Two posts in one day?!
Just wanted to say I’m in Nairobi, Kenya!! On the flight over, I had one of those moments while looking down where I realized I had just passed over Lake Victoria and was probably just over the Maasai Mara National Reserve when I realized I was flying over Kenya! This little small town Oregon farm girl is hurling through the air at some 100km/hr into a giant city in Afrika with people she barely knows to visit some pretty slummy places. How did I get here!
These were thoughts of wonder and awe, not fear and loathing, I should add.
The short little flight landed me smack dab in the middle of a place whose name – Kenya – had previously been little more than a fabled land of safaris and magnificent creatures. First impressions are less than fairy tales. It’s super over-crowded (John, our driver said 5 million people in Nairobi) with a highway of pedestrians moving along the pavement, then peddling amongst as traffic slowed to a crawl. The clouds of black, sooty exhaust have nearly obliterated my elephant dreams.
Yeah, right. You all know me better than that! I’ve my mind made up. There are elephants in my future!
Anyways, the buildings are a mile high, pollution chokes out the sun and stars, people crawling everywhere, trash levels are high. Not quite paradise for this farm girl. But there was a moment when we were crawling along in three lanes of traffic where someone in the middle lane found a friend moving in the opposite direction. They paused an extra moment to yell what must’ve been hello’s across the highway. Which took me home where cars stop in the middle of the road to chat with a friend as they’re driving home. It made this big ole city a tiny bit less inhospitable. Even in this struggling mass of concrete and humanity, a friend can be found in the other lane.
A moment later there was a man standing between lanes with three bananas held in his hand. Just standing there, looking totally beat. Like if he could only sell them, he could go home with some change to buy some dinner. For his wife and eight starving kids. Who have malaria, TB and typhoid. And a loveable guard dog. Who just had eleven puppies.
Warm friendly feeling gone.
Now, staying with the team for the trip, our accommodations have gone up a few notches from what I’d ever arrange for myself. Feels like a family vacation we once had in Peru! Our 4 nights here are being spent in a Mennonite Guest House in the Westlands. It’s a whole other land of verdant gardens, cloth tablecloths and English speaking hosts (Google still comes in Swahili, however). I can’t be back in the US, the flight was much too short. But it feels kind of wrong to be staying somewhere so luxurious with so much hardship just outside these walls.The only hardship we’ve got is how to arrange to get the bottle of wine opened while staying with Mennonites….