One Night in Nairobi!

Mar 15, 2010

On Sunday afternoon, I was looking forward to my flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Not only was it my first layover in over 2 weeks (Dubai drives you to insanity by day 3, I needed an escape), but Kenyans are extremely friendly people and when it comes to passengers, what more can you ask for? It turns out that the majority of the passengers were not in fact Kenyan. We began boarding, and watched as about 150 Chinese passengers walked on, all wearing matching bright yellow "Dubai" hats. I was mildly amused by this. More amusing, however, was when the group leader (or at least I'm assuming) pulled out a MEGAPHONE and began making announcements. Seriously. We politely asked him to stop, as he was disturbing the other passengers on board. I must admit, it's quite challenging having a plane full of people who do not speak English. How do you ask them to sit down when they are all standing up during take off, or playing cards in the aisle? How do you explain that your meal options are chicken or beef, not fish? It was definitely an interesting flight, and we were kept extremely busy. A moment of relief came when one of the crew members from first class brought us a tray of leftover meals. Prawns and lobster? Don't mind if I do!
We landed in Nairobi at around 7:30 pm, and as I walked through the airport to my bus, I was giddy. For the very first time in my life, I was in Africa! It was a 45 minute bus ride to the hotel, and the purser found it hilarious watching me stare out the windows on both sides of the bus. "Are you expecting to see a giraffe or something?" he asked. Unlike the rest of the crew, I was excited to be in Kenya, and despite the fact that it was dark out, I wasn't going to miss a chance at seeing anything. There wasn't much to be seen, but I did catch a few ladies walking with baskets on their heads, and wondered how on Earth they manage to balance them. We arrived at the hotel, and it was amazing. 5 star, without a doubt. Everything about it was fancy, even the shampoos and lotions (which I take home from every hotel room) smelled yummy, and there was a cute little gift box with chocolates on my bed. I had every intention of going to the lounge for a cocktail, for the first time in a long time. I needed to satisfy my desire for a pina colada! I walked to the bar and none of the crew were anywhere to be found. I must have been early. I decided to come back a bit later, but after spending a few minutes sitting on my bed I lost all motivation to leave my room. I settled for a bubble bath, chocolate, and taking advantage of the free wireless instead. My internet in Dubai is terrible, so I jumped at the opportunity to catch up with Ryan on a video chat.
I woke up from an amazing sleep and wondered what to do with my day. Sadly, time constraints meant that a safari wasn't really possible. On a positive note, Nairobi is only a 5 hour flight from Dubai, so after I finish probation and get cheap flights I think I'll head down here for 3-4 days to find some lions and giraffes! I decided to head to the shopping mall to see what I could spend my meal allowance on. Food was priority, so I found a nice little seafood restaurant and ate amazing lemon calamari and veggie stir fry... it was so good, and so cheap. I wandered the gift shops, feeling as though I'd stepped into my mom's house. If you've ever been there you'll understand. She has a strange obsession with elephants, and everywhere you look in her house you'll find them, with a giraffe thrown in once in awhile as well. Every shop I walked into, I was greeted warmly by the staff... "Jambo! Welcome!". I wish Dubai would take a cue from them. The other day I was browsing a store in a mall back in the sandpit and a security guard stood 2 feet behind me the entire time. I actually wanted to buy things, but I was frustrated with the lack of personal space and left. Anyways, enough with my Dubai ranting already. As I wandered the nice little shopping center in Nairobi, I picked up a few random souvenirs, some snacks to take back to Dubai and postcards that I probably won't mail for months.... sorry, send me your addresses. I treated myself to a banana fudge milkshake as I read the local paper. The mall was all outdoors, surrounded by tons of palm trees and lush green grass. I never realized until moving to the desert just how much I appreciate nature. The sun was shining, and it was a warm day, but not as hot as Dubai. Strange, considering this is the closest that I'd ever been to the equator. I must say, walking by security guards toting giant machine guns made me a tiny bit nervous, but at least I knew the mall was safe. (Mom, Grandma... don't freak out, you know that they do the same in Mexico, where you've both traveled numerous times. Actually, my mom is currently having the time of her life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! There I go getting side tracked again...) Despite not doing much, I was having a great time, thoroughly enjoying my first layover of the month. Not only was I staying in a beautiful hotel, but I was given more than enough money to cover my meals, and the rest funded my souvenir shopping. After a few hours of browsing the shops, I headed back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. Apparently I wasn't tired. I gave up on sleeping, knowing that I'd regret my decision at around 4 am while I was on a plane bound for Dubai. I decided I'd kill time by heading back to the mall, and eating more. The waiter came to my table to deliver me a GIANT sandwich, complete with a side of fries that I'd said I didn't want. "You promise you'll eat it all?", he joked. I stared at the intimidatingly large portion in front of me and agreed I'd try my best. Childhood lectures came back to me... "There are starving children in Africa", I thought, feeling ready to burst. Now that I was actually in Africa, I couldn't leave any food on my plate. It was a great effort, but I accepted my defeat. I couldn't finish it. I snuck away before the waiter could say a word. It was time to get ready for my flight home, so I headed back to my room where I reluctantly packed my suitcase and got ready. I never really enjoy returning from layovers. The hotel beds are far better than my rock solid bed at home.
The flight home was uneventful... the passengers slept until we landed, and I finally stumbled into my apartment like a zombie at 7:30 am.
On my list of life goals, visit all continents (except Antarctica because I'm not a huge fan of snow and I can see penguins in Australia) is high on the list. Thanks to my 24 hours in Africa, I've got 5 down, only 1 to go! Bring on a Brazil flight!


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