I think you learn a lot about a country when you go through the process of trying to get in to the country. We took a shuttle ride to the border of Kenya from Arusha and planned on having a separate Kenyan driver take us straight to Lake Naivasha, in hopes of avoiding even having to drive through Nairobi. The experience of crossing the border is chaotic with no signs and simple hopes that you are going the right direction and not wandering down a sketchy path in to a dangerous shanty town. All while many Masai women and regular men yell “jambo! jambo! you buy!”. With no form to fill out until you arrive at the desk you meet interesting travelers along the way, relating only to the fact that you are both crazy and willing to experience the hassle all to see a land like you will see no where else.
2.5 hours until we reached our first destination, after a stop at the chicken inn of course, we arrived at a lodge where we would be picking up our keys to the lake house we would be staying at for 2 nights. We called this lodge initially hoping to stay there but at $175 per person, we weren’t quite looking to splurge that much. The British woman over the phone gave us the option of renting her home just 12km from the lodge. Site unseen we headed down the 12km of bumpy road that would inevitably take us an hour. Luckily the house was beautiful, spacious, and even came with its’ own bow and arrow room. Another local Kenyan/American artist had just moved in as well and we finished our first night in Kenya playing cards and getting an insite into the world of a white Kenyan. The next day we had no intentions of leaving the house and decided to lounge the day away listening to the iris birds and hippos, neither make comforting noises however. We drank vodka and various fruit juices and played a ridiculously long game of spades. When we ran out of something the guard would get on his motorcycle and pick us up whatever we needed. When the sun started to set we tried to spot hippos from the nearby dock and Tara managed to pick up a goose. It’s the little things. At 5am we woke up to the hippos grazing off of grass in the backyard.
On the way to Nairobi we stopped by hell’s gate, a park where you can bike around the non-dangerous safari animals. While they are still too afraid of humans to get near you, there is something intimidatingly awesome about being so close to herds of giraffes and zebras without the comfort of a vehicle. After a long bike downhill on crummy bikes we made our way to the scenic gorge, where unfortunately 7 lives were taken just last year from a flash flood. The “emergency exits” consisted of ropes hanging from trees dangling in to the gorge. It felt like a long sunburned day but knowing that the Hilton Nairobi pool was waiting for us was satisfying. The closest to a triathlon as we will ever get.
Before you drive in to the parking lot of the Nairobi Hilton there is a guard checking for car bombs and when you walk in you go through a metal detector. It is nice to feel safe with these precautions but it’s hard not to imagine what took place for them to get to this point. The next day would be Tara & Kevin’s final day in Africa. On our way to the convention center we were nearly accosted by 6-7 men in front of the market. It was very normal to experience people trying to sell you things or to “befriend” you only to have them sell you on something later but 1 came, then another, and another and despite in being only 10am, we felt nervous and crossed the street in hopes of avoiding a potentially dangerous situation. We survived and got a view of the city with a mini guide explaining what some of the buildings were. We had a local Kenyan meal of stews, fish, ugali, and fried plantains. When Kevin left we made 1 last attempt at the Masai market across the street in hopes of getting the last little bit of souvenirs for friends. We went there with little money, no phones, & little concern. We negotiated prices and walked away with trinkets of earrings and in Tara’s case a 2 foot giraffe we named Alfred. The ending of a trip is always a little heartbreaking for, especially with friends, but it leaves me more inspired to understand and see the other side of everyone’s story.