Friday, August 21, 2015

On our way.... to Nairobi, Kenya!

We have arrived in Kenya! What a journey!

So, how did me and the kid end up in Nairobi, Kenya? I've been thinking a lot about giving back in gratitude for all that I have. I'm a teacher, and I love to travel, so I decided to volunteer somewhere teaching. I found this organization just outside Nairobi, Kenya, one man really, who said he teaches photography to some street kids in this town. I started emailing with him and he said that he teaches about 50 kids, some of whom are homeless, through a local school he works with. He said I could teach English and the kid could teach drama or read them stories. It sounded perfect for us both so.... here we are!

The plane ride wasn't that bad, only 5 hours on Emirates Airways. I actually did good picking seats but I forgot and was distressed. Then we arrived on the plane and had bulk head seats! Score! And I have to say, I love when airlines provide you with a menu for lunch, even if they are out of option 1 by the time they reach you!

Immigration was quick and painless, even though we were told to step to the right for bag check. The lady did not go thru our bags, luckily. Then I noticed that only people of color were over in the bag check, whites were just passed thru with a “good day”. Hmmmm. I can’t get into it. 

We've arrived! Nairobi, Kenya

Once outside, there were a million people holding signs up. I was frantically scanning for my name, then I decided to exchange money. As we were walking towards the money exchange, someone approached me and said, “Ayanna?” and I said “Justus!” He knew me on sight, how cool was that?! We were leaving the airport via taxi and that really took forever. He had to go get the taxi guy. We were standing there with a million people, going on safari, and 1 by 1, they all disappeared til it was just us. Justus kept disappearing to go search for the taxi guy; all in all I’ll say we waited well over an hour. Finally, taxi guy came. Justus remembered everything I had asked him about in my emails and was like, ok, lets go get your water and mosquito netting and phone, right? We didn’t manage to get the phone, so I am dying without facebook (pathetic, I know!)! but I’m all set for water and and lovely mosquito netting, which we already totally need, thank goodness we got it! I’m slightly freaking out without internet and hope my mom isn’t having a conniption, but we will definitely get a phone first thing tomorrow!

We went to Justus’ parents home in a suburb of Nairobi called Githurai, and met his sister, mother, and father. I thought we were staying there. He said how the house wasn’t finished and it was still being worked on. I said fine, I just need a bathroom. Justus and his sister looked at each other, and it was a few minutes before they answered me. Then Caroline (his sister) told me she’d take me. I finally understood the silence when I asked about the bathroom. She lead me down a pitch black hallway that had a drop of 2 feet blocked by cement bricks, (where I cut my finger on a nail sticking out of the wall, ouch!) then to an open stall that had a pit dug in it with 2 more cement bricks for my feet placement.  Hmmm, I knew I was coming to a 3rd world country but…ok, just something to wrap my head around!

You can imagine how happy I was to learn that we weren’t going to be staying there! Whew.

Then Justus left to go find a taxi. He arrived 20 minutes later with a tuk-tuk in tow. This is fine, I love tuk-tuk’s having used them a lot in Thailand. However, 5 people plus 4 humongous bags in 1 little tuk-tuk was quite a stretch! It was now night time and of course there are no street lights, we really weren’t even on what could be called a street. Just a rutted and pocked dirt road that was littered with huge pieces of cement and deep potholes that canted sideways rather alarmingly. We had to hold on to our bags so they wouldn’t fly out the back. I told Ajenai to hold on to me in case the flimsy metal door decided to fly open and spill me onto the road. I kept asking if she was ok and she said yea. I said, it won’t be long til we are driving on a real road so hold on. I was mistaken, this was the road! For the entire 20 minute very harrowing ride. I was fine, even with the bumps and dips, until we went up one hugely canted road and I thought, “hmmm, I wonder if we are going to tip over?” Why did I think that?! Once that thought was in my head, I couldn’t get rid of it! After that, every bump and dip and sideways shuffle I was just praying!

Another harrowing tuk-tuk ride!

Just regular traffic in Nairobi!

The view from the tuk-tuk!
And I guess it worked because we made it! And we pulled up to an actual 5 story building, not a shack. Justus carried our bags up to the 3rd floor, I felt really bad because each one was heavy and he had to make 4 trips! 

We finally alighted in our home for the next month for me, and 2 weeks for the kid.

1 room, 1 maybe full size bed with an alarming dip in the center (which turned out to be an inch thick foam mattress wrapped in several ratty blankets!), a sofa, a bathroom with a toilet with no seat, a small sink in the corner and 2 water spigots that turned out to be our shower. No hot water tho, I’m afraid!  A little tank of gas that turned out to be the stove, a small sink next to the front metal door, … what more could 2 intrepid adventurers ask for?! Oh, I almost forgot, of course there was a tv!

The great thing about the bed was that it had space underneath so we could shove our bags under there.

Our apartment building....Keiriki Apartments 

Our bathroom complete with shower spigot

Our front door, closes with a padlock...from the inside!

Our kitchen, those dishes are clean!

Our wonderful sofa...where the kid ended up sleeping.

And our wonderful, lumpy, bed...
The four of us were sitting there chatting in various small nooks and grannies in the room, when I finally told Justus that we were in fact, quite hungry! He said oh yes, I will go get you some beans and rice. Wonderful. Of course I was thinking he would bring back food that was cooked, and that’s what I get for making assumptions again! When he returned, (40 minutes and 2 phone calls later!) he just had a bag of uncooked rice and beans! We had to cook them! Thank goodness Caroline was there and cooked for us. Justus showed me how to turn on the gas tank, with pliers and a match, and then Caroline proceeded to pour a gallon of tap water on the rice to start cooking it. Ajenai was like, oh no, please use the bottled water! That is the fastest I have ever seen the kid speak! The one thing I drilled into her about this trip was DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! She listened! So, after a little assertion that of course the water was fine, Caroline used our bottled water. And after another 20 minutes, after 10pm, we finally had our second meal of the day!

Justus sat and talked a little bit until I made it very obvious that we wanted to go to bed, and Caroline stayed the night with us. At first I was freaked cus I thought they meant she was staying with us the whole time! But she just stayed the one night because they didn’t want to abandon us on our first evening. Wasn’t that nice?

I made the grave mistake of sleeping with the window open after the fan broke. We were assaulted by mosqitos! Even Caroline had to get off the sofa and wrap the mosquito netting around herself. We quickly closed the window, but of course it was too late. Once in the night, the kid woke up literally screaming about “the bees! The bees! Buzzing!” and she was swatting at her head. I had to calm her down and say, no, in fact, that would be the mosquito’s and I’m so sorry!

But we all survivied the night and I’m excited to start my first whole day in Kenya!  I’ve got a list of items to buy including a pillow that isn’t as lumpy and hard as the road outside!

This trip turned out to be good .....and very bad, you will hear all my thoughts, uncensored! Which, if you know me means you will be hearing a lot! Hope you stay for the journey of our Kenyan adventure!



  1. WOW! Is all I can say right now. This sounds like an adventure/experience of a lifetime. I've never been to another country let alone one that doesn't have all of the modern conveniences that I'm accustomed to having. I can't wait to read your next post. I'm totally tuned it to this experience.

  2. I volunteered in Kenya once and know all too well about this experience of public transport there. Your experience sounds so familiar, more power to you two!

  3. sounds like quite a trip. My mother's friend is from Kenya. I would love to visit one day. Can't wait to see other posts.