Thursday, July 2, 2009

My first steps into Africa.

-July 2, Thursday
In Air to Amsterdam, Holland-

We have almost arrived in Amsterdam. I slept for around three or four hours in total, but I still feel exhausted. I should be used to flying overseas by now, but I'm not. I am still tired. I am looking forward to that hotel room waiting for me in Nairobi.

I watched two movies while in the air- Finding Neverland and Chicken Little. I would watch a movie and then sleep a little, watch a movie and sleep a little. Each passenger has their own private television that is set into the back of the seat in front of them. We can watch movies, television shows, play games, whatever we like. It is nice.

We are going to land any minute now.

-In Air to Nairobi, Kenya-

This new airplane is not nearly as nice as the other one. The seats are not as roomy, and there are no special televisions for us to watch, but all in all, we have had a decent time. The lack of entertainment has provided us all an opportunity to sleep.

The moment the plane took off, I conked out. I woke once to eat lunch, but otherwise slept quite heavily- even missing out on ice cream- for the first six and a half hours of the flight.

We have now been flying for almost twenty hours. I don't know about everyone else, but I feel like I am running on empty. I am exhausted.

I had a conversation with the man, and at one point, we were talking about the cholera epidemic that is running rampant in the slums of Kenya where I am headed. I said that I was not concerned because I knew that God would take care of me. You should have seen the look of shock and confusion that washed over the man's face. "Yeah... yeah. Yes. Okay. Yeah. That's right," he finally stammered, obviously unsure of how to respond to my bold statement. I smiled at him.

We are almost in Africa. It seems surreal. I am finally going to Africa. I am finally here. I feel like time has just begun for me. I am finally doing what God wants me to do.

It is dusk outside, which feels strange, because in Texas time, it is 11:00 in the morning. Here, it is 7:00 in the evening, and it is already getting dark, because it is currently the middle of winter in Kenya.

The captain just announced- I think, because his accent is incredibly hard to understand- that we are beginning our descent into Nairobi. The silly male flight attendant is walking around with a trash can, calling out, "Rubbish, rubbish!" It makes me smile.

I opened the plane window, and I can see a gorgeous pastel sunset melting through the clouds.

-Nairobi, Kenya-

We finally arrived in Nairobi, completely exhausted. We went to buy our Visas right away. Barbie, Milton, Bekah, and I somehow managed to beat the manic crowd behind us, and we got straight through. It took everyone else up to two hours to get through immigration.

We went and got our luggage, taking anything that displayed an orange or yellow ribbon off of the conveyer belt. My guitar somehow managed to make it onto the platform in the center of the conveyor belt, so Larry jumped over the belt to get it. Milton, Barbie, Amy, Audie, and Micah each lost a suitcase.

Barbie and Bekah and I exchanged our currency into shillings, and then went to wait outside for a couple of hours while everyone else got their luggage and went through immigration. The air was shockingly cold. I had to put on my jacket as we shivered in the cool night air.

Looking around outside, it was definitely a huge culture shock. Everything looks different here. Even the moon looks very far away compared to ours. I suppose it is because it is the middle of winter here in Kenya. The clouds and trees also all look very different than ours.

We found our bus, or matatu, and finally were able to board and leave the airport around 10:00 at night. The matatu was very small and shouldn't have been able to hold all twenty-four of us, including the driver. Our luggage was tied down on the roof. Everything was very cramped and tight, but in a friendly sort of way.

We rode the twenty minutes to our hotel, cringing at every sharp turn and loud blast of the horn. Traffic laws in Nairobi seem to be virtually nonexistent. The billboards flew by in blazes of bright colors. African billboards are three or four times the size of ours. They are massive.

We arrived at the Anglican hotel close to 10:20 or 10:25. Everyone is dead on our feet and dreading the prospect of leaving the hotel at 5:30 in the morning. We were given our keys- old fashioned skeleton keys that you might find in your great grandmother's house- with heavy, wooden blocks attached to the key rings. Nothing was registered electronically. We all signed into a thick, aged book that was filled with the names of guest after guest to the small hotel.

These rooms are adorable. Silky, mesh mosquito nets are draped over each of the two beds, and a table with coffee, water bottles, and a mirror sits against one wall.

I am definitely ready for a good night's rest. I only hope I can sleep well tonight to prepare myself for the many adventures ahead.

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