Saturday, 31 January 2009

Day one - arrival in Nairobi

Mosquito bites: 1

Does one really need five pairs of flip flops for a six day trip to Africa? Can linen trousers ever really be cool? Does Kenyan Airlines serve the worst airline food ever? These were the questions I was asking myself as I struggled to get some sleep on our eight hour flight to Nairobi. Dinner consisted of an unidentified fish object (UFO) which no one, including the air hostesses, could identify and some small green tubes which I think were vegetables. After gamely chewing on the UFO for a few minutes, we gave up and concentrated on our plastic bread rolls and triangles of laughing cow. Breakfast was served about an hour later and consisted of another plastic bread roll, this time accompanied by a plastic croissant and some plastic butter. Good times.

We emerged from the plane bleary eyed and hungry at about 6am (3am UK time), where we were met by Cliff, the Chairman of Skillshare International and the Foundation’s charity partner. Immediately we were blinded by sunshine and palm trees, so with our spirits lifted we set off for the hotel. I was struck by the array of colourful buses, huge adverts for mobile phones and the vast numbers of Africans striding purposefully along the side of the road; a common sight in Nairobi given that there is virtually no public transport.

As we arrived at our destination the Zimbabwean cricket team were on their way out, which was rather disappointing all round. As regards the hotel, the staff are very friendly and like nothing better than engaging you in conversation with their generally very impressive English. I now know how to say hello and thank you in Swahili so I’m sure they’re equally as impressed with me.

After breakfast and a quick nap, it was time to head to the Karen Blixen museum, about 20km away. A guide took us on a tour through Blixen’s actual house, parts of which were used in the film of her novel Out of Africa, which won several Academy Awards back in the day. There was one hairy moment when we entered her husband’s bedroom and were greeted by a full-sized stuffed lion’s head, complete with enormous snarling teeth. Closer inspection revealed that the lion’s body had been flattened to make a rug – apparently Mr and Mrs Blixen were heavily into hunting. I just about managed to muffle my scream but was rather relieved to move on to the slightly less alarming features of the dining room.

On the way back to the hotel we saw a load of cows taking a stroll along the road (in the absence of public transport I guess even they get involved), and quite possibly a sheep.

Back to the present: dinner is next, followed by an early night as most of us only got two or three hours last night. Tomorrow will be a day dedicated to animals, and we hope to encounter some of Kenya’s stunning wildlife during our much anticipated game drive. If not, at least we’ve seen some cows and that possible sheep.

Following the safari we’ll be visiting an animal orphanage, after which I’ll be making an unscheduled stop to a suitcase shop. After all, there’s no way I’ll fit a parent-less baby elephant into my current case, especially with those five pairs of flip flops...

Until tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. WOW! sounds like you're having an amazing time. To be fair, I'd go for the baby elephant over a pair of flip-flops any day! xx