Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kenya Travel, Part II

DAY 3 – Nairobi

A weird day of African errands and rocking around the city with Bradley. First, we went airport for a futile attempt to see if by some miracle the jacket I had left in the overhead compartment had been picked up in the clean-up sweep, brought to the lost and found and kept safe for a couple of days… it hadn’t.

Next I delved head-long into a 3rd-world medical extravaganza. In jest my sister on her way to bring the kids to the doctor had said “if you need any doctor stuff done, they’re great and cheap here”… and as it just so happened my dentist had just told me I needed a bunch of work done, and I am about 3 years over-due on an eye exam. So we spent the mid-day hitting up Nairobi doctors in one of the most efficient and effective visits I’ve ever had.

So with a numb-mouth and freshly prescribed eyes, we rolled through town, with constant site-seeing knowledge being dropped by Bradley (this is the largest rotary in east Africa, that is Kenyatta’s grave, Uhuru means independence, you can’t trust the Maasai, if you run-over one of their goats they will beat you with their sticks…) to pick up a Swedish friend (small-world) who is here doing Phd research from Linköping University. We took her out of the hectic downtown for a great Indian lunch and coffee in the peaceful backyard and heard about her Kenyan wetlands research.

(Check out the Jacarandas in full bloom - can't tell from the picture, but it was unreal)

DAY 4 – dentist, mall, work… vacation?

Another day around Nairobi – finishing up the dental work – and then across town to the Village Market, basically a big mall where some of the COP side-events are being held. Unfortunately there weren’t any there today, so we settled for lunch and a look around. Michelle and Em hit the spa to prepare for the coast and then we caught up on some work, as power had more or less returned to full service.

(Simba - a very good dog)

DAY 5 – Depart for Lamu

Up for a quick run, some last minute work, picked up groceries, packed, and headed for the airport. Wilson airport was pretty low-impact – not exactly the hub that Kenyatta International is. Still, they’ve somehow picked up on the “water bottle” scare and made us drain any liquids – absurd.

A four-prop Dash-7 (I think) lifted us quickly up above Nairobi National park and we were on our way. After all of the rains the usually arid terrain to the coast was covered in green. The landing was classic. The runway was paved, but just a strip amidst the bush. They kept the props on the non-debarking side going as we scurried off they sorted through to find the luggage of those not continuing on. The house we rented had a boat waiting, and the staff loaded the luggage and Liv into a wheel-barrow.

We piled into a small motor boat and zipped across the channel to the island of Lamu, with babies and little girls taking cover. We got a good view of Lamu town on our way south to Sheila.

A brief walk through a labyrinth filled with dark windows, donkeys and stray cats brought us to the Palm House – a beautiful 3-story open-air building with full grown palm tree inside the front entrance. The heavy tropical heat was a welcome change from the chill of Nairobi. After dropping our bags and changing, we ran down for a quick dip in the warm crystal blue ocean. The chefs for these houses are almost-famous in Kenya, and for good reason – the first night we had fish and veggies and we quickly realized we hadn’t brought enough wine (the area is 90% Muslim and hence void of liquor stores).

With the kids asleep we all unwound a bit more, explored the house – which is nearly impossible to describe – lots of decks with views of green jungle and blue ocean, all clean plaster, flowing forms of walls, stairs and railings, thatch roofs, sparse wooden furniture – well suited to relaxing.