But not yet from Hamish. Though that may come soon.
25.07.2009 - 25.07.2009
As I stood in the shower at Kilimanjaro backpackers in Moshi, Tanzania, I almost felt like I was cleansing myself from Kenya, and especially, Nairobi. The fact that shower had both excellent water pressure and adjustable (temperature) hot water and is the best shower I have used in the last 10 months or so, made it seem even better.
It is odd. I have been in Kenya for about 2months spread over the last 3, but due to circumstance haven't really seen that much of it on the grand scale of things. It really hasn't gone quite to plan, even allowing for the fact that I didn't have a plan to begin with. I arrived in Nairobi both horribly sick and with some fairly bad preconceived ideas, and to be honest, it really didn't do anything to try and help me improve that image.
I had some interesting experiences, and yet more that I will not forget in a hurry. I met some cool people – local and travellers – and made some good friends. Eventually, I was also lucky enough to find some really excellent Doctors and specialists as well. There have been some high points, sure, but to be honest, most of them were quite small: the beef noodles at the local chinese restaurant which were wonderful and possibly consumed more often than they should have been; the staff at the internet cafe where I became a regular, the coffee in Java House and to a point, Dormans. Some of the staff at Bush house and Nairobi Hospital. Nakuru national park was a wonderful surprise, and I really liked Mombasa old town.
But in general there have been more disappointments, and I have to say that Kenya has the dubious distinction of joining a very short list (previously only Vietnam was on it) of countries I have visited that I was happy to leave, and which I would in no way be bothered if I never visited again. Like Vietnam, there are a couple of things I really would have loved to do but did not: Climb Mt. Kenya, visit Hells Gate NP, the Kakamega Forest and Lamu island chief amongst them, but even the pull of those is not enough to have me already wishing i could go back, as so many other countries do. Even passing a fairly fancy looking hotel in Kitengela whilst on the bus to Tanzania and seeing that one of it's attractions was an 'elegant butchery' (amongst more normal selling point like free wifi, and DSTV Satellite TV. Out of curiosity, how often is a butchery – elegant or not – high on your your list of requirements when choosing a hotel?) could barely raise a smile by that point.
Most of what I saw in Kenya disappointed: It's 2 major and most famous attractions, the Masai Mara (admittedly I missed the wildebeest migration) and the Mombasa area beaches (admittedly out of season) were both big let downs for different reasons, whilst Nairobi somehow managed to leave me with a worse impression than my initial expectations had imagined (which were so low that even Aylesbury and Hssleholm were above it). There aren't many places I have been where you spent half of your waking hours stuck in traffic jams – or being in accidents in traffic jams – and when you are not in those traffic jams, the most memorable events are a person dropping dead and then being robbed in front of you, a policeman shooting repeatedly at the bus you are in and rocks smashing windows of the vehicle you are in, in an attempted carjacking. The fact that much of my time in the city was spent in hospital and really wasn't fun, seems positively pleasurable in comparison.
Add in the political turmoil which is cleverly and rapidly destroying what was one of East Africa's strongest democracies, and sadly, Kenya is somewhere that will not highest on my list of places to recommend to others, or to return to. And for a country with so much potential, that is actually very sad.