"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." (Mark Twain : The Innocents Abroad, 1869)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Arrivals and Preparations

Sunday, 4th

So here we are in Nairobi - I suppose that every journey has to start some where but what an assault on the senses ! There is the usual energy and development of many large cities in developing countries but the traffic is something else. For a start there's lots of it - of all different sizes and types. The from the ubiquitous Chinese single gear cycle heavily laden with the necessities of domestic and industrial life to HGVs and long distance buses that ply between countries through out Africa. In between there are cars, lorries, taxis, tuc-tucs of all different sizes, age and state of disrepair. It's not that unusual to see a vehicle that had been involved in some major accident crabbing down the road with a repair that hasn't quite straightened the whole thing. This mass of movement would be OK any rules of the road were followed but it all seems to be a free for all with traffic lights being advisory only. Hiving said that, there is not the aggression you see in the UK and very few vehicles show any sign of collision.

We are staying for the initial nights at the Methodist Guest house which is somewhat of a misnomer - it's actually more like a hotel with good clean rooms with TV. It also boasts a large out door swimming pool, beauty/hair salon and a music shop that will also teach you various instruments. It also has a range of meeting rooms which had been taken over by a range of religious services and Sunday schools - lots of joyful singing and drums. Many of the other guests seemed to be religious based groups from around the world & Kenya but there seemed to be no other overt sign of its Methodist roots - apart from the lack of a bar !

The whole idea of staying a night in Nairobi was to undertake the practicalities of provisioning and purchasing the Safari Card for the national parks and for the entry etc to the Massai Mara NR. However, the whole exercise is delayed by almost three hours when Roving Rovers are late in delivering the vehicle. We never really understood the reason.

Just down the road from the MGH was the Ya Ya Centre. A shopping centre with a good supermarket and many high-end / designer shops. There was also a very nice bakery at which we rewarded ourselves with a coffee and freshly baked baguettes.

Close to Nairobi NP where we bought our Safari Card was the Giraffe Centre. It's attached to Giraffe Manor which has undertaken a lot of work in saving the Rothschild Giraffe from extinction. You can stay at the Manor - for a goodly sum and share your breakfast with Giraffes who put their heads through the window - but the Centre had an education centre and a raised platform. The platform was at (Giraffe) head hight and there was a big bucket of food pellets to feed to the Giraffes. This was either one at a time thrown onto a long lounge or, if you were 'brave', your put it between your lips and it was licked from your face !

By the time we had finished here it was getting dark and we had an 'atmospheric' trip in the dark through the haze of cooking fires and the fumes from the traffic jams we faced. Back at the MGH we had an excellent buffet for our evening meal and were then nulled to sleep by a distant Norwegian Pentecostal choirs practicing some of their hymns.

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