The view from the veranda
My first visit to Kenya – christmas 2010
My first travel to Kenya in 2010 was a surprise – not least for myself. It was a pure whim. On the other hand – it’s not the stupidest thing I’ve done in my life. It was a year of many travels. During summer I was hiking in the mountains, in November, I visited China of all places. In December stood Kenya on my schedule.
It had with loneliness and Christmas to do. It’s hard to celebrate Christmas alone, one of the hardest that are. I had done that a few times before, but it would not do in 2010. I had got a fb friend in Kenya and had in six months exchanged thoughts and opinions with her. Was it possible to ask to come for a visit? I knew she lived near Nairobi; she worked and had a daughter of 3 years. I had no thoughts about what she would answer. I know today that she was surprised by the question and she consulted her stepfather, and they agreed to answer yes.
Of course I was very excited on the plane down to Africa. A former colleague of mine had warned me as best she could. Several others were sceptical. I was repeatedly attempted fooled by Russian ladies; they were only looking for one thing – money. My gut feeling was different, however, confident that this was going to go well. I can be quite nervous at the beginning of a journey. If it didn’t went well, there was certainly hotels in the area.
Getting into Kenya is a long process. You must fill out a bunch of forms, and you must pay a visa fee, which at that time was $ 25. Was super excited as I stepped out of the baggage department, through customs and into the waiting area where hundreds of people with posters and banners. Then I suddenly saw a face I knew from face book, a friendly face that welcomed me and asked if I wanted some coffee before we went to her apartment. There was a coffee shop nearby. Then I met Buda and Salamah, stepfather and daughter. Nice. It was late so her daughter was tired. Now I was in Kenya!
The contrast was great: When I left home, it was winter and freezing temperatures. Here it was around + 20 ° C. The road to the town she lived in, Kitengela, was partly very bumpy, but eventually we arrived at the 5-storey apartment building where she lived in the 5th Floor. The car was parked downstairs in the basement along with all the other cars. It was pretty cramped down there. The building was relatively newly built, but had no lift. The stairs would give a lot of good exercise. It was pretty much sounds in the house, but eventually she got locked us into the apartment. The profit lock was a process. The padlock hung in a small box so you almost have to feel your way to the keyhole to unlock the door, which was of welded iron.
I cannot remember if I was surprised, or what my reaction was, I did not have great expectations. I knew there was not a cabin with dirt floor and cow dung on the walls, but Fatma has grown up in such. But an apartment, which had three rooms, kitchen, toilet and bathroom, was almost without furniture. A table, a work desk with TV and old pc and a plastic chair was all. In the bedroom as I intended, there was a bed and fixed wardrobes. Salamah and Fatma slept on rubber mattresses in the second room. Exactly not very good. Well I would only stay there for 14 days, so they could get the bed back.
Fatma asked if I really wanted to stay there? I thought – I had travelled from loneliness in the cold in Norway, here was electricity, water tap, a bed to sleep in and a gas boiler / charcoal burner in the kitchen, here were nice people – this was like going on a cabin in a well equipped cottage. Sure I would be there.
Later both electrisity and the water did disappear for periods, but that’s another story.
I no longer remember the details of these 14 days I was there. There were 14 days out, and I decided to come back as soon as possible. It happened too – at Easter. And so it has gone snowballed – all in all, I have visited Kenya 6 times since that first visit – four times with a stay of almost half a year. After 2 years we become married.
Fatma lived in the 5th floor. She had a small veranda with a great view. From there it was a view in many directions. It was nice to sit on the veranda and gaze down at the people who passed by with all kinds of things on your back or on the head or on the hip. You also saw many buildings that were under construction, some crowded of workers, others were in a standstill – maybe it was the end of the money? A couple of times I was not feeling well I sat almost the whole day out here, watching life around. At midday you were protected by the roof over from the intense sun, for it is pretty intense here – just a few degrees south of the equator.
But I set not only quiet on this front veranda. I was taken out on the town, visited the market (where I later were forbidden to go; prices went up 50% when I just showed!) and some shops (but the biggest was yet opened): Second day we took the matatu ( minibus) to Nairobi and was picked up by Buda who drove us to the great rift valley. This I want to show using some pictures which are all taken at the end of year 2010. Then you have to see the Norwegian version!