Thanks all for your kind comments, thoughts and prayers while we travelled across Africa to our new challenge. After two successful SA Airways flights, no delays and excellent service (we've not flown SAA for about five years and were very impressed with them this week) we arrived - on time - in Nairobi 19h05 East Africa time. A quick clearance through customs (the efficiency on the Kenyan side was impressive too) we collected our luggage and trolleyed it to the throng of people waiting to meet passengers. Grant and I scanned the huge cardboard notices being held aloft by most of the people standing behind the rope: XXX Safaris for Mr and Mrs De Haardt; XXX Tours for Ms De Maurier, Smith, Van Halen, XXX Outdoor Adventures for the Le Grange party and so on. I realised that we'd arrived in a tourist-driven Africa. Then I spotted a tall man displaying a board announcing: "Mr Grant and Miss Johanna Hedges" Ha! I liked the "Miss" part. Felt good after more than ten days of late nights, arrangements with household staff, vets , kennels, quick packing and flights across the continent!
We introduced ourselves to the man who said his name was Sephani, the company driver and he would transport us to our hotel. We drove across a still-bustling city, in gridlocked traffic, a strong reminder of Conakry in Guinea; Bamako, Mali, West Africa; Addis Ababa, East Africa and Khartoum, North Africa. But that's where the similarity ended. In those countries we drove on the right side of the road, donkey drawn carts and little motorcycles jamming the already jammed traffic and every sign and billboard was in anything but English: French, Dutch, Malinki, Arabic, Amharic. Here it was all was SO familiar. We even spotted clothing chain stores and petrol stations which we'd seen earlier that day in South Africa.
We arrived at our hotel (which is part of a huge safari lodge/hotel group in Kenya) and after we'd checked in, Grant arranged with Sephani to collect us at 7am the next morning for the final leg of our destination. Once we'd showered and freshened up, we went back downstairs for a delicious dinner in the a la carte restaurant.
Once again, I realised that this was no third-world country as some we've worked in before. The place was full of tourists from all over the world. One group of five German-speaking ladies obviously travelling together, were seated at a table near us. They interrupted their meal with plenty of toasts and cheers. Later one lady requested an African song from the band and soon all the ladies were boogying in the designated dance area in the restaurant. I was dying to go and chat to them but thought better of it. (I don't think they would have been embarrassed but I'm not so sure about my own darling husband's reaction!)
Mmm, are the engineering cogs turning while he contemplates the two months' consulting appoimtment ahead?
After a delicious dinner in the hotel's a la carte restaurant, complete with a live band and excellent service, we ordered one portion of dessert to share. Grant didn't want more than a spoonful which suited me fine ...
While waiting for our driver to collect us on Thursday morning, Grant photographed me in our hotel room. I never like photos of myself (I've deleted more photos of "me" than any other!) and this one was no exception so I decided to "play" with the image!
Nairobi, a bustling metropolis from early morning till late at night
After a good night's rest, our driver collected us on Thursday morning and we embarked on a six-hour journey through the Great Rift Valley to the mine site. More about our arrival and subsequent settling-in procedure later on...