On looking out the plane window before landing in Nairobi, the landscape looked strangely familiar. If I hadn’t known any better I would have almost sworn I was flying over Australia: expansive brown fields spotted with trees here and there and the occasional hill. On walking off the plane and into the arrivals lounge however, you could tell we were a long way from home!! After handing over our fingerprints and adding to the collection of stamps in our passport we were greeted by 4 fellow Australian Rover Scouts who really weren’t that hard to find in the end due to the extremely small airport!! No one seemed shocked about the fact that the airport security were carrying rifles, or that there were wild giraffes in fields just opposite the airport and monkeys hanging from the trees, no – the more shocking fact was apparently my excessive luggage!
Before all 7 of us (and a tag-a-long Swedish friend who was also attending the Moot) piled into a taxi for the hostel, I changed $100 US into 7,200 Kenyan shillings. I can withdraw thousands at a time! The best part about an exchange rate of 60 shillings to one dollar is that a bottle of soft drink costs 40 shillings!! One night at the hostel with breakfast, dinner, internet and drinks included cost me a whole $30 AUD – I’m thinking I love this country!!
The first thing which hit me was a headache. The pollution in certain parts of Nairobi is insane – with no pollution laws there’s so much carbon pollution that it’s really not funny. On the one hand it’s so incredibly hot that you want the car window open for cool air, but on the other hand you have to constantly be using eye drops because of the smog! The driving – also crazy!! I think the only road rule is don’t hit any-body, and honk for right of way!!
People line each street just sitting on the banks relaxing, sitting on the side of the road having conversations, sitting conversing on the medium strip. Any building which is important will have a fence lined with barbed wire and massive gates with armed security guards. Buildings and shops are spotted randomly anywhere and every-where and the architecture is so varied that there’s no way to define it in one word. In a short span of 5 minutes you see large, modern embassy buildings, shops in the form of huts, wooden houses, tin roved houses, and housing similar to very bad government housing flats back home. The trees are very lion king – they’re all some-how genetically programmed to grow so that the tops are flat!!
We drove through Africa’s second largest slum to get to the campsite to drop a fellow Swedish Rover Scout at the Moot campsite. As we drove a silence fell over every-one in the taxi – because it’s unbelievable that a million people live in such a confined space in such atrocious conditions. Massive piles of rubbish lined parts of the banks of streets, random spot fires burned where people were burning rubbish, markets and shops made from wood and mud hid the shoe-box housing situation. The smell was shocking – apart from the rubbish tip that was the streets there is obviously no proper system for sewerage. People walk the streets selling absolutely everything – they’ll come up to car windows to sell you fresh fruit while you’re stopped at a light – one guy was selling a hat rack!!
August 4 there will be a referendum in Kenya to change the constitution and riots are apparently expected. The journalist in me would absolutely love to be able to get footage on August 4, but don’t worry Dad, the Moot campsite will be in total lock down!!
Not sure whether to feel safe or disconcerted that our Moot security are armed with massive rifles!! We’re definitely not in Kansas any-more!! Although if we are running with Wizard of Oz comparisons we’ve definitely at least got the wild monkeys!! Not going to lie they’re a little crazy and don’t seem to like humans!! The Moot site – Rowallan Camp – is in the middle of the most gorgeous forest…which means FRESH AIR!!! Everything is green – massive towering trees, tall grass, mud/rock paths that wind through, connecting expansive camping fields.
We drove onto our backpacker accommodation. When you first walk into Millimani backpackers your first thought is ‘I cant believe I’m staying here’, but as it turns out while the first impression may not be the greatest, it makes a fantastic second and third impression. The atmosphere is amazing there. You walk into a large stone courtyard where an outdoor eating area, bar and restaurant has been set up, with private rooms/huts opposite the restaurant and the main reception building with dorms and common room just next to it. The bar worked on a tab system – you write your name on a sheet at the bar and write down what you get. If there’s no bar man there you go behind the bar and write down what you take – honesty system. Likewise for dinner or breakfast you walk up and write down what you want on a sheet of paper with your name and they cook it!
Picked a bunk in my 6 person dorm and slept for a bit to sleep off my nausea – Malaria pills are not my friend! I as quite impressed with the fact that I could get wireless internet – not so much with the fact that it kept dropping out and wasn’t strong enough to upload photos (and here I was thinking I could do a video blog!!, but hey – it’s Africa), and not so impressed when I realized I packed a European and an Indian/South African power adapter and Kenyan plugs are British!!
Oh and I got to take a warm shower!! I say warm because it wasn’t exactly hot, but the water was warm enough to be bearable to stay under for long enough to wash my hair!!