Landed in Nairobi. Kenya.

2 Jan

December 5, 2010

Just landed in Nairobi. Flew Kenya Airways. Started in Siem Reap, Cambodia. An hour flight to Bangkok. Lay over for seven hours at Bangkok airport.  Bangkok to Nairobi was nine hours. Now, a five hour layover In Nairobi airport. Then, a four hour flight into Johannesburg

Brain cells are fried. Muscles spasms in random places. And, a head stuffed with snot. Started off with a $2 Cambodian drug for nose-plumbing and upgraded to the $12 recognizable brand name, Actifed.    I now can breath, but am severely dehydrated.  Perfect addition for transport hell.

Landed 30 mins ago. It’s 6:15 am. Walked the pint-size airport in less than 10 mins and discovered no seats. No joke. I made a home for my bum and backpack underneath the only digital boarding monitors in this airport.

Besides no seats, there are no restaurants. Just twenty or so duty free shops all selling the same things – booze, cigarettes, Kit Kats, Mars Bar and an occasional Kenya t-shirt.

Ouch. Something just bit me. Am I to start the malaria meds now? Or, wait until I land in South Africa. Fighting a cold is hard enough.  It’s time to pop the bug pills now. There’s no purpose in waiting.

Just figured out what I left in Cambodia. You know, I had to leave something. Make my mark. Left the Nokia $20 phone bought as an insurance policy in Vietnam. You see, if my V-nam Visa was illegit and I was taken to a dark Vietnamese cell, at least I had my Nokia with all the emergency consulate numbers.  Nokia was my insurance plan.

OMG. Did someone loose a cat ? Because, one just sprinted by me. Nobody seemed phased. Maybe he’s the Nairobi airport mascot. Or, maybe since he’s not a leopard or cheetah, everyone is OK with itty-bitty kitty. Need to pop bug pills now. Can’t risk getting cat scratch fever either.

Just stood up. Had to. Pain in the pelvis from sitting on the terrazzo.  Back to perusing the airport halls. I saw someone carrying a brown cup.  It looked like coffee.  I picked up the pace.  I spied a line. Of course, I just get in it, assuming the line is for coffee. Nope. It’s a line for Khartoum. Uh, can we say wrong line? Don’t need to go to Sudan. Just need coffee.

I smiled. Acted like I know what I’m doing. And, continued down the hall in search of coffee. Then, I saw it. Amidst the rubble, there was a Java stand. And, this line is longer than the line to Sudan. I hope they take dollars. I did not see an ATM. And, have no clue as to the Kenyan currency exchange. I really just want a coffee.

I see a few scattered chairs and tables. I’ll be back to squatting on the floor. Maybe I will blow up my plastic airplane pillow and sit on that. That’s should look cute with coffee.

Guess what? Java lady took dollars. And, I found a chair. Actually, the chair found me. I was blowing up my pillow and a nice African man walked over. He just picked up my bags, took my coffee and said, “follow me.” He spoke English, so I followed. He put my bag down and pointed at the empty chair, with a small table being shared by three other people. I smiled and thanked him. And, deflated my airplane pillow.

It still amazes me how I just follow people who speak English.

I plopped the body and just stared. My mind was numb. Turned on my lap top. And, just stared. The man next to me asked where I’m going. My head was so clogged with snot that I had to ask him to repeat himself please. I told him, “I’m in route to South Africa.” He said, “I’m from Uganda and going to Senegal.” My brain couldn’t locate Senegal on a map. He said, “it’s 11 hours flight.” I smiled. But, my brain still couldn’t locate it. I hope it’s because I’m just sick and tired, not mentally map defective.

He introduced himself as Mayor Charles, the mayor of a small town in Uganda. Right out of the gate, he asked if I liked politics. I tell him, “It’s a love/hate relationships. I love to hate it and hate to love it.” He laughed. He proceeded to tell me all about being a Mayor in Uganda. Mr. Charles has three main goals:

  1. Expand access to electricity from 30% to 50% by next year.
  2. Start a garbage collection program. He bought two trucks and needs to train the people and find a dumping ground.
  3. Beautify a park for the kids.
  4. Expand access to clean water. Only 20% of his town’s population has clean water.

He said he works closely with the UN, NGOs and other governmental organizations around the world. He said, “It takes a lot of time…A lot of paper… But that is ok…My people are patient…” In Senegal, he’s attending a Mayor’s conference…Again, brain freeze on Senegal.

He shared with me the level of corruption in the Uganda government. He is part of the DP party, which stands for Truth and Justice. His party is the opposition party to the ruling party. The ruling party rules by guns and bribes. He claims Uganda is one of the worse corrupt governments in all of Africa. I told him, “All I know about Uganda is a lot of churches go there for mission trips…I assumed, it was one of the least corrupt because of this…” He laughed openly. He really thought it was funny or I was superbly naive. Probably both.

Mayor Charles is young, about 36. His next goal is to become a minister but before he can do that, he wants to achieve his goals. I told him that I worked in DC. And, in my opinion, mayors and governors have more immediate power than the President of the United States. They decided whether houses can be built, trains can stop or dogs can play in a park…

He asked about Obama. He said, “I like Bush. Bush helped Africa. He president to give  most money to Africa – ever.  Help us fight disease. Help with Aids…Bush good.” First time I ever heard that in my travels. It usually, the opposite. Then, he bolted. About to miss his flight to Senegal. Before he left, he asked if I had kids? Married? And, invited me to stay with him in Uganda.

I waved, still trying to remember where is Senegal.

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