Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On safari: Going home

After two weeks in the African bush, going home was a jolt. Usually I'm planning ahead for home stuff for the last few days of a trip, but this time I'd been so engrossed in our experience I hadn't thought about it.

Leaving the Masai Mara on the last day, we experienced the two shortest flights of my life. The area has multiple airstrips and stops are made if there are pickups or dropoffs. So our first flight was five minutes long, at a low altitude, to one airstrip, and our second was four minutes long, to another. The flight to Nairobi after that was just 40 minutes. We emerged from the baggage area to a hectic, noisy city full of traffic and people.

We spent the afternoon at the Serena Nairobi Hotel to rest up. Art took a shower while I logged into the internet. It was good to be in touch with the wider world again. We had bought a walking stick at Enkerere - wood with carvings of the Big Five (elephant, rhino, leopard, buffalo and lion), and the hotel staff wrapped it for travel. And, for the first time in our 20-plus years together, we ordered room service. Not enough time to go down to the restaurant, but too hungry to wait for dinner.

We were short on time because we had an appointment with a young man we'd never met. Last month we hosted Penny and Gary from Minneapolis; they're members of our travel exchange group. When we told them about our upcoming trip to Kenya, Penny said, "I used to work with a nurse from Kenya. Her name is Harriet and she lives in North Carolina now. She moved to the States so she could work to support the education of her three sons. I'll call her and tell her about your trip." And she did, right then. Harriet told her we should meet up with her son in Nairobi, that he would be glad to do that.  I was reluctant, but didn't say anything, because if I'm supposed to say "yes" to opportunities that come up, how could I justify saying "no, thanks"?

Anyway, for our last afternoon we'd made arrangements to meet her son Ken at 2:30 at our hotel. He arrived at 4:05. African time, I'm thinking, or maybe traffic. We chatted for about 15 minutes, and then a man came up to us and said, "I've been eavesdropping, but in a good way," and joined our conversation. He's in some kind of nonprofit/marketing function in Kenya, though he is originally from Toronto. He gave me his card and asked me to email his mother and let her know I saw him and he's fine! We excused ourselves and went upstairs to get ready to check out. When we came back down, fifteen minutes later, Ken, "the son of a friend of a friend", and Brodie the eavesdropper were still in the lobby engaged in a conversation. I wonder whether they were doing business of some kind. When I got home I emailed Brodie's mother and relayed his message to her.

George picked us up for a final dinner at the Pampa Grill Churrascaria, a Brazilian restaurant, where we ate multiple kinds of meat by the slice - including crocodile - and then drove us to the Nairobi airport.

I was not looking forward to the 24-hour trip home, but it turned out to be not too bad. I fell asleep before takeoff, in spite of eight full hours of sleep the night before. For our five-hour layover in Amsterdam, we checked into a room at Yotel, a hotel inside the airport. We slept for a while and took a shower. That refreshing interlude made the nine-hour flight from Amsterdam to Seattle a little easier. It was weird, as usual, leaving Europe at 10 a.m. and arriving home in Seattle at 11 a.m. of the same day.

The next two days were pretty much lost to me as my body readjusted to our local time and we reemerged into our normal world. It's a very long journey between Kenya and Seattle - both in physical distance and in my state of mind.


Meryl Baer said...

What a fabulous trip. And you are bold to agree to meet people who are friends or family of friends of other friends...So when and where is your next adventure!

Olga said...

Have I mentioned how much I drooled over this trip of yours? What a fabulous opportunity and I admire you for grabbing it...and sharing it with us even if it made me jealous.

Arkansas Patti said...

Aww, I am so sorry it is over. What an amazing trip you had. Something you would only regret if you hadn't gone.
Interesting about the meetings and messages. It is a small world after all.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Truly a fabulous trip! Not surprising that you'll have some significant readjustment after that adventure. It has been great to read about it. And oh, by the way, I think room service is one of the great inventions of all time. Expensive, yes, but sooo luxurious. :)