the quality of the stores, immigration, and security guards have an immediate effect on you. For example, I paid my $25 single entry fee for the visa and had to get my own change before I got my passport back. I payed a $50 bill and the lady didn't have a $5 bill to give me. So she gave me a $10 and told me to go find some change. I thought it was kind of funny and found someone to give me 2 $5's and I got my passport back. Thankfully my bag arrived safe and sound at the baggage arrival and I exited the place. My tour starts in 2 days time from my initial entry into the country so I decided to stay 2 nights in the same hotel that is our starting point since it should be reputable. I had reserved a room about a week in advance and also arranged for an airport pick-up since it is a common occurance where you get robbed in the taxi from the airport. The city isn't called Nairobbery for nothing! So I excitedly made my way out to the masses of people and looked for my name on a piece of paper. To no surprise, I couldn't find the guy. I thought...oh great! So I fought my way over to the tourist booth amongst all the offers I heard for safari, taxi, and hotels and asked for help. She made an announcement over the speaker phone for me and of course no one showed. Standing next to me the whole time was a taxi driver who was a friend of the lady and he told me he knew where the hotel was. I asked how much and said what the hell! This had to be my best shot at getting to my hotel with all my belongings. The cab driver was super nice(of course) and on the way to the hotel offered a whole range of services from personal driver to women. I declined and told him to give me his card. I figure you have to at least give him something to look forward to instead of pulling into a dark alley. I walked into the hotel and asked about my ride from the airport. I got the puzzled look and didn't really expect anything less. Oh well! I remember when I booked the hotel from their webiste at how the pictures of the place looked really incredible(of course). Judging from the pictures, it would of been a 5-star hotel but upon walking in the lobby and hotel room, rating it a 3-star would be generous. I love how they do that! It's kind of funny. I came here for Africa and not the 5-star room so I wasn't disappointed. I have a feeling that I will hear the term, "This is Africa" quite a bit when asked by me why something is. And I wouldn't have it anyother way.
Wait a few weeks into the trip and see if I'll be saying that after sleeping in tents for weeks, taking random cold showers, and hand-washing my clothes. Time will tell.....
9/17 First day in Nairobi
I woke up after 8 glorious hours of sleep and wondered what the hell I was going to do all day. Since I had failed to check a few things before I left, I had to replace them. I brought 2 cameras with me and the professional one with different lenses had a dead battery. I had bought 2 batteries back in the day but that has been 2 years ago and the dead battery wouldn't charge properly. So I put that on my list of things to buy along with a USB flash drive to transfer pics and text from my laptop to an internet ready PC. My wrist-watch that I use for monitoring my heart rate when running had a broken strap and it would be nice to be able to wear it so I put that on my list of things to get fixed. Lastly, one of the most important things that I need is somewhere where I don't know. My International Vaccination Certiificate Card. In some countries in Africa you are supposed to carry this showing that you have been vaccinated against Yellow Fever, or else they won't let you in the country. It's kind of a problem since I will be traveling through a few of them that require it. Shit I thought about 2 days before leaving the country for Africa! I had the thing in Europe I remember and I thought I mailed it back home along with some other things but of course I couldn't find it. I just figured that I'll figure it out when I get to Africa. I figured I could just pay some border agent some money to let me through if I had too. Kind of an ass thing to think but I've been around and I know money talks. I have been vaccinated in the past for it so it wouldn't be like I was spreading the stuff. Or go to a hospital in Nairobi and pick one up there. I decided to give my tour leader a call and ask what the deal was with it and he said that I needed it in order to get into a few different countries or else they wouldn't let me in. Again Shit I thought! I asked where I could get one and he said the airport or any hospital. He said it was probably $60 for the shot and $20 each way to the airport. $100 I thought? That sure sucks! I went and found a taxi to take me to the airport and I asked my way to the "clinic." I asked the lady if I could only get the card only and not the shot. She said that wasn't possible without the shot. I said okay and told her to give me the shot. Yellow Fever is a 10-year shot and I've either been vaccinated 2 years ago or 9 years ago. 2 because I came to Africa then and I thought I had one before but I really can't remember. Or 9 years because it says in my medical record that I had it then. The lady went to get the record-keeping guy before the shot and she came back saying that it was closing time for them. Luckily right then the guy came back to the office even though it was closed. He saw me and knew what was up. The lady gave me the shot and I went back to the record keeping office. He asked me when my tour was and I said in 2 days, then as he was filling out my new vaccination card, he said that I have to wait 10 days after the shot to do anything. 10 days I thought? The tour might not be going to a bad area until after but I wasn't sure. Shit! The lady who gave me the shot poked her head in and overheard everything and suggested I buy him a "soda." A soda I thought? I'll buy whatever you want as long as you give me the card. I said to him about just putting a different date and then the guy repeated the same thing about buying him a soda and then it finally clicked to me. He put the last stamp on it which was the date and handed it back to me. I looked at it and it said a date that would put me past the 10 day mark and put me in the clear. I asked him how much he wanted and he said it was my choice. I pulled out 1/3 of the price of the shot and he seemed happy and so was I. In all the shot and card with the phony date cost me $17.30. A lot better than $60 like the tour leader told me. A successful score I might say! Also when I talked to the tour leader, I asked him when the tour started and he said on the 20th and not the 19th like the website and itinerary said. That means I have to stay here another night. Not a big deal but I wish there was more to see and do in Nairobi. I've already read my 1 magazine in about a day which usually takes me about a week to read. I do have 2 books with me but I feel that I will read them in no time which isn't necessarily bad. I would watch tv but there are some horrible channels here but at least some of them are English. After flipping through the tv channels 15 times hoping for something good, it becomes pointless and I give up hope.
