16 December 2010

J's Trip To Kenya Part I

Saturday 27th November

First leg of my journey!  Took an age to get to sleep last night, I was so excited having spent the evening with friends celebrating my birthday and my return trip to Kenya.   A little too much champagne and lots of talking have left me with a croaky voice this morning.  Quick shower, final checklist, cup of tea and off to airport. 

What a nice surprise to see Robin (our local BA pilot) checking in on the same flight and as soon as I saw that wonderful blue uniform with silver braid, Thomas was dispatched whilst I was whisked through the Executive Club security check in, all very civilized. First job on landing at Heathrow is to find a trolley (for my two suitcases), find left luggage for the heaviest case (so I can leave it there until tomorrow), draw out £200 on Thomas’s card (thank you darling) and take tube to Arnos Grove to meet my friends Chas and Chris who are putting me up for the night.

Sunday 28th November

Chas dropped me off at Terminal 5 at 8:00 am.  Retrieved second suitcase from left luggage, tried to obtain Kenyan Shillings from Travelex (no joy despite booking on-line!) and queued and queued just to drop bags off.  By the time I had gone through security not even time for a Starbucks – the flight was boarding. 

‘Would you stand to one side, Madam’, the British Airways purser said as I boarded.  YES I was going to be upgraded.  Business Class is no longer a seat but a kind of ‘pod’.  I settled back with a glass of champagne.  Could I really take out my M&S packed lunch (well breakfast actually) and start eating it?  Each time I went to retrieve it from my bag, a stewardess approached and asked if I would like some more champagne. By my 3rd glass, the hunger pangs had gone. 

Paging through the online movies, I chose to watch 'Salt' with Angelina Jolie.  Real edge of the seat stuff (except that the stewards kept interrupting to ask if I would like more champagne).  I was engrossed in the climactic ending of the film when the partition slid down between me and my neighbour ...   what did the Chief  Purser want this time???  Madam, would you please come to the Galley.  Well, I was desperate for the loo so I followed him .... ‘I have another seat for you, Madam – in First Class’! 

My Very Own Pod
The curtain was held open and I entered what looked like a private cinema.  As my eyes became accustomed to the darkened area, I could make out the occasional body cocooned in cashmere blankets fast asleep. I sat in my new, even better pod and was shown how to work the touch screen TV....  ‘Does it get any better than this, I asked?’ And then Martina Navratilova got up from the seat in front and said ‘Hi’.....fortunately she didn’t want to climb into my pod!

Arrival in Nairobi

The Nairobi Skyline
God Bless Florence and Wilberforce who met me at the airport.  I even managed to fill in the correct Visa forms this time. The rest of the First Class passengers weren’t queuing though so where had they disappeared to? Anyway in no time at all my two HUGE suitcases were in the Taxi and Wilberforce was driving us to Florence’s apartment.  

I have to say that I was a little apprehensive when we approached the group of largely unfinished buildings and deeply rutted roads but Wilberforce carefully navigated the car around the largest rain filled ponds which seemed to stretch from one side of the road to the other. 

At the entrance to the apartment block stood a guard – well that certainly made me feel a bit better even though he was about 70 and smaller than me!  As we hiked up two floors with my bags, I regretted the extra clothes I had packed. Florence’s orange metal door was unlocked by putting a hand through a hole in the door and unbolting it from the outside.  She proudly showed me around her two rooms, kitchen and tiny bathroom.  It was neat and clean with n furniture, just a three-quarter size mattress on the floor in one of the rooms. I’m not sure what I expected but we sat and had Kenyan tea and nibbled on some chapatis.  We caught up on our news and eventually by midnight, we were tucked up together under a mosquito net. 

I lay on my back listening to Florence’s breathing.  It reminded me of the times I had shared a bed with my sister, Cindy - momentarily I was a bit homesick.  My eyes got used to dark and I could see every outline in the room as the security light on the stairwell crept into the room through the gaps in the piece of fabric that was hung at the window.  I could hear the noises of neighbours close at hand, the crying of a child, the clang of another metal door and its bolt being drawn.

Where was I?  I had no idea where Wilberforce had brought us along the pot hole filled roads, no phone contact with anyone. Was I actually safe here?  Could someone break in? Am I being a responsible mom doing this? In my tiredness, my imagination was running wild - I calmed my breathing down and said my prayers.

As I fell into an untroubled sleep, a smile crept onto my lips as I thought about God’s sense of humour – British Airways First Class upgrade, unlimited champagne and flat screen TV and then a dark Nairobi tenement with no running water, no electricity, no furniture, two mugs of Kenyan tea and an old mattress on the floor.

To be continued……

1 comment:

Allison said...

I am so impressed with J's commitment to going to Africa - it looks like she had good karma with all her upgrades! I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of her adventure in Kenya! (And my legs are hurting thinking of the cramped 16 hours I spent on the flight to China, crossing my fingers that I'd be bumped into a pod!).