Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Afternoon in Kenya!

At the internet café I download a few BBC podcasts, soon after which the guy running the places comes over to me, am I downloading? He’s received a phone call from the ISP after they observed crazy bandwidth usage – all of 100Mb or so over half an hour, from an internet café! Who would have thought?!

After showering in the morning, I find the shower has flooded the room as there’s no division between rooms. My pack and several other bits and bobs on the floor are all wet, grrr. My knees seem better, and moving on, as I plan to do, is feasible! First though, the Coffee Lounge for a cappuccino, and a couple of postcards sent off (sorry guys, only a few as I was pushed for time). I’m taking the shuttle bus, Riverside, to Arusha. They seem to share the route with their rival company, Impala. It takes ages, and they maintain the bus with the minimal amount of fuel, which keeps running out! Very strange.

In Arusha, I am eventually dropped at Flamingo Hotel, where my room is not ready, so instead I head out to find Skylink, the travel agents who will potentially be able to issue my Emirates *paper* ticket. It turns out, they’re closed. I walk to Boma Street, where all the airlines are, but they’re all closed, except one travel agent – Easy Travel. And indeed, it seems too easy, the girl says they do Emirates and Ethiopian Air tickets. Perfect! Except.. there’s a bloomin’ power outage and they’re closing soon! Foiled AGAIN!

After going back to the hotel, I pop down to McMoody’s Burgers for some nice fast food, and pick up a bus ticket, again with Riverside, for Nairobi for tomorrow morning. They have foreigner or resident prices, so with some sweet talking you can generally get the resident price. Or at least a compromise. The whole area around my hotel seems to be full of mosques, which doesn’t bode well for about 3:30am tomorrow morning. I’m almost out of Tanzanian money, so take my last 6,100s down to an Indian restaurant called Big Bites. To my horror, most dishes are about 7,000s. To translate into English money, I thought I’d be fine for the night with about 2 pounds 70, but most dishes cost about 3 pounds!! Shocking!!

After loud thunderstorms overnight, and plenty of unwanted Islamic “racket” in the morning, I breakfast in the dark, and chat with pretty Grace on reception whilst waiting for my pickup. She’s climbed Kili, I’m impressed! The bus to Nairobi bounces along a fairly bad tarmac road to the border, taking about two hours. Plenty of Masai types living along the way, all dressed up in their colourful red, purple and blue shawls (there is a technical term for what they wear, but I’ve forgotten it, sorry!).

At the border, I’m stamped out, then walk across to Kenya, dodging the touts and money changer types, then hand over 20$ for a transit visa, which is valid for a week, which should do me (it’s 50$ for the full visa). The weather is getting terrible as we head north, and I’m beginning to think I might skip Mt Kenya if I find good flights at Nairobi airport. The roads the other side of the border once we hit the Nairobi – Mombassa route are truly, truly terrible, presumably because of the large amount of freight which seems to be crawling back and forth across it.

The airport comes soon enough, and I learn that there is a 6pm flight with Ethiopian Air to Addis Ababa. I’ll take it. I manage to get my Emirates ticket too! It’s all happening! Now I have to wait a few hours before check-in. Unfortunately the highly-recommended coffee shop, Nairobi Java House, is inside the check-in area. I notice that BA are flying to London tonight. Home…

Once checked in, I head to the Java House coffee shop with the 2,000, err, whatever the currency is, to get coffee, some food, and to watch CNN, covering the hundreds who have died in fighting in the Rift Valley towns just a couple of hours from here. Also a deadly train crash in Turkey. Oops. Still, the coffee is good, and I finish off with a Tusker beer (slogan – “Makes us equal. Has no equal.”! Goodbye Kenya, it’s been brief!

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