Today I really do too much. I realized last night that I needed a way to transfer pictures from my big camera to my PC since I have different memory cards than my other camera(of course). So I put that on my list of things to get for the day. I also heard that there was a memorial for the US Embassy bombing of 1998 in the city. So I set out late morning after receiving some instructions and was doing some thinking on the walk. I was thinking how I will really enjoy this trip and really take a lot out back home with me. Seeing a place in a movie or a magazine isn't nearly the same as being there in person. For example, you can't get the smells of huge diesel trucks whizzing by you with the worst muffler on it, or the constant sewage smell, or even every third person who walks by you that smells like BO because there probably too poor to shower. Maybe I just woke up on the right side of the bed, but I kind of had the feeling of calmness with myself. Like I really enjoyed just walking around the place despite the things most people would be complaining about(including me). I just walked around taking it all in and enjoyed the great weather. I had to change some money since I didn't have any local currency and it seemed to take me a long time to do it. I finally did and walked into the park which costs peanuts for me. It's just a little park that is fenced in with a plaque with all the names of the dead. 218 in all I believe. All Kenyans but 12 I think and those were Americans. With thousands injured from the flying glass. It also had a small museum with the longest documentary I have ever seen in a museum. It was 50 minutes long and it had a lot of interesting info about the bombing. I guess the Embassy didn't even crumble but a building next to it was the one that fell but all the windows were blown out of it though. The way all the thousandds were injured was because the bombers starting shooting a gun and throwing grenades before the bomb went off. Thus drawing a lot of people to the windows to see what the noise was all about. Then they had glass blown in their face. Poor people! After the Memorial I went and ate some lunch. Nothing special. Then I found a place for a card reader that would work for me. Score! I walked around a bit more and started to turn toward my hotel when a guy casually asked how I was doing. I usually just say "good thanks" and keep on walking because I know what they want. Or what they want to sell. But for some reason this guy was starting to strike a conversation and for some reason I stopped and talked to him because he seemed like he just wanted to learn something new and not offer me something. I just had time to kill anyway! We talked for a bit then he suggested we sit down somewhere to talk more. Sure I said! We sat in a park and we talked for about 20 minutes about my country and of course his. I enjoyed talking to him but then he started to talk about some problems he was having and I knew what he was going with it. He wanted money! Maybe it was true that his sister died and he had to take care of her 5 young kids, but he finally straight up asked me for money. A little background about me: usually I don't fall for these things but for some reason his approach wasn't typical, he was smart, he spoke well, and I was in a pretty good mood. So he was lucky to find me I suppose and I did give him some money. Of course what I offered wasn't to his liking and contested for more. I said no and we parted ways. I figure I paid for a service in a way so it wasn't like I was handing money out to bums. I paid for some knowledge about the city and country even though I didn't ask for it. Afterwards, I went back to the hotel and hit the pool and jammed my thumb pretty bad by misjudging where the wall was. After I was done swimming, I went to my room which I had to now share with a roommate from the tour and he said the group meeting was going to start in 5 minutes. I said I thought mine was tomorrow and not today. So I went to the meeting just to make sure and it turns I was at the right meeting. The sign I had read had the trip I was taking but not the correct group I was going to travel with. I will now be leaving tomorrow morning and starting the trip. The group seems pretty cool. There are 20 of us in all and I am the only American. The rest are either Aussie, English and a few other ones. Tomorrow we are going to lake something to see some animals I guess. Supposedly there are always lions that drink and make kills down by the lake and we'll be camping in the vicinity of it. Awesome!!! The tour leader recommened to use the bathroom before you go to bed so you don't have to in the middle of the night. Yeaaaahhh!! I can't wait. From here on out I have no idea if I will be able to update my travel blog. Being that I didn't see any starbucks or any other wifi places in the most developed city in East Africa(Nairobi), I have a feeling that I will have to post things as I can which probably means every week or 2. My guess is every 2 weeks though. But I have my laptop and plan to keep writing and just cut and paste when I return. So keep on checking!