Posted by: Ele Quigan | June 15, 2014

Africa part 1 – Nairobi – 15th June 2014

Sankara Hotel, Nairobi Kenya

Sankara Hotel, Nairobi Kenya

There’s something very “Poisonwod Bible” about this place.  A sense of weird toxicity to the atmosphere, it’s slightly tense, though maybe that’s me.  The sky is grey and hazy, though maybe that’s from every trucks blue smoke on the way in.

Even in Addis Ababa the sky was hazy, the Sun a golden lozenge, reminding me of sore throats, and unwellness.  It’s grey here in Nairobi too.

The road in was long, a dusty smokey main highway, nose to tail on every smoking truck that’s existed. It’s hard to believe after being on highways around the world that this is it, I’m thankful there’s no potholes, no accidents.  Large trucks our driver mentioned are the main road to Uganda, to Ethiopia, it’s hard to believe we’re on roundabout after roundabout, police officers waving us through snaking around what feels like traffic madness.  I should have been thankful we were going slow.

Kenyan’s are stuffed into overflowing vans, being maneuvered to and from wherever, some in the brightly coloured African fabrics I’ve been longing to see, some in things I can see myself wearing.  My jandals and travel clothes seem scruffy in comparison.

I blew my nose after the journey, black, dusty, I felt like I’d smoked a pack of cigarettes in an hour.

The Hotel is a small oasis, a blessed few days before we decided to head on into tenting and sleeping bags, a place to relax and feel London drifting away from our thoughts.  We’ve never stayed somewhere like this before, we both feel a bit out of place within its luxurious confines.

There’s a smoking hole in the manicured garden across from our gated hotel, in closer inspection it was black, brakish, viscous, part of me thinks it’s oil, but that seems strange, I’m in Nairobi, not the Nigerian delta?  The smell permeates our hotel room, even within our protected, double-glazed space.

We didn’t venture far, we feel safe but nervous to be here, recent terrorist attacks have removed our usual adventurousness, and staying within the confines of a gate, security with large weapons – there’s even a body scanner with metal detector.

The two short powercuts this morning made me nervous & jumpy…  I should come to expect that over the coming weeks.

It’s not what I expected and exactly what I expected.  The people we’ve come across here are friendly, I feel guilty not knowing a word to speak to them, and while their English is incredible, I lazily respond with Hello’s and Excuseme and polite thank yous.

They go out of their way to be helpful, our hotel room door bell is ringing with offers of washing, newpapers, housekeeping – staff come and speak to us to talk the usual things foreigners have in common, sport.

The Allblacks follow us across the world, I again feel ashamed to admit I no longer enjoy Rugby as I once did, feeling like I should give my passport & Pounamu to someone more Kiwi than I am.

Stellenbosch, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, these words are a comfort, losing my out-of-placeness to a winelist.

Unbelievably I slept through the night here, the first time in months.  If a comfortable bed and blackout curtains was all I needed to lose my insomnia, I should have done this months ago.  After even one night I feel like a new person, I only hope the headaches slowly disappear too.

This morning we leave this small piece of heaven, both excited, nervous, and worried about nights in a sleeping bag, the next few weeks hold some much of the unknown.

We hope our fellow travellers are friendly.  We hope they are generous, and not pernickety.  We hope they are like us, in a space of life to allow Africa to be all it can be, without expectations and stresses.  It’s a very long time to be travelling with people, and while we’ve met friends for life on trips as short as two weeks, I’m sure 3 months will give time to be frustrated and sick of them, like I am sure they will be sick of me at stages too.

I wish for patience, tolerance, niceness & duck feathers.  To let go the small stuff and not find little things annoying. If we’re touring with loud chewers, cup slurpers, teeth & cutlery bangers, I pray that I suck it up and find a way to get past it…

And as I start this journey, I hope to find new things within my self that I hadn’t seen before, I’m expecting to not want to leave, as if a little piece of my soul will drop off with every experience.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: