Sunday, November 21, 2010

Welcome Back!

My flight landed in Nairobi at 2am but my internal clock told me it was 3pm.  About 26 hours before I had boarded a United plane and began a multi-continent journey which led me from San Francisco, through Germany, Turkey and finally to Nairobi.  

I would have liked to start my journey to Daraja, but instead I checked into a hotel, mostly because Nairobi isnt the safest city for a foreigner to travel after dark, and matatus don’t leave until its light anyway.  As my cab driver said “they see you, a Mzungu, and they will come to beat you…they will even come to beat me.”  Awesome.

After a solid four hours of sleep and what promised to be my last warm shower for some time I appeared on the streets of Nairobi, ready to meet my destiny.

On my way to the bank I came to a large road and looked both ways before crossing.  While crossing I saw a man waving wildly at me, pointing.  He didn’t really look familiar to me so I just smiled politely.  People in Kenya are so friendly, I thought to myself.  It started to dawn on me that he is probably gesturing to someone behind me.  I spin around trying to avoid obvious embarrassment only to come face to face with a van going 50 MPH, mere feet away from me.  Naturally, it responds as vehicles in Kenya do when faced with pedestrians- SPEEDS UP.

I jump out of the way and feel the woosh of air around me as it misses me by literally inches.  I look back at the man to thank him for the warning, but he has long since gone on his way, and is probably unaware of my fate.

I look around hoping to find someone who witnessed the moment and could share it with me in a glance.  The throngs of people were unimpressed.  Motorists try to kill pedestrians in Kenya everyday.  I didn’t even get hit.  They think my close scrape with death is pathetic.

Mental note: People drive on the other side of the road here.  Welcome back.


(Nairobi intersection)

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