KENYA

February 14, 1978
My fellow passenger, a pleasant agriculturist, Dr. Todd, enthusiastically scanned the area below us with his field glasses. Apparently, we were not flying over Uganda, but we did see Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) with thousands of flamingoes. Behind us sat a Sudanese Bank's agricultural expert, and they engaged in a vivid conversation about Kenya, where Todd had worked for six years some twenty years earlier. In front of us were two Japanese girls. We were served breakfast and drinks.

We flew over some rugged regions, including the Great Escarpment, numerous dry riverbeds arranged in dendritic drainage patterns. Before long we descended to land at the airport of Nairobi which looked magnificent from the air, including a view of half a dozen giraffes. We now entered the southern hemisphere, yet it was surprisingly cool, and the time was one hour later than in Juba.



MAP please click to enlarge - Juba at top left

We saw lots of beautiful flowers near the terminal, and experienced no problems with customs and immigration - even though I did not have a yellow fever certificate. Everybody spoke English more than perfect(ly), and the taxi drivers concurred that the standard fare to town was 80 shillings. I changed US$ 100 for just under 800 shillings, then walked around asking for prices and information. In the meantime. the two hiking couples had already found out that the bus only cost 33 shillings. I had hoped to rent a car but there were none available. Therefore, I bargained with a taxi driver that he would charge 45 shillings take me to a hotel which would charge less than 100 shilling per night. A policeman checked with us and let us go on our way.

It was a pleasant trip past some high parks, and compared to Sudan this was a culture shock, what with traffic on the left, excellent roads, many shops and attractive buildings. I presumed that the presence of the United Nations was part of the reason for this apparent "wealth". We ended up at Hotel Salama on a busy corner of Tom Mboya street, close to the high and round Hilton Hotel, but probably a lot cheaper than the 93 shillings I paid ahead for a small but decent room including breakfast.
Immediately after hanging up my suit, I took off for a walk along Luthuili street, passing numerous shoe shine men. I bought a glass of milk and a juicy samosa for 2 shillings, then went on into town. It was cosy and quite tasteful - reminiscent of the atmospheres of London, Paris and Amsterdam - what with the many galleries, coffee shops, restaurants souvenir shops and travel agencies galore. Although prices seemed rather high, African wildlife skins and ivory were sold at half price on account of the new ban due start in March. I even noted some Playboy magazines, then outlawed in the Arab countries as well as South Africa.

I stopped in at Air India to arrange further travel, but they referred me to the nearby Indian Embassy, which had just opened and where a shouting Indian clerk gave me two forms to complete. I did need a yellow fever shot and the viasa would only be valid 6 days after that shot. Unfortunately, the Dutch Embassy with its inviting red white and vblue flag had just closed, so no mail call to-day. I continued, noting the interesting mix of many Indians, whites and keen Kenyans, and stopped at the City COuncil for a 25 shilling yellow fever shot. Here I met a Dutchman working at UNEP and made an appointment for a later visit. Then I walked through the Hilton with its many shops and stopped for a cool drink sitting at a table next to a model and the noisy Nigerian Sam U. Uba, editor of "Afrifun", somewhat equivalent to Playboy. I oredered a hamburger, a beer and a milkshake for 30 shillings, and was given a free taste of the "pot" of a local journalist, consisting of tasty sheep meat and some mealies.

By that time it was 16:00 and I made my way back to my hotel where I rested and read TIME magazine, then fell asleep notwithstanding the traffic noise till about 20:00. When I woke up, I felt a flutter in my heart and recalled the elevation here, some 1,700 m. and what Mrs Richardson once told me about drinking beer here.. So I read thtough all the alluring travel folders I had picked up, had a bad cough and decided to stay in and take it easy to-morrow. I thought about to-morrows' agenda to arrange further travel, and missed Mercia and the kids - we should really become US citizens soon instead of traveling on passports from 3 continents... In the meantime, it was almost midnight, and people were still conversing loudly. So I got up, dressed, requested them to be more quiet, but - just in case of non-compliance - I went for a quick midnight stroll, happy in my jacket befause it was nice and chilly. ALong the streets, people were sitting close to little fires, eating and talking. A few nightclubs were still open, including one close to the fancy Ambassador Hotel, exclusively for black ladies and gentlemen. The atmosphere here was like any British pub's. Without experiencing any anticipated solicitation, I made it back to my hotel and bed by 25:00. I slept like a rose.
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