Wow, we made it. After a tearful goodbye, we left Calgary International airport at 9:30 pm on Aug. 12 and, after traveling for close to 40 hours we safely arrived at Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi at 9 pm, Aug. 15. We had a long layover in London which we have blogged about in a separate post.
We were first welcomed with the traditional long lines and even longer wait to get through the customs check. After such a long trip this is the last thing that we want to do with young children. However, much to our surprise and chagrin, a Kenyan “official” ushered us right to the front of a line. This did not sit well with those that we went past. We really did not know what was going on but it seemed that a whole group of tourists were being a nuisance and the way that the customs officials were going to deal with it was to make them wait. Fortunately we had all of our papers in order so we were able to, in relative terms, breeze through. It still took a lot longer than we were comfortable with having just jumped the que in front of a lot of angry looking and sounding people. We have learned that it is sometimes better to not know what is going on and not to ask. So this meant that we were able to get to the luggage claim where all of our luggage arrived with us. This may sound funny but there was a time that only a few pieces of luggage would arrive at the same time as us. Now it seems that it is the norm for our luggage and us to arrive at the same place and time. We certainly do not take this event for granted though.
We would love to show you pictures of us arriving but since it is illegal to take pictures at the airport we figured that it would be better to enter the country as good standing residents instead of being welcomed in a different way. Instead we can show you the pictures of us leaving.
We were met at the airport by a driver who would take us to the AIM guest house in Nairobi. This was great but we also arrived with another RVA family whose luggage brought us to the grand total of 44 pieces. He only drove one van in to get us since there were only nine people to pick up. But it was immediately apparent that it would be impossible to fit all of us and 44 pieces that each weigh fifty pounds into this vehicle. So a second vehicle was called for. This meant that we left the airport at midnight. We were exhausted and when we got to the guest house we all crashed – for three hours. Thanks to jet lag we were all wide awake after a very short sleep. What to do with a four year old who cannot read on her own, who cannot play with toys lest she wake anyone else up, and who does not do anything quietly and cannot sit still. It was a challenge that we were able to overcome but not an exciting prospect when the rest of the compound was still asleep.
The next day we were picked up by a RVA staff member who drove a bus out to get us. Now this was a much more suitable vehicle for us and our luggage. We stopped at a local “mall” where we could grocery shop and buy KFC. Wait a minute. A KFC? It is the real thing and not the traditional knock off that were would see sometimes. We half expected it to be called Kenya Fried Chicken. Talk about globalization. Now if we really need our western fast food fix we can go and wait from either 45 minutes to two hours to get our bucket of chicken. To be honest we never ate there when we were in Canada. We do not think that we will make special trips to do it here.
The drive to RVA was pretty much the same. The road is a little rougher and the traffic is still just as crazy but we felt at home. The memories come flooding back and it was a good feeling. We just let it soak in. Driving up to the gate of the school campus was great. We arrived at our newly built house to find that it still needed to have the solar water heater hooked up, no phone line (hence no internet), and leaks in pretty much every bathroom. We were so thankful though to have a roof over our heads and beds to sleep in. We will blog more about our house later on.