Today was our last day in Mombasa. We left for Nairobi, where we checked into the The Stanley Hotel. The first hour or so was hectic. Jennifer, Mama E and BJ had already been through Nairobi on the way to Mombasa, and most of their luggage was at the travel agency, which was just around the corner from the hotel. They had to leave it there because domestic flights in Kenya has maximum allowed baggage weight of 20kg (45 lbs). While they got luggage, I went to the room. It’s a good thing that we arrived at the Stanley during the daylight hours, I spent the five or so minutes I was in the room alone flipping the switches up and down, too embarrassed to call the front desk to ask how to turn on the light. BJ finally arrived and told me how it worked – there was a slot next to the light switches for the room key – that’s what powered the electricity in the room. As I mentioned earlier, Kenya is very eco-conscious. Not only does the key operated light prevent hotel patrons from leaving the lights on when out of the room, but the Stanley, like the hotel where BJ, Mama E and Jennifer stayed in the Mara was solar powered. Therefore, between midnight-4am, the electricity was turned off – key activation or no. Anyway, once we settled in the room, we went back to the lobby.
Mama E has been coming to Kenya since 1985, and Jennifer and BJ almost as long. In one of their early visits they met then small children Serah, Keith and Jean, who are now all in their late twenties. After an excited reunion, Serah and Keith took BJ and me down to the Maasai market, a weekly outdoor market about four blocks from the hotel. The market was absolutely insane – packed with tourists, no walkway, and people coming from all directions trying to sell any and everything. We probably walked a total of one city block in about an hour, but were completely worn out at the end. After sitting to relax for a few minutes, Mama E joined us at the market. I then did a second tour – walking with Mama E in a failed attempt to find anklets to take back home as gifts. We spent most of the rest of the day chatting in the lobby; Jean talked about her three children, Keith taught me a few phrases in Samburu. October 30th is my sister’s birthday, so I took minute to call her (left a message – school wasn’t out yet). Later, Jennifer, who was out visiting a friend, joined us in the lobby so we could all say goodbye. She flew back to Houston that evening.
Even though the Stanley is part of the same chain as the Whitesands, dinner wasn’t included with the price of the room. The buffet was $23USD! Ouch!
* In Mombasa, we were way out in the sticks. The resorts are safe but the city is not. Nairobi is a large city (the capitol) and easy to walk around. Obviously you have to exercise caution, but there is no need to be completely reliant on a driver.
*Improve your vocabulary, change the world.
Mama E and Said say goodbye
On the way from the Nairobi airport into down. Just a random building.
Keith, BJ and Serah resting after braving the market