I just arrived back home from Kenya. My mind is full and my heart is overflowing with raw emotion. I have mixed feelings about my time in Africa. It was wonderful, and yet it was so very different to what I had planned. I accomplished what I was sent to do, but somehow feel so inadequate and small after all I experienced and learned. But overall, it was truly the experience of a lifetime and I definitely left a piece of my heart there. I definitely would love to return to Africa someday for a longer period of time and to be more fully immersed in the culture, perhaps with no other westerners. I know how crazy that sounds, but I think something inside me resonates with the simplicity and freedom of life there. Something deep and true…
The last few days in Kenya flew by. I spent the last day and a half at Lake Naivash with Laurence. We stayed in a little banda at Top Camp, a small campsite way up on a hill overlooking the lake. It was beautiful and relaxing. We were the only ones up there, so it really felt like a weekend retreat. The first afternoon there, we walked down through towering papyrus plants to the lakeshore, which was littered with hippo-prints!! Of course, while we were down there, it started pouring down rain, and we got completely soaked. The next morning, for my last day in Kenya, we decided to go on an adventure to Crater lake. We rode on two motorcycles, and I honestly thought that we probably wouldn’t live beyond that experience. It was seriously crazy! The drivers were going about 60 MPH on really bumpy dirt roads and none of us had helmets. I had yet another marriage proposal from my driver, who kept insisting I hold him tighter and telling me how lucky he was to have met me. Quite ridiculous, but certainly entertaining. We walked for several hours around the edge of the crater. There were a lot of wild animals, and I felt vulnerable. We came very close to a warthog with huge horns, but I think he was more scared than we were. I had to leave after lunch. It was sad saying goodbye to Laurence, he was such a good travel companion!
Leaving from Naivasha, it was strange suddenly traveling alone again. I was hassled a lot and when I finally did find a matatu that would take me all the way to Nairobi, the drivers were mean and demanded that I pay a lot of money because of my suitcases. I guess it wouldn’t have been a true Kenyan experience if I hadn’t been ripped off one more time. They charged me double what everyone else paid. When I realized this and tried to get my money back, there was a huge fight between 5 men, with the word “mzungu” being thrown around a few too many times. I told them I knew what was going on and that they should be ashamed of the way they were taking advantage of me.
The matatu ride was long and exhausting. People kept piling in and it smelled horendous. What should have been a 1-hour drive took 4 hours. We arrived in Nairobi just as it was getting dark. As usual, there was a really bad traffic jam. It was very frightening sitting in that matatu while it pushed its way through cars, trucks and pedestrians. There do not seem to be any traffic rules at all, making the roads incredibly chaotic and dangerous. In the midst of this drama, the woman next to me leaned over and said that she heard the drivers talking about me. They were saying that after they let everyone else off, they were going to pretend to take me to the airport but were actually going to drive somewhere else. The woman did not know what they planned on doing with me, but it sounded extremely dangerous so I decided to get off the vehicle as soon as possible. Finally, we pulled into a gas station in the middle of Nairobi. The woman next to me agreed to help me make my escape, so she got off the matatu with me and started trying to pull my suitcases out of the back. The drivers came back to her and started yelling at her. She turned around and told me to get away quickly. We each grabbed a suitcase and tried to back away from the men. Just then, a security guard came out of the gas station, dragging a man by the collar and beating him. Apparently he had been trying to steal from the gas station. The lady I was with said “It is not safe here, even for me. The men are very angry with me for helping you. We have to run.” So we quickly left the gas station and tried to run with my suitcases in search of a taxi. Thank God we found one and he agreed to take me to the airport. It was a very scary thing to happen to me on my last night in Kenya. I was thankful to the woman for helping me out of a bad situation and very grateful that nothing worse happened.