Nairobi

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Last night, we caught an evening flight from Addis to Nairobi. Most of what we read told us to be extremely cautious in town, to get out as soon as possible and don’t go out walking after dark. We got a decent meal on the plane, but needed water, so the first thing we did after checking into our hotel was go for a walk. The store was a block away and after getting water we walked a few more blocks. We were in a good part of town and other than one kid asking us for money, we had no problems. After a day spent in town, it feels like most modern cities, big, crowded, slightly dirty and moving quickly. It felt no worse than many US cities I can think of.

This morning, this plan was to go to the train station, get a ticket for the night train to Mombasa, grab a coffee and head to the elephant orphanage. The plan worked great until step two… It turns out between researching the trip and arriving, two things of note happened that made the advice we took about buying tickets the day of travel no longer correct. The first was Christmas which we probably could have predicted, but what we didn’t know was that many families travel to the coast between Christmas and New Year. Second, someone cancelled all buses between Nairobi and Mombasa. Not sure who or why, but the end result for us was the only ticket available on the train was third class. As memorable as that would be, we decided to look for other options and found a travel agent (I didn’t know they were still around) who was open and booked flights.

A quick coffee and it was out to the elephant orphanage. They have 30 elephants under 5 years old and 25 of them come out for public feedings once a day. For about $6 you stand there behind a rope while they attempt to bottle feed the orphans. In practice the elephants know the routine well enough that they often take the bottles and try to wonder off or finish their bottle and go look for other ones that aren’t being guarded. After eating, most of them wanted to splash about in the puddle a few feet from us. Some of the splashes were larger than others as Dom’s muddied skirt can prove. Some came over to the rope so we could pet them or they could rub against us, depending on the perspective. The hour went fast.

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Later, we explored the National Museum of Kenya which was much more impressive than it’s Ethiopian cousin. Things were well arranged to tell a story and everything seemed to have a label explaining it. Nice exhibit on early humans again as well as more birds than I thought existed in one place. Then it was time for our flight to Mombasa. The crew told us before taking off, they hoped it would be a memorable flight. Memorable is not what I want in a flight, but it turned out fine.

Upon arrival in Mombasa, we ran into the second half of the problem of not being on the night train. Where to sleep. Turns out that even late the same day is still between Christmas and New Years, so there were no hotels available… We arrived at the hotel wet have reserved for tomorrow and they were extremely concerned that they had overbooked. We told them our plans had changed and we still plan to stay there tomorrow. They spent the next ten minutes calling and running around to all the other hotels looking for a room. The hotel is more expensive than we planned on, but it’s a bed and an internet connection.

After nut getting the train, finding a flight, seeing the elephants, not getting a hotel, having a wild tuk-tuk ride through Mombasa and getting the cleanest room since arriving in Africa, the flight might not have been memorable, but the day certainly was.

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