“…Kenya, a land like no other, that touches the souls of those who take in her breathtaking savannahs, those who breathe in her crisp morning air, those who listen to her tribal heartbeat and those who experience the spirit of her people.”
Tired as I can be, (a sleepless night to blame), I depart the airplane to walk into Nairobi’s airport. I’m greeted by a cold slap in the face, as I look out of the windows to realise the change in weather. Cold, rain, windy, three things that aren’t very common in the U.A.E and the least expected in a country situated in Africa. Never-the-less I love it. Our group of students and teachers move on to passport control. We’re greeted by a friendly ‘jambo!’ everywhere we go. Jambo means hello in their language. It’s my turn to go; I give my passport to the man who looks at me as if I were a suspect. He grabs my passport, flips through the pages, looks at the photo of me as a kid, and looks at me now. I realise there are only but a few similarities between the two “me’s”, the past and present that is. His suspicious glances are followed by a random question ‘Is your hair real? Or is it a wig?’ After a quick laugh I answer with a yes it is real, only to find out this question will soon be asked by many others. Teachers gather up all the students like a shepherd does with his sheep and as we begin to leave the airport I notice an advertisement that says “smile, you’re in Kenya”, and then it hits me, I’m finally in Kenya, after weeks of waiting, I’m finally there.
Everyone in our group is chattering on and on excitedly. We’re greeted with fresh flower garlands and face towels by men who smile as if they were the ones visiting a new country. We are then quickly ushered into our bus for an hours drive to the “New Stanley Hotel” (thanks to traffic on a cold, cloudy morning). It’s drizzling as our bus roars back into life and we advance into Nairobi’s city centre. Trees emerge from every possible sidewalk and muddy pathways. The crowded streets are flushed with green and brown colours. Dirty, rusted, old cars are used here compared to the neon colour limousines used in Dubai. Minivans are packed with employees who, surprisingly due to their discomfort, still decide to wear a warm smile on their face.
The snail-paced traffic is torture; kids no older then ten as well as adults, knock on your windows with items to sell. Eventually, we reach the city’s centre and we happen to be there when a marching band happen to stop by. Trumpets blurt out their hypnotising tunes while people cheer on as the marching band marches onwards. We arrive at the 5 star hotel, and are quickly told the basic rules and regulations of the trip. We’re assigned with two other people in our rooms and I gladly rush to the room with my room-mates Paolo and Ramin. After an hour or so, it’s lunch time. We head down to the restaurant, have lunch and are back in our rooms with a lot of time to spare. Neiha and Darren gather in our room and we end up watching football on the television and talking for awhile. Neiha heads back to her room. Darren and I decide to go out and look around in the city. I notice that just about every person in the city, male or female, have braids in their hair. Streets are filled with people walk hastily around to finish their daily business, as I look up I realise the sky is sunny. Saloons, shops, apartment buildings and banks are all we can see. Within minutes it’s cloudy, dark and it begins to rain, not the little drizzle we get here in Dubai but a full on downpour. Everyone begins to run briskly and in seconds the streets are empty. Frightened at this sudden disappearance, Darren and I run back to the hotel ourselves. We dry ourselves off, leave our clothes to dry and flop down on the beds with Paolo to watch some television again. In an hour we’re gathered down in the lobby to leave to a restaurant outside of town for some dinner. Dinner is served on candle-lit tables. Everybody gobbles down their dinner and soon we’re back in the hotel for a comfy rest over-night…