Whooooooosh. Another sweaty plane journey. I’m in Africa now. Woohoo.
The plane arrived in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport airport at 4:30am, about 15mins late. Unfortunately, it was dark so I didn’t get to see much. The main Nairobi airport burned down several years ago. For info, see here. We disembarked and went through passport control and immigration at a temporary structure. It was so different from the antiseptic European ones.
I was glad I got a visa before I left home as there were no queues and I was through in a jiffy. Those who hadn’t, had to fill in a long form and then queue up to get it checked and have their passport stamped.
None of the immigratiom officers wore uniforms and they were laid back and friendly. My passport was stamped. I was in!
I’m tired now but will write more later.
Nairobi Smiles and First Miles
Once my passport was stamped and the immigration officer nodded to the luggage area, I walked into Kenta and the official start of my journey into Africa. I felt that old familiar sense of fierce excitement I get in the pit of my belly when I arrive in a new country. I wanted to jump up, punch the air and shout F***, YES. Of course I didn’t. I’m naturally, or rather unnaturally, a shy person and hate to draw attention to myself. But I felt it.
I waited to collect my bags and wondered what would happen if they didn’t turn up. But they did and I went out to the public area, hoping to get a cup of coffee and a sim card for my phone. But there was no concourse or even shops. The airport is temporary while the new one is being built and looked like a carpark in a shopping centre in a poor part of town. But it worked!
I knew that my trip included being picked up by a car and driven to the place where I was staying, Karen Camp, a resort/game reserve at the outskirts of Nairobi. I was hoping the driver would turn up. I was a bit bedraggled by the long journey that I really hadn’t a plan B, if he didn’t. However, he did. I went to where people were holding up cards and spotted an Oasis Overland one. I went up to the guy holding it and before I had time to introduce myself, he asked
“are you Brian”
“I am” sez I.
I had half intended to use Tom, my middle name and travel name, but decided to stick with Brian, on the spur of the moment.
“My name is Smiley” said your man “I’m your driver”
Then he smiled and I understood why he was called Smiley. He had an open dazzling smile and an infectious laugh. I immediately liked him enormously. He was a small man of about 50 and looked like he had known some hard times.
The journey to the camp took about 30mins and we chatted and laughed about lots of different subjects. He was very knowledgeable and imparted lots of factoids about Nairobi and places we were passing. I didn’t get much of a sense of Africa as it was dark at the time and seemed like anywhere else, really, except the roads were a bit more knackered.
We got to the camp and I checked in and crashed out. But not before I made sure my mosquito net was well tucked in and fit for purpose. There were a few holes in it and I fixed these with my magic Gorilla tape.
I got up at around 9am and went to the reception desk where I met one of the guys on my trip. We chatted for a few hours and then I went back to bed. I did this intermittently during the day, chatting and napping and then went to bed at 7:30pm and slept until 7:30 the next morning