A Travellerspoint blog

Kenya

Mlurgh

Ah yes, Nairobi. A real big city and home to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of millions, with a burgeoning industry of carjackings, muggings, knifings and murder, at least if you believe the hype. Downtown has a reputation that few can match: even the likes of Bogota and Detroit sound like Utopian paradises in comparison to some of the tales from Nairobi.

I've never been one to trust the media and guidebook culture too much, and it seems very likely that regardless of how bad it really is, it's reputation and the scare stories/travelers tales are probably a little harsh. Having said that, the previous days paper which i read on the train detailed 3 nasty sounding carjackings (though to be fair, i'm not sure what a good sounding carjacking would sound like), I was also acutely and sadly aware that 2 acquaintances had been murdered and 3 more had been badly robbed in Nairobi within the last 8years, all in separate incidents. Thus it is safe to say that Nairobi was never high on my list of places to visit, despite it's almost utter inevitability as the main logistical hub for pretty much the whole of East Africa.

And so it was that 4hours late, feeling like utter sh1t and having not slept the previous night that you might understand that i did not greet my arrival in Nairobi with a whoop of joy. Merely a restrained dash to the toilet cubicle.

As for the utter sh1t thing, well I have been iffy on and off (more on, in terms of iffy) for coming up to 3weeks now. Never really bad, but bad enough and obvious to anybody that spent any time with me that I wasn't at 100%, shall we say. A few times i've thought of getting checked out, but later on or the following day I have been feeling better and so hadn't, hoping and relying on my ability to fight off whatever I had. But the last couple of days had been particularly bad, and I knew I could not go on. So off i trekked to a hospital with a couple of books, and vague hopes that I might be seen by a doctor at some point that week.

Some of you will be aware that at various moments of my life I have been a reasonably regular visitor to assorted medical establishments around the world for an often bizarre and unlikely serious of complaints or breaks. As a youngster, I was not brought up on GMT at all, but rather on NHS time, a strange thing which is so complicated that it distorts the time-space continuum and can't even be understood by Stephen Hawking. But in vague terms based on what my long experience has shown me, it apparently utilises times from every world timezone in the same day as a way of finding more hours in the day and ensuring patients (eg: me) wait as long as physically possible to be dealt with whilst not being late (why are you complaining that your 2pm appointment is several hours late? it's barely 1pm in Bolivia...). Even BRST – see a previous blog entry on Zambia for that one – is wonderfully punctual and efficient in comparison. Thus it was that my expectations were low.

So I was delighted that barely 8hours later, having sh1t in things i was supposed to sh1t in (or not supposed to on occasion), given enough blood to feed the Transylvanian population until 2017, vomited a few times (just because I wanted to, damned it) and paid at least three times - alongside the inevitable selection of form filling, registering at countless desks, long waits and occasional confusion – and with the search parties sent out to find me, I was the proud recipient of 3 lots of drugs i've never heard of, a long list of do-nots and a warning not to leave Nairobi before more test results come back in a few days. It made me feel all nostalgic: I haven't been told not to leave somewhere in such firm terms since, erm, well... that's another long story which perhaps should be left in history.

And what was the diagnosis? Erm. Dunno, really. They agreed that I definitely have something. And they don't know what, and don't want to guess. Except that they did guess and was told some disease i've never heard of that it was 6words long – none i've ever heard before – or, failing that, possibly typhoid (typhoid?! As Maaret so succinctly put it “who the hell gets typhoid?”). But it might not be either. They don't want to guess.

Ah yes, the wonders of travel. Now i truly do feel as if i'm in Africa.

Posted by Gelli 07:08 Archived in Kenya Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (1)

Dratted Somali's. Let me get my boat


View Zanzibar to Nairobi on Gelli's travel map.

Mombasa has always held a kind of pull for me, based, I think, almost solely on the fact that it has long been one of the largest and most important ports in East Africa, and as a non-flyer, such places are always of interest. I think I have always believed that i would, almost inevitably, eventually end up taking a freighter to or from Mombasa. The fact that we came on a coach (and left on a train) hasn't really ended that expectation either, although admittedly some of the Somali pirates are doing a good job to make it harder for me to do so in the reasonably near future.

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Fort Jesus

Mombasa was scorching hot, and exotic sounding. The old town was pretty and refreshingly un-touristy, although that of course mean't that the hawkers and homeless people had nobody else to prey on but us. I would happily return and spend a bit longer exploring in depth, and hope to do so soon. But for now, time was rapidly coming to an end, even with a 2week extension on Maaret's flight.

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Mombasa Old Town

And so we took whistle stop trip to the beach. Unknown to me – i'm really not a beach person – Mombasa's local environs are apparently home to some of the worlds best beaches, and Maaret had long wished to visit one. Picking a place at random (Tiwi, one of the less developed Southern resorts. We later discovered that Tiwi is not recommended at all by the local industry due to “security concerns”. Hmmm) and because it was somewhere that allegedly had cheap accommodation, we took a tuk-tuk to the Likoni ferry, crossed with the baying hordes and then a matatu south.

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To me, Tiwi was not desperately exciting: out of season mean't few people around and so the hawkers had very few targets and whilst it was undeniably pretty, the beach was covered in seaweed and other assorted flotsam and jetsam (I like writing flotsam and jetsam, and this blog entry pretty much serves no purpose except allowing me to write it) so not the pure white sands promised. The same seaweed mean't that even at high tide, swimming was not particularly good, even for those who can actually swim. Add in the fact that it wasn't anywhere near as cheap as we had been led to expect, and you can pretty much conclude that it wasn't one of my life's (or even trip's) highlights.

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And with that, and by now feeling even sh1ttier, it was back to Mombasa to find a train.

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As with the previous entry, thanks for Maaret for photos as I took even fewer around Mombasa than I had in Zanzibar, so an even higher percentage of these are actually hers. It's useful to travel with a talented photographer who gives you all their photos, isn't it?!

Posted by Gelli 00:57 Archived in Kenya Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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